Odd how Hollywood is allowed to get away with that which would be frowned upon in everyday life. A regular citizen tries humping a corpse and they land themselves in all kinds of bother. But when one of those showbiz types does it, it's apparently all a-okay. Bearing this in mind, Sir Ridley Scott is casting his Alien prequel, with Carey Mulligan, Gemma Arterton and Noomi Rapace amongst the names linked.
We last gave semi-serious consideration to the Alien prequels back in April (yes, the plural is correct. Even prequels need sequels in these imagination-famished times), when grand old uncle Ridders revealed a little about the areas he wanted the proposed movies to delve into. Set in 2085, approximately 30 years prior to the story date of his 1979-released original, the prequels will apparently tell us how Weyland and Yutani got together to form Weyland-Yutani and just who exactly the Space Jockey was - as well as no doubt resolving myriad other Alien-related questions that we have all somehow (and the combined minds of God, Jesus, Buddha and Satan only know how) survived this long without knowing the answers to.
Back then we noted that 'the prequel's lead is likely to be a woman, though this is not confirmed'. And while official confirmation is still not forthcoming, the lack of penises possessed by the screen performers that Scott (according to Deadline) has been meeting with in regard to this project suggests that the knighted director is indeed searching for a female lead to hold a candle to Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley.
Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish and Millennium Trilogy star Noomi Rapace have apparently all met with Scott to discuss their possible participation in the Alien prequel, with both the first and third of those named actresses being able to claim 'flavour of the month' status as aid to their respective claims. Mulligan has followed up her Oscar nomination for An Education with the solid US box office performance of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and Rapace is currently making hay while the Hollywood sun shines on her, having already signed for the female lead in the almost-certainly-going-to-be-terrible Sherlock Holmes 2. Cornish is perhaps the lesser known name, she having not yet matched her Somersault co-star Sam Worthington for stateside impact, although she has previously worked with Scott, on 2006's A Good Year, and her profile will surely be raised next year by her roles in two big-budget genre movies; science fiction The Dark Fields, in which she stars with Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, and Zack Snyder's fantasy actioner Sucker Punch.
In addition to Mulligan, Cornish and Rapace, a fourth name, Gemma Arterton, has thrown herself into the Alien mix, having recently been quoted as saying, “Ridley Scott saw Alice Creed and loved it. He wants me to meet for Aliens: The Remake, or something”. Now Arterton's comment there might be throwaway but she does inadvertently offer neat summation of the Hollywood studios' approach to blockbuster movie-making in this day and age: Prequel, sequel, remake, whatever, just so long as we get that instant light bulb of name recognition. Oh, did we mention the Alien prequels are going to be 3D? Sigh.
It should probably come as none too great a shock that Ridley Scott is returning to the scene of the movie that really launched his career, given that the 21st century has been more riddled with misses than hits for the old fella thus far. Sure, Gladiator was a box office monster (and a joyless, plot-deficient slog. Grrr), and the fiesta of deadening kinetics that was Black Hawk Down also made plenty of cash, but sandwiched between those two was Hannibal, a movie more unpleasantly crappy than an unflushed lavatory that the titular Dr. Lecter has just unloaded one of his cannibal poos into the bowl of. Since then none of Body of Lies, the aforementioned A Good Year, Matchstick Men, American Gangster or Kingdom of Heaven have really set the movie world alight either.
It therefore makes sense for grand old uncle Ridders to delve back into cinematic territory that people, you know, give a rat's ass about. Although, as it happens, it is not only the Alien universe bracing itself for a Scott comeback, with the director also poised to dip his creative quill back into the inky world of Philip K. Dick, whose Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? of course provided basis for Scott's Blade Runner. And having been repeatedly roughed up for the movies (Pay Check was universally hated, while hopes aren't particularly high for the delayed Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt), Dick is now being bundled onto the humble goggle box. So what are we getting? The Cosmic Muppets? Voices from the Sesame Street? Pilgrim on the One Tree Hill? Actually it is Dick's 1961 “What if?” novel The Man in the High Castle that Ridley is (according to Deadline, again) set to produce as for the small screen, in conjunction with the BBC.
The Man in the High Castle is set in a world where the Axis powers triumphed in the second World War, leaving the west coast of the United States under the control of the Japanese and the east as a quisling regime for the Nazis. Various storylines intersect in this altered America, with the proceedings featuring a book-within-a-book entitled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which tells of a world where the Allies won the war. This book was written by the so-called 'man in the high castle', a reclusive author named Hawthorne Abendsen, and Dick's novel concludes with – MASSIVE SPOILER! – Abendsen revealing that his book is the actual truth of what happened in the war; a characteristically dense conclusion from Dick which, according to biography I Am Alive and You Are Dead, he decided upon via a consultation with the I Ching. British playwright Howard Brenton has apparently been charged with converting the Hugo Award-winning novel into four hour-long episodes.
Still, one good thing of all this activity on the part of grand old uncle Ridders. No-one has mentioned his name in connection with that bloody Monopoly movie for quite some time. Let's hope it stays that way.