Director Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant will function as a sequel to Scott’s 2012 film Prometheus and as a prequel to the 1979 original Alien movie. If that all sounds a bit confusing to you, then you wouldn’t be alone. Aliens director James Cameron says the movies that followed his 1986 sequel (not counting Prometheus) have failed to live up to the potential of the series. Though Cameron, like us, said he’d probably line up to see Covenant on opening night anyway. It’s not exactly the biggest ringing endorsement for the beloved franchise, but at least it’s got Cameron on its side again.

Cameron spoke to Vulture about a National Geographic documentary he produced called Atlantis Rising, and talk veered towards the latest movie in the Alien series, and how the much maligned Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, and Alien vs. Predator movies were trashed for a reason. He said:

The franchise has kind of wandered all over the map. Ridley [Scott] did the first film, and he inspired an entire generation of filmmakers and science fiction fans with that one movie, and there have been so many films that stylistically have derived from it, including my own Aliens, which was the legitimate sequel and, I think, the proper heir to his film. I sort of did it as a fanboy. I wanted to honor his film, but also say what I needed to say. After that, I don’t take any responsibility.

I don’t think it’s worked out terribly well. I think we’ve moved on beyond it. It’s like, okay, we’ve got it, we’ve got the whole Freudian biomechanoid meme. I’ve seen it in 100 horror films since. I think both of those films stand at a certain point in time, as a reference point. But is there any validity to doing another one now? I don’t know. Maybe. Let’s see, jury’s out. Let’s see what Ridley comes up with. Let me just add to that — and don’t cut this part off, please — I will stand in line for any Ridley Scott movie, even a not-so-great one, because he is such an artist, he’s such a filmmaker. I always learn from him. And what he does with going back to his own franchise would be fascinating.

Cameron has always been outspoken against the way Alien 3 basically threw away everything that was good following Aliens, like killing off Newt and Hicks in the opening scene. Everything just went downhill from there.

From the trailers, Covenant does look a bit derivative of the aesthetic of the movies that came before it, but Scott’s involvement should pique the interest of everyone involved. It looks like Cameron is into the idea of officially doing away with everything that came after Aliens if the franchise continues with sequels. Fans should note that filmmaker Neill Blomkamp’s proposed Alien movie would do exactly that, though there’s a slim chance of that ever seeing the light of day.

Perhaps once Cameron is done making a bajillion Avatar movies, he might make the follow-up to Aliens we all want to see. Until then, we’ll get the sequel-prequel Covenant.

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