Hollywood hasn’t always played nice with some of its biggest franchises. Occasionally, you get some truly great ones that managed to maintain their integrity throughout the entire run, but more often in the industry, franchises are run hard into the ground. Before the age of cinematic universes, studios had a tendency to rely solely on the name recognition of their sequels, and this trend is what led to the downfall of some greats, including the Alien franchise.
The original film (directed by Ridley Scott) hit theaters in 1979, and went on to become a staple in the horror/sci-fi genre. 1986 saw the release of the more action-oriented sequel Aliens, which was directed by James Cameron. Since that point, the film franchise kind of went off the deep end. Alien 3 had all the best intentions, but ultimately fell short of expectations, and Alien: Resurrections..let’s pretend that never happened, along with the Alien vs. Predator movies.
2012’s Prometheus was the closest we had to a decent follow-up, but even that one fell short of what fans were hoping to get in a prequel (even though director Ridley Scott stated on several occasions that it was not a prequel).
This franchise has certainly run the gamut in terms of quality, and in a recent interview with James Cameron, the outlet asked about his perspective regarding the upcoming Alien: Covenant, which looks to be a legitimate prequel to Alien.
Here’s what Cameron had to say:
“The franchise has kind of wandered all over the map. Ridley [Scott] did the first film, and he inspired an entire generation of filmmakers and science-fiction fans with that one movie and there have been so many films that stylistically have derived from it, including my own Aliens, which was the legitimate sequel and, I think, the proper heir to his film. I sort of did it as a fanboy. I wanted to honor his film, but also say what I needed to say. After that, I don't take any responsibility.
“I don't think it's worked out terribly well. I think we've moved on beyond it. It's like, okay, we've got it, we've got the whole Freudian biomechanoid meme. I've seen it in 100 horror films since. I think both of those films stand at a certain point in time, as a reference point. But is there any validity to doing another one now? I don't know. Maybe. Let's see, jury's out. Let's see what Ridley comes up with. Let me just add to that — and don't cut this part off, please — I will stand in line for any Ridley Scott movie, even a not-so-great one, because he is such an artist, he's such a filmmaker. I always learn from him. And what he does with going back to his own franchise would be fascinating.”
To understand what Cameron means, we can perhaps look to the John Carter of Mars book — a book that popularized many of the tropes we’ve seen in thousands of stories since. As a result, when the book was adapted in 2012, it had nothing new to add to the pop culture language. It had already been ripped of and dried out by then.
Admittedly, I couldn't help but take this quote a bit ironically, as it's coming from The Godfather of the Terminator franchise, which has had far worse luck than the Alien franchise. So convoluted has it become that I believe the chances of recovering it are near zero. And yet, Cameron has been revealed to be ushering in a new batch of sequels that will supposedly be the true successor to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. That's not to say that the movies will be bad, but it is a bit ironic, as I feel like the Terminator franchise, I feel, has a lot less to offer to its own mythology than Alien does to its, but that's just me.
Has the Alien franchise reached that similar point already? Is there any fresh insight that can be squeezed out of this mythology? Let us know your thoughts down below!
Alien: Covenant hits theaters on May 19, 2017!
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