PROMETHEUS opens up this week in the United States, and marks director Sir Ridley Scott’s (BLADE RUNNER, GLADIATOR, BLACK HAWK DOWN, and too many other good ones to mention) return to science fiction and (maybe?) the universe of ALIEN, where he revolutionized science fiction and horror. Consequently, it also marks the largest-budgeted and marketed R-rated sci-fi horror movie in some time, which would pique the curiosity of genre fans across the world.
But why is it this year’s most anticipated movie for the geek hardcore and a general population? Maybe you’re new to PROMETHEUS hype (or you’re tired of nerds like me talking about it), and you want some more information about what the movie could be about, along with an explanation to the hype. To help solve the case, we delved into a roundtable conversation between three truly smart and thoughtful nerds with a love of the franchise, horror movies, and intelligent writing. These are all things that we’ve come to expect with PROMETHEUS, and honestly should expect from more films being released.
Without further adieux, let’s break down why you should be excited for PROMETHEUS, shall we? So I’ll go first!
I think that it goes without saying that this is my most anticipated movie of the summer, simply because of the sheer pedigree of the people involved. 20th Century Fox has been really smart about what they are releasing, and even though we have a broad outline of the story, I don’t know just how much more of the film I want to see before it comes out because I am chomping at the bit to see it based on the trailers I’ve seen.
IT HAS BEGUN! (queue Mortal Kombat theme)
I’m very excited, very, very, very excited. Because when I was growing up….I wasn’t a STAR WARS kid. I was an ALIEN kid. Don’t get me wrong, I liked STAR WARS as much as the next kid, but my initial viewing of ALIEN (and ALIENS) fueled my imagination and shaped my sensibilities towards horror/sci-fi/genre stuff in general for years to come. My infinitely responsible parents let me watch ALIEN and ALIENS for the first time in 1993, when I was in fourth grade. ALIEN 3 was released the previous summer, and I had seen all the ads and was pretty psyched for it.
Now, if you were a geek in the days before the Internet and you wanted to study up on a respective pop-mythology you only had one option: fanzines. I remember I conned one or my parents (or maybe it was my grandmother) into purchasing this thick ALIEN 3 promotional fanzine that had all this stuff about the first two films included as well. This was the first time I saw an image of the Space Jockey sitting in his bizarre and massive space chair/tomb; the first time I saw Ripley in the power loader; the first time I saw the HUGE sets of the interior of the Nostromo; and of course it was the first time I saw our ass-kicking heroine Ellen Ripley in action. Then, as I recall, during a trip to the late, great Comic Connection in Lexington, Kentucky, I purchased a trading card set that featured character bios and scenes from all three movies, and there were cards that had all this behind the scenes stuff as well. Needless to say that was enough that set my little mind on fire. I had to see these movies. I had to. So after much begging, pleading, and arguing with my parents, my Dad finally rented the first two. I remember we spent a Saturday afternoon and evening watching them. And that was that. I was forever an ALIEN Kid.
I don’t have that illustrious history with the franchise, Chris, and probably because I never really got that initial viewing of ALIEN in my youth. For me, STAR WARS was the lens that was used to introduce me to science fiction and fantasy. But those big heroics were lost when my friends would talk about ALIEN and ALIENS, speaking about creatures bursting through chests and emerging as nightmarish horrors of our world. Like you said, Chris, the Internet in its current form didn’t exist, so fanzines, comic shops, conventions and rumors were what connected us to these genre points.
I didn’t really get into horror movies until I saw the original HALLOWEEN, and by then I was hooked. But I’ve always preferred action heroics, and so ALIENS took over my interest with new creatures and intense battles. I was so shocked and happy with what I saw that my eyes were opened to the possibilities, yet I tragically overlooked the glory of seeing a vision of blue-collar workers and miners against true terror itself. I never got into the world of Ripley and the Xenomorphs truly, instead letting myself wander to different filmmakers throughout high school. In fact, Chris, it wasn’t until I met you at Western Kentucky University that I was truly challenged by people to find interesting and new films. But somehow ALIEN and its skittering sounds and dreams never got into my blood during those years.
It actually took the PROMETHEUS trailer to get me interested in this new and exciting world. I felt compelled to go back and see what the fuss was about, and why you were shaking with excitement, Chris. So I picked up the Alien Quadrilogy for the price of a song and put it on a big screen TV.
