The Assembly Cut of Alien3 is an extended version of the 1992 film, released in 2003. It is a significant reworking of the movie, adding and expanding several major plot points and extending the run time by almost 25 minutes. It is the only extended/alternate version from the Alien series not to be overseen by the movie's original director (David Fincher); its creation was instead supervised by Charles de Lauzirika, director of the Alien franchise making-of documentaries and producer of the Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set, for which the Assembly Cut was made.
For the release of the Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set in 2003, directors Ridley Scott (Alien), David Fincher (Alien3) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Alien Resurrection) were invited to create alternative versions of their films for inclusion in the set; James Cameron had already created an extended Special Edition of his film Aliens in 1992. While Scott and Jeunet agreed, Fincher refused, having effectively disowned Alien3 following its production, which he found to be an incredibly difficult and frustrating experience thanks to extensive studio interference. As a result, an alternate version of the film, dubbed the "Assembly Cut", was pieced together by producer Charles de Lauzirika using Fincher's original production notes from before the movie was extensively recut by the studio during post-production. To finish the alternate cut, a shot of the infant Dragon running away from the carcass of its host was completed with a CGI version of the creature, as the sequence had originally been dropped from the film before the creature effects were added. Despite this embellishment, the original release of the Assembly Cut suffered from poor audio quality in some of the newly added scenes. This was again a consequence of the footage being cut from the film before it was completed — in this case, the cast had yet to record ADR (dubbing) for the scenes, and as a result much of their dialogue was muffled by noise from on-set steam generators.
The new cut is far from a simple extension of the movie, and is by far the most complex of the alternate versions from the series. It significantly alters the film, adding many new scenes while also removing a substantial amount of footage found in the theatrical release. As a result it is incongruous with the theatrical version of the story, and both feature mutually exclusive scenes, including a totally different host for the Xenomorph antagonist. Several inmates are also killed under different circumstances in the two cuts — for example, Arthur dies in the quinitricetyline fire in the theatrical version, but in the Assembly Cut he survives this event only to be murdered later by Golic.
Overall, the Assembly Cut places much greater focus on the religious beliefs of the inmates at the Fiorina 161 Class C Work Correctional Unit, beliefs that are only briefly touched upon in the theatrical cut. Several of the supporting characters are also fleshed out, particularly Golic, who simply disappears in the theatrical version but becomes a secondary antagonist in the extended cut. Several new scenes are also added involving Aaron, whose decision to attack Michael Bishop at the end of the movie is given additional context.
For the Assembly Cut's release on Blu-ray as part of the Alien Anthology set in 2010, several original cast members (including Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance and series veteran Lance Henriksen) were brought back to re-record their dialogue in several of the additional scenes, allowing 20th Century Fox to create a new sound mix. Consequently, every trace of the sub-par sound quality present on the earlier DVD release was eliminated, finally offering fans the Assembly Cut in a complete version.
However, an additional goof was also introduced on the Blu-ray release — in the scene where Murphy discovers the Dragon in the ventilation shaft and is killed, he can be heard calling for his dog Spike, even though Spike does not exist in the Assembly Cut. This mistake was not present on earlier DVD releases of the Assembly Cut, and is likely an oversight resulting from the creation of a new sound mix.
The Assembly Cut of Alien3 is notable in that it has received a significantly more positive reception than the theatrical film upon which it is based. Owing to the significant differences between the two versions of the movie, the Assembly Cut has undergone something of a re-evaluation amongst critics, and while still generally regarded as inferior to the two Alien movies that precede it, it is generally viewed more positively than the theatrical release.
Here follows a complete rundown of the differences between the theatrical release of Alien3 and the extended Assembly Cut.
- The recovery of Ripley from the EEV is almost completely reworked and significantly longer in the Assembly Cut. Following the EEV crash, we see Clemens walking alone on the planet's surface. He notices the EEV in the ocean, before glancing down to the beach, where he sees a body wash ashore. He runs down and discovers it is Ripley, covered in oil and insects. He quickly carries her inside and tries to resuscitate her, much to the shock of nearby inmates, whom he orders to go and look for other survivors. Prisoners rush down to the coast, while Andrews sends a message to Weyland-Yutani informing them of the crash, which uses alternate footage compared to the theatrical version; there is no shot of the drowned Newt in her cryotube, for instance. We see Frank looking inside the wrecked EEV, and he finds the mangled remains of Hicks.
- In the message Andrews sends reporting the EEV crash, he states that Newt is around 10 years old. In the theatrical version, her age is give as approximately 12 years old.
- Spike the dog is completely absent from the Assembly Cut; the Dragon instead gestates inside Babe, one of several oxen that are added in the Assembly Cut and used for labor at the prison. Instead of a shot showing Spike barking at a Facehugger inside the recovered EEV, we see the prisoners using the oxen to drag the EEV back to the prison complex.
- Before Andrews announces the EEV crash to the inmates, Dillon leads them in prayer.
- The scene where Murphy discovers Spike, injured by the Facehugger, has been removed.
