The Alien Franchise

Started by Silver Nemesis, Sun, 9 Jul 2017, 19:07

Previous topic - Next topic
Sat, 30 Sep 2017, 16:51 #10 Last Edit: Thu, 6 Jun 2024, 22:01 by Silver Nemesis
I watched Alien: Covenant on Blu-ray recently. I find it impossible to discuss the film without first giving my thoughts on Prometheus. So here are my reviews of both films.


I don't know what the story is behind this film, but watching it I get the impression one writer sat down and tried to come up with an intelligent and serious science fiction script, then someone else looked at that script and said, "It needs more monsters and gore." So another writer was brought in to rewrite the screenplay and add some illogical and superfluous set pieces to satisfy the popcorn crowd. I don't know if that's what actually happened, but that's the feeling I get whenever I watch this movie. There are two forces pulling in different directions: one is trying to deliver a thought-provoking drama exploring themes of God, creation and the meaning of life; the other is trying to deliver a monster movie with lots of explosions, slime and fan service nods to the earlier entries in the franchise.

It's the latter agenda that prompts the most illogical behaviour on the part of the protagonists. When confronted with a weird alien snake-thing, the so-called scientists try tickling it. When they find an Engineer head, the first thing they do is try jumpstarting its central nervous system with electric shocks. Needless to say neither of these scenarios ends well. There's a certain point in the film where you'd expect the characters to pack up and leave. People are dying, they're clearly ill-equipped to deal with the situation, so why stick around just to get killed? Shaw and Weyland are given personal reasons for remaining, but the rest of the characters aren't. And that brings me to the next problem with the script: characterisation.

There are a lot of players in this film, but most are simply redshirts whose sole purpose is to die during the film's set pieces. A handful of characters at the forefront are fleshed out and given proper motivation. Amongst these, David and Shaw are the strongest and most interesting. Michael Fassbender gives a wonderful performance and I love the whole Peter O'Toole thing he has going on. I also like Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw. She's a strong female heroine, but never comes across as a Ripley clone. I also dig the fact she was named after one of my favourite Doctor Who assistants. Then you get a character like Fifield, who's characterised in comically broad strokes. Just listen to his dialogue when he first meets Rafe Spall's character: "I ain't here to be your friend, I'm here to make money. You got that?" This less-than-subtle telegraphing of his personality defects is unfortunately typical of the script's bluntness. Another piece of equally awkward dialogue is the following exchange between Shaw and Vickers:

You can't leave. Please. You have to stop it.

We're not stopping anything, Shaw. We're going home.

Janek! If you don't stop it, there won't be any home to go back to.

Those lines don't flow organically. "We're going home" doesn't follow naturally from "We're not stopping anything." If Shaw had specified a strategy that precluded journeying home (which is ultimately what happens when they ram the Engineer ship), then Vickers' response would make more sense. But at this point Shaw hasn't said anything like that. She just says they need to stop the ship. The only reason Vickers says, "We're going home" is to set up Shaw's response of: "If you don't stop it, there won't be any home to go back to." And that line's only there so it can be included in the trailer. The script clearly needed work.

You could remove most of the silly and superfluous scenes in Prometheus without harming the main story. The subplot about the two blokes who get lost in the caves is only there to facilitate the set piece where they get killed by the weird snake-thing, and that scene is only there to facilitate the later set piece where Fifield turns into a super zombie and thins the herd of redshirts (and the only purpose of the redshirts in the film is to die in that scene). You could pull out the thread connecting all of these elements and it would have minimal impact on the central storyline. This is what I mean when I say it feels as though there were two writers working at cross purposes.

Negatives aside, I actually do like Prometheus. The film looks great. It has a really strong ambience, a production design that feels true to Giger's original vision, and it strikes a decent balance between practical and digital effects work. I love the score by Marc Streitenfeld and the performance by Fassbender. I like the scope of its ambition; that it poses philosophical questions without pretending to have all the answers. I like the fact that it's Prometheus, not Alien: Prometheus. It's its own film with its own identity – a standalone science fiction story that occurs within the Alien universe, but isn't obligated to connect too closely with any of the other films. It's a flawed but ambitious semi-failure with a unique style of its own. In that sense, I'd compare it to David Lynch's Dune (1984); another deeply flawed sci-fi film that I'm very fond of.

