Posts Tagged ‘alien’
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the 20th Century Fox space shocker Alien. It’s hard to describe what it was like seeing that film in a theater for the first time, no preconceptions, no spoilers, no a clue as to what was ahead. I’m still trying to retrieve bits of the skin that I jumped out of. The spectacular H. R. Giger bio-mechanical designs for the facehugger, chestburster and the original xenomorph were all brand new to the horror genre, like the first time the Frankenstein monster stepped into view in 1931.
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Ripley, Believe It Or Not…
According to recent news Fox’s Alien franchise is poised to gear up again. This fifth installment will feature first Alien protagonist Ellen Louise Ripley as the lead character and apparently ignore the plot lines of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. It’s a maneuver by director/writer Neill Blomkamp (Chappie, District 9) that will surely cause controversy in the fan communities for its wholesale revisionism. I personally hope it will finally give the Ripley character a definitive and satisfying third act. Most importantly, actress Sigourney Weaver has just verified taking the lead again. It’s a role that has proven to define the female action hero for several decades and it’s good to know it will be in the hands of its original creator.
In tandem with this exciting news comes NECA’s announced Alien Series 4 action figures. This wave includes Nostromo Captain Dallas (Tom Skerrit) and none other than Ripley herself, based on Weaver’s likeness for the first time. It’s something collectors have been clamoring for and worth the wait as the figure debuts in two different versions. One Ripley dons the distinctive Nostromo spacesuit – what I call the “samurai goalie” look – the other is garbed in her jumpsuit, armed with flame thrower. Spacesuit helmets can be removed, but beware those of ornery face huggers. There are even two versions of Jonesy the Cat, one calm and the other with his hackles up.
NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) never fails to amaze with their New York Toy Fair sales booth displays. This year the highlight was a huge diorama with Ripley in the P-5000 Power Loader that NECA prevued last year. She’s prepared to battle the monstrous xenomorph Queen Mother. Half of the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen) watches helplessly in the midst of a hatchling swarm of scurrying face huggers.
The queen is quite a showpiece. NECA has captured the sleek, angular, and wiry essence of the creature with its regal crest and slavering jaws. The deluxe figure has 30 points of articulation, stands over 15 inches tall and 30 inches long to the tip of its highly posable tail. A stand and two sets of inner jaws are included.
Tall Cool One…
NECA also displayed a prototype of their 1979 Alien. It’s a quarter scale replica of the suit worn by 6′ 10″ Balaji Badejo for his sinuous and balletic performance. Born out of the late H. R. Giger’s nightmarish artwork, this lone creature was plenty enough of a scare on his own in the original film. Even in its unpainted state it’s clear NECA has a fine representation in the works. It’s scheduled for a June release.
I was fortunate to have viewed the original Alien in its first theater run, probably its first week. In 1979 there was no chance of internet spoilers, no speculation from decades old fan bases, just a pure experience that was quite a fright ride. Second and third viewings were equal fun, especially watching the popcorn fly in the midst of unsuspecting first timers. I only knocked the edges off the experience once I could run it on VHS at will. It is that kind of audience familiarity and the since proffered Prometheus backstory and Predator interpolations that Neill Blomkamp will have to overcome in his quest to make his new installment of a piece with the first two and offer that kind of impact.
Dark Horse Comics completes it’s six month Prometheus series with the Fire and Stone “Omega” issue. The stand alone book ties up the multi-title storyline of Alien xenomorphs, Predators, cosmic Engineers, android “synthetics” and stranded Weyland-Yutani astronauts. All get their fair share of “screen time” in this 44 page finale written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. There’s plenty of action and a little philosophy on the “human” condition, which are the polar nodes of director Ridley Scott’s original shock-ride Alien (1976) versus his search for the meaning of our existence, Prometheus (2012). Kudos to Ms. DeConnick for an ending that, while event filled, avoids being a one dimensional “monster rally.” Characters’ thought provoking actions feel correct within the confines of the Prometheus universe, and maybe closer to what Scott had in mind, but didn’t offer us, in the film.
Augustin Alessio’s detailed and atmospheric art compliments the story with a balance of frenetic action and portrait panel exposition. His use of blurring to separate characters from backgrounds and accentuate action scenes adds a cinematic component to his pages. It’s an interesting and successful technique found in several panels.
Appropriately, the bio accelerant driven mutations that proliferate the Dark Horse Prometheus books channel H.R. Giger’s seminal visions as touchstones. Alessio does a particularly nice homage (think ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery) to the late Swiss artist in the latter pages of this final issue.
Ridley Scott’s next foray into the plot line,Prometheus 2, is not due until 2016. For most franchise fans films take too long to make and endless script rewrites and rethinks tend to foster missteps that muddle the final product. Whatever your feelings about the cinematic progression of these intertwined universes, Dark Horse’s licensed graphic novels series (like this and the Buffy and Angel books) offer fans a fun expanded interaction with their favorite characters.
September 10th will see the release of Fire and Stone, issue #1 in Dark Horse Comics’ new Prometheus tie-in series. As you know the Ridley Scott film of 2012 presented a kinda-sorta prequel to the classic Alien franchise and garnered both kudos and bewildered shrugs from a fairly divided fandom audience.
Scott promises more to come on screen about the role of “the engineers” in our earthly genesis. In fact he just announced the completion of the screenplay for Prometheus 2: Paradise, as well as his long awaited Blade Runner sequel and a film called The Martian.
Prometheus 2 is slated to appear sometime in 2016, a year later than originally announced. In the meantime, this 4 book series relates the mission of a deep space salvage team on LV-223 approximately 125 years after the events in the film. We’re introduced to the crew via character Clara Atkinson’s documentary film in progress. Paul Tobin’s script sets-up plenty of personal intrigue and – as you’ve already guessed – there is way more than a routine salvage job waiting.
The interior art by Juan Ferreyra is tight with lots of detail and he gets to add some creepy creatures to the Alien pantheon, as the crew investigates the evolving flora and fauna of LV-223.
Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1 is a sure thumbs up from me, and a total score for fans of the Alien mythos. I personally like the prospects of this series better than the film it references. ‘nuff said.