It’s been 10 years since Ridley Scott’s Prometheus hit theaters and tried to rename the long-diminished Alien series to something more … deep. Instead of just remaking Alien (or James Cameron’s Aliens), Scott chose to go back in time to tell the story of the mysterious engineer (or “Space Jockey”) we first saw in his classic sci-fi thriller from 1979, believing in the popular xenomorph. had long since worn out his welcome.
With the help of screenwriter Jon Spaihts (and later Damon Lindelof), the film was intended to serve as a prequel to Alien, while connecting new characters with Ripley and the fateful Nostromo team. However, it seems that Scott somewhere along the way changed his mind about the accuracy of the project – presumably after watching the Chariots of the Gods documentary – and chose to go in a completely different direction – a direction that did not involve eggs , face crushers and alien queens. Well, at least not directly.
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The decision made sense. At the time, the Alien series was largely tainted by David Fincher’s morbidly depressing Alien 3, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s silly Alien Resurrection, and a few silly Alien v Predator movies that almost wiped out the beloved franchise. As such, Scott focused his attention on the mysterious engineers and set out to create a story that explored the very concept of creation. The resulting movie could definitely bleed into Alien … except no, it can not.
The heroes of this particular story fly to LV-223 instead of LV-426 and encounter a spacecraft similar to that of Ripley and Co. discovers in Alien. This ship also houses an engineer and a group of aliens; and also crashes into a moon where it is presumably waiting to be rediscovered by another unhappy crew. Everything is there for Prometheus to adapt to the events of Alien, making Scott’s last second recalibration even more frustrating.
Why not beat two birds with one stone and allow Prometheus to be an Alien prequel, which in turn sets the stage for a completely different franchise? Why tease fans with promises of new adventures with the xenomorph, just to deliver a film that goes out of its way to introduce the xenomorph before the concluding text? And why create a franchise heroine in Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) just to kill her off-screen in the very next movie?
Clearly, Prometheus started as a project before Scott got bored and decided to try something a little more ambitious. It’s not even the first time – find out about the drama behind the scenes that has plagued the famous director’s Robin Hood project.
It’s Prometheus in a nutshell: an ambitious dud made it even more frustrating to actually be pretty good if it makes sense. Like another post in the Alien franchise, this is infinitely frustrating. As a tent pole for a brand new franchise, you can not blame Scott for his desire to go beyond duty. Its creative passion almost transports Prometheus to the Promised Land, but the constant teasing of the film we’d like to see prevents the sci-fi adventure from really taking off.
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An example: the scene where Sean Harris’ character Fifield transforms into a hideous beast and attacks the crew. Deleted / expanded scenes show that his original mutated design was intended to mimic a xenomorph before last-minute resumes and / or special effects adjustments turned the character into a monster moving like the alien we all know and love, but closer. looks like the Wolf Man.
It’s annoying. Especially since Prometheus, as mentioned, still acts as an entertaining piece of sci-fi that explores the very principle of agnosticism – to which Scott is an avid subscriber. We learn that the engineers previously sent one of their own to our planet to create life and sent another one year later to confirm their project just around the time Jesus Christ presumably went on Earth. In other words, these engineers are our gods and our saviors – a concept hinted at only in the film, but more or less hidden from ordinary view (the plot takes place at Christmas out of love for Pete). They created us and then, perceiving humans as an imperfect species (the crucifixion does), set out to destroy humanity by using a mysterious black cloth designed to do whatever the script requires.
In this fold falls the android David (Michael Fassbender), a completely unique creature who also wants to understand the purpose of his creation. At one point, he asks Logan Marshall-Green’s Charlie Holloway why humans created machines. Charlie says, “Because we could,” and makes David answer bitterly, “Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creators?” The mysteries of life, and by extension the world beyond this life, are the driving force behind Scott’s wild design; and sometimes, as with David – a fascinating villain whose propensity for violence is only matched by his constant desire to prove that he is more than just a walking, talking toy – this vision is wonderful to see.
Other times, however, Scott overlooks intricate details that stand in the way of the realism he is clearly seeking. Many point to the stupidity of taking off his helmet on an alien planet, or separating from the group to explore a dark, sad spaceship filled with corpses and wild animals, or messing with a cobra-like organism while trapped in a room full of mysterious egg-like objects. These sequences are similar to last-minute additions the studio has ordered to move the plot, or compromises made by Scott so he can explore the film he wants to make about an android in the violence of an existential crisis. And then we have two movies rolled together into one – a predictable slasher movie where characters make more and more stupid decisions that ultimately lead to gruesome deaths, and a compelling story centered around an androids quest to find out for themselves the nature of its existence.
Both films reach their climax in the last 20 minutes or so, resulting in a beautiful yet stunning climax. At one point, Charlize Theron’s character tries to run from a crashing ship instead of sideways to avoid a gruesome death. This scene is followed by a thoughtful exchange of opinions between David and Shaw, in which the latter notes: “They created us and tried to kill us, but changed our minds. I deserve to know why. David does not understand it and thinks the answer to his question is irrelevant. , which causes Shaw to explain, “Well, I guess it’s because I’m a human and you’re a robot,” before he put his Android head in a sports bag. As I said, fascinating.
Of course, because Scott is Scott, Prometheus looks amazing. Visually, it’s up there with James Cameron’s Avatar in terms of style and execution. The ships are amazing and the sets are intricately designed. The film cost $ 130 million to produce, and every penny is up there on screen. The fact that the characters – namely Theron’s largely helpless Meredith Vickers, Idris Elba’s quirky Janek and Guy Pearce’s silly Peter Wayland – and awkward storytelling do not quite live up to the mentioned visuals, is ultimately what makes the project disappointing.
Still, there are heartbreaking sequences, like Shaw’s caesarean section, that stand out as one of the most graphic (and clever) moments in Scott’s career:
There is a brilliant storm sequence that looks amazing:
And a terrifying finale that feels like a return to the classic characteristics of the creatures of the past:
Such moments make Prometheus an entertaining summer film, while the heady concepts are enough to set the film apart from others of the same kind. As an entry into the Alien franchise, though, it’s pretty much overwhelming. The disappointing sequel, Alien Covenant, certainly does not help either, but as a standalone blockbuster, few people look so good while daring to tackle the fascinating concepts that cling to its heart. Don’t think too much about it, and you might even set up Prometheus as one of the best summer tent poles of the last decade.
And hey, if you squint hard enough, you might see the Alien prequel we were promised but never received.