Ridley Scott and his dilemma in the Alien universe
Posted May-17-2017 3:08 PM
When Scott directed in 1979 Alien (produced by action expert Walter Hill), he did not imagine that it would initiate one of the most iconic and lucrative sagas in the cinema of science fiction and horror. In fact, he was not interested in participating in his 1986 Aliens sequel, which garnered excellent results from James Cameron's direction / writing team and Walter Hill's production / writing.
Two more films followed with the creature created by Scott (Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection), as well as a questionable association with another iconic alien figure that originated two films (Alien Vs. Predator and Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem).
Ridley Scott understood that continuing to make films based on the so-called Xenomorphs / Neomorphs, was already trite and worn. On different occasions, she stated that the creatures were "burned", that they had lost their appeal and did not impact like the original, either appearing in packs, alone, in clarity, darkness or with different styles (including Queen Xenomorph who appeared in Aliens ).
He always had in mind to produce and direct a new science fiction film within the universe of Alien, but not precisely a sequel. Rather, a film with another focus of attention and plot depth. That is how Prometheus arises, which from the very moment of its conception - and despite the refusal of Scott - was stigmatized by the fans of the franchise of Alien like a prequel of the original film.
Such was the insistence of the fans, the studio itself Twentieth Century Fox and other associate producers, that Scott had to resort to some measure to details to associate its new film with the classic one. Then he got excited about the project and announced in advance that he would make four films that will function as Alien prequels and conclude with the events of the successful 1979 film.
That is how in 2012 Prometheus is released, the first of those four prequels. Although the film was a success, fans of the Alien franchise did not feel comfortable with the approach of the plot, since it was more philosophical, explores a new argument in the mythology of Alien and for nothing attached to the action And horror that usually lead the xenomorphs or neomorphs (barely something similar appeared in the middle of the film and a scene that does stick to what is demanded in the end and post-credit scene).
Scott said he recognized his mistake by distancing Prometheus from Alien so that in his new sequel, Alien: Covenant, initially identified as "Alien: Paradise Lost", would make a more complacent and bloody movie for fans of the Alien franchise. This is how this director and producer of 80 years of age presents us with a new proposal with three types of novel creatures that unleash morbid scenes bloody and full of horror.
With Alien: Covenant two groups of fanatics are immediately drawn. Some are those that identify mainly with Prometheus, to consider it more attractive argumentatively and visually, while the others are those that opt for the franchise of Alien, lovers of which dominate the violence and havoc in charge of the xenomorphs and neomorphs.
Prior to its release, Ridley Scott made clear that there will no longer be another independent film to the current saga of Alien, referring to the project that had been announced would lead Neill Blomkamp (District 9) and that it would be a fifth Alien film with Sigourney Weaver following the Role of Ripley. The film would depart after the events of the Aliens by James Cameron and would be on the fringes of what was dealt with in the sequels Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection.
At first Scott would have asked that Blomkamp's film be made after Alien: Covenant, to avoid confusion and that neither would be affected. As time went on, Covenant took on more form and interest, thus blurring out the idea of the new sequel to Weaver. At the time of this publication, Scott had said that Blomkamp's project had already been canceled.
Ridley Scott, 80, has said that the end of the franchise will come with two more films or failing with one. This sequel to Covenant will begin production in just over a year, with a possible release in 3 years. Scott himself wants to be the person to conclude the saga he started more than 3 decades ago.
Posted May-17-2017 4:55 PM
ALIEN, that universe...will continue on even decades from now. People love it for it's 'feel' of darkness, horror and grittiness. The more Philosophical aspect of Prometheus can be included, it simply requires a delicate touch and focus on Specific points.
*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*
Posted May-17-2017 8:38 PM
A lot has changed with the vision of the Space Jockey and the Xenomorph from its inception... Star Beast, to O'Bannons Alien thats based off it to the David Giler and Walter Hill re-writes
Which they introduced the Synthetic Ash, and thus brought AI into the Franchise.
Ridley had a vision he had two ideas, one was a Prequel to explain how the Ship Got their and what the company knew.. The other a Sequel. But he was not asked by FOX, and he was busy working with Blade Runner and Legend.
James Cameron Pitched a Idea to FOX and they liked it and so Aliens was born.... Alien 3 was next which had a number of scripts and some had some interesting things, which William Gibson did the first which a lot was changed for the Final Movie.
But they reused the Spores idea for Alien Covenant.
Then if we bypass Alien Resurection...
