Aliens In A Puzzle Box Pyramid

a scene from Cube
a. Magazines published statements that Vincenzo Natali was being offered Alien 5. However Vincenzo Natali was famous for directing a movie called Cube which is about a group of people who are trapped inside a giant deadly puzzle box with chambers that move around almost like a Rubik's cube. If we go along with the idea that the director brings something from their own creative past into the movie story to leave their mark, the thing that I would jokingly think would be that the characters of the film visiting the alien derelict, become trapped inside and then it's interior turns into a puzzle box and here they encounter the aliens and must escape from them. It sounds like a ridiculous idea but soon Aliens Vs Predator was soon made by Paul WS Anderson and it showed that someone else out there was having such an idea.
  1. Vincenzo Natali is now rumoured to have been offered / asked about taking the directors chair for Alien 5, according to the Spanish press. He directed the acclaimed 'Cube' and also 'Elevated.' (http://www.planetavp.com/amr/html/films/alien5.html, November 12, 1998, (original source still to be found))
Vincenzo Natali


In the background, a block that makes up the pyramid interior begins to move
Charles Weyland 
becomes trapped
by doors within 
doors shifting and 
locking together to 
shut him in

b. The story involved the characters visiting a giant pyramid that had shape shifting puzzle box interior that served as a place for the young Predators to battle with the alien creatures. One can not really grumble about this borrowing, it was something that was going to get into the Alien mythos one way or another by not by Vincenzo's own direction but by Paul WS Anderson who acknowledged that he was friends with Vincenzo so maybe this act of borrowing is almost excusable. Although visually Natali's film's puzzle cube structure and the pyramid with the shape shifting interior were visually different, the source of the source of the concept was never discussed in interviews. During this time, Natali was to direct a film "Necropolis" with the script by Anderson although it didn't finally happen.

b1.  "Vincenzo Natali will direct NECROPOLIS, written by Paul W.S. Anderson (RESIDENT EVIL), for Dimension Films and Impact Pictures." ( Elston Gunn's WEEKLY RECAP, TAKEN FROM VARIETY AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, http://www.aintitcool.com/node/16047,  Sep 10, 2003 2:07:40 PM CDT )

c. However when interviewed and while doing the commentary for AVP, the actor Lance Henriksen who played Charles Bishop Weyland, compared the pyramid to a rubik's cube when it changed shape inside. 
  1. Lance Henriksen: "Now this is like being in a rubik's cube, now it really was the way you set this up, it is really like er... there is no escaping." (Alien Vs Predator commentary, 45mins in) 
  2. L'Ecran Fantastique: "Dans le film, Bishop et les autres personnages sont emprisonnés dans une pyramide sou l'Antarctique..."

  3. Lance Henriksen: "L'ambiance dans ce film est en partie agencee pour qu'il soit assez angoissant. Cela est notamment dû à la claustraphobie engendrée par cette pyramide qui change de forme, tel un Rubik's cube"   (L'Ecran Fantastique Hors -Serie No 7 Automne 2004, p40) 
    Google Translation: 
    L'Ecran Fantastique: "In the film, Bishop and the other characters are often trapped in a pyramid in Antarctica ..." 
    Lance Henriksen:"The atmosphere in this film is arranged so that part is pretty scary. This is partly due to the claustraphobie generated by this pyramid which is changing shape, like a Rubik's cube
     
a Rubik's cube
d. The pyramid idea was inspired by the pyramid encountered on the alien planetoid in the original Alien script by Dan O'Bannon which housed the alien spores, and Paul Anderson talked openly about this.
  1. See also: 6. The Pyramid from Borrowed from the Alien saga for further information about what Paul Anderson said 
The Underground Pyramid in AvP

Borrowed from the Alien saga

Title Sequence

leading from

This part of the logo and title sequence for the AVP film is based on Alien's.
  
