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Maybe we’ll get some mystery and terror back in the Alien franchise?

🔗 Noah Hawley’s Alien prequel show is just going to skip past all that Prometheus stuff, thanks:

“Ridley and I have talked about this — and many, many elements of the show,” Hawley stated in the interview “For me, and for a lot of people, this ‘perfect life form’ — as it was described in the first film — is the product of millions of years of evolution that created this creature that may have existed for a million years out there in space. The idea that, on some level, it was a bioweapon created half an hour ago, that’s just inherently less useful to me.” Also not as useful: Getting away from those “giant computer monitors, these weird keyboards” from 1979’s Alien. “I prefer the retro-futurism of the first two films. And so that’s the choice I’ve made — there’s no holograms. The convenience of that beautiful Apple store technology is not available to me.”

I had completely forgotten that Hawley is working on an Alien prequel series. I think this direction sounds great!

There were plenty of execution problems with Prometheus and Alien: Convenant—bad writing, unbelievable characters, and nonsensical plots not being the least of them—but the biggest complaint I had about those movies is that they took the story in a direction that I found to be much less interesting than what it had been before.

Maybe the problem I have is with the whole idea of prequels in general, but I really didn’t need to know where the xenomorphs came from. I feel like one of the coolest parts of the original film is the idea that humanity ventures out into space with all of these ambitions and a lot of hubris and encounters something completely, well… alien. I mean, it’s right there in the title.

I remember watching Alien for the first time and being completely blown away when Kane climbs up into the chamber of the enormous derelict spacecraft. The camera slowly pulls back and pans across the chamber and we get the first full shot of the space jockey:

Space jockey from Alien

Even on the crappy little black-and-white TV in my parents’ room, the image was overwhelming. This was clearly not something understandable by humans. We don’t know where these things came from or what the purpose of any of this stuff is, and we soon find out it is extremely bad news.

What made those movies compelling for me was the idea of all these terribly unprepared humans—the just-in-it-for-the-money crew of the Nostromo, the supremely overconfident Colonial Marines of the Sulaco, even the by-the-books Warden Andrews and religious leader Dillon on Fury 161—facing an uncaring, unstoppable threat out in the cold darkness of space. Of course they are going to lose; what’s interesting is how they respond to that threat and deal with it.

Then along come Prometheus and Covenant. Suddenly we have all the backstory filled in for us. It’s no longer unknowable cosmic horror—it’s just another childish synthetic conflicted over what it means to be human. I guess that’s fine on its own, but I just don’t care.

I guess that’s a lot to read into a single, short interview with Noah Hawley, but I do hope that he’ll do more with this new series than just return to the production design aesthetic of the original Alien.

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