In early 2015 South African film director Neil Blomkamp released some concept art for a film idea which was meant to be the next in the Alien film series. The pictures showed a half alien half Ripley image as well as a picture of a still living Hicks. Blomkamp is known for his modern sci-fi films such as District 9, Elysium and Chappie.
There was no mention of a production or any plans for the film to be made they were simply some ‘ideas’ that the director decided to throw on to Instagram and it started a media and fan frenzy.
But at what cost?
Let’s go back in time a bit here.
Alien³ (or Alien cubed as I occasionally call it!) was met with some mixed reactions on release. After the sheer adrenaline rush that was James Cameron’s 1986 film Aliens (itself a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece Alien) it was obvious that fans were choking for more of the same but the third film in the series went in a different direction.
Alien³ bravely took the guise of a pretty much an out and out drama with many themes running throughout but the biggest feature was that they decided to remove any guns or gung-ho action sequences and focus on characters…….and the audiences were not happy!
I never got to see Alien³ in the cinema back in 1992 as being a 15 year old boy I stupidly listened to reviews and critics back then. It came on the TV about a year or so later and having nothing else to do I decided to give it a shot.
I was VERY pleasantly surprised!
Ok it didn’t have any guns or action but it made up for it with some great acting featuring a stellar British supporting cast, a really gloomy atmosphere, stunning wides and a tremendous musical score. I really didn’t see what everyone was moaning about.
It was great!
*Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Alien 3* (Fucking watch it!)
Over the years Alien³ has only grown in my estimations. In fact it’s now one of my favourite films period and it’s down to the very things which I hated about the film at first.
After being through such a rough and tumble battle with Ripley, Hicks and Newt I, like many were devastated to discover that the latter two had been killed off in Alien³ . We didn’t even get to see them briefly as their deaths happened basically during the opening credits.
It was a bitter, bitter pill to swallow and I wondered for years why they were so callus in doing that but as a film making choice it was actually genius!
Now bear in mind this is only my opinion and what I personally got from the film so if you still hate it then fine and if you hate me then even better!
Alien³ is a drama with some traces of horror and it has themes of loneliness, isolation, loss, sacrifice and closure marbled throughout. The franchise had an audience that was readily attached to the characters of Newt and Hicks due to being through that adventure with them in the previous film. Killing them off not only gave Ripley a severe sense of loss and devastation but those feelings were also felt by the audience and therefore had a direct link and were on exactly the same emotional level as her throughout the movie (Something which was sadly missed by many as their own pain and anger took over).
Director David Fincher really wanted to explore the sheer sense of despair of what happens when someone is beaten down to absolute rock bottom. To continually have happiness ripped from your life by the same cruel and relentless entity and to be backed into a corner with the toughest of choices concerning one’s own life. Fincher wanted us to go emotionally on that journey and not just be spectators. The Xenomorph in one way or another just keeps taking people that Ripley dares to get close to. First the crew of the Nostromo were slaughtered and led to her extended hypersleep which saw her lose her daughter to time. She then saw almost another whole crew perish at the hands of the creature in and in Alien³ the beast just keeps taking when it kills Clemens, the only real character who she grows fond of and is even intimate with.
After having such a grim and joyless journey her death in the end was both a release from her agony and a noble sacrifice to save mankind. This finish to the series is a bittersweet and fitting closure to what is a torturous chronicle with the one glimmer of hope that it wasn’t all in vain as the Queen was destroyed and didn’t fall into the hands of the company.
Alien³ is a dirty and bleak experience of a film that gave us a sombre and tragic end to the story and not the triumphant end that most were expecting. A lot of people mistook this for poor quality but it was probably the audience sharing the unpleasant feelings of that of it’s protagonist. Some petty Xenophobia (HA!) from American audiences affected the film too in that they didn’t like seeing a British cast on screen. This is a bit sad considering Ridley Scott is British, the crew and craftsmen of Aliens were British and James Cameron himself is Canadian.
Alien³’s direction was unexpected, no-one can deny that but it was the right way to go and another bang-bang combat film clone of Aliens just wouldn’t have worked. When they did try it we ended up with Alien: Resurrection, AvP and AvP: Requiem
The fact that David Fincher pulled this film out amidst a ton of studio interference and having no script when shooting began was nothing short of a miracle which further boosts the film in my estimations. Fincher has since gone on to become one of the most famous and influential film directors of the modern age with critically acclaimed movies such as ‘Se7en’ and ‘Fight Club’, a fact that Fox must have kicked themselves over many times.