  1. This logo and this title that we did as a kind of homage to Alien and Predator, the AVP was patent after Ridley Scott's designs for the way he spelt out Alien in the first movie. (DVD commentary)

Silhouette of the Alien Queen

leading from:


The satellite that resembles the Alien Queen's head
An orbiting satellite around the planet Earth that discovers the frozen over island by the Antarctic, from one side resembles the silhouette of the alien queen's head. John Bruno talked about how it was meant to make you think it was the alien queen from Aliens floating out in space

i) Paul Anderson, Lance Henriksen and Paul Anderson discuss the alien queen / satellite double image

Lance HenriksenThis was great

Sanaa Lathan: This looks like it's in the ocean

Lance HenriksenI, I, I thought I didn't know what I was seeing

Sanaa Lathan: I know

Lance Henriksen:And it becomes the satellite

The Alien Queen
Paul Anderson: Yuh,

Lance Henriksen: It's just great

Sanaa Lathan: It looks like some kind of big creature

Lance Henriksen: yes it does, like the queen

Sanaa Lathan: Like some kind of space ship 

Lance Henriksen: right

Paul Anderson: It's supposed to be the alien queen and we built a, we built a satellite that when you look at it at a certain angle, it...it looks like the queen.

Lance Henriksen: wow

Paul Anderson: and then actually, we morphed bits of the CG queen onto it to kind of like enhance the shape.  (Aliens vs Predator DVD commentary)

ii)
John Bruno (special effects): I'm going to talk about this opening shot here. We wanted to relate back to Aliens when the queen goes flying out the dock of the ship out into space. we wanted to sort of reiterate that in the opening where you think you're seeing the queen in space, but what we're seeing is a six foot miniature satellite with some animation moves in it which were added over the top. This starts out , you think it's a queen.

Tom Woodruff(?) : Now that's a different model from what you're about to reveal

John Bruno: No, it's the model

Tom Woodruff(?): Really, the same one?

John Bruno: It's just CG, we erased and tracked and made the arms open.
(Aliens vs Predator DVD commentary)

Nodding Duck

leading from:
 
Paul Anderson: And also that is the nodding duck from Alien just on the right hand side of the screen

Sanaa Lathan: The what? Ohhh!

Paul Anderson: The little nodding duck thing that was on the Nostromo in the very first Alien (DVD commentary)


nodding ducks in Alien
nodding duck in AVP

Reflections in the helmets

leading from:

Paul Anderson: This again is like.... we wanted to do a visual reference to Alien where the... er... Nostromo comes to life and you see the lettering, the computer lettering reflected in the astronauts helmets.
Lance Henriksen: Yuh that's great
Paul Anderson: We thought we'd do kind of the same with the predator helmets
Lance Henriksen: Oh, it's terrific man. (DVD commentary)

lettering reflecting
in the helmets in AvP
lettering reflecting
in the helmets in Alien


Bishop returns again

leading from
 

a) Charles "Bishop" Weyland the billionaire
Paul Anderson had the idea of playing a character named Charles "Bishop" Weyland, who like Bill Gates is a billionaire, and is the founder of Weyland Industries that somewhere in the years ahead would become part of Weyland-Yutani, the conglomerate featured in the Alien series that owns the Nostromo and the terraforming station on LV 426. Rather than leave a pile of money behind, Weyland wants to do something memorable and so he finds the best people he can and takes an expedition to a location in the Antarctic. He wants to achieve immortality by leaving his mark in some way before he dies.


Charles "Bishop" Weyland the founder of  Weyland Industries
b) Similarities between an android and someone who is dying
He is played by the actor Lance Henriksen who played the android Bishop in Aliens and so this role forced him to try to imagine what it would be like to be a billionaire and he found a similarity between the two. The Charles Weyland character is a man who is decent and wants to do good, but he is dying and Lance found that there was something similar between an android and someone who is dying, the idea being that if you are dying, you see life with a blinding light and you are saying goodbye to it. If you are playing an android, one of the elements that is poignant to Lance was that anything alive is of great beauty and interest and so he saw that as the core of it.