We arrive to Prometheus, which began as a way to explain who the Space Jockey was, what the Ship was, why the Cargo and what that was for.. It introduced the Engineers as the Space Jockey Race who had created and had a hand in Mankinds Evolution and Development and they then used LV-426 as a Outpost to Create and Test Bio-Weapons that are related to the Xenomorph that they intended to use on Earth. It brought in a lot of Philosophical and Religious themes.
FOX then thought they could explore these Engineers more, and those themes and tone down the Xenomorph, but still show that they had these Outposts to Create Bio-Weapons that are related.
Philosophical and Religious themes, and Engineers did Split Fans, so did the ambiguity and how it did not directly give us answers to the Xenomorph Origins and had no Aliens running around killing people.
The Pequel to Prometheus went underway where it would explore these Philosophical and Religious themes, but tone them down a bit and explore who the Engineers are more, their History, and Agenda and who created them and what else they created and why they had created the Black Goo but it would be steering away from Alien and not directly answer the Derelict but lay some more seeds to it... it would be more Alieny than Prometheus but far from Spaights Alien Engineers, and it would not have the Classic Xenomorph or Spoon feed how it was created.
With Alien 5 gaining interest more, and the disappointment of Prometheus by a large number of fans.. FOX and Ridley felt in hindsight the Toning down of the Xeno connections and actual Monsters from Spaights Draft to Prometheus was a mistake and that introducing these into the Franchise is the way to go.
In order to do that, and with a maybe 2-3 more movie Franchise, they would have to find a way to bring in the Xenomorph and a movie that is more Alieny, and tone down the Prometheus themes.. but they could not completely ignore them.
And so Alien Covenant and its 10 years latter time line was introduced, a movie set after the Aftermath of what Prometheus 2 would in part covered....
It seems during this process FOX and Ridley and Logan had a lot of ideas about the AI, and David and how this can play a big role in the Franchise and so another Curve-ball is thrown... And it seems Logically they are following this new Curve-ball to the next movie... and will have to a degree those Questions from Prometheus and Timeline between Prometheus and Alien Covenant tied up in a Novel Prequel instead.
So it appears from here... Ridleys Direction is now about solely the Xenomorph, and he may be introducing some of the ideas he had about the Organism, that he never got to explore in any sequel back in the 80's
So its about the Xenomorph now, and the AI Curve-ball and it seems they are running with this angle now and the Xenomorph and AI will play a bigger role in the Franchise and Potentially a Rebooted Sequels to Alien.
I hope that the only AWAKENING we are in for is FOX/RS wake up and learn from their mistakes.
Posted May-18-2017 7:25 AM
im still holding on blindly to the fact that we may get some more on the engineers but it appears unlikely, certainly on film and if they are explored it would only be a brief touch on the subject probably due to story and timeline.
the prequel novel is our only hope.
it was tough reading @bigdave comments on how the franchise is totally focused on a.i and xeno. in that they have david, whom was a major figure in prometheus and his performance potentially might of finished off any future engineers and takes us down the a.i route with xenos.
its tough to take after seeing the crossing had hinted there would be some involvement with the engineers. however its the a.i david from prometheus. not the engineers that fox are focusing on with the xeno for flavour.
acceptance will soon come i hope
Posted May-18-2017 9:24 AM
I'm actually glad Blomkamp is no longer getting a shot at this franchise. I've seen District 9 and Chappie and they were just ...meh. He almost always uses a shaky cam which is awful I think. The story about Ripley has been told and they shouldn't mess with it. They would have to find a girl that looks like Newt, another guy that looks like Hicks, or make them cgi like Commander Tarkin in SW:RO. Oh no no no no...no way. I have fond memories of these characters and they died in Alien 3. Period.
Posted May-18-2017 12:30 PM
I think its fair to say Ridley did have a dilemma but in making Covenant he has come to a conclusion. he never got happy with the scripts written for Promethues 2 and clearly became aware of the A 5 feedback and decided to create a more routine set of movies which back into A L I E N.
He has had to affect a substantial repositioning which is a credit to the ideas generated by Prometheus.
For me the difference now is given two viewings I found Covenant entertaining but do not find myself thinking about the movie outside of the theatre. Prometheus on the other hand is a gem I am constantly turning over in my mind and contemplating its secrets.
I am looking forward to Alien Origins and I am curious to see how he resolves Davids arc before he "backs in". But the essential difficulty for me is the alien is now dangerously close to Kitsch. David throwing stones at Oram had a resurrection feel to me and was very funny. The shower scene did not even register beyond being a riff of Psycho.
