So, you’ve probably heard by now that Neill Blomkamp, he of District 9, Elysium and more lately, Chappie fame, has taken on the formidable task of helming another sequel to the science-fiction masterpiece Alien. After a disastrous Alien 3, plus the not-so-brilliant Alien vs Predator (I’m not even going to touch on Prometheus), Blomkamp has a lot to take on with this new challenge- but what do fans want to see from this new project? Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but here’s what I’m keen to see from Blomkamp’s take on the Alien franchise.
A Decent End to Ripley’s Story
I always felt like Ripley’s story never got a really satisfying end, after an amazing beginning and middle was set up by the first two Alien films- and I’m not the only one. Sigourney Weaver, talking with Sky Movies, said:
“I would love to take Ripley out of sort of orbiting around in space and give a proper finish to what was such an excellent story”
She has been known to be very protective over the iconic character. With Blomkamp’s move allegedly being a follow-up to Aliens (that still takes into account the following Alien movies, somehow), it looks like this movie will finally give us the opportunity to satisfactorily finish up the tale of the most kick-ass woman in science fiction. And if Weaver-who worked with Neill Blomkamp on his movie, Elysium- has given the go-ahead to a new director, it’s safe to say that he’s probably going to do a pretty good job with the character.
Keep the Origin Art As Real As Possible
Look, when it comes down to it, it was the concept art that Blomkamp posted online that first sparked enough interest in a new Alien movie to warrant a commission. And yes, I think that the new concept art looks beyond amazing- especially the picture of Ripley in what could be a Xenomorph disguise, or could be the start of a Xenomorph transformation. But what I’m a little nervous about is the thought that the production team might lean on CGi instead of real effects. I adore real effects, and I seriously can’t figure out why so many big-budget productions end up sketching in creatures in post-production. Part of what made the original movies so brilliant was the dedication to real effects, and how tangible and genuinely scary the creatures terrorising Ripley and company seemed. Please, let’s stick with that for the new film. If I spot even one CGI’ed alien wriggling about in the background of any shot, I will demand my money back (well, figuratively. Anything else would just be a bit embarrassing).
Watch the Action
I know that casting the original actors- Sigourney Weaver and Michael Bien- in their Alien roles has raised some eyebrows, because a few people are nervous that they might not be able to carry a hefty, action-packed military movie in their latter years (even though, let’s face it, they’re going to be amazing either way because Sigourney Weaver can do no wrong). And I would be sympathetic with that, if Alien was truly about the action. In fact, what made the original Alien movies so fascinating and so timeless was how subversive the use of action was. Think of the plot of that first movie (you have seen that first movie, right?): a bunch of marines-highly trained killing machines at the peak of their physical fitness- are sent up and almost immediately slaughtered in the most brutal way imaginable. Just think about how dull and forgettable a film the original Alien would have turned out to be if it was just a bunch of built men battling aliens on a spaceship. I think that probably the most vital thing that Blomkamp has to remember in his movie is that this isn’t primarily an action movie- it’s a movie driven by themes and characters, with some action sprinkled on top where and when the plot calls for it. As long as he doesn’t feel the need to boil the film down to running about with blasters- and judging by his previous work, that could go either way- I think there’s going to be the beginnings of a really fascinating movie buried in there somewhere.
An Original Idea
I know this might contradict a lot of the stuff I’ve been saying before, but I do want to see something truly original- something that has Blomkamp’s stamp all over it. Along with other iconic franchise reboots (think Star Wars and Jurassic Park), there’s no point in rebooting an iconic set of movies if you’re just going to try and create an homage or vague remake of what we’ve already seen. With District 9, Blomkamp proved he was seriously capable when it comes to clever, sharply realized science fiction, and the last thing I want to see is that creativity stifled by the desire- either imposed by the studio or by Blomkamp to himself- to create something that too closely resembles the originals. Basically, we can trust that Blomkamp knows and loves the original movies and intends to pay due respect to them, and hopefully understands how to appropriately capture their atmosphere and characters. But the studio, the original creators, and the somewhat imposing status of Alien and Aliens need to be thrown out of his head so he can make something that is, undeniably, modern and his. Part of what derailed Prometheus was the reverent attitude with which it treated the films it was meant to prequel. It’s more than fine for Blomkamp to take this opportunity to pay his respects, but he needs to strike out on his own terms if he wants to make something that will stand as a classic in it’s own right.
So, are you a fan of the original Alien movies? Or are you coming to this franchise fresh? Either way, what are you hoping to see from Blomkamp’s version? And what are you secretly expecting from his take?