I was a little slow getting to this one, but I did finally get to see Prometheus. I’ve heard a lot of reviews that were very disappointed in it, and I’m not that far off myself.
The biggest problems with Prometheus is it’s tie to the Alien Films. This movie could have stood on it’s own and probably would have worked better that way. There’s nothing wrong with a Sci-Fi movie asking big questions like this one does, but it’s more philosophy than we’ve come to expect from an Alien film, and make no mistake; this wants to be an Alien film. Rather, it want’s the benefits of being an Alien film. If it weren’t tied to that franchise, it would not have gotten the budget it had, nor the marketing. It wouldn’t have gotten the attention it did. It also wouldn’t have gotten the vitriol it received.
It’s almost like they couldn’t decide whether to make it a franchise entry or not. The movie tries to straddle the fence. According to Scott, though the film shares “strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak”, and takes place in the same universe, Prometheus explores its own mythology and ideas. But the movie I watched recreates scenes from Alien almost shot for shot and tries to shoehorn as many similarities as it can get into the film. The visual style of the first Alien film is beautifully recreated. It’s never been done this well before. I can believe that Human ship is from the same era and place. The Alien ship is instantly recognizable.
I think that’s perhaps the biggest problem. Because you go in looking at “Alien Prequel” and no amount of warning from Scott is going to deter that perception. So you want stalking and chases and familiar alien organisms. The aliens we get are far to removed from what we know…I have a hard time seeing the links between the little snakes and giant crabs with the facehuggers and alien creatures. And that would be fine if it weren’t meant to be even a quasi-prequel.
I think the movie would have been better served if the Alien connection could have been kept quiet. That means, no advertisement of this as being connected to the Alien films – not even a mention of them being in the same universe. It also means we don’t see the Alien ship or the Space Jockey helmet until the last ten minuets of the film or less and let people recognize it for themselves. It worked in Predator 2 and managed to spawn it’s own films in this manner. approaching the Alien link this way would have given the audience different expectations and time to actually absorb the message and questions it tries to raise. I’m personally going to need another viewing to really understand the movie better.
I’m not ready to throw it out of the canon yet, not the way I did with Alien 3. I expect I’ll even get a copy when it comes out on DVD. But I also know that much like the Thing prequel, when Prometheus is sitting on my shelf next to Alien and I have to decide which one I’m going to put on some rainy evening, it’s not going to be Prometheus.