Salvage the ALIEN franchise
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After two poorly received prequels it's become quite evident that Ridley Scott no longer has the ability to handle the ALIEN franchise with the care and respect the fans deserve. The origin of the xenomorph and the "space jockey" from the original film never needed to be explained. The mystery was more important than the reality because it allowed our imaginations to fill in the blanks.
However, Ridley Scott is an exceptional filmmaker who has proven himself time and time again. So it's no wonder we were willing to go along for the ride when he announced his plans to tell the story which was intended to be the foundation of the ALIEN franchise we all know and love. We expected something different, but what we got wasn't just different, it wasn't even good.
It took a mystery and turned it into a convoluted plot involving unintelligent characters engaging in an existential crisis of faith surrounded by an ancient alien theory straight out of The History Channel's worst excuse for educational programming. One misstep down this pseudo-philosophical path was bad enough, but now we have two. Even with the studio's insistence that Ridley incorporate actual xenomorphs into the plot to appease the audience and make the project marketable, we still ended up with something that is totally devoid of the magic which the first two films.
The first misstep was blamed on poor writing, which meant the blame got placed squarely on the shoulders of Damon Lindelof. But it clearly wasn't his fault because he didn't play a role in Alien Covenant, yet we got exactly the same poor results as we did with Prometheus, so it's clear the Ridley Scott is guiding this ship off course. If he sticks to his current plans then he's got at least one more prequel in the pipeline.
What do we want to see?...
1.) We would like 20th Century Fox to thank Ridley Scott for his involvement in the franchise, especially the first film which remains a masterpiece, but respectfully decline to offer him the opportunity to continue his prequels. Prometheus turned out to be a poor investment because it tried to cut a new path which the audience found unnecessary and ultimately poorly thought out. Alien Covenant seemed like an improvement because at least it contained xenomorphs, but it's already proving to be a poor investment because the audience realized early on that it's only going to get more of the same from Ridley. A third attempt at earning a profit from this investment will not prove fruitful because at this point Fox will be lucky if the audience even gives a third prequel a chance. Allowing Ridley to continue down this path with any amount of money would merely be a waste of money and further muddy the waters between Fox and fans of the franchise. Fox is in a very unique position to learn from recent history. The ALIEN prequels are unfolding much the same way the STAR WARS prequels did, except Fox has the ability to stop the trend before the Revenge of the Sith of the ALIEN franchise is made. At least with the STAR WARS prequels we can all agree we were strapped into the roller coaster for better or worse, we all just needed to get to the destination even if it was a train wreck. The same is not true for the ALIEN franchise. These prequels have us investigating down a path we didn't need or really want to visit. We only agreed because we were promised something good, but we're not getting it.
2.) We would like 20th Century Fox apologize to Neill Blomkamp for scrapping his attempt at adding to the ALIEN franchise just to appease Ridley Scott's need to be the only one at the helm. Then 20th Century Fox needs to consider just how much money they would have invested for Ridley's third prequel, and give that budget to Blomkamp instead. Neill Blomkamp's attempt is not the first film project to be dashed by Ridley's prequels (see Guillermo Del Toro's attempt at an At the Mountains of Madness adaptation), and it's time someone actually got something they were excited for without the studio stepping in and ending an otherwise amazing film.
3.) We would like 20th Century Fox to finally take a step back and give Neill Blomkamp and his crew the kind of autonomy that Ridley Scott once had with Prometheus. It's normal for studios to meddle in a project if they have concerns, and it's quite clear there was a decent amount of studio meddling involving in Alien Covenant due to past shortcomings with Ridley Scott's first attempt. But Blomkamp's vision of a decent sequel to ALIENS which does justice to the characters of Ellen Ripley and Corporal Hicks (even Newt) is a totally different animal from the mess that Ridley gave us. Although the studio would like to implement some restrictions and requirements, this project shouldn't be shackled for something the prequels were guilty of. Give creative control over to Blomkamp, and let Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn be involved since they clearly have a lot of love for their characters.
4.) In a final message to anyone involved with future projects in the franchise... This franchise deserves to get in touch with its roots again. That means the retro-futuristic aesthetic which the franchise was known for. It may have begun as a technological limitation in the first two films, but it became its own influential art style which makes people feel a deep sense of nostalgia without blatant pandering or fan service. The video game Alien Isolation really proved that this style is still viable. Even in a modern era of CGI and sleek aesthetics, the retro-futuristic industrial aesthetic can still be gripping and really adds to the terror of the story. CGI is an important component of any film these days, especially in science fiction. But this franchise deserves to have a focus on practical effects and set design, reserving CGI for the smaller details and shots where practical effects just aren't possible. The fans want to believe they're in that universe again.
This franchise is loved by so many and has become so influential to the entire film industry, but it's sad that the franchise has been stumbling along for so many years. Ever since ALIEN 3 the franchise has been struggling with bad writing, poor directing, studio interference, and now even a general misunderstanding of what the franchise is even about. We just want the magic to come back into the franchise. If it wasn't for the fact that 20th Century Fox has obviously been planning on doing more films and probably set aside a financial plan to support those projects then I'd say just go ahead and put a bullet in the head of the ALIEN franchise so no one can bastardize it any further. But since those plans do exist and some of the pre-production information on Blomkamps project was so exciting and respectful to the franchise, we'd like you to continue. Just down a different path with a different creative mind behind the wheel.
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