Alien: Covenant (SPOILERS)

This film is a massive disappointment and fails to live up to the potential hinted at by its predecessor. Shaw is killed off in favour of a far less interesting female lead (all the characters in Covenant are dull and underwritten except for David), her journey to the Engineers' home world is only vaguely outlined, and the conclusion of her quest for answers is denied a proper resolution. But most frustratingly, all of these things happen off screen. It's as if Ridley Scott buckled under the pressure of creating something new and so altered course into more familiar waters. The end result: an unimaginative retread of earlier Alien films with nothing new of substance on offer.

The Engineers' home world is dull and anticlimactic. I was expecting some twisted Gigeresque vision of a dark paradise, similar to the Cenobites' home world in the Hellraiser films or the Borg cube in Star Trek. Instead we get an unimaginative planet with a single architecturally-bland city. Where was the dark paradise we were promised? Where was Giger's visionary aesthetic? All of the weird creatures featured in the film are just variations of the xenomorph design, only with minimal alterations (different coloured skin, different shaped head, etc). They had an opportunity here to come up with fresh new creature designs, and they squandered it. I also thought the CG alien effects were some of the worst I've seen in any recent film. In the 1979 picture, Scott gave us fleeting glimpses of the xenomorph to tremendous effect. In Covenant he shows far too much of the monsters and they look laughably fake. It's a shame, because the production values elsewhere in the film are otherwise excellent.

The illogical and carless behaviour of the characters in Prometheus is repeated by the protagonists in Covenant. They don't bother wearing spacesuits when exploring an alien world. When they stumble across some unidentified black fungi, they place their faces in close proximity and inhale the mysterious black spores that burst from within (hence why they don't wear spacesuits - such logical precautions would prevent the 'idiot plot' from advancing). Everything that was bad about Prometheus is present in Covenant. Sadly the imagination, atmosphere and creativity of Prometheus are all absent from Covenant.

Part of the problem with retreading familiar ground is the lack of suspense. There's no tension when Crudup's character is peering into the egg, because we've seen this scenario play out before and know exactly what's going to happen. Likewise for the chestburster scene. The final act is particularly bad in this regard. We get the overused cliché of the xenomorph stowing away aboard the spaceship, followed by the equally tired cliché of it being blasted out into space. And in between we get a cheesy sex/death scene in a shower ripped straight from a Friday the 13th movie. Prometheus may not have hit all its targets, but at least it was aiming high. Covenant, by contrast, is aiming for the lowest common denominator. And it still misses. They simply didn't have enough new ideas to justify making another film.

That said, Covenant isn't completely worthless. Aside from the poor CG creature effects, the production values are generally good. So is the cinematography. Fassbender is on top form as always and carries pretty much the entire movie. The scenes between David and Walter are the best in the film and the middle act in general is the most compelling part of the narrative. But even that's overly familiar and ends up falling back on a predicable formula. As soon as David and Walter started fighting, I knew exactly where the plot was going. Anyone who's seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Datalore' will know precisely where it's going. Just replace a facial twitch with a severed hand, and you've got a near identical sequence of events.

Mark Kermode said it best when he remarked that Scott is only as good as the script he's directing. He's a talented artist, but he's not a particularly good storyteller. Give him a good script and you get a good film. Give him a bad script and you get Alien: Covenant.

Here's how I'd rank the Alien franchise, from worst to best, in terms of objective quality. I'm not counting the Alien vs. Predator films because they're not canon.

6) Alien: Resurrection (1997)
5) Alien: Covenant (2017)
4) Prometheus (2012)
3) Alien 3 (1992)
2) Aliens (1986)
1) Alien (1979)

And here's how I'd rank them in terms of personal preference

6) Alien: Resurrection (1997)
5) Alien: Covenant (2017)
4) Alien 3 (1992)
3) Prometheus (2012))
2) Alien (1979)
1) Aliens (1986)

Prometheus originally was supposed to have more Alien elements in it, similar to Alien: Covenant. At one point, Charlie and Shaw were to make love and right in the middle, the chestburster would tear through Charlie. It was a scene that either could have been as shocking and surprising as the original film's chestburster scene or would have been schlocky.