I watched the recent Star Wars film at home and found it thoroughly entertaining but I am not thinking about it, thats were I am now with Covenant.
Inevitably those who wanted answers in Covenant will feel cheated but you got Prometheus and for that kind of film to be put in a tentpole environment was as audacious as the ideas.
Whatever does happen in Awakening it will be for the benefit of David, making the ALIENS entertaining and finding LV426 and whether it works will depend very heavily on David, slightly less so on the connection and the really tricky bit keeping the creature interesting.
Posted May-18-2017 3:02 PM
In two weeks time ALIEN: Manticore will be released. And while I doubt it will be Perfect, people who are fans primarily of PROMETHEUS and ALIEN I think will enjoy it.
Even some ALIENS fans might like it.
If you're unfamiliar with my works, there's excerpts I have posted that are un-spoilery, as 'appetizers'
I'm writing ALIEN: Manticore because I lpve the ALIEN universe so much, and if FOX won't explore and follow up certain themes, then I will.
That's why I'm pouring so much work into it: Love.
Love of the universe and the people in the fanbase I have found here.
I'm not H.R. Giger, Ridley Scott, or Dan O'Bannon, but I do strive to work as closely as I can alongside the trail they blazed for us all.
Now, I haz gotsz to getsz back to worksz....my 9 feline editing assistants are waiting. :D
*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*
Posted May-18-2017 4:15 PM
Thats the one (ha ha).
Its interesting really when you look at all three of Ridleys A L I E N films he is very good at putting something out visually which raises your curiosity through its design and appearance but very weak at exposition.
1) Alien we go inside the derelict with a pilot which are merely texture which he decides many years later to find out about.
2) Prometheus we go inside the headroom. We have a fresco, a mural and an alter and an Alien head shape which replaces a sacrificial cup and we come away with the same speculations as 1979.
3) Covenant we sit in the multi headroom and the survivors light fires and no one asks what this all about.
Does he generate imagery which implies something and no more, is it in his ideal movie speculative imagery ?
As I have said there is huge bending of the story between P and C and the Elizabeth we see in the closing pages of Prometheus and the one so beautifully fleeting offered in "The Crossing" is reduced to a speculative plot point. How can that feel satisfying without some questions answered. I wanted to feel the pain of how that came about which would have been 1000 times more horrifying and moving than old denture features glopping it up.
Posted May-18-2017 7:41 PM
Forget the engineers. What Scott needs is a good writer, period. No one cares about the characters anymore since ALIENS, someone dies and it's no big deal. That's not the actors fault, they have nothing to work with, they are there now simply to be eaten. Get some characters people care about, and let David make his own movie, the sequence on the planet almost brought the film to a complete, dead, stop.
Posted May-19-2017 12:18 AM
Very interested in your remarks about Act 11 bringing the film to a dead stop. When I left the cinema several people talked about the film being slow to get going in Act 1.
I understand what you are saying about caring about people but may I suggest two points:-
1) With Dwayne Hicks and Eileen Ripley they caught lightening in a bottle suddenly we wanted them as both individuals and an item to survive (and Newt). For Ripley's character that was fresh and captured us, the threat was the same but the interpersonal interest was fresh.
2) Now, however relatable the characters I look at it the other way round you cannot make an Alien Lifecycle victim captivating because it is so predictable. From the moment the critter pops out of the chest you KNOW whats going to happen. I found the neomorph cycle much more captivating because it was inventive and fresh. I can not say that was driven by character loyalty it was the inventiveness of the action.
But I think you demonstrate the audience for these films cuts in some very distinct ways which is why the director has to ignore the feedback and just make the film he things right.
Consider just the two forums AVP and AC. We have :-
1) Give us a fast paced action gore film (ideally with Sigourney).
2) Be audacious and different and give the creature a creation mythos (but do not make it two complicated or divergent).
Two broad outlines with two sub texts. The fact that I completely disagree with your assessment doesn't matter it is just indicative of the fans and their dilemmas, not Ridleys. He has to want to film the story and believe it will make money and he has concluded the safe bet is hang it on the creature and David and their relationship.
