Culture\Film and TV

Mission 2104

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-18 07:14

Chinese sci-fi fans are looking forward to the release of Ridley Scott's new Alien movie. Xu Fan reports.

In outer space, no one can hear you scream. But in Chinese theaters, they probably will.

Nearly four decades after Ridley Scott's movie Alien became a hit, the British director is bringing the infamous extra-terrestrial monster Xenomorph back to the silver screen.

Xenomorph, a name derived from the Greek words xeno (alien) and morphe (form), is a fictional creature that relies on human host to reproduce. Among the villains in sci-fi film history, this one has the ability to give you a chill.

The 1979 movie won an Oscar for best visual-effects and has since influenced a number of films and TV shows, such as The Thing and Alien Hunter.

Mission 2104

Now, as the sixth movie of the enduring Alien franchise, and also the sequel to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant will open on the Chinese mainland on June 16, nearly a month after its debut in North America on Friday. Except for the first Alien movie and Prometheus (2012) by Scott, the other three Alien films respectively released in 1986, 1992 and 1997 have different directors.

So for hard-core fans, the new movie is somewhat a pure-blooded return.

Picking up the timeline ending around 10 years after Prometheus, Covenant is set in the futuristic world of 2104. The spaceship Covenant takes 2,000 people frozen in sleep to colonize a remote planet, but its crew's discovery of what they regard as an uncharted paradise pulls them into a thrilling darkness.

Despite the Alien franchise's popularity that has spawned books, comics and video games over decades, Scott believes some key questions have yet to be answered.

"The original Alien movie (in 1979) was followed by three other Alien films. But they never asked the questions: Who creates the monsters and why are they created?" Scott said during an online video conference with reporters in Beijing from London earlier this month.

Saying that the sequel will give such explanations, Scott also reveals that more films are in the works, and the next installment will begin filming in the next 14 months.

Sci-fi tales have prospered on the screen over decades, but for a lot of fans, their real question might be about the real existence of aliens.

The cinematic master behind influential sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner and The Martian, Scott says he believes that "a higher form of creation" in outer space does exist.

Straightforwardly, the silver-haired director says it's "ridiculous" to think humankind is the only high-intelligence, civilized race in the galaxy.

"Who made us for what reason? What was the plan? " asks Scott, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in November.

In the latest Alien title, the questions are raised to a new level to center on the tension between humans and those created by them.

Alongside Scott during the media conference was German-born Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who reprises his role as the synthetic android David. He also plays Walter, a later version of David and serves as a housekeeper in the spaceship Covenant.

Fassbender says David initially had a South African accent but it was later changed to British style, while Walter speaks like an American.

For most fans, David might be the most charming role in Prometheus. He likes watching the war epic drama Lawrence of Arabia Prometheus and reportedly will quote English poet John Milton's Paradise Lost in Covenant. He has an independent spirit but develops into an evil schemer who wants to destroy humans.

The new movie may reflect that the Alien franchise is catering to artificial intelligence, a hot topic now, says Zhang Lixian, publisher of the Chinese edition of Alien the Archive: The Ultimate Guide to the Classic Movies.

The book that unravels the background of the Alien series has been written by British author Mark Salisbury and translated by Chinese writer Liu Siyu. The Chinese edition will be released on Saturday.

Zhang, also an Alien movie enthusiast, says the franchise has taught Chinese fans about Hollywood's high production quality.

Many Chinese fans are equally excited about the coming movie. Despite the month left before the movie's release in China, nearly 1,600 people have posted comments on, and around 53,000 more have joined a forum called "Alien" on Tieba, Baidu's community-based online platform.

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 Mission 2104

Director Ridley Scott attends the world premiere of Alien: Covenant in London on May 4. The sci-fi thriller will be screened in China on June 16. Reuters

 Mission 2104

Alien: Covenant is set in the futuristic world of 2104. Photos Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 05/18/2017 page20)

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