Alien: Romulus set to reignite and reboot the sci-fi horror series

The seventh film in the Oscar-winning franchise will be released next year

Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise was one of the first times a woman was given a lead in an action film. Photo: 20th Century Fox
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Ever since a small yet terrifying Xenomorph burst out of one character's chest in the 1979 film, Alien, film fans have been enthralled by the terrifying creature that bleeds acid and uses humans for incubation.

Though now considered a classic, the Ridley Scott film was not well received by critics upon its release. However, it went on to win an Oscar and two Baftas and broke new cinematic ground as one of the first films to feature a woman as a lead action star with Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.

After six Alien films, and two crossovers with the Predator franchise – Alien vs. Predator in 2004 and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007 – the seventh film looks set to reignite and reboot the series.

What we know about Alien: Romulus

The film, titled Alien: Romulus, is not directed by Scott, who serves as a producer, but by Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez and is set for release on August 16, 2024.

Alvarez has a strong background in horror and thrillers having written and directed the 2013 film Evil Dead, 2016’s Don’t Breathe and 2018’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

The film will be a stand-alone and will not continue the story from the last two Alien films, 2012’s Prometheus and Alien: Covenant released in 2017.

Earlier this month at the DGA Latino Summit 2023 Alvarez told fellow director Guillermo del Toro that his director’s cut of the film was finished and that he “had to go through the incredibly tense process of obviously sending it to Ridley Scott”.

“I wanted him to see it before anybody,” Alvarez told del Toro. “And everyone gave me the head’s up that Ridley is really tough, particularly if it has something to do with his movies,” adding that the British director said it was “great”.

Not much is known about the plot, but producers have revealed that it is focused on “a group of young people on a distant world, who find themselves in a confrontation with the most terrifying life form in the universe”.

Cailee Spaeny who recently stared as Priscilla Presley in Priscilla leads the cast, with David Jonsson, Archie Renaux, Isabela Merced, Spike Fearn and Aileen Wu rounding out the gang.

Here, we revisit the six Alien films, from the original to the prequels.

Alien (1979)

While on its journey back to earth, the Nostromo ship’s computer, Mother, receives a transmission from a nearby moon and awakens the seven crew members from stasis to investigate.

When Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Kane (John Hurt) and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) investigate the terrain, Kane is attacked by a Facehugger, which brings the alien on to the ship via one of the most famous scenes in cinema.

“I don't think anything could have prepared us, first of all, for John's performance,” Weaver told BBC News in 2017 of the chest-burst scene. “It’s such brilliant acting. I didn't realise he was acting. I didn't even think. All I thought was, ‘John is dying.’”

Aliens (1986)

Titanic’s James Cameron took on directing duties for the sequel which earned Weaver an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Picking up 57 years after the first film, when Ripley’s escape shuttle is rescued, her employers at the Weyland-Yutani Corporation don’t believe her story about the Xenomorphs. Asked to check up on a missing colony and backed by a team of Colonial Marines, Ripley agrees to go, but only if any aliens they find are exterminated.

Inspired by the survival of a little girl called Newt, Ripley soon realises that company representative Burke (Paul Reiser) is there to recover the alien eggs for use in biological warfare, and that the crew are expendable.

Alien 3 (1992)

David Fincher directed the third film in the franchise, which also featured British stars Charles Dance and Pete Postlethwaite.

The only survivor when her escape pod lands on Fiorina 161, a foundry and maximum-security correctional facility inhabited by male inmates, Ripley is in danger not only from the alien which stowed away aboard her pod, but also from the inmates.

With no weapons, Ripley and the prisoners band together to use the foundry to kill the alien, but when Ripley discovers that an alien queen has been implanted inside her, she knows she must sacrifice herself to kill the Xenomorph.

Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Receiving mixed reviews upon its release, Alien: Resurrection featured a cloned Ripley 200 years after she took a one-way trip into a furnace.

Military scientists aboard the spaceship Auriga combine the Xenomorph queen's DNA with Ripley’s giving her enhanced strength and reflexes, acid blood, and the ability to communicate on a psychic level with the aliens.

Winona Ryder stars as the android Annalee Call, who Ripley teams up with in a race to kill the aliens before the spaceship crashes into earth and unleashes the Xenomorphs.

Prometheus, 2012

Scott returned to the helm for this prequel which starred Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron, and which was partly shot in Jordan.

Set in the year 2093, the film sets out to explain how the Xenomorphs were created by a race of humanoids called the Engineers.

Although considered a financial underperformer, it was the 18th highest-grossing film of 2012 with a 73 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“I enjoyed Prometheus. I thought it was great,” said James Cameron. “I thought it was Ridley returning to science fiction with gusto, with great tactical performance.”

Alien: Covenant (2017)

The Scott-directed film rounded out the franchise’s prequels.

Eleven years after the Prometheus expedition, the colony ship Covenant receives a transmission from a nearby planet, which the crew investigate.

Pretty soon, aliens are bursting out of the scouting team before the survivors are rescued by the seemingly benign android David (Fassbender) who tells them he crash-landed on the planet.

However, after years of experimentation, David has created an evolved alien called a Protomorph with which he plans to replace humankind.

Updated: October 27, 2023, 3:08 AM