Monday, October 26, 2015
(June 2012, U.S.)
For the life of me, I don't think I'll ever fully understand what goes through the moviegoing public's little minds when it comes to the art of science fiction! For popular franchises like STAR TREK and STAR WARS, audiences tend to (unfairly) react negatively if certain films in the franchise weren't just like their successful predecessors (i.e. STAR WARS Episodes I through III). And Heaven forbid people are required to actually take some time to think about the story they're watching...well then, the film might as well be considered a flop right there and then! Consider some of the best science fiction films ever made like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), THX-1138 (1971), BLADE RUNNER (1982), DUNE (1984) and INTERSTELLAR (2014 - and actually, that film did pretty well. Go figure!) - films that were initially considered disappointments or flops when first released in theaters and over time turned into either cult hits or highly-intelligent and highly regarded pieces of artistic cinema. Let's face it, people - if a new sci-fi film isn't fast and fun and requires little-to-no thought, it's tends to disappoint at the box office and with some professional critics. Even Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi with PROMETHEUS was not considered a success with audiences and I cannot entirely fathom why! Was it because it required some thought?? Was it because people expected too much direct reference as a prequel to Scott's ALIEN (1979) and perhaps it just didn't deliver enough of that promise? Whichever question is relevant, I hope maybe I can come up with a few answers here.
Admittedly, many sci-fi think pieces, including the ones I mention above, require more than one viewing, including PROMETHEUS. The film is not entirely easy to absorb and a second and third viewing will almost guarantee to not only fill in some of the holes, but may also shed a fresh light of appreciation. It's the year 2089, and a team of archaeologist, geologists, soldiers and even an android named David who's trying to model himself after Peter O'Toole in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA are on a journey to the planet known as LV-223 to investigate what has come to be understood as an invitation from humanity's forerunners that they've chosen to call the "Engineers". Like many other fantastic stories of this nature, it's a mission to try and discover not only life on other worlds, but a further understanding of humanity's origins. It would seem that we may have been spawned from another race from another planet. Sounds beautiful, doesn't it! Of course, hopes and anticipations are quickly squashed when the team encounters hostile and dangerous organisms that attack their human prey. In what becomes a race for survival against time, our human scientists must not only fight the hostile elements of the planet, but also stop a superior being from traveling to Earth with a potentially dangerous and lethal iridescent liquid that will ultimately cause humanity's extinction. As we watch this film, we're not only required to sit still and think about man's connection with his possible past, but also try and put together the pieces that link PROMETHEUS with ALIEN, and believe me when I tell you that the connection has very little, if nothing to do with the actually alien beast that was created for the original 1979 film. So let me try and help out with this one a little...
To properly and effectively connect this film with ALIEN, pay close attention to these two images from the 1979 film and we'll go through them one at a time...
This is the alien derelict space ship that was discovered by the crew of the Nostromo that appeared to have crash-landed on the planet. PROMETHEUS defines for us in full detail the meaning of that ship, where it was headed, how it crash landed and who was responsible for it. Remember this photo and you've made the proper connection.
This is what I guess we can call the control seat and equipment console to the above-mentioned ship with a dead pilot that was also discovered by the crew of the Nostromo, whom they deduced had exploded from the inside. PROMETHEUS also defines this for us and how the pilot of the ship came to end up the way he did. Again, remember this photo and you've made the proper connection.
Finally, we learn at the film's final moments just how the infamous "alien" creature was first born, though the moment is only very brief just before the end credits, as it appears that Carlo Rambaldi's wonderful creation was the result of the impregnation of one galactic creature by one of the planet's hostile organism's. Basically, the alien was a result of a hostile rape, if you'd like to look at it that way (LOL!!!). So I hope that answered a few confusing question for those of you who may have been a bit lost in the whole PROMETHEUS/ALIEN shuffle!
Now, whether or not you like this film, love this film or even understand this film, Ridley Scott, a film maker who has spanned the decades with a vast array of original storytelling and movie making, gives us a return to sci-fi that is a haunting visual grandeur both in design and aesthetics. The photography and set pieces are beautiful to look at as we explore a planet that we're meant to come to know a whole lot more once the true ALIEN stories begin. The performances are stunningly solid, particularly by Michael Fassbender playing the android David. There's just one thing that doesn't quite connect in this story and perhaps one of you reading this post can fill in the hole...the planet that this team travels to is called LV-223 and we come to understand that it's the same planet that Ellen Ripley will stumble onto in later years. But by the time we get to the story of ALIENS (1986), the planet they return to is known as LV-426. So exactly when and how did the LV's number increase by a factor of 203?? Somebody please clarify this now (the rest of the film I understand!)!!!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Charlie Holloway: "What we hoped to achieve was to meet our makers. To get answers. Why they even made us in the first place."
David: "Why do you think your people made me?"
Charlie: "We made you because we could."
David: "Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?"
Charlie: "I guess it's good you can't be disappointed."