Don't Be A Cynic, Be Excited About Ridley Scott and Neill Blomkamp's 'Alien' Movies

The fate of another classic sci-fi franchise hangs in the balance.

Earlier in the year, Neill Blomkamp published a bunch of proposed concept art for an Alien sequel to Instagram. Almost immediately the internet pounced on those sketches, arriving at a unanimous conclusion: It already looked better than Prometheus. 20th Century Fox agreed. Blomkamp will now see his vision through to the acid-for-blood-soaked end, all the while fighting back hordes of detractors who weren’t so fond of Elysium or Chappie.

Since tentative development began on Blomkamp’s outing, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel attracted similar attention, with the biggest jaw-dropper so far landing earlier today. Scott has just announced that the official title for the follow-up has nixed the uninspired Prometheus 2 in favor of Alien: Paradise Lost, now officially dated for release May 30, 2017.

So is Prometheus 2 “not really going to be,” as Scott suggests? If that’s the case, how might Scott’s film affect Blomkamp’s? Both are coming at the same franchise from opposite ends of its timeline, in a confusing haze of unsubstantiated rumors and sound bites seized from larger interviews. The problem with a double-sided revival based on a hugely popular series is the amount of criticism that’s already been stockpiled. On the basis of Scott and Blomkamp’s recent titles alone there’s tons of fodder for Alien enthusiasts to wield as evidence that the series should lay dormant.

Forget the haters. There’s a lot to look forward to from this pair of sci-fi auteurs, and here’s why you should be as excited as a dropship full of Marines heading to a bughunt.

Don’t abandon all hope if you didn’t like Prometheus. The 2012 original positioned itself as a quasi-prequel to the director’s 1979 Alien masterpiece, and thusly, fans were a smidgen disheartened when Scott eschewed Jon Spaihts’ xenomorph-heavy script Alien: Engineers and handed over the scrappy remnants to Damon Lindelof for a major rewrite. Gone were the KY jellied jaws of the iconic beast, replaced by towering mythical figures who sought to eradicate mankind in the most violent way possible. Response to the film was polarized. Not a huge surprise for a film attempting to juggle a multitude of ambitions. And yet in spite of its shortcomings, the underlying creationist angle — borrowed from the works of Zecharia Sitchin and Erich von Daniken — demands a conclusion. Heck, the final scene of the movie has Noomi Rapace’s scientist Elizabeth Shaw delving deeper into space in search of answers.

Fox’s attempt at creating a foreword to Alien on the whole was messy. Ten bucks to watch Charlize Theron forget the basic principles of physics and thusly get squashed by a giant donut? It’s not awful by any means, but evaluated in context to the pre-existing films it was found lacking a hefty plot, dedicated character development or those glorious monsters.

Blomkamp’s full sequel outline is still a mystery, yet he’s made sufficient xenomorph references to calm collective nerves. Based on his artwork, Alien 5 is already poised to re-introduce the all-powerful alien queen.

Blomkamp's concept art. 

There, things are looking better already. And while the 2012 prequel placated fans right at the last second, with a hybridised alien ancestor, Ridley Scott insists Paradise Lost will forgo the franchise’s iconic beast for a ‘fresher form of alien’ set to appear in its third act.

Could be that the Deacon, spotted in the final frames, makes its way aboard the next ship Shaw and David commandeer to visit the Engineers’ home planet. Seeing as Scott has outlined that “the whole point [of ‘Prometheus’] is to explain the Alien franchise and to explain the how and why of the creation of the Alien itself,” if we take one logical step that would suggest we’re going to meet the Deacon’s offspring. That’s technically a new creature.

They’re going to rewrite the wrongs. For Alien 5, Queenie’s back. And she’s got company. What stoked most of the excitement from Blomkamp’s initial group of illustrations was the inclusion of Lt. Ellen Ripley and Corporal Dwayne Hicks.

Blomkamp's artwork of Ripley and Hicks. 

