Column: The problem with prequels

Considering the unrepentant forward march of remakes, sequels and adaptations of late, it really was only a matter of time before Alien, itself a remake of It! The Terror From Beyond Space, received its marching orders to go behind the camera again.

alien_xl_05-1Considering the unrepentant forward march of remakes, sequels and adaptations of late, it really was only a matter of time before Alien, itself a remake of It! The Terror From Beyond Space, received its marching orders to go behind the camera again.

Only this time, it’s a prequel, not a remake, as Collider reported over the weekend in a juicy little confirmation scoop following the lead from Bloody Disgusting earlier in the week. So everything we’ve seen already is still canon, but they’re just showing us a little back story instead. The only thing that I can’t really understand is why? What would they show us?

Let’s take the example of the space jockey, which the Nostromo’s crew encounter on the planetoid. His ship has crashed on the surface, was clearly carrying a xenomorph brood, and eventually one made its way through his chest and out into the big wide world. Do we need to have it explained, in minute detail, where he came from and what exactly happened? I don’t think so, and I’d point you to the woeful flashback sequences in Alien vs Predator to illustrate what happens if you give too much away, or indeed Star Wars, where it seems that even the lowliest pedestrian is a fully fleshed out character in his or her own right.

Second of the probable plotlines would be a prequel to Aliens, explaining how the aliens overran LV 246. Again, what’s the point? It’s fairly self-evident, and we’ve been shown how just one of the creatures can cause an entire area to be overrun in Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, Alien vs Predator, Alien vs Predator: Requiem… need I go on?

My main problem isn’t that they’re doing another Alien film, although I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t completely out of enthusiasm for any more additions to the series. My main problem, as with prequels such as Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, is that there really isn’t any need to tell these stories, and they run the risk of detracting from the originals. Not everything needs to be explained, and sometimes the element of mystery works better than an explanation that can’t possibly live up to the suspense (for more information, see Battlestar Galactica’s ‘God did it’ ending).

I wish them the best, but really, unless it’s something pretty spectacular it’s going to be seen as a colossal waste of time, both theirs and ours. It does remind me of one of my films I’m hoping to get picked up soon though, an avant-garde mystery thriller taking place at the same time of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus in the Garden Of Gethsemane, but focusing on a Roman soldier he walked past in a street a few days before. I’m fairly sure it’s guaranteed a $70 million opening weekend.