Inside Jon Spaihts' Alien: Engineers

Image Source, Source 1, Source 2, "David's Got The Whole World, In His Hands"
Marvel Studios recently released their latest superhero flick, Doctor Strange, to near critical acclaim. Critics, and fans such as us, rejoice at the triumphant visual splendors, as well as the exquisite humor and finely tuned performances the film delivered, even if the story did not break any new ground.

And speaking of the movie's plot, does the name Jon Spaihts ring any bells to anyone? Not only is he a co-writer for Doctor Strange, alongside C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, but he was also a co-writer for the polarizing Alien prequel, Prometheus. A lot of people out there hated the flick because of its numerous plot holes, including us. Well, not entirely. But Prometheus could have been so much better, as evidenced by this draft script written by Jon Spaihts. How much better, you say? Dateline Movies picked-up Spaihts' draft version of the prequel from Hollywood's large screenwriting trash bin, and let us just see how remarkable Alien: Engineers could have been.

Source, That's A Lot of Million Dollar Potential Wasted
How did it almost happen?

"[...] all the mysteries have alien players: the exoskeleton nightmare, and the elephantine titan that was called the 'space jockey'... How do you make anyone care about events between creatures like this? [...]" - Jon Spaihts on the script's attempt to further expand the franchise's mythology

After both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection failed to reinvigorate interest in the popular science-fiction horror film series, James Cameron, the director of the second follow-up Aliens, and Ridley Scott collaborated to create a new installment for the franchise. Scott added that he wanted to explore the origins of the Xenomorphs, the monstrous killer aliens of the flicks, as well as the mysteries that surround the "space jockey", the dead alien body found in the first Alien movie that appeared as a background element.

Cameron and Scott were very much eager to work on the project, with Cameron even working with another screenwriter to create a story, but unfortunately, 20th Century Fox, who even back then, still meddles with other potentially brilliant flicks, such as this one. Insisting that a crossover between the Alien series and the Predator flicks, Fox went on to create the inevitably terrible Alien vs. Predator movie, causing Cameron, and later-on Ridley, to depart.

Years later, Ridley became interested again, and worked with The Darkest Hour scribe Jon Spaihts, who not only created the concept, which was said to supposed to be a "bridge" between the human and alien characters, without prior brainstorming, but also created a very intricate 20-page treatment. A few more rewrites were done, most of them are due to certain creative misunderstandings between Scott and Spaihts. Some of these differences rooted from Scott, and the film's producers, wanted to distance themselves from earlier films, which forced various story elements such as the Xenomorph, were forced to be omitted in various stages. Scott finally announced that filming is about to commence once Spaihts' fourth draft was completed. But of course, we all knew how that turned-out.


Source, "In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream!"
What was suppose to happen?

The following story outline is a simplified and shortened version of the leaked script. For more information on the complete story, click here. However, if you are not in a reading mood, check-out our script review below. (Our second podcast, and our first collaborative work with my classmates. Yes, this doubles as a school project for me. What a rare opportunity this is, for my interests and my school requirements to meet. Also, in case anyone is wondering, the podcast for this post was being made at the same time when Superman Lives was being tackled, but the review for the script for Superman Lives was finished first, which explains why I said that this is our "second" podcast.)



In 12,000 B.C., two humanoid aliens watch as one of their own eat a sacrificial cake, only for mysterious insect-like creatures from the food devour him. Once the being is killed, the insects disperse into the air as the two remaining aliens prepare to board a giant ship. Elsewhere, a primordial female is bitten by one of the scarabs, and a transformation begins.

In a not so distant future, archaeologists Doctor Jocelyn Watts and her mentor Professor Martin Holloway discover an enigmatic star map engraved on a monolith under the Mediterranean Sea. Intrigued by their discovery, Watts and Holloway, who are lovers, travel to a large, formally interior-designed orbital station known as the "Weyland Wheel" to propose a project to businessman, Peter Weyland.