Around the time Damon Lindeloff was brought on board, the chestbursters, eggs, and xenomorphs were removed. I could be wrong, but I think I heard the "Hey, let's pet the alien creature in the same or similar creepy tomb place we ran away from earlier" scene predates Lindeloff.

If that's the case, then it sounds as if Lindelof deserves credit for helping Prometheus circumnavigate the pitfalls that crippled Covenant. At least Prometheus had a sense of individuality, visual flair and imagination to it. If Scott and co can't conjure those same qualities again, then there's really no point in continuing the franchise. They'll just end up making the same stories over and over, but with added fan service. 

Sun, 1 Nov 2020, 18:15 #13 Last Edit: Sun, 1 Nov 2020, 19:36 by Silver Nemesis
Quote from: Silver Nemesis on Sun, 16 Jul  2017, 19:34
I remember Ridley Scott once saying he was partly inspired by Star Wars to make Alien. I always liked the idea of the Alien universe being broad and expansive like the Star Wars universe. I find the films that expand upon the mythology tend to be more satisfying than the ones which simply rehash earlier ideas.

Coming back to this point in the wake of Sean Connery's passing, I want to highlight Peter Hyam's 1981 film Outland as an example of the sort of movie I was talking about. I should preface this by saying that while there were plenty of Alien rip-offs in the early eighties, Outland is not one of them. If anything, the plot of Outland is far more indebted to Fred Zinnemann's 1952 western High Noon than it is to Alien. That said, Hyams cited the latter film as a major influence on the look and feel of Outland, and that's where we find the similarities.

The movie takes place on a mining colony on Io, Jupiter's innermost moon, where a Federal Marshall (played by Sean Connery) assumes command of the local police force. He soon uncovers a conspiracy involving the sale of drugs that increase the miners' productivity while triggering psychotic breakdowns that turn them violent or suicidal. Connery learns the outpost administrators are complicit in the affair, and when he confronts them about this he is told to turn a blind eye. Connery refuses to play ball, and the villains respond by calling in assassins from a nearby space station to deal with him.

The Continental Amalgamated company could be seen as a rival to Weyland-Yutani, or even Seegson from the video game Alien: Isolation (which is excellent, btw). All three are powerful corporations whose shady and amoral business practices result in needless death and further impede the protagonist's quest. The Federal Marshalls in Hyams' film can also be seen as a precursor to the Colonial Marshalls in Alien: Isolation.

Many of the crewmembers that served on Alien also worked on Outland, including key figures like costume designer John Mollo, model maker and special effects artist Martin Bower, and composer Jerry Goldsmith. The 'used future' aesthetic displayed in Alien's model work and production design is clearly referenced in Outland, and the costumes and technology feel totally consistent with the dark sci-fi universe Scott created in his 1979 film.

In fact Outland arguably comes closer to capturing the grounded, gritty atmosphere of the original Alien movie than Cameron did in the official sequel. Don't get me wrong, Aliens is a superior film to Outland. I'm just saying that the tone of Hyams' movie feels closer to Scott's. Even the opening sequence is similar, where the film's title appears against a backdrop of space.

Outland was adapted into a novelisation by Alan Dean Foster, who also wrote the adaptations of the Alien films. It was also adapted into a comic book serialised in Heavy Metal and written by Jim Steranko.

In my head canon, I consider Hyams' film to be canonical to the Alien universe. An Alien 1.5, so to speak. I'm bringing it up now partly as a tribute to Connery, but also to illustrate the Alien universe's potential to be more than just an endless series of retreads of the 1979 movie. Alien is a sci-fi horror film, Aliens is a sci-fi action/war film, Alien 3 is a sci-fi prison film, and Outland is a sci-fi western. This franchise works best when it's expanding its mythology and dipping its toes into different genres, as opposed to simply retelling the same xenomorph plot over and over.

Unfortunately I also had the misfortune of recently seeing Alien 2: On Earth (1980), Ciro Ippolito's unlicensed Italian 'sequel' to Ridley Scott's original film. There were many Alien rip-offs in the early eighties, but this was the only one where the filmmakers had the gall to market it as a sequel. It's pure trash, and aside from a few laugh-out-loud bad moments it really isn't worth watching. The only scene even remotely resembling anything from the original Alien is the bit where a creature bursts from a woman's face, and you can see that in the trailer.

