Neill Blomkamp: Saviour of the ALIEN series?

Last month, Neill Blomkamp released a series of previously-unseen ALIEN images via his Instagram account.

The concept art isn’t official, and Blomkamp says that it was commissioned as an demonstration of where he would go with such a project. The drama that has subsequently unfolded, however, suggests that they might not remain “unofficial” forever…

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I’m a huge Blomkamp fan. I didn’t pick up on how revolutionary DISTRICT 9 was until well past it’s theatrical release – I completely missed it at the cinema. To me, at least, it was one of those sleeper hits: it snuck up on me.

More than the subject matter, Blomkamp has real vision, and this certainly shines through in these project images.

The project has the title ALIEN XENO, and there are some fairly typical xenomorph themes in some of them. This shot shows a classic alien queen, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? I’m more than happy to see this particular aspect of ALIEN lore unchanged!

 

 

The alien queen image suggests that she is loose onI06JT04 (or in?) the Weyland Yutani HQ. This is an awesome idea: I think that most fans would love to see more of the ALIEN universe, and the suggestion that the Company has enclaves of green lushness (whether on Earth or another planet) would act as an interesting comparative to the bland and hellish LV-426.

Note the interesting monolithic design in the background. Whether this is some aspect of Engineer or WY tech isn’t clear. I really like the lighting here as well; those stylised beams reaching from the high ceiling above…

Considering what Blomkamp did with ELYSIUM, he clearly has the eye for these large set pieces.

hfaKcVcMore Weyland Yutani imagery in this picture: a lift or some interior structure. This picture has enormous BLADERUNNER connotations. It screams Tyrell Corporation to me – the rows of lights, the slab-like constructions. What I like most about these pictures is the idea that we might really get to see what makes this corporation tick. Too many of the “expanded universe” sources describe WY as a parody: made up of evil geniuses in boardrooms twiddling their thumbs whilst they plot the end of humanity. There must be more to Weyland than that.

I also recall an interview with Ridley Scott, in which he linked ALIEN and BLADERUNNER: suggesting that LA 2019 was the sort of port that Ripley et al would return to. More recently, PROMETHEUS has more or less confirmed the connection.

WW1IZj0More interior imagery in this shot – a beautiful and eery capture of the Engineer (or Space Jockey) ship, as discovered on LV-426. I particularly liked the suggestion of organic composition: the ship literally looks rotted.

More interior imagery in this shot – a beautiful and eery capture of the Engineer (or Space Jockey) ship, as discovered on LV-426. I particularly liked the suggestion of organic composition: the ship literally looks rotted.

PROMETHEUS features a reimagining of the Engineer ship, but this was too sterile and mechanical for my tastes.

Blomkamp has it just right here in my view. The inclusion of the other equipment such as floodlights and ladders suggests an examination of this iconic ship. What is the Company doing with the Engineer ship on it’s HQ?

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This picture suggests a possible link between the ALIEN XENO project and PROMETHEUS.

Blomkamp, since the release of these images, has described how Fox are still keen on the project but his availability is (or at least was) a bar to making progress. Personally, I think that the bigger issue will be how another ALIEN project will impact on PROMETHEUS 2. We know that PROMETHEUS 2 is happening, and there have been rumblings of a less theological story, but surely the most natural arc is to link us back to the Space Jockey ship on LV-426?

Fox is now keen on establishing continuity to the ALIEN universe, be it in book, video game or film: I’m just not sure that the project could or will include the Engineers… This probably very much depends on what Ridley Scott has in store for us with PROMETHEUS 2, which I’m sure Fox will want Blomkamp to consider as well.

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Xwtw5UtThe image of Ripley in a Space Jockey helmet (or possibly full suit) has stirred a big fan reaction.

Whilst this has mostly been positive, I’m not sold… Again, the crossover between PROMETHEUS and ALIEN isn’t going to be an easy one. Secondly, nothing we’ve seen in PROMETHEUS suggests that humans can wear the bio-suits. I’m going to need some persuading that a human can wear an Engineer suit (but, of course, I guess that Ripley does have alien DNA post RESURRECTION?).

Still, this is an original idea and creates a striking image. I’d like to see where a director took this concept, because it looks like this is not the end-game for ALIEN XENO…

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And talking of striking images, this picture of Ripley in an explosive vest has got to be one of the most impactive. Nothing speaks desperation like a suicide vest. I’m already imagining a desperate raid of the WY HQ, with Ripley adopting the ultimate anti-impregnation safeguard…

The inclusion of Michael Biehn suggests that Blomkamp at least thought about bringing Hicks back. He’s a huge fan favourite, and a classic SF character (“Will someone wake up Hicks?”) but attempts at bringing him back in ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES were met with derision. Whilst I’d love to see Biehn reprising his role, I’d like to avoid him being brought back in a similar way to COLONIAL MARINES.

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10890506_327553757454276_1937848591_nWe end with this image of a post-ALIENS Hicks; his face badly scarred by the acid-splash that he receives during the fighting retreat from Hadley’s Hope. It’s a picture that harkens back to ALIENS and stirs those militaristic embers, suggesting a possible role for the US Colonial Marines in ALIEN XENO.

This shot, and the one above, strongly imply that Blomkamp’s project is more of an ALIEN 3 remake than an ALIEN 5. It’s interesting that Fox are still interested in the idea, because none of the art feels very ALIEN RESURRECTION to me.

Would ALIEN XENO be a ret-con or reimagining, rather than a direct sequel? Fox might even be considering an X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST type reinvigoration of the series…
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Since the release of these pictures, David Woodruff of Amalgated Dynamics Inc (the people behind ALIEN 3 and ALIEN RESURRECTION special effects) has thrown himself behind the project with this image: a physical imagining of the scarred Hicks. Check out this interesting interview with him, together with some more pictures showing how Blomkamp’s project might look.

The interesting thing about all of this is the way that the idea of an ALIEN 5 seems to be gaining momentum. A few weeks ago I would’ve been seriously sceptical that such a project would receive serious consideration. Sigourney Weaver has even indicated that she would be interested in the project. She’s traditionally been an essential ingredient in Fox’s ALIEN plans…

It could happen. I’d like it to happen. Let’s see how this story pans out.

And if Neill Blomkamp needs some idea, or is looking for a screenwriter, he knows where I am….

 

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