I Want To See This Neill Blomkamp Alien Movie, But Should I?Posted: January 3, 2015
One of the topics that I’ve broached before on this blog is the question of filmmakers sticking to their own original ideas versus contributing their talents to a previously-established franchise. It’s a conflicted issue for me, as a fan of both big blockbuster sagas and original, auteurist work. I mean, I love Darren Aronofsky’s filmography so far, but would I have enjoyed his Batman Year One or Wolverine more than The Fountain and Noah? And yet, when it comes to the thought of District 9 director Neill Blomkamp making an Alien movie, my first reaction is absolute excitement, whether it will ever happen or not.
I’ve been thinking for years that the one franchise I’d actually want Neill Blomkamp to contribute to would be Alien. Besides the obvious aesthetic fit — his films are very much of the same blue-collar scifi style that Alien exhibits — he’s also a huge and vocal fan of the franchise. So for Blomkamp to kick-start 2015 with a huge pile of personal Alien concept art is just perfect… except he might already be past it. According to Blomkamp, he never officially pitched this to Fox, nor was he ever asked to develop anything for them, and he seems to suggest that he’s moved on from the notion. But if Fox is smart, they would call Blomkamp up right now and get him working full-time on this, because this looks light-years more interesting than anything we might get from Prometheus 2. In just a few images, Blomkamp has suggested a lot of bold choices that could lead to a great film. Of course the same could have been said about Prometheus a few years ago, I have more reason to trust Blomkamp these days than Scott (even considering the let-down of Elysium). But why in this case am I excited to see Blomkamp play with someone else’s toys instead of making up his own game from scratch?
I think that the key is that Blomkamp did this on his own; he developed these images and the ideas behind them without any incentive to do so from Fox. And he started doing it while he already has a new film in the offing. If this had come out right after the underperformance of Elysium it might seem like a different story, but with Chappie on the horizon there’s no visible reason for Blomkamp to feel the need to get a franchise safety net. So it would seem that this came out of a place of pure enthusiasm, for the franchise and the ideas he was developing. And if that’s the case, and he would be coming to it from the same place of individual inspiration that he does with his original work, then why does it matter if it’s a big tentpole property or not? By that same token, if he’s backing away from it now because he’s lost the enthusiasm for it, or because he isn’t getting the same sense of fulfillment he does from his own ideas, then more power to him.
That is the ultimate difference between a work-for-hire gig and the work of a committed artist: personal passion. If a filmmaker comes to a big franchise of his own free will, driven by his own ideas for what it can or should be, then I’ll be happy to support it. It’s a bit of a role reversal for me, but I think I owe it to these filmmakers to recognize when doing a big tentpole isn’t just a cynical cash-grab for them, even if it is for the studio. From just these few images, it’s clear that Blomkamp has that passion for Alien, just as many young filmmakers have passion for the franchises they hope to redefine (see: Colin Trevorrow with Jurassic World, Rian Johnson with Star Wars: Episode VIII). So if Blomkamp changes his mind and decides to pursue Alien: Xenomorph again, I truly hope Fox goes along with whatever he has in mind. But if he feels like his effort is better placed with his own ideas, I hope the studios leave him the fuck alone and let him get back to work. Either way, I’ll be there opening night for whatever Neill Blomkamp gives us.