Almost as deeply burning as my questions for Prometheus are, I ask: Why was this even made?
In 2004, when Alien vs. Predator was the next instalment of anything remotely related to the Alien franchise, I became one of the many Alien fans who thought that they would die before ever seeing a truly Ridley Scott/H.R. Giger influenced Alienfilm. But when talk and teasers footage of the decade long ‘in the works’ Alien prequel Prometheus began to hit the web about a year ago, I was absolutely astounded.
Prometheus is about a research team who travel to the farthest corners of the universe to uncover the dark secrets of our origins. That is really all I can say about what is certainly happening in the films as the other snippets of Alien spacecrafts (a simultaneously dazzling and haunting nod to Alien and Aliens) and sweaty men and women screaming are all part of the curious enigma that is Prometheus. Really, this precisely is why Prometheuslooks so damn good: it reminds us that it’s been a very long time since a Sci-fi has left us really guessing (and it’s not even out yet).
To really comprehend the awesomeness that Prometheus promises, let’s go back to 1979 when Scott directed Alien which would become one the most integral and innovative space travel films since Stanley Kubrick’s Sci-fi symphony 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Although the reception of Kubrick’s mystical space adventure initially proved quite divisive, 2001was quickly recognized as a masterpiece in its own right and its psychedelic and experimental imagery (created by special effects veteran Douglas Trumbull who would go on to work with Scott on Blade Runner 1982) is indeed fitting of the radical times it was made.
Still, the mould Kubrick set in place envisioned a bright and polished future where space travel is done on neat commercial spacecrafts with super intelligent sentient A.I.. Scott’s Alien ripped this crystalline vision in two as Ellen Ripley’s commercial mining spacecraft the Nostromo is shown as a grey, industrial monstrosity where every command must be painstakingly, manually inputted into clunky and beaten up computers. Scott’s redefinition of space travel didn’t stop here, as the sinister Alien (a grotesque design by morose Swiss artist H.R. Giger) that stalks the crew of the Nostromo hybridized Science Fiction and horror, creating a remarkably unique film with Science Fiction proclivities but still operates with all of a Slasher ’s tendencies .
Fast forward a few decades and sequels later, the success the nightmarish space adventure Scott began in 1979 can be seen in the massive Alienfranchise that it spawned. Even still, with other visionary directors like James Cameron (Aliens 1986) and David Fincher (Alien 3 1992), no one has been able to create quite the same magic that Scott achieved once he first unleashed the menacing and mysterious Alien. Prometheus takes place before Alien and follows a team of researchers to a recondite planet after a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth directs them there. Scott has said that although the film’s events precede Alien, Prometheus is not directly connected to the franchise and this is precisely why Prometheuswill be a breath of fresh air.
With this one, we won’t have to sit through hours of dim regurgitated action like the abominable Alien vs. Predator spin offs – film which I don’t even consider to be part of the franchise. Instead, Prometheus’s mysterious nature seems to bring us back to the questions that have burning in the minds of fans since 1979: what are the origins of the mysterious Xenomorph species, where did they come from, and what does their existence have to tell us about ourselves?