Prometheus is not your father's Alien, and shouldn't be seen as such
Try other great films by Ridley Scott:
Don't view Prometheus as a prequel for Alien. Yes, that's how the idea for this movie started, but it very much became its own movie. That isn't to say the filmmakers turned their back on the 30+ year old franchise. Just that they clearly didn't feel themselves restricted to telling the prequel that everyone expected and as such would not have been satisfied with.
We'll leave that to Star Wars.
Now there are certain elements to the Alien franchise that fans have gotten very familiar with:
- A strong female protagonist
- Androids - maybe with a questionable directive
- Capitalistic bureaucracy with a callous disregard of human life
- Lots of people acting very stupidly
- And some of them even have aliens in them.
I'm not going to tell you whether any or all of these are present in Prometheus, but those are the kinds of expectations that the filmmakers knew they'd have to deal with. And personally, they met my expectations very nicely.
But first, the story:
The movie starts who knows how many millennia ago. We see a being who looks nearly human, though not quite. Move forward a handful of years and we arrive in the 2090's. A pair of archaeologists make a discovery that they interpret as an extraterrestrial invitation. They can't find the RSVP form, so they just have to gate crash and hope there are enough place settings put out for them.
They take a two year trip into deep space and arrive at the planet where they hope to find alien beings who they believe created life on Earth.
You don't have to be a master storyteller to predict that things don't quite go as they planned. But it's clear that Ridley Scott hasn't lost anything since he made the original Alien. The story is very intriguing and the characters are well defined.
Dot dot dot
The movie touches on some intriguing concepts here, as most great movies do. For instance, they bring up the idea of faith being a choice, looking for answers to the deep questions of life, and holding to a belief that helps make sense of the universe even when others try to convince you otherwise. And you'll be surprised by the stuff you learn about the infamous space jockey.
However you really need to watch this one as its own movie. It's not the prequel that maybe the fans want. It doesn't quite set the stage exactly the way needed for Alien. If you watch this one thinking you can immediately turn to Alien and have a seamless continuity, you'll be disappointed. And, maybe more importantly, we don't actually get to see the one thing that is most visually indicative of the entire Alien franchise: the xenomorph.
(I'd like to point out that "xenomorph" is a classification, not the name of the species. It just happens to be the only xenomorph we've come across, so the "name" has stuck around. Bring it on, misinformed fan-boys!)
Now, while the titular alien doesn't exactly appear, there are plenty of visuals that are very strongly suggestive of it and you can definitely see the groundwork being laid.
(I would point out, however, that this movie does not happen on the same planet as Alien and Aliens. Similarities aside, those movies happened on planet LV-426, aka Archeron. This one is LV-223. They're both moons of the planet Calpamos, so it's the right neighborhood. But the wrong house.)
If you watch it thinking of it as an Alien prequel, you'll spend most of your time thinking "how does this fit into the world we've already seen". And you could easily miss the very great and compelling story that is being presented in front of you.
That being said, after seeing Prometheus, you will definitely see Alien in a slightly different light.
Divorce this one from any expectations you have and enjoy it as its own thing. Prometheus is its own franchise now. A sequel to Prometheus will not necessarily be Alien. Nor should it be. If it's a real universe, more things happen than "the Saga of Ripley". And I definitely want to see where they go in a Prometheus sequel.
I know this kind of movie really needs it, but it can be so painful to see otherwise intelligent people acting really mind-blowingly stupid. In movies, all generals assume every alien is trying to kill us, and all scientists assume every alien is ET. Which kind of stupidity is stupidest depends on the kind of movie you're making. I'll let you guess which one wins out here.
But what do you think?
Personally, I give this one a 9 / 10.
Prometheus is rated R for language, some sexuality, sci-fi action violence, disturbing and intense imagery and some blood and gore.
One last note:
Also, this one was filmed in 3D not converted to it, so feel free to see it in the format of your choice. It really doesn't need 3D—the movie's great on its own—but the 3D is well done and nicely used in Prometheus.
Check out these Hubs for my published opinion of the movie Alien
- Alien: The eighth passenger makes all the difference...
Alien is a classic of both monster movies and cinema in general. Since 1979, any serious attempt at making a monster movie must be aware of what went into this Ridley Scott masterpiece.
- Alien and Aliens - Aparently two movies do a franchise make
The first two movies in the Alien franchise may be the only ones universally loved, but their distinct visual look will keep them going for years to come.