Watts and Holloway claims that an event that took place in 12,000 B.C. changed the world in an unexplained manner. Once the world was war-ridden, but from that point-on, order is formed, and every eleven centuries, a signal from humans' DNA transmits ideas, creating constant societal changes. These changes are done by aliens Holloway calls the "Engineers". Their evidence is backed-up by the various obelisks collected from all over the globe, similar to the one they have obtained from the Mediterranean Sea. (To simplify things, something in humanity's chromosomes is causing people to evolve, in a sense, and this is caused by the Engineers)

Weyland agrees to fund the expedition, even having his Director of Operations and right-hand associate Lydia Vickers, and his synthetic robot companion David join the voyage to a star known as "Zeta Two Reticuli". However, Weyland will provide the necessary tools and people for the project, if and only if, his company will be able to gain ownership of any technological advancement that the crew may stumble upon.


Source, A Title Card Featuring The Draft's Title
Two and a half years later, Watts, Holloway, and their newly recruited crew mates awake from cryogenic slumber aboard their ship, the Magellan. Manned by Captain Janek, the rest of the Magellan's crew mates, including chemist slash physicist Mona Ravel, computer expert Andrew Chance, even Janek himself express dissatisfaction with the terms and conditions of their rewards. Additional tensions rise when Vickers admits that she does not have faith in their project, and some of their God-fearing, and non-God-fearing colleagues, cast doubts.

The team discovers LV-426, a moon placed near the planet Epsilon, which they go to after picking-up signs of anomalies in the area, and they marvel at the sights of technological structures and archaeological patterns, despite the lack of life. Once they safely landed, after deploying some satellites, by a mountainous structure, the group, with only six hours of daylight remaining, Watts and Holloway, alongside David, Ravel, Chance, and other expeditionary teammates, Fifield, Milburn, Stillwell, Brick, Kamarov, Downs, and Glasse, proceed into a labyrinth of craters, with the center being a towering pyramid, and finally, they reach the pyramid, much to both Janek and Vickers' astonishment, both of whom watch from the Magellan's hologram systems.

They are greeted with a large variety of alien writings inscribed on the interior walls of the other worldly infrastructure. As they venture deeper into the caverns, Holloway and company stumble upon a holographic projection of an Engineer, scaring most of them nearly to death, to the point that both Fifield and Milburn decide to return to the Magellan. Before leaving, Fifield and Milburn are tasked by Holloway to deploy their camera probes, which the two could use to find the exit, if only they did not lose their mapping device.


Source, Concept Artwork Featuring The Doorway To The Engineers' Pyramid
The remaining scientific geniuses reach the center of the pyramid, which was guarded by a complex doorway until David exploited the weak link in the system. To their surprise, the nexus has a breathable atmosphere, compared to the heavily hazardous outer areas, and it is actually raining inside. In addition, alien-crafted mechanisms and artifacts are there for the taking. Watts, Holloway, Stillwell, Downs, and Kamarov follow a somewhat life-threatening downward path, while David, Ravel and Chance take a look at a crystal in the chamber.

Underneath the cenotaph, Watts, Holloway and the rest are startled by the gruesome sight of an Engineer graveyard. Their moment of discovery is cut short when Janek demands that the rest of the crew return to the Magellan, after the satellites picked-up a powerful storm raging towards their course. Holloway reluctantly makes his way back to the ship, with the rest of the group, except for Fifield and Milburn, who are trapped in the catacombs, as the remaining members narrowly evaded the hurricane's powerful winds. Watts and Holloway reveal that they managed to pick-up a souvenir, a giant severed Engineer head!


Source, Jocelyn Watts and Martin Holloway Autopsying An Engineer's Head
Watts and Holloway quickly perform an autopsy on the head, as the body part continues to decompose naturally, as Vickers and David watch as the two scientists attempt to preserve the rapidly decaying organic relic, Vickers, although complimenting on the two's progress so far, expounds on something that is much more of her interest, the core in the edifice, which is, based on Holloway and Watts's conclusions, a terra-forming machine, which is revealed to be placed as well on Earth in other pyramids. They immediately come to the resolution that the Engineers are terra-forming the planet (It means that they are literally changing the world in their own image), until at some point when they strangely ceased to do so.