Bishop the android

c) We can build Weyland
Charles Weyland is the father of modern robotics and so somewhere in the centuries ahead, the android named Bishop would be made featuring his image as a tribute to Charles Weyland , so in effect he would live forever.  Some might suddenly want to think back to Philip K Dick's 1972 novel "We can build you" which features an android built in the image of the late Abraham Lincoln.
Paul Anderson fans the flames of confusion surrounding the identity of Bishop 2 from Alien 3
d) Change the old future to fit the new past
Paul Anderson needed to have an actor from the Alien films for continuity with the world of that saga, decided that Bishop 2 also played by Lance Henriksen in Alien 3 was an android rather than a human because the character appears in the film credits as Bishop II and so there's clearly going to be a Bishop III, Bishop IV, Bishop V and so on, although that was not really what the idea of calling Lance character at the end of Alien 3 was about.  He was telling the interviewers that this meant he was a mark 2 Bishop android and he decided that the android Bishop was built with the face of the original founder of Weyland Industries. What he was also telling us is that Ripley didn't know what the founder of Weyland Industries looked.  The Total Film reporter noted that when Paul talked about this he was growling his words, " shooting a flare so fierce " that " it would drop and Alien Queen on the spot " so it may well have been a fact that he knew about the confusion it was causing.

Anderson stated would have settled for Ian Holm who played Ash in Alien, but Henriksen was the one who was available.  The confusion about who or what Bishop 2 was left some feeling even more lost than ever. However, Lance claims to not have a final word about who or what Bishop 2 or, as far as he was concerned when he worked on Alien, 3 it was up in the air whether he was an android or a human and people who went to see this film were arguing over this after having it.

Henriksen wasn't so happy about his Bishop 2 character from Alien 3 and stated that he intended not to be used for product recognition again, which seemed to be the only reason he was being asked to come in to Alien vs Predator but this was a leading character through the whole of the film so for an actor it was worth while, even if Lance's appearance here did confuse the masses.

see also: Haven't a clue about Bishop 2

Bishop doing the knife trick

e) "Bishop's knife trick"
Lance decided that if they were going to use Charles Weyland's face for the android, they would also use some of his mannerisms, so  Lance was doing some of the ticks and mannerisms of the Bishop from Aliens and Paul Anderson understanding the term "retrofitting" probably because of its popularity as a term associated with the design work of Blade Runner, decided that it was "a kind of retrofitting to Weyland", so this allowed for another connecting scene in the film, between the two characters, Charles Bishop Weyland and Bishop the android is the scene where Charles Weyland plays with a pen sticking it at points between his spread out fingers in the way that the android Bishop is seen to do it in the movie Aliens. Paul Anderson thought that the fans would be going into a frenzy of excitement about it.


Charles Weyland imitating the knife trick
  1. Lance Henriksen: It was Paul's idea for me to play a billionaire who made money in robotics,and that Weyland would make Bishop as a tribute to himself. (Starburst, #314, 41)
  2. Lance Henriksen: This character is dying, and there's something similar between an android and someone who is dying. Rather than leave a pile of money behind Weyland wants to do something memorable and he finds the best people he can and takes an expedition. (Starburst, Issue 314, p41)
  3. Lance Henriksen: If you are dying you see life with a blinding light, you are saying goodbye to it. If you are playing an android, one of the elements that is poignant to me is that anything alive is of great beauty and interest. I see that as the core of it. (Starburst, Issue 314, p41)
  4. Lance Henriksen: Charles Bishop Weyland is a decent man who wants to do good, and he's terminally ill and he wants to leave his mark upon the world. He's a billionaire like Bill Gates and he's the father of modern robotics, which explains why the Bishop robot in Aliens would be built in his image. He wants to achieve immortality before he died. (Dreamwatch, issue 122, p36)
  5. Lance Henriksen: He's a billionaire - like Bill Gates in the film - but he's dying and he wants to leave a mark on the world. This Bishop is the father of modern robotics, which means that the Bishop we saw in Aliens - over a 100 years in the future - was built in Weyland's image. In the film, Weyland's dying, and, facing the end, he wants to leave some kind of legacy behind, like most billionaires. He's a good guy in the film, and the role forced me to try and imagine what it's like to be a billionaire. Weyland wants immortality, which explains why a robot - centuries from now - would feature his image and would be named Bishop. He lives forever.  (Sci Fi, August 2004, p27)
  6. Paul Anderson: "As the Alien films take place more than 200 years in the future, the only person I could cast would be an android, so it had to be either Lance Henriksen or Ian Holm. And I was a huge fan of Lance's so that it was a big thrill to persuade him to be in the movie"(Starburst, Issue 316. p25) 
  7. David Hughes:"Nevertheless, Henriksen feels that the only reason he was asked to do the picture was for product recognition - the studio knew that his name would attract the many fans of his character from ALIENS to the second sequel - and he is determined that he "wont be used that way again."(Aliens (comicbook), Vol 2, Number 22, 1994, "Regarding Henriks" by David Hughes, p46)
  8. Total Film: Of course Henriksen's bug eyed presence in Alien Vs Predator is no coincidence. Anderson had always wanted some kind of casting link between his entry to the franchise and the previous Alien films and Henriksen's participation is the result. His character, Weyland is the Bill Gates of robotics, and is meant to be the physical template for Bishop, the android he played in Aliens.
    "That was one of the only ways we could do ithe (Paul Anderson) growls, shooting out a flare so fierce it would drop an Alien Queen on the spot. "In the far future he's an android - just look at the credits of Alien 3 where he's credited as Bishop II. So there's clearly gonna be a Bishop III, Bishop IV, Bishop V...."(Total Film, November 2004, p102)
  9. Paul Anderson: That was, that was one of my favourite things that we did and when you watch the movie with an audience with like fans...