- Before starting Newt's autopsy, Clemens asks Ripley if the girl was her daughter, and she tells him that she wasn't.
- Before the funeral, Murphy and Frank take Babe (who has died off-screen before the Chestburster inside it emerges) into the prison's slaughterhouse. They discuss putting the dead ox in a stew for the inmates, and talk about flirting with Ripley. After Frank leaves, Murphy finds a dead Royal Facehugger on the cart they used to bring Babe inside.
- Throughout the intercut funeral/Xenomorph birth sequence, any shot of Spike has been replaced with footage of Babe's corpse in the slaughterhouse. After bursting out of the dead ox, the infant Dragon is seen running away down a corridor.
- Before Ripley brazenly enters the mess hall to eat with the prisoners, Dillon speaks with Boggs, Rains and Golic about the fact they are refusing to go out on a survey mission together. Boggs and Rains openly insult Golic, even though he is sat with them at the table, before Dillon angrily tells them to put aside their differences, for they are all imperfect in God's eyes. He goes back to his own seat, at which point Ripley enters. This scene is the first of several additions that make it clear Golic is both simple and deranged, a fact only briefly suggested in the theatrical cut.
- When sitting with the prisoners, Ripley asks Dillon what they are doing at the abandoned prison, to which Dillon responds that they are waiting for the return of the Lord.
- When Clemens tells Ripley her advances are very direct and she tells him that she's been out in space a long time, he responds that the same is true for him.
- After Ripley and Clemens have made love and Clemens again tries to find out from her why they had to burn the bodies from the EEV, she asks him if he thinks she owes him an answer because she's lying in his bed. He responds, "I think you owe me an answer. Being in my bed's got nothing to do with it."
- Before Clemens meets with Andrews in his office, we see some of the prisoners as Boggs, Rains and Golic prepare to go into the tunnels (where they light all the candles). Golic talks about Murphy's death, saying that Murphy was one of the few who treated him nicely. Dillon tells him to light a candle for Murphy, to which Golic replies he will light a thousand.
- The meeting between Clemens and Andrews is extended. In the Assembly Cut, Aaron is initially present and things start very amicably, with Andrews politely offering the doctor tea. Aaron is sent out and only after Clemens is seated does Andrews start insulting him, which is where the theatrical version starts. There is some additional dialogue between the two in the middle of the scene, and it also goes on longer at the end; after Andrews asks, "Is there anything I should know?" the two men continue to argue. Andrews makes it clear that he suspects Clemens is attracted to Ripley. He asks what the doctor knows about Ripley's arrival on Fiorina, and Clemens responds, "She told me she was part of a combat unit that came to grief, beyond that I assume it's all classified. I haven't pressed her for more." Finally Andrews tells Clemens to get out of his office, and Clemens hands his tea — which he hasn't drunk — to Aaron as he opens the door.
- We see Boggs, Rains and Golic still heading for the tunnels. Golic finds an abandoned cigarette machine and smashes it, taking the cigarettes to trade with other prisoners when he gets back.
- The scene where Ripley is talking to the mangled Bishop is intercut with new footage of Eric discovering Golic, still soaked in Boggs' blood, sitting alone in the mess hall eating cereal. Later, Clemens, Andrews, Aaron and Dillon sneak up on him and restrain him.
- Golic's rambling as Clemens tends to Ripley in the infirmary is extended, and he talks briefly about his youth.
- Before the Dragon attacks Clemens, we see a shot from beneath one of the beds as it sags to the floor, presumably from the Xenomorph standing on it. There are additional shots of Golic squirming on his bed throughout the attack on Clemens.
- Golic stares up at the vent through which the Dragon dragged Clemens' body, muttering, "Magnificent!" Blood rains down from the vent.
- Before Ripley bursts into the mess hall and Andrews is killed, Dillon prays with the prisoners, before angrily shouting at them regarding the perceived unrest that he believes has contributed to the recent deaths and disorder.
- A shot of Jude mopping up Andrews' blood is replaced by an alternate shot of him filmed from above, from inside the vent into which Andrews was taken.
- When the prisoners congregate in the assembly hall, Dillon again leads them in prayer, welcoming the Xenomorph as a divine punishment sent by God. However, some of the inmates, including David and Kevin, do not seem to agree with his beliefs any more and quietly discuss what to do about the situation off to one side.
- During the preparations for the plan to trap the Dragon in the nuclear waste tank, Arthur and Troy can be seen checking a large pile of batteries, searching for any that actually work.
- Kevin complains about the stench of the quinitricetyline whilst painting it inside the vents.
- The explosion sequence is significantly longer, and ends with perhaps the most major departure from the theatrical version — in the Assembly Cut, the plan to trap the Dragon in the nuclear waste dump actually succeeds. After the fire is started prematurely, there are many more shots of explosions and prisoners falling from the vents, some of them burning. Dillon tries to activate the sprinklers, but the switch breaks away in his hand. Ripley helps another prisoner to extinguish a burning man, only to realise it is Junior and Gregor, two of the men who attempted to rape her. Dillon arrives and they flee. Suddenly the Dragon appears, flushed out by the fire. The creature prepares to attack Ripley, Dillon and the others, but Junior gets its attention and runs into the waste tank, the Dragon chasing after him. Ripley slams the door and Junior's screams echo from from inside the tank. Dillon finds some working controls for the sprinklers and activates them, and the water douses the flames.
