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Five Things That Will and Won’t Appear in Alien 5
I think by now every 80’s science fiction and horror fan is having withdrawal symptoms from last week’s high that District 9’s director (Neill Blomkamp) is reviving the Alien franchise and writing and directing a fifth and final installment for the Alien universe.
Like everyone, I’m sitting here dreaming of the scenarios Blomkamp will give us – well, anything that is not Aliens: Colonial Marines will be ok with me; but I can’t see a repeat of that happening especially judging from the artwork Blomkamp released from his Instagram. With the artwork released it makes it a little easier as to what to expect in Alien 5. So I am going to reach out into the dark and pick out five things that will appear in Alien 5, and five things that won’t, because there are some very clear things on either end of the spectrum.
1. Colonial Marines – Will Appear
We all know that the sequel to Alien (Aliens) was so memorable because of its change in pace from slow burn haunted house tension to all-out action extravaganza. But all the gun toting action would have meant nothing if it weren’t for the United States Colonial Marines.
They managed to elevate the second film with their endless memorable quotes, and distinct personalities from the wimp-ish, but highly entertaining, Hudson to the no-nonsense sergeant, Apone, and to the ultimate female badass, Vasquez. With each character that you built up an affection for and attachment to, even if they only had a couple of lines, it just made the tension that more excruciating because you didn’t want to see any of these guys get whipped away by a Xenomorph (except maybe Hudson). So considering Blomkamp’s favourite film out of the quartet is Aliens, and that Sigourney Weaver recently said in an interview with Sky Movies that Blomkamp “knows what the fans want” I expect the Marines would be right at the top of his list to make some kind of an appearance, but these aren’t the only reasons.
In every one of Blomkamp’s films to date – District 9 and Elysium – both have contained some kind of military presence. His military creations in his films are also similar to Aliens in that they aren’t personality stripped cannon fodder. Blomkamp usually gives his military characters a real part to play in his plots like District 9’s villain, Koobus Ventor and Elysium’s Kruger, who both made those films memorable for their explosive personalities. Plus, they carried the type of gritty and advanced hardware you’d expect to see from a squad of Colonial Marines. Blomkamp has stated in the past that he loves making sci-fi movies because he can create these extravagant weapons and advanced technologies, so I’m sure he will want to create more gadgets and guns for the Alien universe, and who better to give these new weapons to than a group of cocky space Marines?
It is clear Blomkamp has a love of military characters and weaponry, and with the rumor that Michael Biehn is returning as Corporal Hicks, there’s a good chance he could try and get in contact with a group of marines to help out because if the artwork is to be believed, it looks like Ripley and Hicks are going to try and take on a kind of Alien testing facility, and they can’t fight off hordes of aliens on their own, can they?
If the marines do return for Alien 5, hopefully Blomkamp can create a group of memorable soldiers which the new generation can quote endlessly.
2. Weyland Yutani – Will Appear
We all know Blomkamp has a particular interest in his films to explore political themes. District 9 dealt with apartheid, while Elysium dealt with social inequality and his latest film, Chappie deals with social influence, so there’s a good chance that there will be some kind of political theme in Alien 5, and who better than the greatest political menace of all, Weyland Yutani.
Weyland Yutani is the mega rich corporation who are only interested in making a profit; they don’t care about their employees because, at the end of the day, if it comes down to someone’s life and a business opportunity it’s an easy choice. Wey-Yu (we’ll just call them that for short) will no doubt play a large part in the film due to the artwork that has been released by Blomkamp. In one of the pictures it appears that Wey-Yu have captured the Alien ship from Alien and Prometheus which was carrying all those Xeno eggs and also carried the space jockeys from the original. So perhaps Wey-Yu are seeing opportunity to test and manipulate Xenomorphs for their own personal gain.
The artwork also shows a queen Xenomorph standing in what looks like a kind of Jurassic Park zone where they keep the Xenos, a similar trope to Districts 9s segregation of the “prawn” aliens. So it looks like Blomkamp will use Wey-Yu as one the main antagonists for Alien 5 which would make sense for two reasons. Blomkamp often creates an evil mustache twirling villain in his plots, like Jodie Foster in Elysium and Sigourney Weaver in Chappie. It’s mainly because a three way conflict between the protagonist, a psychopathic villain, and a corporate mustache twirling one makes for plenty of variety in its conflict and theme, so I’d assume Wey-Yu would be perfect fit for the mustache twirlers for Alien 5. The second reason would be because if this is going to be the end of Ripley’s journey, then her final motivation would be to take down Wey-Yu as she wants to put a stop to this Xenomorph fascination; in other words she wants to “nuke them from orbit.”
