The original Alien Nation stars James Caan as a racist detective forced to team up with an alien played by Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) to solve a murder. In the film’s universe, aliens crash landed on Earth a couple years prior and began to integrate themselves into society as best as possible, with many humans still cautious of their new neighbors. The film touches on theme of xenophobia, using aliens as a clear metaphor for racial relations.
It would be hard not to draw a line between what that film was going for and how Nichols could find ways to tie it to modern society. In addition to having the means to produce a more visually ingtriguing film (although that 80s alien makeup does have its charm), there is a means for crafting a screenplay that places observation on where we as humans are right now.
Nichols certainly goes for that with Loving, a film that is expressly about the moral injustice seen in laws against interracial marriage. While restrained in approach, it is easy to look at how the context of that film can be centered around the atmosphere of today as well. Alien Nation may be a bit more obvious, as far as drawing parrallels, but genre fair does tend to keep its themes fairly close to the surface.
Given Nichols’ filmography so far, it stands to reason that his take on an Alien Nation remake will have a less-is-more approach, even if it does involve two cops that don’t get along, with one being an alien. One just has to hope the film is not compromised by the studio in moving the intentions against Nichols’ understated filmmaking style.
Alien Nation is currently in the early stages of development, with an intended 2018 release date. Nichols’ latest film Loving is currently in theaters.