Back at the pyramid, Fifield and Milburn encounter an alien snake-like creature, which bit and slaughtered Milburn, with his own death being practically his fault, because he touched it in the first place. As Fifield attempts to escape from a similar fate such as the one experienced by Milburn, a massive swarm of dark insects surround and attack him, causing him to transform into something utterly terrifying.


Source, Martin Holloway Being Killed By A Maturing Xenomorph
The next day, Watts and Holloway wake-up to see members of the Weyland Security Detail, composing of Captain Shepherd, Vigoda, Card and Ray, under the command of Vickers, inform the two of the recent shift in the operation's power. Vickers reveals that she has ordered the rest of the scientists, including David, to safely dismantle the terra-forming nexus for future research, seeing it as an opportunity to create "colonizable" (Is that even a word?) worlds. Janek, Glasse, Stillwell, Downs and Brick, meanwhile, venture into the pyramid in search of Fifield and Milburn.

When another holographic projection was activated by Holloway, Watts and Holloway are separated, while Janek and his teammates discover Milburn's carcass, and kills the now giant other worldly centipede. David accompanies Watts in her search for Holloway, as Janek and the rest make their way back to the Magellan after another storm has been detected. Watts and David finally discover Holloway, badly dizzy and missing a helmet, and they escort him to the Magellan. Later, Holloway discusses with Watts his discovery that the world they are in is just one of the many other forward bases of the Engineers scattered throughout the galaxy, persistent to come in contact with living Engineers, much to Watts's concern.

Suddenly, while in the process of sharing intimacy with Watts, Holloway is slowly murdered by a creature, as it makes its way through the ventilation system of the ship. Janek gathers the entire crew to inform them of their uninvited guest, causing panic among them. Watts returns to the excavation site to find out what exactly happened to Holloway, while Janek and company work tirelessly with the mercenaries to hunt and eliminate the alien threat.


Source, An Octo-Facehugger
Watts, while watching a pre-recorded feed of Holloway's whereabouts, which reveals that a face-attaching being latches onto Holloway's helmet, and melts it with acid, makes her way to the far depths of the structure, stumbling upon an Engineer starship. There, she re-encounters David in the ship, which David calls as the "Juggernaut". David has become self-aware, and he expresses his intentions of creating much more of the creatures before under his control, in addition to ensuring that he fulfills "Protocol 2", do not let Watts and/or Holloway mention anything about their discoveries. David reveals that, through him hacking the Juggernaut's database, the Engineers were initially planning to exterminate the human race many years ago, but the creatures became rogue, and massacred the vast majority of the Engineers. This was planned because, as how David quotes the Bible, "it repenteth me that I created them". David then allows a "Facehugger" to latch onto Watts' face.

Back at the Magellan, the alien has matured quickly, and proceeds to murder Card, Kamarov and Downs. Watts has been implanted with something by the Facehugger, and hastily retreats to the Magellan. Watts waits for Vickers and Shepherd to depart, so that she can use the medical pod in Vickers's private suite, in hopes of removing whatever it is that is inside of her. What follows is a series of disturbing sights, as Watts is forced to witness a deadly parasite burst-out of her body. Wounded from injuries sustained from the creature's birth, Watts endures further pain when the medical pod repairs her life-threatening injuries, leading to her temporary death. Vigoda watches the process. The fully matured alien morphs into a full-grown Xenomorph, and ambushes Vigoda from behind, killing him. After the procedure, Watts, weakened, manages to retrieve Vigoda's rifle, and proceeds to kill the other creature that came from her.


Source, The Beluga-Xenomorph Rises!
The Magellan is in a state of disarray, with a debilitated Watts witnessing the chaos of the gargantuan Xenomorph unfolding all through their gigantic science vessel. With Brick, Ravel and Chance, who are found outside the Juggernaut, dead, Watts reunites with Janek, Shepherd, Vickers, Stillwell, Ray and Glasse, who are all trying to escape LV-426, but unfortunately for them, David managed to override the Magellan's program. The survivors agree to lead Vickers to David, as it is in David's programming to obey Vickers' command, given that Vickers is technically David's master. However, Vickers clarifies that for them to escape, and to retrieve as much data as they can, they only need to obtain David's head.

