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Section Header
Alien 3
Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:
Elliot Goldenthal

Conducted by:
Jonathan Sheffer

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Elhai

Boy Soprano Solos by:
Nick Nackley

Produced by:
Matthias Gohl

MCA Records

Release Date:
June 9th, 1992

Also See:
The Alien Trilogy
Batman Forever
Demolition Man

Audio Clips:
1. Agnus Dei (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

4. Lento (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

6. Wreckage and Rape (0:28):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

14. Adagio (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

Regular U.S. release.


Alien 3
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Sales Rank: 143520

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Buy it... only if you enjoyed the score's majority in the film itself and are already well aware of (and prepared for) Elliot Goldenthal's progressive styles.

Avoid it... if you believe that the score maintained a failed balance between frenzied, obnoxious horror and misplaced religious romanticism in the film.

Alien 3: (Elliot Goldenthal) The Alien franchise had not been kind to the composers assigned to it by the time a relatively known Elliot Goldenthal came on board in 1992 for the third installment. Both Ridley Scott and James Cameron had absolutely mutilated the scores by Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner to such an extent that there was no prayer that either of them would return to score Ellen Ripley's final chapter. David Fincher's Alien 3 had nowhere near the quality of the first two films, and remains to this day an unsatisfying sequel (as the fourth film would be as well), not to mention its inherent tragic ending that the others had not contended with. Goldenthal wasn't a household name at the time, and his unconventional score did serve as an important one. First, it contributed to the launch of avant garde post-modern classical styles in major film scores, and, of course, it assisted Goldenthal in landing such assignments as Demolition Man and Batman Forever. The latter score is relevant to the discussion of Alien 3, because in both cases Goldenthal was stepping into the third installment of franchises that would yield four films in the original line. Whereas Goldenthal made some creative nods to Danny Elfman's work in Batman Forever, he would abandon the "time" motif that both Goldsmith and Horner had utilized in their Alien scores, as well as all other thematic material. The resulting experimental approach that Goldenthal made to this film is definitely a "love it or hate it" event. As he tends to do, Goldenthal over-intellectualizes the score, inserting a purely classical, operatic, and religious element into a film that never called for that kind of elegance, even in its sacrificial finale.

Goldenthal's adagio and related neo-classical ideas for Alien 3 do, however, ironically offer the most easily listenable music from the franchise's original trilogy in their rather simplistic beauty. The horror music in Alien 3 shows that the composer was incapable of finding a completely effective middle ground between the concepts of horror and romanticism. He is constantly at war between the romantic and the chaotic, and the result is that neither element really works. Orchestral chaos can indeed be beautiful in execution, but it can also distract from the film and annoy you on album. Unless you're among the small group of film music collectors who live and die by Goldenthal's brilliance in style, and it is truly intelligent enough for any student of composition marvel at, you're still going to find the score to border on intolerability. In the film, both the horror and religious elements fail, with the chasing and stalking cues serving as obnoxious sound effects (you can literally hear the screeching movements of fleeing prey and the tapping of an alien's feet on the metal floor in the music) and the classically religious explosions of near-harmonic power in "Lento" and "Adagio" seeming equally out of place in a franchise that had exercised such restraint up to this point. As always, there are individual moments that are exempt from this criticism. When Goldenthal drops the electronics for the frenetic high string burst in the latter half of "The Entrapment," you can't help but feel the chills that the rest of the ensemble must have felt while sitting in the room listening to that performance. There are also exceptions on the album as well. There is no doubt that "Adagio" is one of the most powerful creations of Goldenthal's career. Whether you find its over-dramatic style misplaced in the film or not, it's the one moment in Alien 3 when Goldenthal finally drops the bizarre sound effects and other dissonance and produces a moment almost as strikingly awkward on its album as "Silver Screen Kiss" would be in Demolition Man.

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If you're a fan of Goldenthal's abundant non-conventional use of orchestral instruments, such as the pitch-defying whines of the brass, and can actually sit through the relentless barrage of pounding in the "Wreckage and Rape" cue, then Alien 3 is indeed a fascinating study. That technique with the wavering brass, heard throughout several of Goldenthal's scores, is somewhat of a symbol of the composer's break from the norm, and you can be assured that if it is a source of annoyance for you, then you'll probably not appreciate some of the other startling performance aspects in this recording. It should be mentioned, though, that composer Cliff Eidelman re-recorded several cues from all three original Alien films in 1996 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and among the more interesting variations was "Lento" from this score, with its longing theme performed without the wash of the background vocals that dilute its harmony. Overall, you're going to hear a group of devoted film score and Goldenthal collectors defend Alien 3 to the death, and to their credit, the score is, like many of the composer's efforts, an interesting listening experience no matter your inclination towards his style. There is no part of this score that will put you to sleep, and anyone who can snooze to this score needs mental examination. But the fact remains that it's possible that Goldenthal's approach towards the franchise will actually detract from the viewing experience of the film. Most people won't notice it, of course, though it's highly probable that the mass majority of you will find the majority of chasing and killing music in Alien 3 to be obnoxious experiments in instrument mutilation. Brilliance in concept doesn't always equal success. The score remains more effective apart from the film, where cues like "Adagio" and "Lento" can be separated from their overblown effect in their scenes and enjoyed for their own religious splendor. There seem to be endless ways to love or hate this score, and much of that determination will depend on your opinion of the completely new style within the film itself. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Elliot Goldenthal reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 16 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.07 (in 15,600 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.96 Stars
Smart Average: 2.88 Stars*
***** 446 
**** 207 
*** 307 
** 393 
* 385 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   What a RIDICULOUS review...
  Bernardo -- 10/19/10 (11:17 a.m.)
   Goldenthal's Alien 3 is brilliant
  Zach -- 4/26/07 (6:11 p.m.)
   Great score by Goldenthal.Horrible movie by...
  dts -- 4/21/07 (9:40 p.m.)
   Its the best o' the 3 to me!
  A dissenting voice -- 12/6/06 (1:52 p.m.)
   Re: Missing Music
  John -- 11/29/06 (5:37 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 50:04

• 1. Agnus Dei (4:29)
• 2. Bait and Chase (4:42)
• 3. The Beast Within (3:09)
• 4. Lento (5:48)
• 5. Candles in the Wind (3:20)
• 6. Wreckage and Rape (2:43)
• 7. The First Attack (4:19)
• 8. Lullaby Elegy (3:41)
• 9. Death Dance (2:18)
• 10. Visit to the Wreckage (2:04)
• 11. Explosion and Aftermath (2:21)
• 12. The Dragon (3:08)
• 13. The Entrapment (3:42)
• 14. Adagio (4:14)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Alien 3 are Copyright © 1992, MCA Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/11/98 and last updated 8/13/06. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.