It actually happened then. For those who don’t know, a couple of months ago District 9 director Neill Blomkamp leaked a series of concept art pieces he’d developed for a future Alien movie. The images, showing an older Ripley and Hicks, an alien Queen, and some impressive world design, were not affiliated with 20th Century Fox or any upcoming Alien movie – they were a side-project Blomkamp dabbled with to keep creatively occupied after Chappie. Once the images were released online, things moved fairly quickly – fans took to Twitter to demand the movie get made, #Blomkamp started to trend, and articles began cropping up declaring that this was, ‘the Alien movie we always wanted.’ It wasn’t until Sigourney Weaver herself announced she’d be interested that Fox took notice, and today we learn that the studio has offered Blomkamp the film. Alien, as Blomkamp designed, as got a greenlight. And since Some Films and Stuff has already covered Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, it seemed fitting to share some thoughts on Alien 5. The Alien franchise has been dead for a long time. Putting aside fan thoughts on when the series jumped the shark, there’s not been an official Alien movie as such since 1997’s Resurrection, which left a recently-cloned mutant Ripley stranded somewhere on Earth. The fourth movie was frankly terrible, and the view at the time was that Alien was dead. There were rumours though, back in the day, of a fifth Alien movie – Weaver herself, who serves as a producer on the later films, expressed concern that Ripley’s story wasn’t over. Scott and Cameron talked about returning to the franchise. Ultimately, Fox decided to pursue the Alien Vs Predator movies instead, which Cameron, Scott and Weaver saw as an attack on Alien’s integrity – all three pulled out, with Scott eventually returning in 2012 with the semi-prequel Prometheus, which was a mess. After the much hyped Prometheus landed and disappointed everyone (it’s beautifully directed but an absolute state of a movie) fans began to call for a real Alien film – the movie industry these days exists on nostalgia, reboots and sequels, so this isn’t surprising. What’s odd is that 20th Century Fox didn’t seem interested, focusing instead on developing the Prometheus sequel no one wanted. If everything went down as we’ve been told, then Blomkamp is a clever man. He dropped some stunning concept art onto the net, and the fan surge has shown Fox that there’s not only a market for Alien 5, but that said market is absolutely huge. The demand came from under them, and this must be one of the first huge studio films to be born almost amongst the fans. That’s really impressive, and suggests just how powerful the internet’s influence has become.
We exist in a stage of cinema defined by the past – the nostalgia of past movies is big business, and the fans rule the industry. Hence why 2015 has Jurassic World, Spectre, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, amongst many others – all of these movies are tied to previous ones, and all come with rabid fan bases; all will be huge. Whilst this stage of cinema can be seen as depressing – there’s a new Star Wars, but no new Star Wars – it’s hard for fans not to get excited. Studios know what the fans want now and there’s a sense that modern blockbuster cinema is catering to give the people what they want. Blomkamp clearly has a lot of passion and looking at his concept art, it’s hard not to feel the same way about Alien 5. Some will say that the franchise is done, that it needs to be left alone, but fans clearly feel otherwise – the recent Alien: Isolation game was positively received, and illustrated real passion for its source material. The world still excites people. The creature remains haunting, and Ripley remains a fascinating character – Weaver herself is one of the only women able to open an action movie at the box office. With the right script and director, a fifth movie could really work. Crucially, Alien 5 has come from Blomkamp himself – the studio hasn’t pushed it, which is promising. It suggests this is a passion project – it suggests creativity before money. And really, worst case scenario, the damage has already been done. After Resurrection, the AvP films and Prometheus, the Alien series can’t get any worse. Ridley Scott’s original will always stand alone as one of the cinema greats, and nothing will ever touch it. If there’s potential to do something exciting with what’s left, go for it. It’ll certainly be more appealing than Prometheus 2, which is set for a 2016 release.
The concept art offers some interesting ideas on the movie’s direction. There’s a glimpse of the ship from the first movie, though it looks older, overgrown and warn down. There’s Ripley in a strange and intriguing xenomorph suit, which hints at her character’s further infusion with the alien creature. The world design is especially impressive. Strangest to see however, is an older Hicks. Hicks, played by Michael Biehn, famously died between the second and third movies, a bold move which has angered audiences. There’s a hint here that Alien 5 could involve some kind of alternative time-time, following Ripley after Aliens, whilst ignoring the third and fourth movies. Whilst a lot of fans would appreciate this move, it doesn’t feel like a natural way to move forward. Retconning the previous films for a semi-reboot/sequel is lazy, and Blomkamp shouldn’t ignore the third and fourth movies, however problematic they may be, to create a convenient ‘true’ third film. Alien 5 needs to be a continuation of Ripley’s arc, and if that can’t come naturally, then maybe Alien 5 shouldn’t be happening at all. Work around the mess of Alien: Resurrection. There’s too many reboots these days, and nobody wants a repeat of the backflips X-Men: Days of Future Past had to contort through to retcon its own history. And finally, keep Alien 5 off Earth. Send Ripley to the alien planet. The franchise has always existed in the dark corners of deepest space and works in the shadows; it’s not a series which ever needs to return to Earth.Feel free to comment with your thoughts!