Recently Neill Blomkamp ,the writer/director behind impressive sci-fi ventures District 9, Elysium and the upcoming Chappie, announced that after posting some intriguing concept art based on his ideas for a new Alien film he’s actually been for talks with Fox and is actually set to make that new Alien film.
The Alien franchise is one of the most beloved sci-fi film franchises there is (the only real competition is The Terminator franchise) something that both franchises have in common though is the first two entries in the series are seen as the best even though they are very different.
Whilst Ridley Scott’s Alien blew film fans minds with its claustrophobic haunted house in space set up ,featuring H.R Giger’s nightmare inducing xenomorph, James Cameron’s follow up Aliens took Giger’s creature and incorporated it into one of the best sci-fi action films made. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley ,who found herself in a seemingly unending nightmare facing shady corporations along with deadly predacious aliens, was being a strong female character before that was even a thing that people talked about.
David Fincher’s Alien 3, the now critically acclaimed film makers debut, started off by jettisoning the characters that were so integral to Aliens namely Corporal Hicks memorably played by Michael Biehn (there’s a Terminator connection) and Newt played by Carrie Hen. The underlying theme of Aliens was Ripley’s surrogate family with Newt taking the place of her real daughter with Hicks being the father figure and Lance Henriksen’s Bishop being the wacky but cool uncle.
Could a third Alien film have worked with this surrogate family unit, that’s a debatable point that can’t really be answered but Alien 3 is probably just behind Jodorowsky’s Dune in the potentially amazing film that failed to materialise stakes. Mired with problems it was originally supposed to take place on a wooden planet inhabited by monks. The fourth film Alien Resurrection tackled the problem of Ripley dying in the last film as French auteur Jean-pierre Jeunet directed with a script from Joss Whedon, yes that Joss Whedon, but it was met by mixed responses and original alien designer H.R Giger didn’t hold back his contempt for being repeatedly snubbed by Fox despite being fundamental to the franchises success.
The nearest thing to a new Alien film in recent years has been the rather maligned Alien Vs Predator films, more on those later, and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Scott’s return to the Alien universe after 30 something years was kind of a big deal, even if Prometheus was to be a prequel of sorts. Unfortunately it was massively anti-climatic thanks to what many have said is woefully poor writing. Prometheus is so riddled with seemingly illogical events that lots of people have invested time in trying to actually explain why things happened the way they did.
When someone needs to make a 30 minute video explaining why everything in your film happened the way it did because the majority of people that watched it were just utterly bewildered and that explanation requires you to reference things off the internet just to understand the story of said film then it’s a sign that something went wrong somewhere. Even a star turn from Michael Fassbender and some impressive visuals couldn’t save it from being mocked by some due to all these illogical events and apparent plotholes though.
Now nearly 20 years later Neill Blomkamp is making a new Alien film. Whilst Blomkamp’s ideas are still under wraps amongst other things the concept art shows a scarred Hicks. Outside of rehashing the cloning plot device of Alien Resurrection this could imply that Blomkamp’s film is a follow on from James Cameron’s Aliens. This would make the upcoming Alien film something even more exciting given that Aliens is far more popular with film fans than than Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection. Concept art also shows one of the Engineers ships, as originally seen in Alien, in a vast warehouse of some description. Further complications arise as to whether Scott’s Prometheus will factor into Blomkamp’s film or at least the Engineers which are the progenitors of the xenomorph.
One of the fundamental factors to the enduring appeal of the Alien franchise along with Giger’s designs is the memorable special effects. Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff,Jr are two of the people responsible for those effects. The pairs studio Amalgamated Dynamics Inc has worked on a variety of films and the pair have a established a legion of fans through their talent for practical film effects work. This legion of fans are the people that crowdfunded Harbinger Down and Fire City which I mentioned a while back.
The most exciting prospect of Neill Blomkamp’s Alien film is having one of the most impressive newcomers in film, whose films in a contrast to many, many others have featured some brilliantly executed digital effects potentially working with Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. The Alien Vs Predator films as maligned as they might be by many show what ADI can pull off with modern technology even on a modest budget.
There are some that might think that Fox is just rehashing it’s best known films for a younger audience (much like the upcoming Terminator Genisys seems to be doing) but if anyone is going to bring some new ideas to the Alien franchise and make an Alien film that”s actually worth making it’s Neill Blomkamp and you can bet that Fox is thinking the same.