Damon Lindelof is one of the creative minds who brought us the mind bending TV juggernaut Lost which concluded in May, now the writer / producer is focusing his efforts on projects for the big screen. Having worked as a script doctor for the studios, he became the Go-to-guy and is now a significant influence in the movie making business. He cites Watchmen as one of the best graphic novels of it’s genre and has written for the comics of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and notes the writings of Stephen King to have greatly influenced his work of which Lost was largely a testament.
Now with a slew of credits behind him he’s working on a number of high profile movies including the Alien prequel and the next follow-up to the rebooted Star Trek franchise.
When it was announced that Ridley Scott was helming a new set of Alien prequels, the movie world was all a buzz with what the master filmmaker might achieve with today’s technology at his disposable, but more-so what angle would the new stories take with the sequels and spin-offs having done the Xenomorph thing to death.
Recently the proposed new films encountered a production snag with the studios wrangling over the budget and the issue of too much proposed violence that might earn the film a 17+ rating and loose potential revenue.
Ridley’s take on the new film indicated his leaning towards more horror:
The film will be really tough, really nasty…It’s the dark side of the moon. We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would go in and clean up a planet?
The prequel story was written by John Spaihts who’s an acclaimed Sci-Fi writer with not too many film credits behind him, but a few on the development schedule. His Alien script was said to be well received and for the most part it’s quite an original take on the origins of the Xenomorph.
An early look at the story entitled Alien Harvest, takes place on a planet where men are being kept as workers by the race referred to as The Growers aka the Space Jockeys. They alongside other creatures called Grunts help harvest the alien eggs until one of them is attacked and things go awry. The Space Jockey ship featured briefly in 1979′s Alien, makes a crash landing on a planet after one of the eggs hatches prematurely and begins to take hosts. Similar to the second movie the story also features a group of soldier type humans on-board a deep space vessel called the Arrowhead, who eventually come across the Jockey ship and more mayhem ensues.
For the most part the concept is quite strong except for the story derailing in the second act and getting lost by the third which involves a weird detour into same sex relations which makes for a confusing resolve that would have most ‘dudes’ cringing in the cinema… ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that’ …but some things don’t belong in the world of Alien, in fact any sort of romance bogs down this type of Sci-Fi where the main draw-card is paranoia and horror. The pacing of the story also had issues with it being overly talky and not enough alien killing, for lack of a better description.
These and other reasons are likely why Damon Lindelof was approached to rework the script and add to the overall appeal, and it’s likely the lagging parts of Spaihts’ script have been excised with a brand new Lost style ending tagged on for good measure.
Lindelof submitted his rewrite last weekend and execs over at Fox were ecstatic not only because of the literary high quality but mainly due to it not involving any extra set pieces that would add millions to the budget. This is good news for eager fans which means production is continuing, and even though the film is still untitled, the Studios approving the script means the decisions of casting can now begin.
James Franco is said to be in the running for the role of one of the two male workers on the planet and as for the crew of the Arrowhead which comprises mostly women before the marines in deep freeze get thawed out, there are a few main contenders; Anne Hathaway is said to be vying for a role but the strongest contender is Noomi Rapace. The Swedish actress who has made it big with her film trilogy The Girl with Dragon Tattoo bears a striking resemblance to a young Sigourney Weaver and seems to be the wild-card with a fresh face and a hard core acting approach which has garnered significant recognition and helped land a role in the new Sherlock Holmes sequel. Noomi commented in an interview recently how Sigourney’s character of Ripley influenced her acting considerably:
When I saw ‘Aliens’ with Sigourney Weaver years ago it opened up a new reality, a female hero.
Other names being suggested are Natalie Portman, the beautiful Gemma Arterton and Carey Mulligan who’s impressive talents are some day set to earn an Oscar. It’s interesting to note that Sigourney Weaver was a relative unknown when she made Alien and a similar approach could benefit the new movie as opposed to it being a star vehicle. We’ll keep you informed of any updates.
As for the new Star Trek, the script is still in it’s early stages and Damon Lindelof is working alongside Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman for a shoot date set for the middle of next year with the film’s release scheduled for June 29, 2012.
When Lindelof was spoken to recently at the Scream Awards he said how the goal was not to try to ‘one up’ the bad guy and was adamant that the sequel would focus on the unity of the crew.
It is going, it is progressing. We are putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for it to be awesome…You have got to write the movie for yourself and we are obviously aware of what people are saying on the web and we are interested in it, but at the same time Trek is not about villains, it is about the crew and their relationship with each other – that family.
Check out the full video interview here:
A recent article over at popcorn blitz featured Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci announcing they had cracked the concept for the sequel but were coy to give any clues. Kurtzman called breaking the sequel’s story:
…an epic moment for us, of feeling like we finally came to something that meets our expectations.
Robert Orci added how they are working to balance the various characters in a story that does justice to them:
Now we have all of characters in place for the beginning of the movie, so order number one is to make sure we’re taking care of them… and we want to make sure everyone gets what they deserve first before we see who else can fit in.
The question was posed whether this time the sequel would feature the other original cast member who was passed over last time, William Shatner. Kurtzman offered this insight:
The trick is you have to do it in a way that’s not a gimmick…and when we put Spock in our version of Trek, we knew that it was not going to be a gimmick. There was a lot of discussion and we even wrote a scene for Shatner, but ultimately it felt like it wasn’t doing service to what he represents to the Star Trek legacy. So if we all feel like we can do that effectively, we can do it right, then sure – it’s a conversation. But until then we feel that we have to protect and make sure that the integrity of Star Trek is kept alive.
With any good story there’s always a bad guy or some form of conflict, and fans have been speculating it could be Khan or the Klingons, however a source close to the production has offered clues that it maybe one of the more misinterpreted bad guys.
It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the lines of Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually it’s one of those that I named.
Clues suggest that the writers are considering a throwback to the origins of Gene Roddenberry’s show and the contenders could be the mind manipulating Talosians from the pilot episode.
From a narrative point of view these bad guys are multi-dimensional and don’t have a specific agenda of revenge or destruction, their weapon resides within the realm of the mind and this could be the sort of thing that former Lost writers would love, not to mention it serves to create a multitude of different realities which would take the world of Trek to a whole new level.
For now until casting is confirmed, we’ll have to wait til more facts come to light, but in the hands of Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and JJ Abrams ( just as soon as he’s finished making Super 8) it’s sure to be a mind bending story where no Trek fan has gone before.