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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

dream cast: not-so-hypothetical ‘Alien’ prequel

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for another installment in the semiregular Dream Cast, in which we take a classic movie, TV show, or book, perferrably something with Xer appeal that we can either trash or have fun with, and cast a production or recast a hypothetical (or sometimes not so hypothetical) remake with actors working today. This week: the prequel to Alien that Variety reported last week director Ridley Scott will take on soon.

(If you have a suggestion for a show, movie, or book we could play Dream Cast with, feel free to email me.)
Variety offered no details on the movie, except that it will definitely take place before the events of 1979’s Alien (I reviewed the 2003 theatrical release of the director’s cut here). Which leads one to wonder how this can quite be an Alien movie at all, if the events of Alien were those in which the Alien aliens were discovered. Or were they…? We know that Weyland-Yutani — the evil Company — is, well, evil, so maybe they already knew about the monsters lurking on that dead planet. In fact, it’s arguable that Alien suggests that the Company did, in fact, already know about the creatures, which is why it detoured the Nostromo to stop and check out that mysterious beacon.

Major question regarding any prequel: Can we have an Alien movie without Ripley? But how can we maintain the ignorant Ripley of the 1979 movie while also having a prequel with both Alien aliens and Ripley?

So here’s your assignment for today: Envision a prequel story that satisfies that conundrum.

Here’s my idea: The Ellen Ripley we know from 1979 is actually a clone of the real Ellen Ripley, a high-ranking Weyland-Yutani executive, who is on a space cruise to the spas of Proxima Centauri when her ritzy corporate yacht is diverted by a distress call from a colony abandoned for reasons no one knows (it’s a space age Roanoke Island, see). The yacht’s captain is bound by the spacer’s code to check it out… and mayhem ensues.

I’m gonna steal an idea from EW’s PopWatch and cast Ellen Page as Ripley. The captain? Timothy Olyphant (cuz I’m so tired of seeing his awesomeness wasted).

Who’s in your scenario and dream cast?

In space, no one can hear you speculate about prequels:

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  • I do think the Company’s awareness of the xenomorph is what will be explored in the prequel, but really don’t know how Ellen Ripley could be fit into the premise. I’m sorry: clone? That is soooooo 2002.

    It would have to involve the Predator race as well, now that the PvA series has established the Predators farm the Aliens for sport. Perhaps make the Space Jockey’s race the bioengineers who created/harvested them first…

    Alien Queen: bigass Stan Winston puppet
    Predator Warrior Chief: some tall stunt guy
    Space Jockey: bigass Henson Studios puppet
    Janice Ripley (Ellen’s great-aunt): Odette Yustman
    Expendable Redshirts: the cast of the King of Queens
    Cyberdyne Prosthesis Expert Marcus Ashland (developer of the carbon weave skin graft and the bio-compatible coolant fluid that would aid in the creation of ‘artificial humans’): Ian Holm

  • The archetypes of an Aliens movie are always the same:

    An Android who betrays them to the company
    A “hero” who fails
    A “damsel” who bonds with Ripley
    The Alien/Aliens

    In Alien:
    The Hero is Tom Skerrit’s Captain
    The Damsel is the cat.

    In Aliens:
    The “Android” is actually Paul Riser’s character.
    Bishop is actually a red herring.
    The Hero is Hicks
    The Damsel is Newt

    In Aliens 3:
    The Android isn’t an android, but he plays the same role: Bishop.
    The hero is Dillon
    The Damsel is Dr. Clemens

    In Aliens 4:
    The Android is Winona Rider
    The hero is strangely enough also Winona Rider.
    The damsel is the Alien Hybrid

    So for a prequel you’d have to have the same elements:

    Ripley the Common Thread: Lena Headey
    The Hero who Fails: Liev Schreiber
    The Android Betrayer: Chiwetel Ejiofor
    The Damsel in Distress: Lena Headey

    Here’s the plot: Before there were androids there were clones. They are cheap, easy and plentiful and they work for basic necessities. Androids are still a little unstable.

    Ripley is a clone “archetype” or original human who serves on a ship with her cloned doppelganger. They are involved romantically – an act which while not forbidden is at least still considered off-putting to most people.

    The Android is kept in a closet and brought out for the occasional use as a probe, working outside the ship and such because he is stronger and has better reflexes and senses. He is closely monitored when he is running and is usually shut down when he is not in use.

    In the vicinity of Proxima Centauri they find a derelict possibly alien spacecraft in orbit around a miserable planet. They can communicate with the ship/pilot (there’s not much distinction) but all they can glean is some sort of danger is present.

    They decide to send the android and the clone over to the ship to see if they can get more info. The android is glad to be away from the humans for a while, but the clone is less happy about it. Her human lover/donor is also a little put out about it too.

    It is the android that brings the egg back to their ship. The egg is the mcGuffin because the clone is the one who is actually infected. However you are never sure which is the clone and which is the original throughout.

    Eventually it is the Captain who decides to ram the side of the alien craft and destroy the threat which leads to crash and the beacon on LV426. And there is a coda where “Ripley” is awakened back on Earth with no knowledge of the trip.

  • Brendan

    This is a prequel not a sequel , Ripley will not be in this film! she is in the film A L I E N , when they home in on its signal

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