Armed to the teeth with Glasse's creation, a set of goggles upgraded with Engineer lenses from the autopsied head, Watts and company band together to eliminate the rampaging Xenomorph in their ship, and put a halt to David's megalomaniacal master plans if they ever want to make it out alive. They then make their way to the launching Juggernaut, where they find David reactivating a cryogenically preserved and healthy Engineer, all the while revealing that David managed to be "free" when he started understanding how the Engineers' mechanisms work.

The Engineer awakens, and rejoices when he hears that David can understand the Engineer tongue. While at first, it would appear that the Engineer could not be any happier that he has been freed of his hibernation, the Engineer decided to rip David's head clean off. The Engineer mercilessly beats the rest of David's body over and over again. When Ray tried to take a shot at the Engineer, the alien behemoth decided to suit-up.

Source, The Beluga-Xenomorph Causing Chaos!

Amidst the violence, Shepherd and Vickers are separated from Watts, Ray, Glasse and Stillwell, as the two encounter and are killed by a horrifyingly zombified Fifield, with the partially revived Fifield dying from a hail of bullets from Shepherd's remaining ammunition. As David lies dying on Watts' arms, David not only frees the Magellan from his electronic grasp, but he also gave an ominous warning to Watts, saying that the Engineer will launch the Juggernaut back to Earth. Watts, Ray, Stillwell and Glasse run back to the ship with David's head. The Engineer tirelessly pursues them, killing Ray, Stillwell and Glasse in the process, and now, the Engineer is ready for take-off.

Watts manages to escape, at the cost of David's head, and rescues Janek in a nick of time, just mere seconds away from Janek experiencing death at the hands of the Xenomorph. Janek, minus an arm, asks Watts to set the Magellan on a collision course towards the Juggernaut, hoping to prevent the Engineer from fulfilling his objective. But suddenly, an "Ultramorph", a powerful version of the Xenomorph, kills the Engineer from the inside after a Facehugger attach to its face, causing the Juggernaut to crash down. Janek is killed by debris, as Watts makes use of an escape pod to make a quick getaway.

Landing safely on the surface of LV-426, Watts exits the escape pod, and dodges the Juggernaut, which nearly crushes her. After passing-out, Watts regains consciousness and runs away from the Ultramorph, and uses David's makeshift drill, which is made from the crystal David obtained earlier, and kills the Ultramorph. Watts is spewed with acid blood all across her helmet, and with limited oxygen supply, she runs to a still-intact part of the Magellan, and thankfully for her, there is oxygen there.

David, who survived being ripped apart by the Engineer, bargains with Watts, saying that he can be of use to her. Watts and David's head plays chess, with Watts concluding that David will no longer be of use to her, and thus will not be repaired.

The film ends with David ambiguously wondering if the ship Watts' contacted is that of man, or an Engineer.


Source, Screenwriter Jon Spaihts
What happened instead?

"If the ending to (Prometheus) is just going to be the room that John Hurt walks into that's full of eggs (A reference to a key scene in the first Alien movie), there's nothing interesting in that. Good stories, you don't know where they're going to end." - Ridley Scott on the script rewrites

Initially aiming for a total reboot of the franchise, 20th Century Fox decided that the best course of action would have to create a prequel installment. After having a brief dispute between the producers, plus Scott himself, over Scott's decision to have newcomer Cark Erik Rinsch to helm the project (In case the name is not familiar, he eventually directed the ill-received samurai flick, 47 Ronin), Jon Spaihts' project proposal was eventually accepted, and the production was about to commence in an unspecified date.


Source, Director Ridley Scott
"[...] By the end of the third act, you start to realize there's a DNA of the first Alien film, but none of the subsequent (films)." - Ridley Scott on his intention to differentiate the film from previous entries, while still faithful to its original roots

However, instead of making use any of Spaihts' versions of his story, Scott had a courier deliver Spaihts' script to Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. Remember when we mentioned that there were instances of creative differences between Spaihts and Scott? Well, the two had non-serious conflicts of interests, as not only did Spaihts had a very challenging time to properly translate Scott's visual concepts to writings, but also Scott wanted to move away a little bit from the previous movies, which was something Spaihts did in the opposite sense.



