Listen to the video below involving Jerry Goldsmith's score for the 1979 Alien, and know that sci-fi cinema will never get something so beautifully foreboding and elegantly morbid ever again. Oh sure, further additions to the Alien soundtrack may well use that very score. Alien Resurrection employed that musical cue, and it was neat, but only ever that. Neat. That sheer finesse that the first Alien so brilliantly exhibited can only ever be replicated, never recaptured.
Alas, with the upcoming Alien 5 and Prometheus 2, efforts to extend the Alien franchise are continuing. The further we add to something that was a pristine genre picture back in the 70s, the closer we come to realizing that it was never intended as franchise material in the first place. Eventually, we must ask the question, is the Alien franchise broken?
The Alien series has had a bizarre history of ups and downs, to the point where if a new movie turned out exactly as we expected, we might be a little disappointed. Every single entry into the Alien franchise has reflected a different director's intent, and whether we like these movies or not, we sure can't say the series isn't vibrant. And so we continue on into the future with Neill Blomkamp's Alien 5. What wild new territory will the series tread with this addition? Well given Blomkamp's intent to eradicate Alien3 and Resurrection from canon (you can read my opinions on that here!), and with a quick glance at his concept art, we can tell that Alien 5 will be closer to James Cameron's Aliens than anything else.
This may be cynical, but perhaps Alien 5 is set to be the highest profile fan film in history, and perhaps that's what it will take to make us realize that Alien movies can no longer tread new ground, but can only be reactions to themselves. If Blomkamp does in fact make a complete ode to the early work of James Cameron, will audiences eat up what they recognize, or will they see the shallowness of what they're being given?
The first Prometheus was touted as a return to the original exploratory nature of Ridley Scott's Alien. Here's the problem. Alien wasn't just lightning in a bottle. It was lighting in a bottle that was thrown into the ocean and allowed to drift for decades. A primary appeal of the first Alien movie is seeing how limited Scott was in his expression, yet how brilliantly he navigated the setbacks. The script was minimal, the special effects sparse, and there was a genuine team effort in the filmmaking. Fast forward to 2012, and Prometheus is a product in a world where we expect complex stories and twists, and for every question to be answered! The bar is set so high that Prometheus can only hit its head and wallow around in its own black goo. I'm not suggesting that Prometheus 2 is exploring in entirely the wrong direction, but it's still intent on answering questions that were never asked in the first place.
Back to basics?
So how could Prometheus 2 and Alien 5 refresh the series, and appear as something new and innovative? Well, they could always dial themselves back in the hopes of giving us something purer. Recent movies like Dredd and [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445) have shown that simplicity and solid execution can work wonders with a modern audience. Could the alien movies do the same? Perhaps not, since any effort to go back to basics would be seen as another replication of Alien. The game, Alien Isolation did just that, but at least had the luxury of being interactive. If the movies tried this, audiences could cotton on to what's being done. We're in a paradoxical cycle of asking for something new, while wanting the brilliance of the originals once more.
The Jurassic World Effect
Whether you liked the movie or not (and bear in mind I didn't), you have to admit that Jurassic World nailed this dilemma. It saw that the market wanted something old and something new all at once, and played to that exactly. By sporting the "park is open" gimmick, Jurassic World meets the bare minimum of narrative innovation that we demand, then immediately gets back remaking and referencing the original Jurassic Park because we just can't get enough of that nostalgia! Could movies like Prometheus 2 or Alien 5 benefit from doing the same? I sure hope they don't try it, but yes.
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