It could make a great three way conflict with Ripley, Hicks and some Marines all facing off against the Xenos and Weyland Yutani.
3. Stupid Scientists – Won’t Appear
Now we know Ridley Scott is producing and will probably have a say on every little detail that passes by, but at least it will just be Scott’s ‘say’, because the worst case scenario is that he is allowed to have an input into the characters.
For some reason Ridley Scott has gone backwards when it comes to making movies that focus on believable and memorable characters. His latest films Prometheus and Exodus: Gods and Kings, have all concentrated on plot and spectacle rather making the characters believable.
When Ridley Scott started off his career with Alien, most of the tension and build-up of suspense was because the filmmakers managed to create characters we cared about. They were relatable and like everyday people talking about everyday things. By doing it this way we managed to grasp a sense of who they were and what their personalities were like. So when it came down to making hard decisions when the Xenomorph lurked, their actions were both believable and justified – but the same can’t be said for Prometheus.
In Scott’s loose prequel to Alien, we were served up dumb and incomprehensible characters who acted only to forward the plot. There are a few good examples, but none better than when Rafe Spall’s character Millburn (who was supposed to be a highly intelligent scientist) reached out to touch the slimy alien baby like he was petting a cute puppy. Yeah, we would all do that if we saw an extra-terrestrial beastie.
Blomkamp won’t be making this same mistake, for all his plot problems his films have suffered from in the past, at least Blomkamp knows how to create vivid characters which we care for, plus he cares for science, so I highly doubt he would ruin any scientific intrigue with banal character decisions.
Less Millburns, and more Kane’s, Dallas’s, Brett’s, and Lambert’s please Blomkamp.
4. Lo-Fi Sci-Fi – Will Appear
Analogue push button technology, clunky motion trackers and VHS quality vid-screens all contribute to making the Alien universe feel unique, but it is something that has been forgotten when people talk of the franchise, and even Ridley Scott in Prometheus forgot his original Alien visual aesthetic, instead he implied shiny and generic looking future tech that looked far too advanced to appear in a prequel to a 70s’ sci-fi movie; however, Blomkamp may be looking to bring this more ‘grounded’ type of science fiction back.
In all of Blomkamp’s movies, they share a similar gritty look and feel: his creations, from guns to Exo-suits to vehicles and alien ships all have a dirty and realistic look that feels like the technology that could appear in our not-too-distant future. He doesn’t have bright colored spaceships or polished looking guns that look like they’ve been pulled out of a Star Wars film. Blomkamp loves grit in his sci-fi and that comes with his locations too, as all of his films tend to take place in a dystopian Johannesburg, where the crew have had to wear masks to keep them from breathing in the toxic fumes, this gritty and ‘down-to-Earth” approach to sci-fi is what the Alien franchise needs.
5. Exploring Other Areas Of The Alien Universe – Won’t Appear
The Alien films always hinted at other ‘beings’ like the space jockeys and the creation of mankind. While interesting ideas, I think Blomkamp will focus purely on ending the Xenomorph and Ellen Ripley’s story because the origins of the space jockeys, Xenomorphs, and mankind will be explored in a different film directed by Ridley Scott.
Prometheus 2 or its working title, Paradise, will explore all the high concepts behind the Alien universe, while Scott (who is a producer for Alien 5) will help Blomkamp come up with a story less about big, bold ideas, and more about the battle between Weyland Yutani, Xenomorphs and Ripley.
It’s a shame the space jockeys or any other stuff from the Alien expanded universe won’t appear, but I think it could work to Blomkamp’s advantage by not introducing too many big ideas. Blomkamp is a self-professed ‘concept over plot’ man and that sometimes works to his disadvantage as he tries to fit too many big ideas into one film, leaving the final products feeling uneven and tonally all over the place. So, if Blomkamp just has a focused plot, there is less room to go wrong when the plot can just center on what the fans expect and want, unlike Prometheus.
