Sci-fi franchises are bursting back to the big screen
The newly released Alien: Covenant is the latest of many film franchises to return to the big screen.
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That’s a lot of facehugging and chestbursting.
Since the 1979 release of Alien, a film Roger Ebert called “an intergalactic haunted house thriller set inside a spaceship,” audiences have been fascinated with the sci fi/horror series.
The latest movie sees a new crew — including Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride — on a mission to colonize planet Origae-6. Along the way they abandon their original course, choosing a closer, apparently inhabitable planet only to be met with terror and acid-spewing creatures.
Covenant is the third Alien movie directed by Ridley Scott. I once asked him what it was that kept him casting his eyes to the skies movie wise.
“The fantasy of space,” he said, “which is now also a reality, is a marvellous platform and a form of theatre. Honestly, almost anything goes.”
The freedom of the sci fi genre is a common theme among creators. Denis Villeneuve, whose sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, now titled Blade Runner 2019, comes out later this year, remembers how his mind was opened by his first exposure to the genre.
“At a very young age one of my aunts came home one night and she had brought two or three big cardboard boxes filled with magazines,” says Villeneuve.
“Those magazines were all about sci fi. Those boxes changed my life because the amount of poetry and creativity among the guys that were drawing those comic strips. They were very strong storytellers. They were all like mad scientists playing with our brains.”
A month before Alien: Covenant’s opening date Scott announced plans to start shooting another sequel within the next fourteen months.
Until that one hits theatres what other sci fi films should we have a look at?
Vincenzo Natali, the director of episodes of television’s Westworld and Orphan Black and adventurous films like Cube and Splice has some suggestions.
“I could mention 2001, Star Wars and The Matrix, but we’ve all been there. I think there are some very worthy science fiction films that aren’t so well known.”
First on his list is Stalker, from master director Andrei Tarkovsky.
“It’s about a zone in Russia that may have had some kind of alien visitation and is highly classified. There are very special people called stalkers who illegally enter the zone and can take you to a place where your wishes can come true. No other movie ever made is quite like it. It is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.”
Next up is The 10th Victim, a futuristic Marcello Mastroianni movie about a deadly televised game called The Big Hunt which becomes a replacement for all conflict on Earth, but at what cost? “An Italian film made in the ’60s but way ahead of its time,” he says.
“It’s a satirical comedy, absolutely brilliantly made, filled with cool futuristic Italian design and it’s really funny. I cannot recommend it enough.”
Third is the animated La Planète Sauvage.
“It takes place on a planet where humans are pets for a race of large aliens. It’s a kind of a Spartacus story against the aliens. Totally outrageous and very, very ’70s.”
In Focus: Richard Crouse