So does Prometheus live up to the hype? Our new writer Imogen Reed investigates . . .
Ever since Prometheus was announced, fans have been driving themselves crazy with rumors and speculation. Everyone wanted to know more. Everyone wanted to see this. Years in the making, Ridley Scott’s dramatic return to the Alien franchise was bound to be an explosive one. Thankfully, the long wait is finally over and Prometheus has hit the cinema screens. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
At first glance, it looks phenomenal. The trailer had fans worked into a frenzy before they set foot in the cinemas and the opening scenes were dramatic, mysterious and utterly tantalizing.
It’s a science-fiction film that seems to have it all – stunning special effects, brilliant actors and sets that just blow you away. The look and feel of Prometheus is entirely new and veers into the realms of ‘modern’ and ‘futuristic’ as opposed to the more grungy look of Alien. Even the ship’s interior is ultra-modern in its design – no hardwood coffee tables or sectional sofas here. But there is a distinct flavor of the Nostromo from the original films. The airlocks and corridors have that similar claustrophobic shape (albeit with a much more sleek appearance) and even the ships signage harks back to that old retro-futuristic font styling. It’s a similar feel throughout the film – something brand new with a familiar touch. Even down to the storyline.
So… is this a prequel or not?
I won’t go into the plot but whatever you’ve been told, do not believe the hype. There’s been numerous tall-tales going around that Prometheus isn’t an Alien film or that it’s only very remotely related. Some have even suggested that it’s simply ‘in the same universe’ as the originals. Even Ridley Scott himself has said in an interview that only “by the end of the third act you start to realize there’s a DNA of the very first Alien”. Unfortunately, somebody’s been telling porky-pies.
It’s true that there are differences – Prometheus is set a good thirty years before the events of Alien and it doesn’t tie in directly. For example, many believed that this film would explain the Space Jockey’s presence on LV-426, the planet where Ripley first encounters the Alien creature. That turned out not to be the case, but we are shown more of the Space Jockey’s race (referred to as The Engineers in Prometheus) and it essentially delves into the lore of the Alien franchise. But to say that Prometheus isn’t an Alien film is a gross underestimation of the film’s audience. We really aren’t that stupid.
Of course people will argue that Ridley-dearest was telling the truth all along and that this film has nothing to do with Alien whatsoever. But put it this way – whether it involves our friendly local Xenomorph directly, we’re presented with the very origins of the Alien creature. It’s not the exact creature we know and love, but then thirty-or-so years can really change a man (or Xenomorph).
But it’s not all bad… right?
Despite its shortcomings, Prometheus does have a few things in its favor. The cinematography is beautiful and the CGI is flawless. The set design is something to behold and the inclusion of murals by H.R. Geiger will satisfy the diehard fans of the originals. To some extent. Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets. Prometheus lacks the tension of the originals and just isn’t anywhere near as frightening.
If you take Prometheus as a stand-alone film, then sure, it’s good enough. But that’s the biggest problem – it isn’t a stand-alone film. It will always be compared to the originals and in that respect, it simply falls flat. Ridley Scott stated early on that he didn’t want to simply remake Alien but instead, do something fresh. Except he hasn’t. Instead, he’s recycled the same old concepts and bundled them into a fresh, new package – an android with dubious motives, a survivalist female who fights to the bitter end, even a rugged yet charming space captain. Sound familiar? So in veering away from the original, what Ridley Scott has actually done is rehash the best bits in a way that makes them worse. Now, don’t get me wrong, Prometheus isn’t dreadful… it’s just not that good either.