I know that many people share the opinion that the Alien series got progressively weaker because, despite their visual acuity, there is only so much that can be done with the same concept. At some point I’m actively wondering how the actual biology of the films work. Why do the aliens kill? Doesn’t nature put a check on ruthless killing machines? Do they eat the people they kill? What fuels them? How useless is it to lack true reproductive capabilities? During some point, it simply occurred to me that they were not exactly designed to make sense. They were designed to be frightening. Unfortunately, all of those questions at some point around the third film ruined everything that came after.
And so I have no idea why Ridley Scott wants to revisit the series. It has been thirty years and was a one shot deal; he is not tethered to it, nor has it defined him. I admit that he may have interesting ideas, but the things that make Alien interesting are also the things that prevent it from being exploited and mined further. It’s like very fine food; I may enjoy it, but I wouldn’t make a meal out of it. Alien is essentially the trappings of a slasher flick in the body of a very slick sci-fi film. Once the novelty of the aliens wear off, you realize that it’s just the tendencies of a slasher film in sequel after sequel after bloody-minded sequel. But as Ridley Scott tells Empire, he wants to alter the course of the series:
“It’s a brand new box of tricks,” said Sir Ridley. “We know what the road map is, and the screenplay is now being put on paper. The prequel will be a while ago. It’s very difficult to put a year on Alien, but [for example] if Alien was towards the end of this century, then the prequel story will take place thirty years prior.”
Empire describes the film as having a “human focus”. But then, you run into the obvious catch-22: who cares about the humans? It was always about the aliens, and the film was especially lonely and unremitting when you didn’t know the characters. Many movies could afford a change in direction, but it’s tough to say whether Alien is really one of them. So, in my opinion, you can’t go forward, and you can’t look back. Alien isn’t a series that necessarily benefit from further iterations.
And yet Ridley Scott is still one of the best directors still making films today, so I must place some faith in him, if only for the renewed promise of an excellent film. Perhaps it is impossible to recapture the spirit of the original, but there is still space to work within that universe, if he so chooses.