- Alternate footage is used when the inmates collect the dead in the aftermath of the explosion.
- A large block of new scenes is added showing events while the Dragon is trapped. In the assembly hall, Dillon says a prayer for the dead. On a walkway above them, Ripley and Aaron discuss the inmates' religious beliefs, and Aaron makes it clear he neither shares nor particularly respects their views. Their conversation moves on to what Weyland-Yutani will do about the Xenomorph when they arrive. Aaron insists they will "go in there with Smartguns and kill it", but Ripley isn't so sure.
- Next we see Golic, still tied to the bed in the infirmary and being guarded by Morse, who is shaving his head. Morse tells Golic about how they have trapped the Dragon, and Golic asks if he will let him go now that it has been proven he did not kill Boggs and Rains. Morse refuses, but when Golic continues to complain about being tied up he releases him, warning him not to try anything. As soon as his back is turned, Golic mutters that he is going to see the Xenomorph and knocks Morse out with a fire extinguisher.
- We see Ripley and Aaron in Andrews' office, where Ripley makes Aaron send a message to Weyland-Yutani requesting permission to kill the Xenomorph (regardless of the fact they have no actual means to do this). Despite Aaron's protests, they get a reply almost immediately prohibiting any offensive action, confirming Ripley's suspicions about the company's plans for the creature.
- After this, Golic arrives at the waste tank and confronts Arthur, who is standing guard. When Arthur refuses to let him into the tank, Golic kills him by slitting his throat, before opening the door and stepping inside. He asks the Dragon (unseen) what it wants him to do as he walks into the darkness. Moments later, the Dragon emerges and runs away, free once more.
- Finally, Ripley is with Dillon in his cell, asking him for advice on how they can kill the Dragon. He isn't interested, not wanting to risk any more prisoners' lives and not caring if Weyland-Yutani get their hands on the creature anyway, even if it means certain doom for the human race. Morse enters and nervously informs them of what Golic has done.
- There are a few additional lines of dialogue when the survivors meet outside the empty waste tank, mostly concerning Golic's actions added in the Assembly Cut. They also find his body inside the tank.
- While Ripley goes to the EEV to scan herself, Dillon and the other prisoners are in the assembly hall. Dillon proposes they stay there, taking it in shifts to watch the entrances, and hopefully they can hold out until help arrives. Some of the inmates propose they go to the foundry instead, and Dillon agrees. Several shots then show the prisoners making their way there.
- There is some extra dialogue in the scene where Ripley meets Dillon in his cell, after she comes face-to-face with the Dragon in the basement. She tells him that the Xenomorph won't kill her because of the embryo growing inside her, which is a Queen and has the potential to wipe out all of humanity. After Dillon strikes the bars with the axe and refuses to kill Ripley, he angrily tells her to kill herself.
- Dillon's rousing speech encouraging the surviving prisoners to fight the Dragon is extended.
- In the theatrical version, there is a scene of David and Jude criticising the bait-and-chase plan before the action starts. In the Assembly Cut, there is a different scene of William and Gregor discussing the fact they don't believe in God like the other inmates.
- When David finds a corpse near a blood-stained wall, he identifies it as Vincent in the Assembly Cut.
- During the first round of chasing, several of the prisoners run back into the piston chamber, having gotten lost; Dillon almost accidentally kills Morse with his axe. They set off again, Dillon telling Ripley that they are improvising.
- When Michael Bishop is trying to convince Ripley to come with him and his team, he invites a scientist to explain the procedure to surgically remove the Chestburster.
- Extra footage shows more clearly that Bishop is human, including several shots where he can be seen suffering more from his head wound, which bleeds profusely. At one point, he shouts to Ripley, "I'm not a droid!" He also sees a scientist filming what is happening and yells at him to stop.
- Ripley pauses longer before throwing herself into the furnace. On the way down, the Chestburster does not emerge from her chest, and she simply falls gracefully into the fires with her arms outstretched.
- Despite Fincher's infamous disowning of Alien3 following its production, he apparently did consider returning to the film to supervise its director's cut. Although he eventually decided against it, he gave Charles de Lauzirika his blessing with the endeavor. In fact, after the Assembly Cut was complete, Lauzirika was contacted by Fincher regarding the reconstructed version, although the two never met and their conversation never progressed any further.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Strange Shapes - Finding Fincher". Retrieved on 2013-11-14.
- ↑ "AVPGalaxy - The Many Deaths of Aaron 85". Retrieved on 2014-11-03.
- ↑ "Alien 3: Special Edition". Retrieved on December 16, 2009.
- ↑ "New Details On Alien Anthology Blu-Ray".
- ↑ "Rotten Tomatoes - Alien 3 (Special Edition)". Retrieved on 2014-10-15.