The basic storyline of Alien is in place in Prometheus, just don’t call this movie a sequel or a prequel lest you annoy Sir Ridley. A group of hapless space travellers faceoff with some intergalactic nasties who give hugging a bad name. But these face huggers aren’t the movie’s main draw. Led by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), the expedition into the far corners of the universe aims to prove a connection between ancient human civilizations and extraterrestrials. Chris Alexander sits in for Mark Breslin.
Richard: Chris, thematically Prometheus is equally about creation and destruction. As a piece of entertainment goes, however, I’m not sure it will create lasting memories. It won’t destroy the goodwill of the first couple of Alien films, but I don’t think it will add much to the legacy either. For me there is very little big bang in a movie that is reportedly about the most significant discovery in the history of mankind. You?
Chris: I was blindsided. My expectations were low to none. I didn’t want Alien redux, I wanted something different and I got it. The visuals were so grandiose, the aesthetics so nightmarish and baroque that I was dazzled. Only when the pithy dialogue steered the ship did I reject it … but then something would ooze, a storm would rage and I was back in. And hey, it’s not 1979 anymore. We’ve seen it all and I’m pleased that Scott chose to dwell on dread rather than simple chest-bursting shock. But man … that dialogue!
RC: It may not be 1979 anymore, but I agree, the dialogue sounded like leftover, bad late ’70s sci-fi films. I expected a higher level of writing from a movie that is more about ideas than action. Having said that, I loved Michael Fassbender’s automaton space butler. He’s got many of the film’s best lines and if they ever need someone to play the lead in The Peter O’Toole Story, he’s the guy.
CA: Fassbender is fantastic, Rapace is scrappy … but for me, this was all about aesthetics. Then again, with Scott, it was always about aesthetics. Alien had no story, it found its power in dread, atmosphere and design. Blade Runner had no story, only a philosophy and a MacGuffin and again, exists as a testament to mood, music and architecture. With Prometheus, there are things in here that I haven’t seen or experienced since, well, since Blade Runner; things I will never forget. And while there may be no chest-burster freak-outs, one word: Caesarean!
RC: (Mild spoiler) Four words! Do it yourself caesarean! The movie’s slow build nicely leads up to that memorable scene, adding an element of horror to the heady mix of ideas but I expected more from Scott. Perhaps Alien set the bar too high for the director to leap over.
CA: I prefer to see it as Alien vs. Predator draining the IQ of the franchise so that Prometheus appears like Potemkin by comparison. But in all seriousness, Prometheus gave me a massive sensory jolt. Great Scott, give me more!