How you feel about “Alien 3” and “Alien: Resurrection” will probably determine how you feel about Neill Blomkamp's planned (but seemingly stalled-out) fifth installment in the long-running sci-fi/horror/action franchise, which is rumored to be a direct continuation of James Cameron's “Aliens” that will completely ignore the events of the third and fourth entries in the series. Given those films' less-than-beloved reputations, I assume that most fans wouldn't mind Blomkamp rescuing Newt (Carrie Henn) and Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) from their grisly fates in “Alien 3's” bummer prologue.
In a new interview with Icons of Fright, Biehn seems to confirm that Blomkamp's vision would pick up where “Aliens” left off, with Hicks, Ripley and Newt reconvening 20 years after the events of James Cameron's 1986 sequel.
“The basic idea is acting like 'Alien 3' and '4' never existed,” Biehn told the site, later adding: “I know that Ridley [Scott]”s focus is on the second 'Prometheus' (a.k.a. 'Alien: Covenant') and I”m sure that he and Fox both don”t want that and Neill”s movie to come out right next to each other, because they”re kind of two different worlds, with 'Aliens' taking place thousands of years later, which is how they explained it all to me, but at the same time, they want to give them a similar feel. I know they”re putting the brakes on Neill”s movie just for a little while, but I really think that it would be embarrassing to Ridley and Fox and Sigourney if they just didn”t make the movie.”
As to the sequel's plot, Biehn mentions that the film would function as a “passing of the torch” between Ripley and Newt, now in her late 20s:
“They”re planning on bringing me and Newt back and at this point Newt will be around twenty-seven years old,” he said. “I know that every actress in Hollywood is going to want to play this one, it”s really a passing of the torch between Sigourney and this younger actress who would play Newt. It would keep the franchise alive and the studios would make money, because that”s what the bottom line is now: money.”
Biehn sounds more optimistic than many about the prospects for Blomkamp's film, which in recent months has been declared all but dead by the blogosphere. And frankly, I'm not sure that Blomkamp is the right director for the next chapter in the “Alien” series, particularly after his two “District 9” followups — 2013's “Elysium” and this year's “Chappie” — failed to live up to the promise of his debut.
Still, I don't doubt that many fans would welcome an “Alien” sequel which — much like Steve Miner's “Halloween: H20” — ignored the developments of inferior, often-convoluted sequels by establishing a direct line with an earlier film in the series. “Alien 3's” killing-off of two beloved characters left a bad taste in the mouths of a good portion of “Alien” aficionados, and more than 20 years later the film's reputation hasn't improved much (though many still prefer it to 1997's even-more-hated “Alien: Resurrection”).
But the plot as described by Biehn points to the intriguing possibility that Blomkamp may have taken a cue from Dark Horse's 1988 and '89 “Aliens” comics, which picked up ten years after the events of Cameron's film. That story, written by Mark Verheiden with art by Mark A. Nelson (Series 1) and Den Beauvais (Series 2), picks up with a teenaged Newt in a psychiatric hospital and Hicks, haunted by his first encounter with the xenomorphs, agreeing to lead a new group of soldiers on a mission to destroy the alien homeworld (and recover some eggs while they're at it). Ripley, meanwhile, appears only at the very end of Series 2, setting the stage for the less well-received “Aliens: Earth War.”
Given the continued survival of Newt and Hicks, many felt the first two “Aliens” books should have served as the basis for “Alien 3's” storyline — perhaps unrealistic given Fox's financial concerns. As opposed to the bleak, minimalist vibe of David Fincher's film, Dark Horse's “Aliens” spanned worlds — including an Earth infested with xenomorphs — and would have required a substantially higher budget than the studio was willing to provide.
Whether Blomkamp ultimately directs the film or not, the idea of pulling elements from the Dark Horse comics is an intriguing one that, if executed right, could serve as a redemptive moment for fans who never recovered from “Alien 3's” uncompromisingly grim prologue.