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Can Alien: Romulus return the space saga to its chestbursting glory years? | Alien

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Back in the day, if you accidentally created a giant plot hole in your science fiction saga, you were done, your goose droid cooked, with nothing to look forward to but the prospect of future generations looking back scornfully at your ever-sullied work of cinema.

But then along came Star Wars: Rogue One, a movie that somehow made sense of all the really silly bits in 1977’s Star Wars, such as the climactic sequence in which Luke Skywalker managed to blow up the Death Star in his tiny little star fighter. It turned out (albeit nearly 40 years later) that this wasn’t a plot hole but an ingenious deliberate flaw in the giant planet-killing monstrosity’s system planted there by Imperial scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), because he was miffed that the Empire had forced him to build it in the first place.

And it worked. Rogue One is a good movie, possibly the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy. All because somebody decided to generate a new storyline and put a galactic-sized sticky plaster over something that had annoyed fans for generations. Everybody wins!

Could this be a fresh creative template for film-makers seeking to rescue other popular sci-fi sagas that have fallen into disrepute? Is it really possible to fix someone else’s movie by incorporating its abject failures into one’s own, glorious latter-day entry?

We could be about to find out, given the imminent arrival in cinemas of the (frankly exciting) new Alien episode: Romulus. The debut trailer suggests a return to the minimalistic, visceral slasher-in-space thrills of Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien – director Fede Alvarez has even been hinting he has something up his sleeve to equal the chestburster scene – but with a side-order of something that will feed into the veteran British film-maker’s ill-fated latterday return to the same universe, the overly portentous, ultimately damned 2012 and 2017 entries Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.

“[Romulus] … is connected to all of them,” Alvarez told the Hollywood Reporter. “I love all of those movies. I didn’t want to omit or ignore any of them when it comes to connections at a story level, character level, technology level, and creature level. There’s always connections from Alien to Alien: Covenant.”

All great, until we recall that Scott still reigns supreme over the Alien universe, and that if you are an up-and-coming film-maker hoping to be handed the keys to the Nostromo, you had probably better make sure you don’t despoil the big man’s last two celluloid efforts.

Romulus does, though, already have an air of vacuum-sealed, acid-blooded hype around it. The trailer is great, and Alvarez is talking the talk. The new movie will be set between Alien and James Cameron’s more testosterone-fuelled sequel, 1986’s Aliens, which alone gives it a weird (yet irresistible), air of authenticity. There is a feeling that Alvarez really would have to have some nerve to come between two such titans of science fiction cinema and somehow fail to bring his A-game.

That the new movie’s premise is based on a deleted scene that Cameron eventually included in his special edition take on Aliens only makes it more tantalising. “There’s a moment where you see a bunch of kids running around the corridors of this colony. And I thought: ‘Wow, what would it be like for those kids to grow up in a colony that still needs another 50 years to terraform?’” Alvarez told Hollywood Reporter. “So I remember thinking, ‘If I ever tell a story in that world, I would definitely be interested in those kids when they reach their early 20s.’”

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From movies based on plot holes, then, to movies based on deleted scenes. If there were ever an even more voracious beastie out there than the xenomorph, it might perhaps be Hollywood itself, which eats everything, including its own detritus.

And yet this one still feels promising, so long as David the Android doesn’t turn up at some point to explain in excruciating detail how he hand-crafted the xenomorphs from genetic plasticine, and we can avoid meeting Scott’s pointlessly prosaic Engineers ever again. If the blimmin’ Predators turn up, or someone tries to bring back a clone of Ellen Ripley, we’ll know in about five seconds that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.


Back in the day, if you accidentally created a giant plot hole in your science fiction saga, you were done, your goose droid cooked, with nothing to look forward to but the prospect of future generations looking back scornfully at your ever-sullied work of cinema.

But then along came Star Wars: Rogue One, a movie that somehow made sense of all the really silly bits in 1977’s Star Wars, such as the climactic sequence in which Luke Skywalker managed to blow up the Death Star in his tiny little star fighter. It turned out (albeit nearly 40 years later) that this wasn’t a plot hole but an ingenious deliberate flaw in the giant planet-killing monstrosity’s system planted there by Imperial scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), because he was miffed that the Empire had forced him to build it in the first place.

And it worked. Rogue One is a good movie, possibly the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy. All because somebody decided to generate a new storyline and put a galactic-sized sticky plaster over something that had annoyed fans for generations. Everybody wins!

Could this be a fresh creative template for film-makers seeking to rescue other popular sci-fi sagas that have fallen into disrepute? Is it really possible to fix someone else’s movie by incorporating its abject failures into one’s own, glorious latter-day entry?

We could be about to find out, given the imminent arrival in cinemas of the (frankly exciting) new Alien episode: Romulus. The debut trailer suggests a return to the minimalistic, visceral slasher-in-space thrills of Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien – director Fede Alvarez has even been hinting he has something up his sleeve to equal the chestburster scene – but with a side-order of something that will feed into the veteran British film-maker’s ill-fated latterday return to the same universe, the overly portentous, ultimately damned 2012 and 2017 entries Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.

“[Romulus] … is connected to all of them,” Alvarez told the Hollywood Reporter. “I love all of those movies. I didn’t want to omit or ignore any of them when it comes to connections at a story level, character level, technology level, and creature level. There’s always connections from Alien to Alien: Covenant.”

All great, until we recall that Scott still reigns supreme over the Alien universe, and that if you are an up-and-coming film-maker hoping to be handed the keys to the Nostromo, you had probably better make sure you don’t despoil the big man’s last two celluloid efforts.

Romulus does, though, already have an air of vacuum-sealed, acid-blooded hype around it. The trailer is great, and Alvarez is talking the talk. The new movie will be set between Alien and James Cameron’s more testosterone-fuelled sequel, 1986’s Aliens, which alone gives it a weird (yet irresistible), air of authenticity. There is a feeling that Alvarez really would have to have some nerve to come between two such titans of science fiction cinema and somehow fail to bring his A-game.

That the new movie’s premise is based on a deleted scene that Cameron eventually included in his special edition take on Aliens only makes it more tantalising. “There’s a moment where you see a bunch of kids running around the corridors of this colony. And I thought: ‘Wow, what would it be like for those kids to grow up in a colony that still needs another 50 years to terraform?’” Alvarez told Hollywood Reporter. “So I remember thinking, ‘If I ever tell a story in that world, I would definitely be interested in those kids when they reach their early 20s.’”

skip past newsletter promotion

From movies based on plot holes, then, to movies based on deleted scenes. If there were ever an even more voracious beastie out there than the xenomorph, it might perhaps be Hollywood itself, which eats everything, including its own detritus.

And yet this one still feels promising, so long as David the Android doesn’t turn up at some point to explain in excruciating detail how he hand-crafted the xenomorphs from genetic plasticine, and we can avoid meeting Scott’s pointlessly prosaic Engineers ever again. If the blimmin’ Predators turn up, or someone tries to bring back a clone of Ellen Ripley, we’ll know in about five seconds that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

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