Come to think of it, all the good bits are in the trailer. Notice that at least a third of the trailer is just stock footage. Unless you're into really bad low-budget European horror films, you should avoid wasting your time on this one. I was honestly struggling to stay awake during it.

Outland, however, is definitely worth a watch.

Quote from: Silver Nemesis on Sun,  9 Jul  2017, 19:07
Since we've got several threads dedicated to Star Wars, I thought it was about time we had an all-purpose thread for the Alien series. Feel free to discuss, analyse and compare any and all of this franchise's cinematic entries, plus related comics, videogames and other peripherals.

I've been on a bit of a Joseph Conrad binge over the past few months, and last week I finished reading his 1904 novel Nostromo. It's an impressive work of literature, though a little uneven, slow and overwritten in places (you've got to expect that from Conrad). As I was reading it, I couldn't help wondering why the title of this book was chosen for the name of the spaceship in the first Alien film. I previously assumed it was because Conrad was in vogue at the time thanks to Apocalypse Now (though Alien was actually released a few months before Apocalypse Now). But having finished the book, I now believe the choice of name is more meaningful than that.

The novel centres around a civil war in a fictional South American country called Costaguana. At the heart of this conflict is the San Tomé Silver Mine. If you'll recall, the spaceship in Alien was a mining vessel. Here we get our first connection.

In the book Nostromo is the nickname of an Italian seaman whose real name is Giovanni Battista. He works for a shipping line called the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, or OSN Company for short. Throughout the novel OSN is often referred to simply as 'The Company', much like the Weyland-Yutani Corporation in the Alien films. Anyone who has read Heart of Darkness will recall that too features a shipping line referred to as 'The Company'.

The central and most exciting episode in the novel sees Nostromo attempting to smuggle the silver from the mine away from Costaguana to prevent it falling into the hands of the revolutionaries. Nostromo is now custodian of the mine's treasure, much the way the spaceship in Alien is custodian of the minerals mined by the crew. In the novel Nostromo hides the silver on an island, then sinks his own lighter and swims to shore to make everyone believe the treasure was lost at sea. In Scott's movie Ripley destroys her own spaceship and gets away in an escape vessel. In both stories the protagonist destroys their own ship, and the treasures they were transporting are lost and never recovered by their rightful owners.

Nostromo is haunted by the secret of the silver's location, much like Ripley is haunted by the trauma of her experiences. Both protagonists suffer from paranoia and unrest as a result of their past, prompting them to retread their steps in such a way that ultimately leads to their deaths. Obviously these parallels relate to the sequels and would not have influenced the writers of the first Alien film, but I thought they were worth noting anyway.

The name of Ripley's escape vessel, The Narcissus, is derived from the title of another Conrad novel, though I haven't read that one yet so I can't comment on its significance (or lack thereof). In James Cameron's sequel he called the Colonial Marines' transport The Sulaco. Sulaco is the name of a town in Costaguana in Conrad's novel. However I can't see any significance in the use of this name other than it being yet another reference to Nostromo.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting how something as simple as the name of a spaceship can have a lot of meaning behind it. It just goes to show how much careful thought the writers injected into every detail.
I have no real stake in this franchise. But what the hell, why not?

I'm in the middle of a Halloween movie binge. But after I finish up with Michael Myers, maybe I'll give these movies a look.

Quote from: Silver Nemesis on Sun,  1 Nov  2020, 18:15
Coming back to this point in the wake of Sean Connery's passing, I want to highlight Peter Hyam's 1981 film Outland as an example of the sort of movie I was talking about.
I've never seen this, so I'll put it on my list. Sean's Bond very nearly went into space in You Only Live Twice, before he was stopped by Blofeld. Here he goes the whole hog like his own version of Moonraker. That's my hook here. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Re: Alien - I respect the first two films a great deal, and acknowledge the third as a thematically sound conclusion, for the reasons I explained on the previous page. But like Jurassic Park, I don't see Alien as an ongoing franchise. Resurrection had a decent hook with Ripley being a clone, but the execution did nothing for me. And the longer things go on the concept can't help but feel repetitious. Having one film (or if it can be stretched tastefully into a tight trilogy) avoids that. Less really is more in certain circumstances. The Alien is a scary mystique – that is reduced with the prequels, which I find boring and choose to ignore. But the first two especially? Cinematic gold.

