You are all no doubt aware of the recent news that Hicks and Ripley, played by Michael Biehn and Sigourney Weaver respectively, is making a return to the Alien franchise some 20 years after the last main entry, 1997’s Alien Resurrection. For the sake of cleanliness and good taste we’ll ignore the existence of the two Alien VS Predator movies. There are good reasons to be excited by this news, and just as many reasons to look upon this project with a much deserved sense of caution.
First, the positives. What is so important about the announcements so far is the return of two of the key cast members who both defined the franchise and in particular the events of James Cameron’s 1987 sequel to the film that started it all back in the late 1970s. Having such recognisable names making their return, especially after such a long gap, is nothing short of exciting and it adds credence to the plans to resurrect the series. Second is that this would look like it’s intended to be a return to form for the franchise, which hasn’t been in the rudest of health since Alien 3 was released in 1992, dogged by misunderstandings and disagreements behind the camera, and an apparent lack of understanding for what this almost inadvertent;y created franchise’s core aims should be. This could be a minor reboot for the world of the Xenomorph, particularly if Blomkamp can bring it back to something on par with those first two films. I’ll settle for a close third if need be.
The potential negatives are just as notable. Will this new film gloss over the third and fourth Alien films? Some may say this is a good idea, but there are just as many who disagree. While Alien 3 isn’t anywhere near as bad as is frequently suggested (Charles Dance, Paul McGann, Charles S Dutton – what’s not to like?), it also spoilt the good will of many a fan by bumping off Hicks and Newt in the opening sequence (sorry – spoilers!), throwing away all of the character development of Aliens and, perhaps much worse, destroying the surrogate family dynamics between Ripley, Hicks and Newt (and, at a push, Bishop’s head) before we even had chance to experience it. This was made worse by them then abandoning Ripley on a planet full of male criminals. All played by Brits. Go figure.
There is also the fact that Blomkamp hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders since he made District 9, and the cinema going audience will only maintain their patience with such admittedly minor missteps for so long. The man has a lot of talent and equally as many solid ideas, but after Elysium and Chappie failed to live up to expectations, there is a lot riding on this new Alien film. Of course, with it being an already established franchise may just work in its favour, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Weaver is willing to return to the franchise that has, if not made her name in the film world, has certainly played a big role in defining it. Likewise, it will be great to see Biehn back on the big screen. His vocal work in video games Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and Aliens” Colonial Marines aside, his CV hasn’t looked too healthy in recent years. In fact, you can probably scrap Colonial Marines from that list as it’s a terrible game.
I for one am looking forward to the new film, no matter what direction they take the story in. I don’t have a problem with writing Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection out of continuity (to allow space for this new film’s existence) because it’s not as if those films are being taken out of circulation – they are still there if you want to watch them, and you are more than welcome to ignore the continuity of the new film if you insist on it – assuming they go in that direction, of course. What is more important to me is how they establish Hicks’ return and, more importantly, if they can still provide a solid piece of entertainment no matter which side of the continuity fence you sit upon. Suffice to say, I will observe any future news updates on this project with interest. It’s still very early days, but I have high hopes for this one.
I was going to do a shoutout to Michael Biehn’s Instagram page, but as that appears to have disappeared from the internets, maybe I won’t. Very interesting. Very interesting indeed.