Review: Alien III by William Gibson

Audible is bringing William Gibson’s uncovered Alien III script to life in audio for the first time, to mark the 40th Anniversary of the birth of the Alien franchise. 

Alongside a full cast, Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen reprise their iconic roles as Corporal Hicks and Bishop from the 1986 film Aliens. 

Father of cyberpunk William Gibson’s original script for Alien III, written in 1987 as a sequel to Aliens, never made it to our screens, although it went on to achieve cult status among fans as the third installment that might have been after being leaked online. 

This terrifying, cinematic multicast dramatisation – directed by the multi-award-winning Dirk Maggs – is the chance to experience William Gibson’s untold story and its terrifying, claustrophobic and dark encounters between humans and aliens, as a completely immersive audio experience. 

The story begins with the Sulaco on its return journey from LV-426. On board the military ship are the cryogenically frozen skeleton crew of that film’s survivors: Ripley, Hicks, Newt and Bishop. 

We travel aboard and hear an alarm blare. Our heroes are no longer alone….

Aliens III by William Gibson. Published by Audible Studios, May 2019. 2 hours long. Directed by Dirk Maggs. Starring: Tom Alexander, Barbara Barnes, Michael Biehn, Cliff Chapman, Samantha Coughlan, Ben Cura, Dar Dash, Harry Ditson, Mairead Doherty, Lance Henriksen, Graham Hoadly, Lorelei King, Laurel Lefkow, Martin McDougall, Sarah Pitard, Michael Roberts, David Seddon, Andrew James Spooner, Siri Steinmo, Dai Tabuchi, Keith Wickham, Rebecca Yeo.

I remember seeing the movie Aliens 3 when it first came out. I remember being super disappointed. I mostly remember it just not being very good. D: I’ve seen it once or twice since then. My opinion has never changed about it not being very good. I think my biggest problem with it, is that I liked Aliens a LOT, and Alien was pretty badass as well. And part 3 just wasn’t nearly on the same level. Apparently the movie was a huge clusterfuck from start to finish. Google it. It sounded like a real nightmare to work on. Multiple scripts, revolving door of directors, a lot of re-writes and even shooting without any scripts at one point. But I didn’t know any of this until now. I also didn’t know that out there on the inter webs was a leaked copy of an Aliens 3 script that never happened, by a fairly well known sci-fi author, William Gibson. While I did not like Alien 3 the movie, I was pretty curious what Aliens III the unused script looked like. When I saw this pop up on Audible, I went ahead and snagged it.

So. My first thought after finishing this audio drama… is that it was kind of confusing. o_O There was a lot of stuff in this story that…. *shrug* I just don’t get it. The most obvious (and talked about) thing is that Ripley is in the story, but hardly used. :/ She’s in a coma 99% of the time and then gets shipped off to Earth on her own towards the end of the story. Now, why in the HELL would you NOT use Ripley?? She was an iconic action hero since Alien came out, and got even more badass and popular after Aliens. So why in the world would you NOT USE HER?? That makes absolutely no sense. And to add to that, Newt – who died at the start of Alien 3 the movie- lives in this script! But… has absolutely no purpose. She has a few lines, and then gets shipped off to Earth. The way it was handled felt so awkward and weird. It just felt like a tacked on happy ending with out of place scenes and dialogue with Newt that amount to nothing. :/ With as much emphasis that was put on Ripley saving Newt in part 2, to not follow up with that relationship just feels…. weird.

Another thing that left me feeling a little confused was actually a pretty cool plot point. The people at the station are experimenting with alien DNA and because of this, there ends up being an alien hybrid. But I think I missed something because it felt kind of convoluted with everything in the lab and about what the hybrid looked like. This was a really cool idea, but it just wasn’t executed very well for this audio drama. I *think* that maybe this plot device would have worked better with visuals of the movie world instead of just audio.

Something that really added to all the confusion, is that this had a pretty big cast. A lot of talking but not really getting to know those characters, so it all just blended in to generic character chatter and actions. It was basically the same thing that went on with Newt. They were there. They did stuff. But nothing really amounted to anything and they were pretty forgettable. They weren’t even just there for kills… most of them survived. Which also felt kind of out of place.

Speaking of the survivors… The ending felt kind of abrupt. The people escape the aliens, and then a restock ship arrives early, picks them up and that’s it. There is a tacked on message at the end about working together with the human enemies to unit against the bigger threat, the aliens, but again… the way this was handled was so awkwardly done. Just not very good. :/ This was just not the kind of writing I was expecting from William Gibson. D:

Alien III was not a very memorable story. There were other things that left me confused when listening to the audio, but the story is so forgettable that I don’t even recall what else it was that was confusing. *shrug* Not one of my more favorite Aliens audios I’ve listened to. I don’t think I’d recommend this to anyone unless you are REALLY curious about the different possible story for Alien 3 and you have low expectations.


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