Prometheus turned out to be less of an Alien prequel and more about the origin of mankind which upset many fans, as the Xenomorph didn’t play any part in the plot. Many were expecting a similar experience to Alien but ended up disappointed. The same could be said for Alien: Resurrection, which tried to go in its own direction but crashed with fans as a consequence; so something that promises to live up to what we expect can only be a good thing.
But with Alien 5, we aren’t getting a movie which is trying to extend the Alien universe and add new things, we are just going to follow Ripley, and Hicks’ final story and see a final and hopefully satisfying conclusion to the franchise even if it may take two films to tell.
6. Newt and Bishop – Won’t Appear, But…
One things that really p***** off fans in Alien 3 was the deaths of Hicks, Newt and Bishop so soon into the film. For some, that was enough to declare Alien 3 as a flop and ever since, fans have been wondering how to bring back Hicks, Newt, Bishop: and it looks like one special fan has finally gotten the chance to do just that. Neill Blomkamp is the lucky winner who gets to bring back our axed off heroes – well, at least one of them: Hicks. Newt and Bishop are still hanging in the balance but personally I can’t see any room for either of them in the main plot, but that doesn’t mean that one of them won’t appear entirely.
Let’s start off with Bishop. I doubt Lance Henriksen will reprise his role because Wey-Yu would have probably moved on with newer and more up-to-date versions of his old model by now. I doubt they will still be basing the androids skin on Henriksen’s Peter Weyland as his character will be too old. The only place I can see him returning is in voice-over with some clever CGI work to make his android look younger. It’s not out of the question – if Blomkamp can bring back the team of animators behind the robot, Chappie, then we could be seeing Bishop in the near future, even though it is unlikely. But what are Newt’s chances of appearing?
The first question when it comes to Newt is did she survive with Hicks? So if the answer is yes, then that leads us to another big question … how long after the events of Aliens, will Alien 5 be set?
Assuming Newt does survive, it’s highly unlikely she would will turn out to be Ripley 2.0; after all she was only a child when she was faced with these scary creatures, and was most likely returned back to Earth, to a new family. I mean, it would be cool if she was a bug hunter like Ripley, but I think the first option may be the most likely.
Just because Newt doesn’t have a bearing on the plot doesn’t mean she can’t appear in some form or another. She may make an appearance through a vid-screen scene or a flashback, because I can’t see her not at least getting so much of a mention in the film.
Some people believe she won’t appear because of the actress who played Newt, Carrie Henn, never acted again after Aliens and she is now a school teacher, but I suppose it doesn’t mean someone else can’t be cast as her.
Still, I hope I’m wrong and Newt does have a large role to play but it’s just a gut feeling.
7. A Contained Setting and Tight Spaces – Will Appear
It may not sound very exciting to hear that there’s going to be tight spaces and a contained setting in the next Alien and this isn’t where I go all architect and start designing the sets. No, I just want to talk about something – along with the lo-fi sci-fi tone – that makes the Alien universe unique to any other sci-fi franchise.
The Alien franchise has always felt like a haunted house story. The unsuspecting characters, the tight, long corridors, the isolated dark vistas of space, and the suite filled metal compounds of LV-426. It’s not like Star Trek or Star Wars which centers on many different planets and space exploration, the Alien franchise is a character driven horror franchise that comes alive in smaller and darker environments. And thankfully Blomkamp knows it. He stated recently in an interview that Alien 5 will be like “a Freudian nightmare. That element to me is what is so appealing – to try to put the audience on the edge of their seat, in a traditional monster stalking you in a dark corridor way.”
He also went on to say he wants Alien 5 to be the genetic sibling to Alien, and Aliens. Both of those films, while wildly different in their approach (one a classic psychological horror the other horror/action) had the same small contained spaces. So Blomkamp, wanting to keep the film small again and bring back that fear of getting stalked down a corridor by a giant Xenomorph, can only be a good thing as Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation video game proved that the Aliens are best when they are a fever dream of suspense and tension.
