Ridley Scott is moving at a fast clip these days. While we’re still waiting to see if the director can deliver on the promise of the eye-popping spectacle we glimpsed in the trailer for his upcoming Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” it would appear that the 76-year old filmmaker has more than a few exciting projects coming down the pipeline.
The one we know the most about right now is “The Martian,” an adaptation of Andy Weir’s science-fiction novel about an astronaut stranded on —you guessed it— Mars. The film is set to star Matt Damon with a screenplay by “The Cabin in the Woods” scribe Drew Goddard, and has been blessed with a very awards-friendly release date of November 25th, 2015. Then there’s a proposed sequel to his beloved Philip K. Dick adaptation “Blade Runner,” which he recently met with Harrison Ford about (sidenote: the director has apologized in regards to Ford’s recent injury on the set of J.J. Abrams‘ new “Star Wars” film, and says he “hopes [their meeting] had nothing to do with it.” And in between helming juggernaut-sized tentpole epics set in outer space and the sun-scorched deserts of the Old Testament, Scott has apparently taken time to hatch plans for a sequel to his one of his most divisive films, the kinda-sorta “Alien” prequel, “Prometheus.”
“Right now, as we speak, it’s being written,” Scott told Yahoo. “I’ve had 15 drafts evolving. I definitely want to do that again because I really enjoyed doing ‘Prometheus.‘ ”
Back in 2012, “Prometheus” was a project with a lot going for it. Scott was revisiting the dense and terrifying mythology of perhaps his greatest film, 1979’s bone-chilling sci-fi landmark “Alien.” The premise —a band of archaeologists discover the origins of human life through a series of arcane star maps, only to find themselves stranded on a hostile alien planet— was certainly intriguing. Coupled with a script by Damon Lindelof (“Lost,” “The Leftovers”) and fine camera work by Dariusz Wolski, (who lensed last year’s similarly divisive Scott flick “The Counselor,” as well as several pictures for the director’s late brother Tony) the question was always: what could go wrong?
Quite a lot, as it turned out. “Prometheus” did fine at the box office, taking in roughly $400 million worldwide with a budget of about $120 million, but it mostly failed to incite the passions of those who dearly loved the Scott’s 1979 film and as a result, it was largely viewed as a disappointment. This could be blamed on a number of things: long stretches of needlessly clunky exposition that muck up the film’s momentum; unnecessary star cameos with alarming facial hair; and a narrative that was opaque to the point of being cryptic. And yet “Alien” would have been an impossible act to follow for any filmmaker, and the lugubrious, cornball proselytizing of “Prometheus” was probably far from what the “Alien” purists were expecting. And yet Scott —who saved the appearance of the franchise’s trademark beasts for the (admittedly riveting) last twenty minutes of “Prometheus”— doesn’t seem eager to bring the titular “alien” back anytime soon.
“The beast is done. Cooked,” he says in regards to the potential for Xenomorphs in the “Prometheus” sequel. “I got lucky meeting Giger all those years ago. It’s very hard to repeat that. I just happen to be the one who forced it through because they said it’s obscene. They didn’t want to do it and I said, ‘I want to do it, it’s fantastic’. But after four, I think it wears out a little bit. There’s only so much snarling you can do.”
So… an “Alien” movie without aliens? Granted, “Prometheus” featured more philosophical gobbledygook then honest-to-goodness creature-feature thrills, but still… a sequel entirely devoid of the Xenomorphs? Scott seems totally okay with the idea, and he’s fairly confident that he can take the franchise in a more interesting, perhaps cerebral, direction.
“I think you’ve got to come back with something more interesting. And I think we’ve found the next step. I thought the Engineers were quite a good start.”
With Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender (who was the sole highlight of the original) returning to reprise their roles, it is unknown whether Lindelof will return to write the script. In spite of everything I’ve written here, “Prometheus” has its defenders, and the very idea that Scott is still tackling these intensely demanding projects at his age is nothing if not admirable. Whatever blights he may have on his long and varied track record as a director, Scott is undeniably a legend in the world of cinema, and he remains one of the most intelligent and committed filmmakers currently working. We’ll hold out hope for the Xenomorph-free sequel, but in the meantime, “Exodus” gets a release date in the states on December 12th.