A critical analysis of all things Prometheus
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So, what can we expect from Prometheus, if not a horde of alien monstrosities?...
I remember the days when you used to be able to head out to the video shop or cinema and feel optimistic about what lay ahead. These magical days were way before my time, a kind of 'assumed memory' of what it was like to anticipate new movies, to have hope beyond Hollywood's formula.
As you might guess, it has been a while since the release of a particular film - in this case Ridley Scott's Alien prequel/sidequel Prometheus - has excited and delighted me this much. You know the feeling; you continuously check the calendar and religiously watch the trailer online. You crowbar the subject into every conversation, in the hope that you will convince people that it is just as important to them as it is to you. There hasn’t been a film that has evoked such hysteria within me for years...until news reached me of this new sci-fi endeavour from the director who made his name with Alien and Blade Runner..
My reaction was embarrassingly giggly.
The movie is directed by directorial ''gladiator' Ridley Scott (pun intended), responsible for 1979’s sci-fi masterpiece Alien, a genre defining masterpiece. With its slow, unsettling pace and intense atmosphere it truly is a master class in terror. Before Alien, creature-features had been the low-budget province of knocked-off B-movies. However, the collaboration of creative visionary Ridley Scott melded with the dark, otherworldly designs of Swiss surrealist artist H.R.Giger to give birth to something truly terrifying, yet cinematically masterful. This conception defined the blueprint for whole generations of movies to follow and launched one of the most successful franchises in cinema’s history. It is with this knowledge that I and other sci-fi fans around the globe became gleefully ecstatic at the arrival of Prometheus.
The basic premise of the movie is that an assembly of A-grade scientists travel through the vast universe on board the titular spaceship, in search of alien life-forms. Obviously, the team become lost and stranded, and as they battle on in order to survive, it quickly becomes apparent that the terrors they encounter are not just harmful to themselves but also to the whole of humanity.
I had heard rumours online that the movie holds a strong connection to the original Alien saga. Whilst this is borne out in many ways, Prometheus is intended to be viewed almost as a separate story altogether. It is merely set within the same fictional universe and shares similar imagery and mythology as the Alien classics.
The story is set in the year 2085, 30 years before the original Alien, in which we were introduced to the impenetrable, tomboy-esque Ripley; a character who quite obviously, due to the time frame, will not be featured. Neither will the presence of the double-mouthed, acid blooded, consternating little critters that we loved so dearly in the previous Alien movies. I would just like to point out that I am referring to the actual alien creatures, and in no way referring slanderously to any of the other actors involved.
What's in store without Sigourney?
So, what can we expect from Prometheus, if not a horde of alien monstrosities? It seems that one of the intentions of the movie is to explore the very origin and civilization of the alien race, coupled with an anthropogenic study into the inception of humanity itself. Although careful not to give too much away in the trailers, split-second shots show what appears to be the strange U- shaped spacecraft from the 1979 original crashing onto an alien world. For me, and other fans, this can only mean one thing. The origins of the mysterious space jockey (whose gigantic skeleton, also mooted in certain corners as a type of exo-skeleton suit, is seen fused into a cannon-like machine in the original Alien) will finally be explored, relieving 30 years of fan speculation, tension and wonder.
Slow it down a bit...
Seeing as the trailer was relatively brief yet tantalizingly exciting - too exciting for my human eyes to comprehend in fact - I thought that I would ease down its throttle and replay the trailer in slow motion. Doing this provided me with a new insight that couldn’t have been obtained through the pace of the original. What I discovered was, quite simply, rather delightful...
Cleverly hidden amongst the unfolding chaos and strobe-like scene flashing was the frequent appearance of a notably tall humanoid figure. During a particular scene, the figure appears to be interacting with the large, previously mentioned cannon, giving the impression that he was about to board it.
Other exposing scenes appear to show what looks like a gargantuan statue that closely resembles the mysterious figures face. The sheer vastness of the statue suggests that its location could be that of a sacred shrine or place of worship. I'm beginning to wonder whether this lanky fellow could actually be the space-jockey in his original form (before clothing himself in an exoskeletal suit similar to that of the rear end of a dishwasher)
The movie also promises to shed a much needed light on the origins of H.R. Giger’s nightmarishly disturbing xenomorphic creatures, which tormented Sigourney Weaver throughout three sequels. It’s my belief that the space jockey could well be a God-like being and could, potentially, be the ultimate creator of humanity and the xenomorph species alike. This would explain why the alien creatures bear slight biochemical similarities to their homosapien adversaries, as they take on characteristics of its host.
With H.R.Giger once again designing the Alien imagery, in today’s age of pioneering film-making techniques and visual effects, one can only imagine what excitement Prometheus has in store, considering that 30 years ago Ridley Scott created a film that still looks more visceral and horrifying than the majority of today’s weak and CGI-reliant blockbusters. Including - but not limited to - the greatly disappointing Alien Vs Predator movies, which are better lost and forgotten.
With disappointments in mind, one cannot help think of the more recent science fiction soap opera, Skyline - a poor man’s Battle L.A. (the former having sequestered much of the effects technology of the latter film), which is literally the least negative thing you could say about either.
Putting your best, acid-inducing foot forward...
The cast of Prometheus appears to be one of the strongest and most diverse for a film of this magnitude. Ranging through a spectrum of British actors such as Rafe Spall, Sean Harris and Benedict Wong to the greater known Hollywood stars, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Guy Pierce. The cast is enhanced with the addition of Noomi Rapace, whose talents came to the fore after her staggering performance as Lisbeth Salander in the film adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (subtitled).
Likewise, there is no forgetting Luther’s Idris Elba, whose swagger and villainous charm grasped our attention enough for him to become one of the most interesting and multi-dimensional characters in the U.S. television drama, The Wire. For Prometheus, there is most definitely no shortage of acting talent to complement the directorial skills of Ridley Scott.
From what I can gather from the press so far, the name of the ship (Prometheus) and the mythological legend of its Greek namesake play a major part in the film. “Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from the Gods and gave it to man”, as Guy Pierce's character Peter Weyland tells the audience at a TED seminar, in one of the most gripping online teaser trailers for the movie yet (directed by none other than Ridley Scott’s son).
Prometheus definitely looks set to be a much needed reboot of the franchise fans so desperately wanted. It promises to take audiences even deeper into the depths of the universe and further validate the tag-line so synonymous with the alien saga...”In space no one can hear you scream”
'Alien' (1979) - the movie 'Prometheus' must live up to'
Alien (1979): Possibly the scariest trailer ever made
Meryl Streep's lost place in the Alien franchise?
Space misfits: Nostromo crew back-stories revealed
'Prometheus' HD trailer continues to look familiar...
The Russian heritage for Ridley Scott's Prometheus?
Some thoughts on the 'no-show' (?) xenomorphs in 'Prometheus'
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