But Alien 3 does this while successfully bringing together the previous two films to form an actual trilogy, a single, overarching saga of the battle between Ripley, the Alien, and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Viewed together, each of the Alien films shows us how capitalism—here manifested in Weyland-Yutani—objectifies, uses up, and disregards human lives in the workplace, the military, and the prison industrial complex. Alien 3’s rancid yellow color palette also contrasts nicely with the deep blues of Aliens, or the bleached whites of Alien.
And while Alien 3 returns to the barebones of the Alien concept, it is far more than just a remake of the original, and the reason for that is Ripley.
Ripley (Believe it or Not)
Dan Harmon of Community and Rick & Morty fame has argued that all stories that fit into an eight-part cycle. A character is in a comfort zone but they want something, so they step out of their comfort zone, they get what they want, at a cost, and then return to where they started, but they are changed.
Alien 3 very much hits the “return to where they started, but they are changed” point in the cycle. Yes, we’ve got no weapons, and we’re only fighting one alien who keeps bursting out of air vents to kill people, again, but this Ripley is a very different person from the Warrant Officer of the UNSCC Nostromo in Alien. Also, tellingly for a story like this, “changed” doesn’t simply mean “becomes more of a badass.”
The big difference in Ripley here is that she is no longer willing to play Cassandra. She has spent her whole story warning people of dangers only to be ignored, overruled, gaslit, and usually have at least one person try to kill her. This time around Ripley makes only a half-hearted effort to warn the prison warden about what he’s facing before everything goes to hell.
Tragically, for the first time, she meets someone ready to trust her from the outset, Charles Dance’s Clemens, who without knowing the first thing about Ripley takes her concerns seriously and shows himself ready to listen, only to have his head ripped off by the Alien before she can tell him the truth.