Posted May-19-2017 6:41 AM
Ridley Scott has gone nuts, when does he stoop to horror movie clichés, now I guess. I wish Alien 5 would have happened. ALIEN was always my favorite Alien movie and now Ridley is just ruining his own movie and the lore of ALIEN. Aliens is now my favorite Alien movie after seeing Covenant, never have I ever needed to watch that movie again after this farce. The departure from the first one to Aliens was always welcome and now even more so, Sir Ridley please stop screwing these movies up. And don't keep making more cause then I will eventually have to watch the next one because I'll believe you will right your wrongs like I thought you would do with Covenant after Prometheus, boy was I wrong. Never will I ever be excited for an Alien movie ever again or a Ridley Scott movie ever again. Just stop making movies Ridley.
Posted May-19-2017 9:09 AM
I am 100% agreeable with everything raised by Michelle Johnston, but we must take into consideration details presented by our fellow Blackwinter-witch, oceantracks and Dr. Curt Connors.
Like Alien of 1979, Prometheus leaves us thinking about different details, scenes and history presented in the film. This makes it special, since it evidences to be a deep work of analysis and execution in the production. In other words, a solid script that guarantees to open more doors of interest in the Alien universe.
Scott must do what he considers to be correct and not let go of the emotional pressures of the fans. It is enough to have a good team of writers to achieve a solid script that will please everything related to the engineers and at the same time to exploit with greater result everything related to the bloody xenomorps and neomorphs characteristic of the Alien saga.
I'm sure doing this pleases the fans of the Alien saga, meets the demands of the studio / producers and enriches the mythology of the engineers. In this way the saga of films is enriched in content, works more the psychological part and does not depend more on the predictable attacks of the creatures.
For example, in Aliens 1986, the dramatic part of Ripley with Burk, Newt and the Marines was very well carried by Cameron and did not detract from brilliance or stellarness to the xenomorphs and the Alien Queen. That made the movie more entertaining, commercial and managed to have an identity of its own that does not necessarily depend on the original Alien.
With Covenant we saw a well-done film visually and in effect, but it lacks the impact or hit of effect we saw on Prometheus or Alien. The cast in general did a good job in their characterizations, but the script did not help that they had greater prominence.
I'm sure a lot of people would not be interested in seeing Covenant again, with the same enthusiasm as Prometheus is still today. I am a big fan of the xenomorphs and neomorphs of the Alien saga (as I am of Predator), but if the next movie is not enriched, the creatures will end up "burned" as Scott said months ago.
Posted May-19-2017 11:31 AM
If I may say I think you highlight the dilemma of making franchise movies. It needs to do two things :-
1) Reflect the audiences love and fascination for the original whether music or title reveals so you feel your inside an integrated journey.
2) Ensure that within that overall sense of familiarity and belonging you break genuinely fresh ground which takes account of the passing of the years of the audience and their evolving needs.
Prometheus made you feel you were in the same universe but failed to join up the dots in away that made you understand why. We should have all come out of the cinema with absolutely no doubt the Alien Pathogen was the origin of the xx121. So we have something fresh and decisive. You should not need to suffer from the kind of obsessive hobbyist approach that I have to have concluded after long thought that was the answer. It should have been a massive tick in the box and then everything else that happens in the movie you can relax over and go wow thats neat and I like the expansion.
Covenant suffers a different problem you can feel it knocking off all the expansion and audacity and working through something that might be plausible for why the xx121 got created out of the Pathogen but not telling the story, all the interesting bits are missing in the 10 years. Instead writing a third act which just tropes elements of A 1 and A's.
In a word its swinging the pendulum back to the middle with such force you missed the middle point where familial feelings in an audacious story merge.
I have read a few reviews which are not encyclopaedic on the detail but strong on feel and words like mediocre, ordinary keep coming out. My word is routine but as always with Ridley there is the frustration that the first 30 minutes felt really fresh and alive the problem with the second act is they left David's journey with Shaw ambiguous just like the pathogen in Prometheus. Was she infected, and having discovered her dying thats why David appeared to be tearful as he opens the bomb doors, or was he just a random psychopath who said what suited him (if he has no emotional cohesion at all its difficult to relate to him and gain emotional traction) and thats the danger for the follow up, he is not going anywhere just being nihilstic.
What did he discover about the Engineers on the crossing and what did the mural mean in Prometheus. You know, clever neat answers to the bits the whole story hangs on would leave us smiling and then enjoying both the familiar action and the left field ideas but whats missing from these films is a real sense of certainty on key plot points and thats fatiguing. People here scramble to write up theories but if you want to elevate art it needs to communicate so we can really latch on to it. T E Lawrence's L of A was always fascinating he began somewhere ended somewhere and you understood him and his inner turmoil. The point about David is he isn't or wasn't programmed as just a f...... robot and so you should be able to show the dilemma of A I in a very human way with him, but he has to be logical and not just random. One is tempted to think sometimes that the randomness is about narrative convenience to move the story on well it should not be beyond the wit of John Logan to thread the story in a believable way rather than an expedient one.