Both look considerably older than we’ve seen them onscreen before, and for Hicks, considerably less dead. The Marine with a heart of gold perished offscreen between the events of Aliens and Alien 3, which makes his re-appearance all the more exciting. Would this new film erase the events of the latter two — and grossly inferior — chapters? At first it seemed as though that would be the case, but Blomkamp later clarified things by referring to his movie as a “genetic sibling” to Alien and Aliens. It won’t ignore the other films, it’ll just politely step over their twitching corpses.

Even though Scott’s intention for Prometheus — once Lindelof was onboard — was to simply sculpt a movie set in the same world, he’s more recently championed a stronger connection between the two franchises. When asked if the second installment of Prometheus would directly tie-in to Alien he replied in the affirmative: “Yes, but it won’t be in the next one,” he told FilmFutter. “It will be in the one after this one or maybe even a fourth film before we get back into the Alien franchise.” A lack of clear connect was a major sore point for fans in 2012, so by the looks of things, Scott aims to make it up by barreling towards their eventual union.

“I always thought of the Alien as kind of a piece of bacterial warfare,” he explained recently. “I always thought that that original ship, which I call the Croissant, was a battleship, holding these bio-mechanoid creatures that were all about destruction.” This goes some way to explaining the similarities between the urns of black goo covering the floor of the ‘croissant’ ship in Prometheus and the thousands of eggs Kane spies in the control room of a different ‘croissant’ ship in Alien. It makes sense that as the Deacon evolves it carries forth the lifecycle — egg, face hugger, chest burster, drone — until the Engineers start shipping them off to unworthy planets as a doomsday device. Might we finally see the xenomorph embrace its true design?

Ripley will return. Sigourney Weaver is excited to reprise the role of Ripley for Alien 5.

Seems like nothing out of the ordinary, right? Actors happily agree to drag out their most lucrative skeletons for further financial remuneration. Weaver is cut from a different cloth. Throughout the film’s lengthy development period it all boiled down to one overriding factor: story. One of those was cooked up by Joss Whedon — who also wrote Resurrection — in a script set on Earth. Weaver had zero interest in taking the beast home, and it’s only now that her enthusiasm appears genuine. For the woman who’s faced the monsters four times, she knows a thing or two about what works. For her to praise the development of Blomkamp’s project, even at this early stage, is very, very promising.

Interestingly, Weaver and Scott batted around ideas for a potential Alien 5 in 2008 after Aliens director James Cameron bailed on it upon hearing of an Alien Vs Predator movie. Those earlier talks with Scott revolved around Ripley’s own experiences, potentially without a xenomorph getting in the way. Eventually they fell to the wayside so Scott could indulge the alien origin in Prometheus. Now, this is wild speculation mixed with a massive dollop of wishful thinking, but for a moment just imagine if somehow Weaver managed to wangle appearances in both franchises. The logistics of a cameo in the tail-end of the Prometheus series might prove difficult on account of Ripley’s youth in the first Alien. But if practical effects can turn Guy Pearce from a handsome chap into a walking scrotum, there’s hope.

As for the Alien 5 cast, Michael Biehn is also said to be coming back as Hicks, Bill Paxton has announced his desire to play Hudson again… and Newt might be somehow involved. Fox just put out a cease and desist on the fan sequel, Alien Identity, as its plot - following Newt as an adult - apparently veers too closely to Blomkamp’s story.

Blomkamp is a massive Alien nerd. He really is. His love of the first two flicks saw him cast Sigourney Weaver in Chappie, which could be seen as a ‘gateway’ tactic to get her into the movie, as throughout production on that film he questioned her on all things Alien. He showed her rough conceptual sketches, proof of his undying love of the series and desire to do it justice. Based on the tiniest inferences made thus far, he bears the hallmarks of an aficionado. Even Weaver is impressed by the extent of his fandom.

Choosing to delve into Ripley’s story after the second film instead of carrying on where the mythology left off is indicative of his devotion. Alien 3 blew its load early by icing Hicks and Newt. Character dynamic, tension, and plot were leveled so that Ripley could experience more aliens and interstellar misogyny. Blomkamp wants to find out what happened after Ripley, Hicks, and Newt awoke from hypersleep. So do I.

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