By Marc Bernardin
Updated July 31, 2009 at 03:53 PM EDT

No two ways about it: The news that director Ridley Scott is returning to the Alien franchise — which he started back with the 1979 original — for a prequel is fantastic. After all, Scott is, as Michael Mann once described him to Russell Crowe, “one of the top 2 percent of shooters in the history of cinema.” So I’m giddy to see what Scott does with such rich material. (Plus, whatever he comes up with has to be better than Alien vs. Predator 2: The Suckening.) I’ve got got two questions:

1. What genre will it be? You might think that Alien — given that it’s about, you know, an alien — is a science fiction movie. You’d only be partially right. The first film was a horror movie, James Cameron’s Aliens was a war movie, David Fincher’s Alien3 was a prison flick, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection was, er, a basketball movie. So what’s this one going to be? I think it’d be a mistake to go back to the haunted-house-in-outer-space vibe of Alien…which leaves what? Detective story? Revenge thriller? Romcom?

2. Will Ripley be in it? Aside from the aformentioned Alien vs. Predator films, Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley has been the constant in the series. But given that this is a prequel, will she still figure into the proceedings? And if so, how, seeing as Alien documented her first encounter with those acid-for-blood beasties? If Ripley’s in it, who’ll play her? Weaver may be a stunning woman and a gifted actress, but I don’t think she can play a gal in her early 20s. For my money, if you’re going the young-Ripley route, put Ellen Page on speed-dial. She definitely looks the part, and she’s got some tough-as-nails in there.

How do you feel about this? Excited at the prospect of another Ridley Scott Alien movie? Or is this a franchise you’d like to see rest for a bit? And who would you cast as young Ripley?