It’s time to stop complaining about Prometheus
By Richard Lynch
I have a reputation for defending prequels so. I may not hate the Phantom Menace, but I won’t deny that focusing on Jar Jar may not have been the best choice. So, I guess with its sequel here; I finally should talk about Prometheus and honestly, I don’t understand why the movie is so disliked.
When it was released in 1979, it was immediately clear that Alien was a masterpiece. A skillful blend of horror and sci-fi with so much iconic imagery that video games today are still stealing from Ridley Scott’s original film. An equally iconic sequel that took the universe in a completely different direction followed seven years later and then the series began to decline, never again reaching the heights of Alien or Aliens. It was in this climate, with a handful of maligned sequels and spinoffs, that Ridley Scott decided, in 2012, to return to the universe he had helped create.
Prometheus has always been billed as a story in the Alien universe rather than a prequel a fact that audiences have struggled to accept. And it’s hard to blame them, with space jockeys, duplicitous androids, proto-xenomorphs, and even pacing, and story beats lifted directly from Alien. Calling it a remake or better a retelling of Alien would be entirely justifiable but misses part of the point; Prometheus is a story about creations and creators, not the most original analysis but valid non-the-less. The story centers around Dr. Shaw trying to discover the origins of human life in space. At the same time, we follow David as he learns that his creator, Peter Wayland, is not the man he had hoped he could be. On another level, this same theme applies to Scott himself, who is in a way returning to his roots to tell the audience that there aren’t always satisfying answers.
You can attribute all the mystery’s and vagaries in the plot to bad writing (especially with Lost writer Damon Lindelof’s name in the credits), but that film is much too deliberate for that. Everything in the plot felt intentional and meant to make a certain point that we, as the audience are intended to come to on our own. Prometheus, like Alien, comes from an era of filmmaking where everything doesn’t need to be explained to you and suspense meant waiting for the action. Keep in mind that nothing bad happens in either film until about an hour in. You may not like the fact that the story is essentially just a retelling of Alien, but there’s doubt that it’s masterfully executed. Even if the film appears derivative, there are still some horrifically imaginative moments. I’ll never forget the scene in the auto-doc (you know the one if you’ve seen it.)
It’s certainly not perfect, the characters are mostly dull and do very little to stand out. And it would have been nice to have a few more clear cut answers by the end. But Prometheus is far from awful, and it was always meant to be the first part of a new series, a series which happens to have a new movie coming out this week. With all the mysteries that have been set up for it, Alien: Covenant looks to blend the styles of Alien and Prometheus and maybe solve some mysteries from both. By taking the gorgeous visuals of Prometheus and the filmmaking technology of today, we’re going to be seeing the Alien universe in a way that we’ve never seen before. If the trailers are anything to go by, it’s also going take gore to levels that make the old chest burster scene seem tame by comparison. With a little luck, Covenant might not only be the best Alien movie in 30 years but will also finally convince fans that Prometheus is a worthy if unique part of a beloved franchise.
Alien: Covenant releases on 5/19