The excitement and passion I could finally understand. Ellen Ripley finally made sense. Ash finally made sense. Ridley Scott’s true contributions to science fiction made sense. I was hooked, and I felt PROMETHEUS’s trailer. I felt it, not as a masterwork of marketing and teasing audience expectations, but rather as a primal scream into my soul.
I guess I’m a newbie to the whole Alien experience, but I’m still chomping at the bit to see Prometheus!
I have to jump in on this bandwagon of excitement. Why? Because this looks like it could be the first serious and well-done (two things that rarely come together completely) science fiction horror in a long time!
The vast majority of science fiction movies tend to be more of the “family friendly” variety, which can sacrifice seriousness in favor of goofy jokes that serve no purpose other than to make the kids in the audience laugh (I’m looking at you, STAR WARS prequels). Then the more serious movies tend to sacrifice quality by way of poor execution or disappointing endings (e.g. CONTACT).
Then when it comes to horror movies (let alone sci-fi-horror flicks), one need only look at the vast majority of titles in the genre in the past decade to see that there is a *lot* to be desired (ALIENS VS. PREDATOR, AVP2, JASON X, etc).
Now my excitement is based solely on trailers of course, but when it comes to Ridley Scott, the man that brought us one of the most solid science fiction [horror] trilogies in movie history, one can’t help but feel like this is A VERY GOOD THING. And yes, I say trilogy because ALIEN: RESURRECTION doesn’t exist in the ALIEN/ALIENS canon in my opinion. Actually, I think RESURRECTION felt unnecessary. Basically a ploy to milk just a little more money from a popular franchise.
The possibilities of directions they can go with this movie that is apparently based in the same universe as ALIEN/ALIENS has me on the edge of my seat LONG before the movie is even out. In a way this could be Scott’s chance to incite the same fear in us that the original ALIEN movie did, and was all but lost with RESURRECTION & the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR movies. Though technically unrelated, the chance for a return to the true chills of science fiction horror has this film gripping me tighter than a facehugger on Kane!
A few things I’ve noticed in all our chats is that we have an existing relationship with the material. This is really making our answers different in a lot of ways since those relationships were formed over different periods of time.
Also, Will: our Nerd Lord Joss Whedon wrote the original screenplay for RESURRECTION, so you need to consider that in your evaluation of it. But just because his hands touched it doesn’t make it good (*cough*TITAN A.E.*cough*).
Will, what fear do you imagine Ridley Scott can inspire in this movie? Also, let’s be honest with ourselves. Sir Scott hasn’t given us much in terms of exciting – or even good – movies in the past decade, not since BLACK HAWK DOWN. Why is Ridley Scott so important to Prometheus?
Even gods can falter, dear Kyle.
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN’s director’s cut edition is a masterpiece. Shut it. No sarcasm. I speak the truth. Everything else he’s done….so-so. However, in the interest of full disclosure I never got around to watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights: Part 2: Enter the Russell Crowe. (Editor’s note: Chris is referring to Ridley Scott’s 2010 version of Robin Hood. Please don’t go see it, you’ll thank us later.)
It’s true, Scott hasn’t brought much to the table in a long time. I never saw KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, though I heard it was good. But I think that what fills me with the most hope in him putting his hands back on the Alien franchise (however indirect) is that he’s had time to be away and work on other things. He’s not just riding on the popularity of the Alien franchise to sell the movie, but rather using what worked (and it worked damn well!) back then and taking what he has learned since then to possibly give us one of the most awe-inspiring and potentially terrifying alien flicks ever.
Maybe I’m being naive in this, but I have a feeling that this movie could take the “piss your pants” reaction we get from the first three times a necromorph tries to kill you in the video game DEAD SPACE and make it something we dread from start to finish. THAT’s the kind of fear I think he can inspire.
I’m kind of glad ole Russell “making movies, making songs, and fightin’ round the world” Crowe didn’t worm his way into PROMETHEUS. Nothing against the guy, but as De Niro was to Scorsese in the late 70’s through the early 90’s, Crowe was to Sir Ridley in the 00’s. It was well past time for a changing of the guard in terms of his lead actor and the material he has been tackling over the past decade. So glad he cast Michael Fassbender in the android role as he is the acting demi-god of the moment. Fassbender reminds me so much of Daniel Day-Lewis, only Fassbender is obviously not prejudiced against genre stuff.
And that’s it for now! Part Two will show up tomorrow morning, so be prepared for our continued discussion of Prometheus, including that R rating, the now-famous marketing clips and general discussion about expectations in general. See you then!