Posted by: Nick Walters | February 19, 2015

ALIEN 5 ALIVE!

Be gentle with me…

So Alien 5 is a goer.

I think we can rest assured that it’s in safe directorial hands. I thought Elysium weak plot-wise, but visually a treat, and District 9 is a masterpiece of modern SF (even though it does go very silly in its final act). Chappie looks like it will be everything the Robocop remake should have been. Blomkamp has an eye for SF, especially the tech, and – pleasingly – a relish for gore and grue, that fits perfectly with the Alien franchise. So he’s the perfect choice.

The big problem is the plot. If Sigourney Weaver isn’t involved, then the problem is solved – the story can be set anywhere in the Alien universe. It could even be an adaptation of one of the many comics – Labyrinth, for example, though that would be better suited to a TV series, and would probably be too grim for a mainstream audience (e.g. the scene where the xenomorphs  force the main character to mate with his limbless mother, so he strangles her to death.)

If Sigourney Weaver is involved, then there is a problem. Alien: Resurrection, and how to get past it.  There are probably more ways than these, but here goes:

  1. Pretend it didn’t happen, and carry on from the end of Aliens. Say 3 and Resurrection were both hypersleep dreams
  2. Carry on with Clone Ripley
  3. Carry on with a different Clone Ripley
  4. Have it so that at the end of 3 the real Ripley was teleported off Fiorina
  5. Have Sigourney play Ripley’s sister
  6. Have the real Ripley’s memories from up to the end of 3 downloaded into a new body
  7. Set it in a parallel universe

Although I would dearly love for Alien: Resurrection to have never happened, like it or not, it’s part of the continuity. Given that, I’d say 6 is the best, or least worst, idea. It’s no worse than the ‘clone Ripley’ idea and could probably be done, given the state of the tech in the Alienverse; we know they can make synthetic humans, so it’s not too much of a stretch to argue that they could download minds into them. That said, all these ideas are squarlely in the pretty terrible ‘it was all a dream’ category, but given the corner they have painted Ripley into, that can perhaps be tolerated if not forgiven.

Now, assuming that the problem is solved, what could the story of Alien 5 be? The story is over at the end of Aliens, all that needed to be said has been said. Although I enjoy Alien 3, it doesn’t add anything to the mythos, and the least said about Resurrection and the AvP films – and Prometheus – the better. So, is the story of the Alien done? Not if you look in the vast number of comics and games and other spin-offs – only a few of which I have read, and they range from simplistic shoot-em-ups to harrowing Grand Guignol masterpieces like Labyrinth. Blomkamp could do worse than look to these for his inspiration.

I’ve long had an idea for an opening scene of an Alien film, inspired – oddly enough – by the music of Tangerine Dream, specifically Rubycon (Part 2) – listen from 17:23.

Even before I’d seen, or even heard of, Alien, this piece of music haunted me. I was only about 7 or 8, and Rubycon was part of my Dad’s immense, eclectic record collection. It made me visualise a long, dark corridor, with alien creatures slowly creeping towards you. It’s a terrifying piece of music, and would work well as the soundtrack to a new Alien film. And over the years it has given birth to this in my mind:

A desolate urban landscape on a colony world. Night at the edge of the city. Derelict tower blocks either side of a wide street littered with debris and abandoned vehicles. The road leads out of the city into the grey desert. Above, the stars. A man shuffles along the road, thin, starving, wrapped in an old greatcoat. Something makes him look up. The stars are going out. More people emerge from the rubble and watch as something lands at the city limits. Something vast. An enormous cylinder of metal. As they watch the end of the cylinder opens to reveal a long corridor lit with alien blue light. There is a distant drumming as of running feet, and the humans watch in terror as hordes of aliens emerge from the ship. The creatures scour the colony killing all the humans… 

The idea is that another race is using the xenomorphs to cleanse the galaxy of humans, or something. Not particularly original, and, written down, it doesn’t seem all that – but if I chuck Rubycon on and close my eyes , this blossoms inside my mind like an enormous evil alien flower of horror and beauty.

So if you’re reading this, Mr Blomkamp, feel free. I suppose my point is, if there is a point, we all have our notions of what a new Alien film could be, and our expectations are very high. And so are our concerns considering the mess the franchise is currently in, plot-wise, since its dilution into the later films. There hasn’t been a great Alien film for almost thirty years – is it, now, too late for another? I return to my first point: we’re in the safest pair of hands possible.

Over to you, Mr Blomkamp.

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