After originally receiving the title of "Paradise", this Alien prequel would then be released as a feature-length movie under the title of "Prometheus", with the name itself coincidentally mentioned in Jon Spaihts' Alien: Engineers by the character Martin Holloway. Prometheus starred Noomi Rapace as Elizabteh Shaw, Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers, Michael Fassbender as David, Idris Elba as Janek, and Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland, and was directed by Ridley Scott.

While Prometheus carried several, notable plot aspects were carried into the final product, various changes were also applied. Some of these alterations include the name of the characters (These examples include the following. From Jocelyn Watts, to Elizabeth Shaw. From Martin Holloway, to Charlie Holloway. From Lydia Vickers, to Meredith Vickers. From Mona Ravel, to Benedict Ravel. In addition to the name change, Ravel's gender was also swapped), and the complete removal of any appearances from the Xenomorphs, with the exception of some visual nods.

In addition, important scenes from the original script were heavily modified. For example, some deaths, such as those of Vickers' and Holloway's, are notably different from what was initially planned. While Vickers died by the indirect actions of the mutated Fifield in the script, Vickers was crushed by the Juggernaut in the movie, and while Holloway was also infected with an alien parasite in  the film, he was instead killed by Vickers when he started to mutate like Fifield, unlike the one that transpired in the script, wherein he was killed by a Xenomorph. Also, Peter Weyland never appeared in the screenplay outside of a cameo, while in the movie, he was revealed to be a twist antagonist, and David, who became the main villain by the teleplay's climax, was almost stripped-off of his originally intended dark side.

Upon its release, Prometheus received mixed to positive responses, with praise given for the performances, especially that of Michael Fassbender as the synthetic humanoid robot David, special effects, and atmosphere, and criticism aimed at its numerous unexplained plot points.

Source, "Run!"
A sequel to Prometheus was eventually confirmed, and is said to answer several of the unanswered questions the previous installment left dangling. The movie, originally subtitled "Paradise Lost", which like Prometheus, is a reference to John Milton's work, and eventually titled as "Alien: Covenant", will further explore the dark origins of the Xenomorphs. In the movie, the crew of the Covenant stumbles upon the survivors of the previously failed expedition of Prometheus, the android David, and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, and hot on their tails is an unholy creation of epic proportions!

Alien: Covenant will feature the return of Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw, Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland, despite having his character dead in Prometheus, and Michael Fassbender as David, and is also set to play, in a double-role, as another android named Walter. Newcomers to the Alien film series include Katherine Waterston as Daniels, Danny McBride as a pilot for the Covenant, James Franco as the captain of the Covenant, Branson, and Billy Crudup as the other captain of the Covenant, and Jussie Smolett of Empire fame, Demi├ín Bichir, Callie Hernandez, Alex England and Carmen Ejogo in currently undisclosed roles.

To be honest, Prometheus is not entirely that bad, even if we dislike it a little for its unpolished story. That movie is still terrifying and intense in its own right, and it feels that it gets trashed way too much than it deserves. Oh well, you really cannot impress everyone. Let us hope that Alien: Covenant is so much better, and hopefully, it will exceed our expectations, and reinvigorate our interest in the legendary franchise. And speaking of Alien: Covenant, our Christmas celebrations just became bloodier, with the release of the scary first trailer for the follow-up to Prometheus. Check it out below! Also, from here on out, we would be making podcasts for every script-related post, movie review and movie pitches, although script reviews would take some time. From what I have learned from us doing podcasts, it is best that you just add the podcasts once a certain post is published, so as to spare me enough time. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


DISCLAIMER: Alien: Engineers and all other related elements are properties of 20th Century Fox and its story elements originally written by Jon Spaihts. The Alien concept was originally created by Dan 'O Bannon and Ronald Shusett. This post is strictly for entertainment and informational purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.

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