As magnificent and beautiful a film as Alien³ is you can still tell that Fincher only scratched the surface of what he truly wanted to achieve and one can only wonder what the movie would have been like if he had full creative control and a finished script from the very start.
Of course Alien³ isn’t perfect. No film is! The egg on the Sulaco was a bit far fetched since the Queen in Aliens basically had it’s fanny ripped off and it’s hard to tell the baldy characters apart sometimes as they tend to disappear in a non-Alien/bad editing way. The creature itself has some issues with composition and lighting with some shots obviously looking like effects
These flaws can 100% be overlooked though and with the event of the superb Assembly Cut a great film is made even better!
Just this week (late April 2016) Blomkamp released yet another picture, this time of a grown up Newt which bore a resemblance to a current Carrie Henn, the child actress who played Newt in Aliens.
People have really gotten behind the idea of this film but what sticks in my craw is that Blomkamp has stated that he will just completely ignore the events of Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection with zero explanation and his film will be set directly after the events of Aliens.
Brazenly fracturing the canon like that just to suit yourself is extremely arrogant and as an Alien³ fan I personally took it as a slap in the face.
Look, I completely understand the desire to see Hicks and Newt back with Ripley, I really do and it would be AMAZING if Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen reprised their roles as Hicks and Bishop. Carrie Henn has since become a teacher and doesn’t act but it would just be geek overload if she did decide to return as well. They all had great chemistry and it IS possible but it has to be done with some respect.
I’m totally open to having this new film in a parallel universe a la Star Trek. This would preserve the canon of the original but still allow us a cheeky glimpse into what could have been but I just don’t agree with how it’s happening.
My other issue is with Blomkamp himself. In my opinion he’s only ever done one decent film and that was District 9. The rest have been pretty plodding, sub-par movies that really failed to hold my interest and usually had some sort of political or moral message clumsily woven throughout.
His visual style is pretty unique I’ll give him that but I just can’t see him doing anything fresh for the Alien franchise. He also seems to be playing quite the game of pandering to the audience by releasing these images of characters that people didn’t want to see die and now suddenly they are alive?
It’s a pretty low ball and arse licking tactic and it seems to be working but it’s an idea that’s launched not off of people’s admiration for Blomkamp’s ability but rather the joy in seeing old friends again. In fact the Pope could have said he was making an Alien film with Newt and Hicks back and the mob would have gone just as wild.
I get it I really do. Imagine seeing your loved ones return from the grave! It would be fantastic and the magic of movies and current lack of shame in society means that can be a reality. It’s playing to our fragile sense of mortality in that our fear of death is being masked by a fictional resurrection (???) of these people who we know and love and this produces a synthetic (?????) feeling of being reunited with passed ones or cheating death.
It’s a hard emotion to refuse and Blomkamp is offering it up inside a needle on a silver plate with a hand written note of “It’ll be ok, I am your saviour!”
The films of the Alien saga aren’t designed to make you feel cosy and comfortable. We already have films for that and as such we need that grim balance in our lives through every medium, including film. The recent snivelling of upset parents here in the UK over a showing of the classic and somewhat violent animated film Watership Down which upset their precious and delicate little ones is testament to how unbalanced and weak the word is becoming.
Alien: Resurrection was nothing more than fluff. A shallow but enjoyable action/sci-fi film which probably would have done better without the Alien name attached. It’s far fetched and thin but it doesn’t try to change canon so I’ve nothing against it and will happily watch it on a binge.
Neil Blomkamp will have to seriously think long and hard about his project. Not only will his film have to tie in with Ridley Scott’s new Prometheus series but he has a fantastic chance here to do something VERY clever which will bowl over audiences as to why these characters still live but if he doesn’t take it the film will be little more than disrespectful fanboy service. Playing to common grumbles isn’t a good way to go but if he has the sense to respect what has come before via some….any……means of explanation I don’t see why people can’t enjoy his work.
The way it’s going I don’t think he will though and we can fully expect to see Sharlto Copley as a fooking egg!