Neil Blompkamp resurrecting Alien: Why the director is ideal to take the franchise on

Yesterday Sigourney Weaver promised the Alien is franchise is in 'good hands'. Jack Shepherd checks out the new director's credentials

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Alien is one of the most celebrated films of all time. While it spawned a franchise of weird spin-offs and prequels reminiscent of Phantom Menace’s mediocrity, the original film will always be closest to our hearts. Not only did it introduce the world to Ridley Scott, who would go on to direct Blade Runner, but also to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sci-fi heroine of all time, Ripley.

After the release of the first film Scott handed directorial duties over to James Cameron who, at the time, had only directed three films, one of which was Piranha II: The Spawning and the other Terminator. There was a lot of pressure to do something amazing and he pulled it off.

Much like when Cameron took over, the Alien franchise has once again been handed over to a man with only three movies (one of which hasn’t been released yet) behind him, Neill Blompkamp. And much like when Cameron took over Aliens, the next film in the franchise is set to be in very capable hands.

'Why?' you ask. Well, let me explain.

 

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Sigourney Weaver up close and personal with an alien

Anyone who has seen Neil Blompkamp’s take on apartheid in District 9 will know just how incredible he can make an alien look. The Prawns – the aliens in District 9 – were CGI masterpieces. As Wikus struggled with his own transformation you not only got to see CGI at its best but also how special effects can be made seamless. These were not one-dimensional CGI beings. Underlying the Prawns were emotions and human characteristics, all without taking away the special effect magic. These were real characters, you felt their pain and you felt empathy for them. Empathy, for a CGI creation! It was beautiful. If he can do it with aliens named after a crustacean then he will have no problem with the H. R. Giger designed aliens.

But Alien wasn’t just about the alien, there was someone much more central: Ripley. It was her relationship with the crew and the surroundings that made the first film an instant classic. She was likeable but tough, an immediate sci-fi legend. In District 9 you had Wikus, the troubled hero who had to deal with his transformation into a Prawn. Again, in his second major film, Elysium, you saw Matt Damon struggling with his surroundings. Both characters were the highlights of their film and, much like Ripley, both were ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.  It couldn’t be more ideal.

As mentioned, District 9 dealt with apartheid themes. While the director may have denied having this as central to the movie, he dealt with it very well. Alien was filled with themes, most prominently of which was rape. The alien, designed by an artist obsessed with reproductive organs, stalked Ripley through the spaceship, striking fear into the viewer. It was an underlying theme that was subtle yet effective, and as Blompkamp has proven, he can deal with this well.

There are a hundred more reasons why he will be perfect to direct the next Alien film (his understanding of cinematography, Sharlto Copley, the fact he has Die Antwoord in Chappie), but above all is his love for sci-fi and the original film itself. Go to his Instagram. He has photos of Alien with captions like “Love it”, “Awesome Art”, “WTF”. His passion will make this the Alien film we have all been waiting for. Fingers crossed.

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