Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better…
After what could be seen as either an excellent piece of free advertising for a future 20th Century Fox release, or a director using social media to position himself into directing a film purely on internet buzz, Neill Blomkamp has just announced that he has been hired to direct the next movie in the iconic ‘Alien’ franchise, a few months after ‘leaking’ a range of exquisite concept art based on his original story ideas.
Blomkamp has emerged as one of the freshest new talents in the resurgent Sci-Fi genre, with the excellent ‘District 9’, the flawed but highly entertaining ‘Elysium’, and the upcoming ‘Robocop’ meets ‘Short Circuit’ feature ‘Chappie’ (which looks like a ton of fun), showing that he can deliver the type of gritty, action-packed Sci-Fi that fans of the Alien franchise have longed for since ‘Alien Resurrection’ reared its ugly head in 1997 (whose idea was it to colour the xenomorphs brown?! They all look like walking, drizzling turds!).
In my opinion, the timing of this announcement couldn’t have been any better. With the fantastic ‘Alien Isolation’ game having been released to almost universal critical acclaim recently, interest in the franchise has definitely become renewed. Combine that with the fact that the missed opportunity that was Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ is still relatively fresh in the minds of the fans – the general negativity and confusion that surrounded that film’s release, would almost certainly give Blomkamp the leverage to reintroduce the horror and action aspects that made the original film and it’s direct sequel so vibrant and revolutionary (and which was almost non-existent in ‘Prometheus’). Let’s also not forget about the death last year of the ‘father’ of the alien itself, H.R. Giger – a new Alien movie would be the perfect way to celebrate his incredible creature design and his art in general.
From the beautifully rendered concept art, the tone of the movie looks to be firmly placed in the James Cameron ‘Aliens’ timeline, with a much older Ripley and Hicks featuring heavily. Whether or not this indicates a ret coning of sorts of the franchise, essentially wiping out both ‘Alien3’ and ‘Resurrection’ in the process (which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world) is unclear – but I’m sure the problem of **Spoiler!** bringing Hicks (i.e. the human shish kebab) back could be solved easily by a spot of cloning – it worked for Ripley!
A few other points from the concept art that interest me:
- The ‘Space Jockey’ ship in a massive warehouse – fantastic image, but is this the original ship from LV-426, or a newly captured ship? I just hope it’s not the one from the end of ‘Prometheus’. This could either suggest that the usual ‘evil’ Weyland Yutani corp will be involved in the story, or perhaps the ship has been picked up by accident – both leading to the inevitable alien breakout/slaughter everyone scene.
- Ripley seems to be wearing a suicide/bomb vest in one photo – is this a suggestion that she sacrifices herself? Will this finally be the end for the character? As much as I think that Sigourney Weaver has been an amazing constant in this franchise, I’ve always been interested in seeing an Alien movie without Ripley as the main protagonist.One of my absolute favourite non-movie Alien stories was the incredible ‘Aliens: Book 2’ Dark Horse graphic novel – with it’s beautiful air-brushed artwork, and a story involving a grown-up Newt and a grizzled veteran Hicks struggling to survive an alien outbreak aboard a ship escaping Earth. Without the shadow of Ripley, the others had the space (even in a short 4-issue comic) to evolve into fully realised characters, and not just Ripley’s buddies in action.
I’d love to see this happen with the new film – by all means, have Weaver/Ripley involved initially before having her die heroically, thus setting up other characters that can take the franchise forward (in the same way that Heather Langenkamp/Nancy did in ‘Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ – sorry to use a totally unrelated franchise). Oh, and when it comes to new characters, let’s have some stars of merit please, not just a bunch of carbon-copy marines/scientists to be used as cannon-fodder!
- Ripley in the weird Alien hybrid suit – now this looks fucking awesome! Is this some sort of disguise for her to infiltrate the alien lair? Could this be some sort of ‘Alien Resurrection’ type clone? I know that it mentions “Space Jockey” and “Pilot”, but surely this is closer to the look of the actual alien and not the Space Jockey (as ruined forever by ‘Prometheus’ – it’s a bloody albino John Cena in a suit?! Not in my Alien Universe!).
- Ripley and the “Xeno” – very mysterious. In what could either be a cocooned victim of the alien (ala Brett from the ‘Alien’ director’s cut), or some sort of new creature, we clearly see Ripley looking shocked or upset. This creature reminds me of a Flood victim from ‘Halo’, a Bloater or Jockey from ‘Left 4 Dead’, or the Fifield monster from ‘Prometheus’ (although I seriously doubt Fox would want any actual cross over between that film and the new ‘Alien’). I’m very interested to see where this one goes, as I’ve quite enjoyed the attempts to introduce new creatures into the Alien universe, such as the Newborn (probably the only part I enjoyed in ‘Resurrection’) and the Pred-Alien (admittedly only because it was fucking ludicrous – the AVP films were both shite of the highest order).
Please note: This is just me speculating and I doubt any of this will actually happen. Anyone else have any predictions/thoughts on this concept art and how it could fit into the overall Alien franchise? And what are your thoughts on the announcement of the movie itself? Should this or ‘Prometheus 2’ take priority for Fox?
Sigourney Weaver, who is part of the cast of ‘Chappie’, recently stated on Coming Soon that she was very interested in being part of a new movie “if it was (directed by) someone as talented as Neill” – having Weaver on board would be definitely help Blomkamp to deal with Fox and the demands of their executives/stockholders.
In closing, I would say that I am extremely pleased to see this movie going ahead. ‘Alien’ is my favourite movie of all time, and to have its next sequel in the hands of a young, innovative director who is an actual fan of the series, definitely helps calm any nerves I had over the studio’s intentions going forward. I just hope they leave him alone to craft this film with an original vision, a good cast and a decent budget (let’s not forget the quality that Blomkamp was able to achieve with a minuscule budget on ‘District 9’ – think of what he can do with a proper Hollywood budget) – and that this doesn’t go through the same Development Hell process that both ‘Alien3’ and ‘Prometheus’ went through.
Looking forward to seeing Sharlto Copley turn up in a random cameo too – perhaps he’ll be a facehugger haha.