alien has run its course

If you watched Alien: Covenant earlier this year and thought, “Huh, director Ridley Scott really doesn’t seem all that interested in the aliens in this Alien movie,” well…it seems like you were right. While Covenant was a box office disappointment, the legendary filmmaker still intends to make another movie in the franchise and it certainly sounds like he’s going to double down on not caring all that much about the creature that supplies these movies with their titles.

Scott has been busy reshooting swaths of his new movie, All the Money in the World, replacing disgraced star Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer. And he’s also planning to shoot his adaptation of Don Winslow’s The Cartel next year. And he’s also taking time to talk about the next Alien movie with Entertainment Weekly. May you be so busy when you’re 80 years old.

Anyway, Scott says that the key to the series’ longevity will be replacing the drooling, acid-blooded alien with a different kind of monster – artificial intelligence. Here’s his reasoning:

We are [going to make another], we are. I think what we have to do is gradually drift away from the alien stuff. People say, ‘You need more alien, you need more face pulling, need more chest bursting,’ so I put a lot of that in Covenant and it fitted nicely. But I think if you go again you need to start finding another solution that’s more interesting. I think AI is becoming much more dangerous and therefore more interesting.

In other words, he really wants to double down on what he did in Covenant, which sidelined the xenomorph and placed the androids David and Walter (both played by Michael Fassbender) front-and-center.

While many audiences rejected Covenant for wanting to explore a devious robot and his not-so-devious counterpart rather than focus on aliens bursting out of people’s chests, this was my favorite aspect of the film. Alien: Covenant is not an interesting Alien movie, but it sure is an interesting Ridley Scott movie, one that sees the veteran filmmaker wallowing in his most nihilistic tendencies and seemingly coming to the conclusion that the human race isn’t worth the skin we live in. It’s dark, twisted, uneven, and frequently brilliant stuff. It’s also barely an Alien movie and it’s no surprise that the film was divisive amongst critics and audiences.

The big question now is whether or not Scott will actually get around to making another Alien movie…and if 20th Century Fox will let him. I don’t think age is an issue – when I visited the set of Alien: Covenant, it was clear that Scott was the most tireless and youthful guy on the production despite his advanced years (everyone had their “Ridley Scott will outlive us all” story). I think the real issue is that Scott’s plate is packed full of other projects, Alien: Covenant was a financial disappointment, and Neil Blomkamp is probably still waiting in the wings with his direct-sequel-to-Aliens idea that would override and cancel Scott’s plans to complete an entire series of prequel films.

I have no doubt in my mind that we’re going to see more Ridley Scott movies. He’s never going to stop working. I also have no doubt in my mind that we’ll get more Ridley Scott science fiction. But another Ridley Scott Alien movie? That doubles down on the more controversial elements of Covenant? I’ll believe it when I see it. And then I’ll rejoice.

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