Just a few weeks ago, the interwebs were abuzz over the news that Ridley Scott's planned 'Alien' prequel was going to be a "really nasty" hard "R" and star the lovely Gemma Arterton. Now, Vulture has an update on the still-untitled production and a few things have apparently changed -- namely that the studio is hoping for a PG-13 rating and that Natalie Portman is now at the top of the Wish List for the lead role, a Colonial Marine general who will encounter the nasty Xenomorphs 35 years before the events of the first 'Alien' film.

Naturally, any further details are wrapped up tighter than a metaphor for how tightly things can be wrapped up, but with a production that fans of the series seem to be anticipating and dreading in equal measure, every little detail must be examined and agonized over. It is difficult to imagine too many people getting upset over Portman taking the lead role, seeing that she's proven herself a more-than-competent actress on a number of occasions (even if she seems awfully young for a "general"), but the idea of a PG-13 'Alien' film only dregs up bad memories of Paul W.S. Anderson's agonizingly bland, fanboy-hope-crushing disaster, 'Alien Vs Predator.'

But hey, look on the bright side ... or at least look at the studio-planted buzz.

Apparently, Fox execs are head-over-heels for Damon Lindelof's ('Lost') latest draft of the script, which is "creatively engaging" while being substantially less expensive than originally thought, at least a far cry from the $160 million that Ridley Scott wanted. Of course, this could be a great bucket of lies, but Lindelof is a smart guy and a good writer. A lot can be said about 'Lost', where he was a head writer, but it's impossible to deny his ambition and creativity. This is a film series that should fit his geeky sci-fi sensibilities like a glove.

Still, the news of an 'Alien' prequel shooting for a PG-13 lingers over this project like a dark, noxious cloud. The "insider spin" is that ...

"...if the original Alien were released today, minus the F-bombs, you could still get a PG-13. Alien is a very Jaws-ian movie: There's no sex, and while there's lots of violence, most of it is off-camera. Maybe you'd have to cut away from certain scenes two seconds earlier, but it could be done."

Okay, fair enough. If the suits want a PG-13, they're going to get a PG-13 and there's little the fans can do about it. However, the execs and Scott should well remember what makes the original 'Alien' a masterpiece: it's scary. Really scary. Terrifying even. Sure, it's not as gory as many modern films (is the infamous chestburster sequence really a PG-13 scene?), but 'Alien' is a class unto itself when it comes to creating dread and terror.

This 'Untitled Alien Prequel' doesn't need an R-rating. It doesn't need $160 million. All it needs is a spaceship full of shadowy corners and the feeling that something that wants to kill you may be lurking in those shadows.
CATEGORIES Movies, Cinematical