A far darker and grittier entry into the series, Alien - surprise, surprise - is again a very different movie if compared to its two predecessors. The oppressive setting lends a very morbid tone, and although there are a number of laughs, there is a great sense of depressing finality to be found in Alien . The new setting is a very original and unique departure from expectations, and it is dealt with skill-fully by director David Fincher - who doesn't shy away from the darker sides to prison and sexism.
Folklorists believe traditionally that there are three ages of women in Society; Maiden, Mother and Crone. Perhaps (or perhaps not) by complete accident or coincidence, Ellen Ripley proceeds through these three stages in the Alien series. In Alien, Ripley is the Maiden - she can hold her own, and learns from her experiences and mistakes. In Aliens we learn that she had a daughter on Earth, and so is a Mother. Therefore she fights, when everybody else has given up, to save her surrogate daughter, Newt. And finally here, in Alien , we find Ripley having digressed to Crone. She's seen and done it all and accepts that death is a natural progression. Once more Sigourney Weaver handles her role of Ripley with skill and sensitivity, and not once does her character become a bore - as can happen inside of a franchise.
David Fincher's direction (this is a surprisingly intense movie for a first-time director) is of a very high standard, and again this movie stands well on its own with its different feel. Whereas the first Alien went for dark and shadowy, and Aliens for a mis-match white and light blue to create the atmosphere, here Alien uses a mirage of darks against light (mainly orange) which creates a very unusual look, but one that works surprisingly well.
Alien proves, also, that the series hasn't reached a dead end in creativity. Not only are there interesting and different characters as well as some very memorable scenes, there are also some creative deaths that add to the 'nasty' or 'unsettling' nature of the movie. The new alien is born out of the chest of a dog this time (which creates a suggestive, rather than gratuitously gory, scene which may upset a lot of faithful pet owners), and prisoners are shoved into huge air-wheels and pulled up through the ceiling etc which keeps up the unpredictable and infectious nature of Alien .
There are enough twists and turns in the tale to keep the viewer's attention, and the shocking ending is one of the most memorable and emotionally draining scenes ever in a movie of this genre. Pitted against a brilliant score, this is a great movie, and a fascinating sequel.
A very ominous and dark entry into the series, Alien can tend to be a little slow at times, but the over-powering atmosphere and quality performances (as well as clever direction) make this an above-average sequel that is highly under-rated.