First off, the entire theatrical cut of Alien 3 is an unholy mess. By now, the production woes have become legend: Fox greenlit the film without really knowing what it would be. It had no finished script, and series star Sigourney Weaver initially waffled on her commitments. When she finally
did agree to reprise her role as Ripley, Vincent Ward had been signed to write and direct a sequel that would find Ripley living among Monks on a medieval planet. When creative tensions hit a fever pitch between Ward and the producers, he found himself out of a job and Alien 3 suddenly had no creative direction. Enter first time director David Fincher, who oversaw the production, reset to a mining colony populated by religious convicts.
Still, production proved disastrous. Fincher battled with the producers over budget and schedule, the script underwent constant rewrites during shooting, and ultimately Fincher quit the film. Expensive reshoots tried to restructure the movie, but only made it more confusing. The released theatrical cut also has an infuriating ending in which Ripley tries to commit suicide, only to have an alien fetus burst from her chest in the process. In essence, the alien wins—it kills our beloved heroine, whose sacrifice meant nothing. The better “Assembly Cut” suffers from much of the same nihilism and depressive philosophy, though it does at least improve the ending. Instead of the alien killing Ripley, she manages to cremate herself before it can burst.