I usually don't review films made after 1990, but Aliens 3 is an exception since it's the follow up to the much beloved Alien and Aliens. Unfortunately, after such a high benchmark for excellent filmmaking, there is no where to go but downhill..and downhill it went with great speed and velocity! Alien 3 is the film critics love to hate. Even director David Fincher was infamously quoted as saying, "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me." That being said, it's not the worst movie ever made, but its not the greatest either.
Fincher points to a lot of reasons why Aliens 3 didn't work including his naivety as a young director, a studio that didn't care about its quality as long at it opened and was under budget, and severe cuts that were made to the original release that trimmed it from 144 to 114 minutes. There are a number of excellent critiques regarding the hows and whys of the failures of Aliens 3. I suggest you seek them out if you're interested.
Here are my observations as to why this movie wasn't as amazing as the previous two.
1). The screenplay. Why they decided to kill off everyone from the second film except for Ripley is a mystery to me. It made the saving of the little girl in Aliens a wasted effort. I also missed having Bishop around (played by the always excellent Lance Henriksen) whose animated remains appeared all too briefly in Aliens 3.
They also gave Sigourney Weaver very little to work with. Gone is the kickass, self-confident female from the first two films. In her place is a Ripley that is hesitant, fearful and just plain tired!
The rest of the cast is full of less than memorable characters with the exception of Dillon, played by Charles S. Dutton, who is one of the few characters who is given any depth. It felt like every time we were just getting to know someone better, they were food for the alien.
2). The creature. Damn to hell all bad GCI. Unlike the creature in the first two films, who was largely done by remote control and puppetry, this "new and improved" alien looks fake, fake, fake. It's just not the meaning character we know and love.
3). The cinematography. This is the brownest looking movie outside of the silent films of the 1920's. The darker tones of the first two Alien movies work much better. This just looks too bland and monochromatic.
I have seen both versions of Aliens 3 and I, like Fincher, prefer the longer 2003 Special "Assembly Cut" Edition. It provides information that's important to the storyline and the movie is better with these scenes added to it.
So that's my take. It's not as god-awful as move reviewers will tell you it is, but it's hardly the iconic films that Alien and Aliens are. After watching the breath-taking Prometheus (2012) which Ridley Scott wrote and directed as a prequel to Alien, I am reminded just how poorly Aliens 3 missed the mark.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.