What do District 9, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War have in common? They all owe a great debt to a forgotten sci-fi classic… Alien Nation.
Alien Nation came out in 1988 during the height of ’80s buddy cop movies. It starred James Caan as a tough and abrasive cop who loses his partner during a shootout. Caan’s character, Detective Sergeant Matt Sykes, is a bigot and a jerk, but when he’s forced to work with a humanlike alien he begins to see the world a bit differently.
There’s no reason this movie should be forgotten, and now it looks like Midnight Special director Jeff Nichols will be helming a remake. The original film and the television series it spawned are all about overcoming differences and working together just like the Avengers. Imagine if Thor and Vision had to team up Lethal Weapon style. There’d be conflict, fights, arguments and eventually compromise and acceptance before finally defeating the bad guy.
The first act of District 9 is very similar to the premise of Alien Nation. A spaceship arrives on Earth revealing to the world that extraterrestrial life exists. The aliens are basically refugees who eventually become members of society despite forced segregation and initial hatred from certain humans. It’s very reflective of race discrimination and civil rights issues that ring true today. But despite the strong social commentary, Alien Nation is still a sci-fi action flick at heart.
Could it be good?
It will be difficult to recapture the magic of James Caan and Mandy Patinkin as bickering partners, but with a great cast on board this remake could definitely succeed. The original story featured illegal drug trafficking and super serum injected bad guys. Actors Terence Stamp, Kevyn Major Howard and John Carpenter alum Peter Jason all brought class and charm to the original, and X-Files bounty hunter Brian Thompson made for a great big bad. Hopefully, we’ll see Nichols’ version sometime in 2017 and Alien Nation will finally get the positive resurgence it deserves.