8. Old Ideas From Abandoned Alien Projects – Won’t Appear
It seems Blomkamp has his mind set on a storyline for Alien 5, with the script reportedly almost complete. I’ve already said that I have a hunch that the story will centre on Ripley, Hicks, and Weyland Yutani, and I could be wrong. But one thing I am almost certain of is that Alien 5 won’t borrow from the previously abandoned sequels.
Some of the scripts that have been written for previous Alien sequels really make you wonder how they never wanted to make them instead of the sequels they ended up making. Alien 3, for example, before it was directed by David Fincher, and re-written by David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson, was originally Vincent Ward’s. Ward had envisioned something very different from the prison planet Fiorina “Fury” 161 which we ended up with. His original script for Alien 3 was to take place on a planet called Arceon which was run by monks who viewed modern technology as a great evil after Earth’s computer data was wiped out by a computer virus. They decided to move to Arceon and head back a couple of centuries by building a Victorian wooden Monastery that was dubbed ‘the ants’ nest’ by Ward, who envisioned the monks to have built expansive libraries, vast hanging gardens, a large toilet area where the monks ‘catch up on the latest gossip’, and big dining halls. The ‘ants’ nest’ was soon heavily disrupted by the crash landing of Ellen Ripley (Newt, Bishop, and Hicks are dead in this version as well). The monks soon fear the presence of Ripley as she has brought a Xenomorph to their planet which they view as a symbol of the devil. The plot was going to concentrate on Ripley being impregnated by the Xeno and finding an emotional connection with the Xeno as it starts to appear in her nightmares. But one of the monks manages to save her by sucking out the chestburster, subsequently impregnating him so Ripley can escape through the escape pod from the Sulaco – the end.
Many fans are speculating whether Blomkamp will borrow some of Ward’s abandoned Alien 3 script as it did ask some interesting questions on religion and faith; however, those are not Blomkamp’s usual themes, as his political views are often at the forefront of all of his films, so it’s hard to see him using any of the abandoned Alien 3 films influence, especially as he stated that he wants his sequel to be a direct one from the first two films. It’s a shame, because Vincent Ward really had a thing going with his Alien 3.
9. Different types of Xenomorphs – Will appear
Considering Alien 5 could be partly set in a Xenomorph testing facility, I’m sure that there will be different types of Xenomorphs making an appearance. Shall we speculate?
Blomkamp will probably come up with something fresh which we haven’t seen before, but there are plenty of Xeno variants out there from other source materials which haven’t been used in the movies. There’s a mutated chestburster called the ‘bodyburster’ which leaves a slime trail that if an ordinary human touches they will detonate and go delirious. There’s also a ‘swimmer’ Xeno which resembles a queen Xeno in its top half of its body, and a whale like fin on its lower half, but perhaps these are too ‘out there’ and not in keeping with the Alien universe, and perhaps the Xeno/Ripley hybrid is more likely. From the artwork Blomkamp uploaded, an image of Ripley with Xenomorph skin may mean we could be having some kind of hybrid on the way.
Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be cool to see a different type of Xeno in Alien 5.
10. Sharlto Copley – Won’t Appear
There are two things you can guarantee with a Neill Blomkamp film: politics, and the South African maestro, Sharlto Copley. The talented actor broke on the scene alongside Blomkamp when District 9 was released, and their partnership has continued with Copley appearing in both his other two films, Elysium and Chappie, so is a fourth collaboration likely?
Copley spoke to blastr about the likelihood of him obtaining a role in Alien 5, “We’ve had the conversation. But it’s the familiar conversation with Neill every time he ends a movie where he tells me he wants to put me in the next one but he can’t because, practically, it doesn’t make sense to do all of his movies with me. At some point, he has to go away and then we’ll return and do something, which I fully understand. I never expected to be in all his films for two seconds.”
It sounds a bit like a no, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Copley appears in a cameo or as a colonial marine given that his most lively, energetic performance came in Elysium as the hired gun mercenary, Kruger, so he could be suited for a type of Sgt. Apone type character
Still, we should find out pretty soon who is definitely down to appear in Alien 5 as pre-production is well under way already.
That’s my list! Hopefully I’ve given you an inkling of whether certain aspects or characters will appear or not, but again, I could be wrong, so I want to hear your opinion in the comments on what characters/storylines/themes/settings you think will appear or not appear in Alien 5.
I just still can’t believe it’s actually happening!