September 07, 2010

"Alien" prequel(s)?

Surely they have the potential to become blockbusters, but they could also royally screw up the franchise a thousandfold. Director of the original classic, Ridley Scott:

It's set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney [Weaver's character Ellen Ripley]. It's fundamentally about going out to find out 'Who the hell was that Space Jockey?' The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer's chair. Remember that?

And our man [Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas] climbs up and says "There's been an explosion in his chest from the inside out what was that?" I'm basically explaining who that Space Jockey we call him the Space Jockey I'm explaining who the space jockeys were.

First, I don't believe any of the "Alien" films ever gave a definitive time-frame in which they took place (meaning, the year). Could we have the sort of technology "Alien" supposes in 75 years? Maybe, ultimately it's not that important.

Second, obviously a human element has to be part of any prequel. No one wants to see a film with just the "Space Jockey" race and Aliens. So, the question that follows is, how is the human element added? Den of Geek offers up some intriguing possibilities; however, consistent with the blog's namesake, I think they get bogged down by too much minutiae. Let's consider what we know of the original "Alien" and its sequel, "Aliens," first.

THE NOSTROMO. The mining vessel that carried Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and crew in the original film had intercepted a signal and was hence diverted to a planet that had on it the [seemingly] crash-landed Space Jockey vessel and its cargo of Alien eggs. We know that there was a special directive from "The Company" that the crew was to secure a[n] Alien specimen at all costs, "crew expendable." The science officer, Ash, was revealed to be a robot, having had replaced the usual science officer a mere two days before the Nostromo left Earth. This clearly seems to indicate that The Company knew in advance of the Space Jockey's vessel's signal/warning before the Nostromo left on its mining mission.

THE "SPACE JOCKEY." As mentioned above, the Jockey is the creature that was seated in the "chair" in the derelict alien spaceship that three of the Nostromo's crew discovered on their exploration mission (after the Nostromo landed on planet LV-426). The Jockey's vessel contained thousands of Alien eggs in the bowels of its ship. Why? Director Scott has hinted that the Jockey's race used the Aliens as bio-weapons -- instead of dropping bombs, they would unleash the Alien scourge upon a planet.

TERRAFORMING LV-426. In "Aliens," director James Cameron seemingly forgot about The Company knowing about the Space Jockey's signal ... or did he? Recall that in the sequel, lone Nostromo survivor Ripley was rescued 57 years later and was questioned by The Company about her ordeal. She told the incredulous assembled Company personnel that her ship was sent to planet LV-426 on their orders but no clue is given in the film to The Company actually having knowledge of these orders. Because, in fact, a human colony has been on the planet for over 20 years now! It's not until Ripley herself reveals the information about the derelict Space Jockey vessel that the devious Burke communicates with the LV-426 colony asking them to investigate. And we know what happened after that!

So ... if The Company sent the Nostromo to LV-426 to retrieve an Alien, how come Burke and co. had no knowledge of this 57 years later?

Good question. But Den of Geek (linked above) has a good suggestion. The Company, after all, is comprised of very devious individuals all looking for a quick buck and rapid succession up the corporate ladder. There could have been a cadre of Company men acting unilaterally within The Company itself that had deciphered the Space Jockey's signal/warning, replaced the usual science officer with Ash, and then had the Nostromo diverted on its return to Earth. When this ultimately failed, no "official" record of what happened remained.

So how does this set up a prequel (or two, which Scott has mentioned)? To include the necessary human element, The Company (or a cadre within, or even some new, third group) is going to have to have known about the Space Jockey's vessel before the Nostromo mission. Something went wrong (not very hard to buy considering the nature of the Aliens!) and eventually the Nostromo was used as a follow-up (in "Alien"). Obviously, as Scott mentioned, there will be a more in-depth examination of the Space Jockey's race, and hopefully, a resolution as to the Aliens' origins. Are they genetically engineered bio-weapons? A transplanted species from a harsh world? How long have they existed?

Hopefully we'll have answers late next year.

Posted by Hube at September 7, 2010 04:54 PM | TrackBack

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