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So I screamed when I first saw Neill Blomkamp’s Alien: Xeno concept art.
I mean, look at this detail:
Wtf? A photo posted by Brownsnout (@neillblomkamp) on
And what could it all mean?
Some of the pictures really got fans worked up.
#ripley #hicks A photo posted by Brownsnout (@neillblomkamp) on
There are hints at a narrative already.
A photo posted by Brownsnout (@neillblomkamp) on
But this was my favourite of all:
As Meredith Woerner at io9 rightly pointed out, ‘even just staring at the image of Sigourney in the space jockey helmet is better than Prometheus‘. Because it is. Sigourney Weaver is Alien.
Oh. My. Goddess!
Blomkamp even got quite far, if that skull is anything to go by (it’s on his desk, so there’s been more than just artwork produced so far). So what do we know? Well, Alien: Xeno (as it appears to be called) looks like it’s set in the Weyland Yutani HQ. There’s something which looks a lot like a stargate – which suggests journeys to the furthest reaches of space, but also to alternate realities.
As we have designs of both Ripley and Hicks, looking older and more grisly (love it!), it appears these two might be from a different continuity that sidesteps the events of Alien 3. However, Ripley in the Space Jockey helmet does, of course, remind us of Ripley 8 from Alien Resurrection.
It is, of course, possible that Whedon’s post-human Ripley will re-appear, or will at least make a cameo. Then again, perhaps her story was finished with her return to Earth (a symbolic closure of Ripley’s story, as it reconciled her with the alien menace and brought her, at last, back from deep space to the human world). So maybe we don’t need her, as cool (and as queer) as she was.
If Ripley is donning a Space Jockey helmet, it suggests some kind of connection with Prometheus – maybe an attempt to bring that prequel back within the context of an Alien film.
We see a battered version of the Jockey’s ship from LV-426 as well. If you’ve read the comics (particularly Female War), you’ll realise that’s the same ship that survived the nuclear blast in Aliens (it’s implied in later films that the ship didn’t survive the blast, but the comics merely had it barbecued).
In that comic arc, Ripley was awakened from hypersleep to return to the battered hulk, and activated an ages-old message from the Jockeys which led her to the home of the Queen Mother – a sort of queen-of-queens who was trying to call all her scattered brood back to her.
In that continuity, it is also later revealed (in Genocide) that the Space Jockeys have been using the aliens to terrorform planets, and that their ultimate goal was to terrorform Earth, and then have Ripley guide the aliens to their Queen Mother so they’d be in one place – where they could all be nuked and neatly cleaned up.
It looks like some of those ideas might have been picked up here – which is a positive move for the franchise, because the early comics, and the novelisations helmed largely by Steve and S. D. Perry, were great.
So what it looks like we have is the post-mushroom cloud derelict in Weyland Yutani possession, a pre-Alien 3 Ripley and Hicks, perhaps some kind of stargate that connects us to different timelines and the universe of the Jockeys, an alien queen (the same one from Aliens?) and hints that Ripley may be making some kind of interstellar journey – whether to the Jockeys (I hope not) or simply to someplace else but using their technology.
There’s also an image of a dark-haired character (Ripley? It doesn’t quite look like her.) talking to a grey-skinned, slimy looking thing. But has anyone else noticed how the eyes and shape of the face look a lot like the squished Bishop in Alien 3? Only, more blackened and gunky, of course. An early script for Alien 3 had alien spores infecting bodies in their cryo-tubes. Or it could be the fire onboard the Sulaco in the opening moments of Alien 3 that’s turned Bishop that colour. Or years of his damaged flesh rotting away.
The grey figure could also be another kind of alien, or some alien-human hybrid (it’s entirely possible this could be Ripley 8, degenerated after her cloned cells give up, but I hope not). It could be Weyland (eurgh) or some descendant of his. It’s probably something I’ve not even thought of yet – and that’s exciting.
The title is particularly important. Alien: Xeno suggests the film is about the creature itself. We’ve long known that Weyland Yutani wanted it for its bio-weapons division, and finally that might be the case – so what experiments would they conduct? They’d have to avoid retreading too much of what happened in Resurrection, though.
Frankly, I don’t care. I think even with the worst script, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley will make it worthwhile. And Sigourney always got a production credit for the later movies, which at least makes me think she’ll fight for the best film for her character.
What I do hope is that there’s less of the Space Jockeys and less Prometheus. That film went all Lost on us – and no surprise, since Lost and Prometheus shared a writer.
Ideas-wise, xenogenesis just never really inspired me. As a theory, most xenogenesis hypotheses attribute all of humankind’s most magnificent feats (those of Ancient Egypt, the Mayans, the Cambodians . . .), and particularly those magnificent feats created by non-European cultures, to interference from paternalistic gods. (It doesn’t seem a coincidence, to me, that the Graeco-Roman physique and appearance of the Space Jockeys in Prometheus is a marble-white, statuesque vision of Classical man. There’s something awfully patriarchal about this imagined, god-like origin for humanity. What I liked about the Alien films were their godlessness – even despite the apocalyptic themes of Alien 3. The universe was dark, uncaring and hopeless. The only god was Man, and Money.) But I digress . . .
I’m also not keen on continually bringing in new monsters and new iterations of the alien. Giger’s original design beats any follow-up redesigns offered by anyone in any of the other films. Period.
The daft creatures that came forth in later movies just made the whole thing like a Kenna toy production line. The dog-alien was fine, because that made sense, and was based on designs by Giger. But the Newborn? Ha! The Predalien? Gurrl, bye!
Oh, I am looking forward to this. And not just because I’m literally the world’s biggest Ellen Ripley fan:
But here’s my own rule for Blomkamp: Just get Ripley right. If you do that, then the rest of the film will come easily.