"Can I dream?" "Yes, honey. I think we both can."
Newt and Ripley's closing lines in "Aliens" carry more weight today than ever before, as it looks like the James Cameron action movie is about to get the sequel fans have been dreaming about: Neill Blomkamp, director of "Chappie" and "District 9," is at the helm of a new "Alien" movie, and based on the plethora of concept art he's posted on Instagram, his vision looks heavily inspired by the Cameron classic, featuring a scarred-up Corporal Hicks, among other Easter eggs.
Now that the movie is officially in the works, and with Sigourney Weaver apparently on board as well, it's time to start thinking about what the movie will be, what it'll look like, and the challenges it faces. As an "Aliens" super-fan, I couldn't be more excited about the prospect of a continuation — but it's still a daunting prospect. Here's what Blomkamp has to do to make this work:
Mostly ignore the post-"Aliens" movies…
There's a lot to love about David Fincher's "Alien 3," its reputation to the contrary… but it did end with Ripley's death, leading the way to the horrible, no good, can't-believe-Joss-Whedon-wrote-this sequel "Alien Resurrection." If Blomkamp's movie leans more on the Ripley of "Aliens" than the Ripley of subsequent movies, then it has to forget about her death on Fiorina 161, and her eventual resurrection as an alien-human hybrid-thingie.
Except… well, those things happened! How do you just sweep big-deal events like death and rebirth under the rug? Alternate time-line? It was all a dream? She used to read Weyland-Yutani magazine? There's no easy answer. It's the biggest hurdle that Blomkamp has to overcome. Let's just assume he has a badass answer to this big, bad problem, and move on — because if he doesn't have a badass answer, then this movie has no business being made.
"You were out there for 57 years."
That's how much time passed between "Alien" and "Aliens," and yet Ellen Ripley didn't age a day, thanks to cryo-sleep. Only seven years passed between the making of those two films. It's been nearly 30 since "Aliens." Sigourney Weaver has aged fantastically, but she has aged, and Blomkamp's "Alien" movie will have to figure out a way to work with that in-story. Was her post-"Aliens" cryo-sleep a failure? Did she wake up early and go on to live her life? Whatever the answer, it's got to line up with a 65-year-old Ripley — who sounds like a phenomenal character, by the way.
Be synthetic, but don't be stupid.
Between "District 9," "Elysium" and his most recent effort, "Chappie," Blomkamp has designed unique looking worlds populated by high-powered weaponry and visually striking new lifeforms. No reason to expect anything different from his "Aliens" sequel. His biggest strength is making the impossible look like an every day occurrence — something that "Alien" and "Aliens" are both famous for as well. Blomkamp's "Alien" is likely to be his highest-budget movie yet, and here's hoping he uses that extra cash to stay true to what he's best at, and what made these particular movies look so special in the first place.
If we're Biehn honest…
Hicks features in Blomkamp's "Alien" concept art, scarred-up from the acid splash he sustained at the end of "Aliens." If he is indeed a character in the new movie, then please, for the love of all things holy, do not recast him. Don't go out and grab George Clooney or Brad Pitt or whoever. Michael Biehn exists, if not on the A-list, then certainly in reality. Hicks is an iconic role for fans of the "Aliens" franchise, and if we're saving him from his ill-conceived drowning demise in "Alien 3," then anything less than the real thing simply won't suffice.
Stay frosty, and alert.
Until now, Blomkamp's movies have been all-original, all-new entries in the science fiction genre. He's dabbled with franchises in the past, almost helming "Halo" before the whole thing fell through, leading to "District 9." Now, he's back in franchise mode, and he's taking on one of the most beloved properties of them all. But it's a beleaguered property as well, one that's had as many misses as hits, if not more. "Aliens" fans are used to heartbreak. It's been a while since we've tasted triumph. The stakes are high, Mr. Blomkamp. Keep counsel with prominent voices in the "Alien" community (Ridley Scott is a producer, but make sure you're having a conversation or two with Cameron), do what you do best, and do everything in your power to make sure this newest "Aliens" movie isn't game over for the franchise.
If all else fails?
Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.