Quote from: thecolorsblend on Mon,  2 Nov  2020, 20:23I have no real stake in this franchise. But what the hell, why not?

I'm in the middle of a Halloween movie binge. But after I finish up with Michael Myers, maybe I'll give these movies a look.

Michael Myers is certainly more seasonal at present, but the Alien films are perfect for those dark winter nights that lie between now and Christmas.

Returning to the Joseph Conrad connections in my original post, I should also note that Ridley Scott's first film, the superb historical drama The Duellists (1977), was adapted from a short story of Conrad's titled 'The Duel'. Scott's next project after that was Alien.

Quote from: The Dark Knight on Tue,  3 Nov  2020, 02:29I've never seen this, so I'll put it on my list. Sean's Bond very nearly went into space in You Only Live Twice, before he was stopped by Blofeld. Here he goes the whole hog like his own version of Moonraker. That's my hook here. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

I hope you enjoy it, TDK. I rate it as Connery's best sci-fi film. Admittedly I still haven't gotten round to watching Zardoz (1974), but most of what I've heard about that movie has been negative. Time Bandits (1981) is good, but it's more fantasy than sci-fi and Connery's role is comparatively small. Highlander II (1991) is bad, and so is Meteor (1979). So that leaves Outland as the best of his science fiction projects. It's not a great movie by any means, but it's a solid sci-fi thriller that deserves more recognition than it gets. Alien fans should find a lot to like about it.

For those who do enjoy Outland, I'd also recommend 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), Peter Hyams' underrated sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Has anyone on this site played Alien: Isolation? I've delved into quite a few Alien games over the years, including various arcade titles, Alien 3 on the NES, Alien Trilogy on the PS1 and Aliens vs. Predator on the PC, but I reckon Isolation is easily the best game in the series. Due to its intensity, I tend to play in short sessions of no more than about 20-30 minutes at a time. I'm playing on the medium difficulty setting and even that's proving to be a challenge. I hate to imagine what the hardest difficulty must be like.

The story takes place between the events of the first two Alien movies and puts the player in the role of Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley's daughter. Amanda goes to Sevastopol Station after she learns the flight recorder from the Nostromo is being analysed there. Sevastopol is run by the Seegsan conglomerate, a less powerful rival of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation that specialises in the manufacture of synthetics known as Working Joes. These androids are more basic and less lifelike than those created by Weyland-Yutani, and they bear a creepy visual resemblance to the Autons from classic Doctor Who.

Predictably, the Working Joes begin to malfunction and start massacring any humans they encounter. Amanda has to sneak through the station looking for clues to what is happening while simultaneously avoiding the homicidal Joes and packs of human scavengers that will kill her on sight. To make matters worse, a xenomorph shows up and begins prowling Sevastopol's corridors and air vents. Owing to the advanced AI, it can appear at any point in the game and hunts the player in unpredictable patterns. Stealth gameplay therefore takes precedence, with particular importance placed on the motion sensor mechanics that allow you to detect any nearby enemies.

It's a very frightening and intense experience that evokes the older survival horror games of the late nineties and early noughties while bringing them up to date with modern graphics and superb sound design. However if you're looking for action, then you'd best look elsewhere. There are times in the game when you'll have to fight, but weapons and ammunition are scarce and a stealthy approach is generally rewarded more than a head-on attack. This adds to the player's sense of vulnerability, but can be frustrating for Han Solo types who prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around.

Alien: Isolation is available on every platform and I'd recommend getting the latest versions that include the 'Crew Expendable' and 'Last Survivor' DLC. These expansions are based on the 1979 film and include voice acting by several of the original cast members, including Sigourney Weaver.

I'll end this post with a brief mention of Xenogenesis, a short film James Cameron directed in 1978. This is his earliest directorial credit according to the IMDb and the ending clearly foreshadows Ripley's battle with the xenomorph queen in Aliens. Also note how the villainous robot resembles the HK-Tanks from The Terminator franchise. Here's the entire film for anyone who's interested.

Quote from: thecolorsblend on Mon,  2 Nov  2020, 20:23I have no real stake in this franchise. But what the hell, why not?

I'm in the middle of a Halloween movie binge. But after I finish up with Michael Myers, maybe I'll give these movies a look.
Watched Alien the other night. Not bad! It's been decades since I last saw it. So in a way, it was sort of like watching it for the first time (again).

