We recently got a first look at the new Alien movie through a set photo. Directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Ridley Scott, it will look to revive the once proud franchise that saw Scott and James Cameron deliver the masterpieces Alien and Aliens, respectively. Since then, the franchise has struggled, and it is easy to reject any attempt to revive it. However, I feel hopeful about the direction Álvarez will go.
Fede Álvarez should keep it simple
I appreciate what Scott plans to do with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Rather than rehash the Alien formula, he chooses to go deeper and explore the struggle between God and man, man and machine, as seen through the eyes of psychotic android David (Michael Fassbender). Visually, the photos are amazing; narratively, they are scattered and extremely disappointing.
Scott never settled on the right path, choosing to go in many directions hoping that a proper path would appear. Instead, he kept his grip on the past, making a pair of films that often felt like a strange hybrid of different ideas without a clear focus. Characters like Naomi Rapace Elizabeth Shaw appear and disappear. At the same time, strange ideas involving the origins of the Xenomorph remain strangely undeveloped – something about the black goo?
The problem with Prometheus and Covenant is that they are too complicated, neither delivering what the audience craves nor charting a course worth exploring. You could say the same about Alien 3 and Resurrection, which tried hard to move the franchise in radical new directions.
My advice? Keep it simple.
Alien works because, at its core, the movie is a slasher film set in space, filled with some exciting ideas – none of which are fully explained. Instead, the larger narrative – the Space Jockey, the abandoned spacecraft, the Alien – remains a mystery, forcing us to fill in the gaps with our imaginations.
Similarly, James Cameron doesn’t stray too far from the beaten path with Aliens. He only raised the stakes and deepened the characters, making sure the film worked within Scott’s preconceived universe.
Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet are very focused on leaving their imprint on the material. They don’t want to emulate Scott or Cameron and take unnecessary risks rather than building or expanding on the former.
Give the audience what they want: alien mayhem on a larger scale mixed with some new concepts that aren’t too far from Alien or Aliens. Many Alien books exist, and they all do the same thing: a group of space explorers encounter Xenomorphs and must fight to survive. Hell, the weird Alien: Solitude The video game works because it is close to Scott’s original vision. What’s fun is seeing how the new characters react to these situations.
Don’t change the game, friends. As seen in the recent success of Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, Creed III, John Wick: Chapter 4and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, viewers aren’t asking for game changers. Stick with what works, but do it better!
The new Alien movie should do away with Ripley
The Alien franchise remains strangely tied to Ellen Ripley, so it’s more about how these strange creatures change a woman’s life than their impact on the universe. Ripley is one of the great action heroes and a cultural icon, but enough is enough. He had his time in the vast space; let someone else take over.
To another person, I mean another person. Not a Ripley clone. The cast of Alvarez’s film Cailee Spaeny has the lead role, while Noah Hawley’s TV series Presented by Sydney Chandler. That’s fine, don’t make them riffs on Ellen Ripley or even more extreme versions of the character – ie, strict and responsible individuals who communicate with others, almost never stop in extreme situations, and can all better than anyone else. Try something else. Remember, characters make or break these films.
We have seen Ripley in four films. His daughter, a stubborn, independent fighter, appears in Alien: Isolation; Daniels, played by Katherine Waterston in Covenant, is Ripley 2.0, except without her complex characteristics.
Shaw worked on Prometheus because his character was flawed and little understood the events of the film. He is a survivor who can do a solo operation on his own, but is also a regular person, full of flaws, emotions, and conflicts. Give us characters we can relate to, like the ragtag crew of the Nostromo or the confused Space Marines of Aliens, not just imitations of a beloved icon.
Raise the stakes
I’ve read countless interviews with Ridley Scott where he seems to resent the action heavy direction Cameron took with Aliens. For Scott, Alien is a sci-fi horror, not a shoot ’em adventure. Many would agree, but others, like me, want more pulse rifles and drop ships. Nearly 40 years have passed, and we have yet to see another version of the M56 Smart Gun on the big screen or a new depiction of the APC actually firing its giant turrets.
I like Alien, but I want more Aliens. More Space Marines. More spaceships. More guns. More intense fights.
There was a point in Covenant where I thought Scott was going to reveal that David turned Shaw into an Alien Queen. You can imagine my disappointment when that didn’t happen. We ended up with another iteration of the classic fighter Xeno.
Give us more Aliens, please. Cameron’s film is a tough act to follow, but guys, at least try to give the audience what they’ve been wanting since 1986.
The new Alien movie should be afraid
For all the production values of Prometheus and Covenant, each picture lacks real scares — the same as Alien 3, Resurrection, and the AvP films. We often find Xeno so that the creature will not allow true shock and awe. However, a skilled filmmaker could create a sinister vibe similar to Alien and Aliens.
In the same vein, Alien: Alien makes the slimy creatures terrifying with the help of an awesome score, incredible production values, and an eerie atmosphere that accentuates the sound. You don’t need to see monsters to find them scary. Not looking at them is the only way we can sweat a little.
All that said, the following chapters of Alien should set the bar in the horror genre. Even if the story is small, the audience will walk away happy if they get a good shock or two.
We don’t need a shared universe
At some point, Hollywood had to realize that the shared universe concept wasn’t going to work. Outside of the MCU and (maybe) the Conjuring franchise, every attempt to branch out from an already established IP has failed. So stop trying, especially with Alien.
These new entries are not necessarily connected to Ripley, Hicks, or Bishop. A little reference here and there never hurt anyone, but for the love of God, don’t make any of the heroes the granddaughters or granddaughters of previous characters. I don’t need Carter Burke Jr. where his dad was left or the post-credit scene that reveals how one of the cast is the nephew of former Gunnery Sergeant Apone.
Start anew. Keep the fan service to a minimum, and create your adventures for future films to copy. However, as stated above, I prefer pulse rifles and APCs. As long as they make sense in the story. Also, feel free to use James Horner’s Aliens score or elements of Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien. Having some fan service in the new Alien movie would be huge.