David holds Daniels down on the table and threatens her with the same fate as Shaw. This is the character that not once but twice makes a distinction between him and Walter and has wept over Elizabeth for no other reason than to show the audience how different he was. There was no gain in being deceptive to Walter in the conversation over looking her tombstone which was laid years ago for Davids solace to be assuaged, so how do those two elements (Daniels and Walter on Shaw) fit together and no we shouldn't need pages and pages of fan ideas to get the answer.
Posted May-19-2017 1:56 PM
@michelle I'm not really disputing that. The things I liked were the neomorphs and how ai was explored a bit more. I also liked the alien vibe, the tiny Easter egg of that thing that dips in the cup, music, title, the little things. I will say the backburst and faceburst could of been bloodier. Most normal people eeked and ewwed.
My name splatterpunk is a sub genre of horror. I like gory stuff.
Posted May-20-2017 6:05 AM
@Michelle Johnston this is why I theorized that Shaw may have potentially attempted to defy or betray David after he crashed on Paradise (potentially after some amount of time had elapsed); I cannot reconcile his obvious "love" for Shaw with the somewhat sociopathic/sadist dismissal of Shaw's fate that he discloses to Daniels, after seeing Shaw left without any dignity on that slab. There's just not enough in this film to convince what is true of their relationship either way. At least for me, the fact that he may have loved (in the sense that humans do) adds enough relatability that I may be able to follow David as a very flawed protagonist through the remainder of the prequel.
Now I have heard various interpretations of what "love" means to David. but again these vary because nothing very conclusive comes from what we are shown in the film. Again at least for me.
Posted May-20-2017 7:38 AM
@Michelle: Those are all great points.
I went back and watched some of the special features interviews from the Prometheus DVD, because I wanted to refresh my memory as to where Ridley, Spaights , Lindelof, etc..., originally wanted and intended to go, in terms of the story and plot lines. Mostly Ridley, because the writers were pretty much just following his lead and directions.
Ridley clearly states that his primary ambition and focus was to concentrate on the engineers, who they were, where they came from, and how they connected to both the xenomorphs, and to human beings.
I remember being so excited by the direction that Prometheus was going in when I first heard about it. And when I saw Prometheus I was fascinated by those elements of the story. I was very disappointed with some of the characters, some of the dialogue, and some of the scenes. Overall, I felt like the main idea of the story was fascinating enough, but that the execution of the movie as a whole was poorly done. Which shocked me, considering it was Ridley, and considering how long they had to prepare for for the movie.
This is what bothers me most about Ridley's flip flopping all over the place. I mean, he had almost 30 years to think it all through. He had definite concepts and ideas in mind. Watching the Prometheus DVD features confirms this. He pretty much knew where he wanted to go, in terms of the story. He did make minor changes and alterations throughout the writing process, but for the most part he stayed within the general framework of concentrating on the engineers and their links to xenos and humans.
So I just don't understand why he's so fickle and faithless when it comes to the story and plot lines now. He absolutely did not want to do much with the xenos before, and then now says things like, "If they want xenos, I'll give them xenos". I wonder if he's referring to the fans, or the corporate bosses... or both.
Ridley just seems like he's compromising as an artist a bit, and treating the whole story like it's something that can be created on the fly, without careful attention to details.
I'm hoping that he still has a strong grasp of the big picture, when it's all said and done.
Posted May-20-2017 9:01 AM
Cmutt is right. Ridley was very clear about what he wanted with Prometheus, but pressures from fans, producers and the studio pretty much forced him to make a sequel mostly focused on the xenomorphs and leaving aside the engineers. He thought more as a commercial filmmaking than as an artist.
I worry that Scott is 80 years old and that before taking the sequel to Covenant has on schedule the direction of at least two more films and the production of 6 more projects, not counting the more than 12 projects that were announced will produce for Cinema and TV.
It is possible that as much work does not let him focus as it should in a franchise as interesting and complex as the saga of Alien. To treat the mythology of engineers as he conceived it in Prometheus and continue to relate it correctly with the xenomorphs / neomorphs he needs time to develop such an exciting subject as this.
Scott needs visionaries and creative writers / producers to be close to him so they can execute their ideas in the best way. Maybe so, could stay the interest in this saga that we like so much, keeping up with Prometheus fans and Alien saga.
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