I think this is the tone of this franchise that I will prefer. A suspense/thriller/horror approach to sci-fi.

One reason the movie plays for me is because in a horror movie, the characters HAVE to do stupid things. Otherwise, you don't have a movie. Allowing a potentially hostile alien creature onto the ship is the gold standard of stupid. You don't do that. Ever. But there was an agenda behind doing so and I completely buy it. I really enjoy the paranoia, the furtive glances over corners, the fear of some nameless terror on the ship killing everybody, the panic that sets in, it's so good.

In fact, it's so good that I'm kind of reluctant to watch the sequels. I've seen Aliens decades ago and Resurrection when it first came out. I don't remember either of them remotely approaching the OG Alien film. Knowing that, and knowing Alien 3's rep, I'm not sure that watching the sequels is such a great idea.

Separately, you've got Alien Resurrection and Halloween Resurrection. Both of them are considered notable low points in their respective franchises. Maybe the moral of the story is never make a sequel to something with "Resurrection" in the title?

Aliens tonight. As I say, I haven't seen it in decades. So I dimly remembered some parts (basically nearly everything with Bishop) and totally lost others (the queen getting dropped out the airlock).

All in all, it's a worthy sequel. And tbh, it's probably hard to follow Ridley Scott's thriller/horror approach. So, something a bit more like an action movie probably was a good call. And to give Cameron credit, the shift in tone isn't jarring at all. Noticeable but not disruptive.

I've heard all sorts of horror stories about Alien 3. How bad is it really?

Quote from: thecolorsblend on Thu,  5 Nov  2020, 02:12I've heard all sorts of horror stories about Alien 3. How bad is it really?

The main issue many people have with Alien 3 is that it undoes the satisfying conclusion of Aliens. Most fans developed an emotional attachment to Newt, Hicks and Bishop, and on that score Alien 3 kicks the viewer in the gut and leaves them with a bad taste in the mouth. It's by far the darkest and goriest entry in the series and the overall tone is very bleak and depressing. The downbeat ambience is arguably one its greatest strengths, but also makes it a difficult film to like. Another problem is that there was a lot of drama behind the scenes. The producers were constantly butting heads with David Fincher, and the end result feels like its pulling in several different creative directions at once. Alien and Aliens are clearly the works of auteur filmmakers, but Alien 3 is the work of an auteur whose vision was compromised by studio interference. It's a bit of a mess really. If you have the option, I recommend watching the Assembly Cut which is more cohesive than the theatrical version and includes some important deleted material.

Is it a bad film? No, I don't think so. It has a good cast, it's generally well directed by Fincher, and the industrial production design and cinematography by Alex Thomson are excellent, albeit extremely grim. It's just a very unpleasant film and one that feels unnecessary after the events of the previous movie. It concludes Ripley's story and offers a decisive ending to the trilogy. But did Alien really need to be a trilogy in the first place? Like The Godfather, Blade Runner and Terminator, Alien is one of those films that should have been a standalone venture. But then a visionary director made a sequel which, against the odds, defied everyone's expectations and turned out to be worthy of the original. Sadly the studios didn't know when to leave well enough alone and persisted with disappointing third entries (it's only a matter of time before Blade Runner 3 is announced). Alien 3 is part of that trend, though I'd say it's still a lot better than Terminator 3.

I watched the first three Alien films on consecutive nights back in September, and when viewed in sequence Alien 3's inferiority to its predecessors is painfully obvious. I'd still rate it above Resurrection, the Alien vs. Predator movies or Covenant, but that's not saying much. There are a lot of things I like about Alien 3, but I could never love it the way I do the first two films. I'll be genuinely interested to hear what you think of it, colors. If the original Alien is a 10/10 then I'd rate Alien 3 a 6/10, which in my book is a marginal thumbs up.

Just a few years ago, Neill Blomkamp pitched an idea to Fox for an alternate sequel to Aliens that would have retconned the events of Fincher's film. It had the support of Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn, but supposedly Ridley Scott torpedoed the project so it wouldn't distract from his prequel films. Here's some of the concept art from Blomkamp's pitch.

I don't know if this would have been better than the Alien 3 we got, but Blomkamp's vision seems to align more closely with what the fans wanted. Especially with regards to bringing back Hicks and Newt.