    Lance Henriksen: They'll go "oaah!'

    Paul Anderson: ....who know Alien, who know Aliens. They just go crazy over it.

    Lanaa:  I don't even know the pen thing, what is that?

    Paul Anderson: It's, it's a, it's like a visual quote from Aliens where Lance puts his hand over Bill Pax's own hand

    Lance Henriksen: On Bill Paxton he uses the knife and did the knife trick.

    Lanaa: Aah yess yes yes

    Lance Henriksen:  I just did it right before you come in, I just did it with a pen idly while I was looking at the computer.

    Paul Anderson: Because the idea for, for ... storywise, I wanted to get some casting continuity with the Alien movies, and Lance was the perfect because Bishop in Aliens and Alien 3 was an android and I thought if Weyland invented all of this technology and eventually he's the, you know it's kind of like Microsoft building a, an android with the face of Bill Gates in a hundred and fifty years time uh...uh...but then Lance came up with the idea that if they're going to use his face for the Bishop android they were going to use his mannerisms, so he was kind of like doing some of the ticks and the mannerisms of Bishop that's kind of retrofitting to Weyland. (from the commentary of the Alien vs Predator DVD  )

The Pyramid

leading from

a) A main plot element in the film is the discovery of an ancient pyramid that contains an
Alien birthing temple and Paul Anderson borrowed this idea as something unused from Dan O'Bannon's original Alien script.
AVP' s Hologram of the underground pyramid

The pyramid in O'Bannon's script
  1. "Originally, when they were going back from the derelict ship to the Nostromo, they were going to find this pyramid and there was the suggestion of a civilisation that was somehow tied into the Alien eggsAnderson explains.The concept was always stuck in my mind - Aliens in a pyramid.(Total Film, November 2004, p102)
AVP's The sacrifice chambers beds
b). The sacrificial chamber in the pyramid was loosely inspired by Dan O'Bannon's concept for the birthing chamber inside the pyramid in his Alien script as illustrated by Ron Cobb

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8sv9gYsuLwc/TAopt7TwxqI/AAAAAAAAAOM/G6PtJ_zD_iU/s1600/07cobb.jpg
  birthing chamber design by Ron Cobb
c ) It was arranged in a way vaguely reminiscent of the cryotubes of the seven 'petaled' sleep chamber aboard the Nostromo in Alien (right)
AVP's  seven 'petaled' sacrificial chamber 

Alien's seven 'petaled' cryogenic sleepers


). Poster art from Alien 3

Alien 3 poster
On the floor in the centre of the birthing chamber decorating a drainage hole is found an image of the spiral like alien queen embryo which is based on the emblem for poster for Alien 3 
  1. Woodruff ? : Hey that's nice there, that little grating right there that they just pulled out from was the poster art from the Alien 3 poster. (DVD commentary)

    AVP's spiral queen embryo design on the grating