ALIEN FRANCHISE WISHLIST
You know it’s happening. Go on, admit it, you were excited by the news. Alien 5 (or is it Aliens 2?) is happening! Neill Blomkamp is directing and writing. It’s very much ‘his’ vision and it was arguably the fan art styled, self- made love letters to the franchise he released online that sealed the deal.
Granted, this was only a dormant series. Like its heroine (Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley) it cannot stay dead for long. A re-launch of some sort was inevitable; just a question of ‘when’. In our era of ‘shared universes’ and endless franchise renewal, it makes good business / box office sense.
2012’s Prometheus was a fair indication that there is both creative and commercial life left in this beast, plus a mountain of mythology to mine. With Blomkamp at the helm; Ridley Scott Exec Producing and Sigourney Weaver returning as Ripley, it is time to speculate about the imminent Alien movie.
Now it’s hiding in the scariest place in the universe: Movie Viral!
Think Big and Be Bold
Consider SUPERMAN. 2006’s Superman Returns: neither reboot nor sequel but messy muddle that failed to ‘fly’. 2013’s Man of Steel: glossy yet gloomy reboot with unspectacular results. 1998’s aborted Superman Lives was a bolder, braver yet potentially brilliant blockbuster which revisionist film scholars judge a missed opportunity.
Lesson: you cannot please everyone! Alien MUST learn from Superman. Take big and bold risks. DON’T try faithfully fusing competing strands of mythology or integrating iterations past. But don’t dishonour the essentials of the franchise.
The first three Alien movies all have a separate vision. Alien = body horror flick in space. Aliens = action /war movie with sci-fi. Alien 3 = pure horror. You cannot fuse those genres, as the much maligned Alien: Resurrection proved. Either pick ONE previous template or INNOVATE.
Past pitches stalled because they simply repeated old beats (a draft for Alien 3 had an army of fork-lift suits take on multiple Alien Queens) or went too far out (Vincent Ward’s Monks on wooden planet vs alien).
Blomkamp is great at sci-fi as social comment. Go with that? The class war and racial politics motifs of Elysium and District 9 could easily translate to the world of Alien, with the creatures as victims, villains or both? This MUST be Blomkamp’s take and not his version of another Director or some awkward medley of visions. ‘Slaughter your Darlings’. ‘Tough Love’. Etc.
An Alien film has to look the part. One must be left with stunning snapshots in the mind, long after viewing the product. To that effect, the late, great HR Giger’s designs are essential. He defined what an alien looks like for these films and anything else is simply a variation on that.
So whilst tone, theme and pitch must be original, the visual templates are somewhat sacrosanct. If variety is sought, Giger himself provided ‘new’ alien designs for Alien 3. They were rejected for being too extreme. Perhaps they can be resurrected?
But these ARE science fiction films. Therefore the landscape should be exotic and technologically engaging. We must feel transported to some new world, even if it is tinged with a ‘used future’ look or a sanitised minimalism.
That ‘new’ world could even be the Earth of the future. Frequently referenced in the series, we are yet to see it, save a brief shot of Paris in a deleted scene from Alien: Resurrection. And no, the Alien invasions of the Alien v Predator films do NOT count as canon on that score! Why not show these things finally getting their hands on the Earth? Leave charting their home planets to the Prometheus series.
Blomkamp’s own designs for characters /set pieces so far look striking. Bodes well. Use IMAX and 3D if possible (but get it right: contact James Cameron). Sound effects and score must be haunting, tense and memorable.
I’m done trying to figure this out. Blomkamp delighted us all by revealing the return of Michael Biehn’s Hicks (hero of Aliens; cruelly and needlessly killed for Alien 3). So it’s a sort of sequel to Aliens. But it won’t necessarily ignore Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection. Confused? Yep.
They can go with ‘Alien 3 and Resurrection were hyper-space, cryo-sleep dreams’. Perhaps Hicks was cloned at the same time as Ripley and this is simply Alien: Revelation /Reunion (possible titles)?
But this is sci-fi. So alternate realities and time travel also up for grabs. Better still, just tell a REALLY good story. Let audiences debate the details.
Whatever ends up on screen, it will be a big event and hit. We look forward to reviewing it.
Words: James Murphy
Ripley Drawing: Richard Stapleton