Who are we? What are we doing here? How can I finally understand the secrets of Prometheus, despite already watching it twice at the cinema? These secrets and more are promised by the home video release of the film formerly known as Paradise, Alien: Paradise, Untitled Alien Prequel but, sadly, not Olien.
As my original review stated – a worryingly low number of posts below this one (sorry about that!) – I enjoyed the journey Prometheus took despite the fairly unsatisfactory destination and most of the passengers. Ridley Scott’s return foray into science fiction may be slightly unsatisfying but it is fairly bold and not overly concerned about dovetailing with fans’ expectations, which I suppose is a good thing.
Since I didn’t really have many unanswered questions after my first viewing, I wasn’t really sold by the pre-home release marketing that promised ‘Questions will be answered’.
Still, there are clearly answers to something on the bugger, so here’s a list of stuff I learned from the Prometheus Blu-Ray.
The first question the deleted footage answers is: ‘Will a director’s cut be able to improve Prometheus?’ The answer is a resounding ‘Nerp’. What is clear from the 30+ minutes of deleted footage is that Scott and company took most of it out to further obfuscate the story. This is hardly surprising when you factor in the involvement of Damon Lindelof, a man who introduces himself by spelling out the characters of his name in the wrong order, occasionally pausing to point out mysterious hatches and things that should not be, like polar bears wearing sunglasses, before vanishing four letters from the end.
The promised alternative opening shows the ‘Nappy Engineer’ clearly taking part in a ritualistic sacrifice, or perhaps a stag party that goes horribly wrong. The alternative ending is based around a longer conversation that David has with the ‘Lazy Engineer’ on the planet. There are no subtitles during this dialogue so what they are saying is anyone’s guess, though, clearly, ‘Why does Mike from Neighbours look like a mechanised raisin?’ is probably a good guess. David explains to Shaw that the engineers come from ‘Paradise’, which serves to illustrate that they probably also invented sarcasm and/or some parts of East Lancashire.
The other scenes serve to highlight the crew’s dysfunctional personalities. Holloway becomes even more of a penis, which is quite an impressive feat and makes me wonder if the character was more a response to a dare than an attempt to fulfil some kind of narrative objective. Captain Janek, on the other hand, seems to have a weird habit of wandering around the ship visiting the ladies’ quarters to tell them stories about military testing facilities. This possible seduction routine seems to have a 50/50 success rate, which is quite surprising.
One scene that I thought did add something to the plot – or at least helped to explain a character’s actions – was the biologist getting excited upon discovering some space worms. This makes the later scene where he re-unites with a larger, meaner space worm easier to swallow. Though, sadly, not for him, *titter*. There’s also a scene where the future’s worst scientists find some dried alien skin, which is a nice little nod to the rest of the series. All in all, these two scenes amount to just under 2 minutes of screen time, so, unless there’s a vault of alternative footage somewhere, you probably shouldn’t worry about double dipping on a future director’s cut.
Scott on the rocks…
Through interviews and footage we see that most of Ridley’s meetings are accompanied by wine. We also find out that two of the most unpopular decisions: the look of the engineers and the rolling spacecraft at the end, come from Scott. I’m not saying the two facts are related, but I’ve made far worse decisions than revealing one of Prometheus’ characters isn’t ‘a turner’, and that the engineers are more like Renaissance tributes to Telly Savalas than elephantine space giants, on less wine than Sir Ridley is seen consuming in his pre-production meetings.
Jon Spaihts probably doesn’t like Damon Lindelof…
Original writer Spaihts worked on the film for nine-months, meeting with concept artists, visiting the set – even making a little board game to help him construct the story. So he was understandably a little peeved to find that they were dialling back some of his input to make way for a fresh approach. What is even more surprising is that it was allegedly the studio’s idea to make Prometheus more of a thematic relation to Alien than a direct prequel. Then again, the lessons taught by Aliens versus Predator are not easy to forget. Damn you, Aliens versus Predator.
H.R. Giger probably doesn’t like Ridley Scott…
When you’re responsible for birthing one of the most iconic cinema creations of the twentieth century, you could get a little too used to the feel of laurels under your back. So when His Royal Giger got the call that his input was needed on the return to the Alien universe it appears he grabbed the nearest biro and recreated some of his mainstays: aliens with horrible knob mouths, creepy vagina chasms and spooky space cocks. Unfortunately for H.R., he took a bit too long so they found a suitable replacement in a mysterious artist from Russia who expanded on similar themes (2 spooky space cocks!). ‘Gutalin’ allegedly had to have his 13-year old daughter translate for him, which must have led to a few interesting conversations around the breakfast table.
The world’s worst idea…
On Prometheus it is revealed that at one point there was an idea to link the universes of Blade Runner and Alien. Can you imagine Deckard chasing aliens? No. It’s a stupid idea. Fuck it to hell.
Prometheus remains an enjoyable voyage into science fiction that stimulates the eyeballs more than it troubles the intellect. If you’re looking for ‘answers’ to some of the narrative questions then you probably won’t find them here. If, however, you’re looking for a comprehensive document of how one would go about creating such a voyage, whilst enraging film fans on the internet, or are just looking for a place to allocate blame, then you should probably go and buy the shit out of it right now.
It seems to be some kind of large metaphor…
If there’s one thing that can be gleaned from Ridley Scott’s Prometheus it’s that following in the footsteps of gods isn’t a very good idea. Not only would that have spared the crew of the titular spacecraft such indignities as being crushed by a giant space donut, oral violation by a space cobra, or dressing up like a cross between Robocop and one of Hugh Hefner’s testes, but it would also have saved these punishments being doled out to writer Damon Lindelof on Twitter and internet message boards.
Clearly Lindelof is in awe of Scott. And who wouldn’t be? I imagine their first meeting was a bit like the end of Back the Future: Lindelof sat in his house trying to crack the story of More Cowboys and More Aliens, or trying to figure out what LOST was all about, when suddenly Ridley Scott appears behind the wheel of the nearest real-life incarnation to a flying time travelling DeLorean and asks for help returning to the Alien universe. Only a fool would pass that chance up – especially when the alternative is to find thematic and narrative sense in LOST, or over-think a film about Cowboys and Aliens twatting each other.
But the metaphorical goo-mutated snake that is being force fed to Lindelof seems a little harsh to me. In exploring the secrets of the universe he’s managed to uncover the one great truth: humans are fucking stupid and probably deserve to travel halfway across the galaxy only to be punched across a room by a giant wax bodybuilding space scientist. People can complain about a biologist who’s terrified of what is, in essence, the remnants of an interstellar KFC variety bucket one minute, only to play grab ass with a space vagina the next, but they’re missing the clues that are spelled out from the very beginning of the film…
Prometheus opens with a supposedly advanced alien life form walking through what appears to be a typical Northumbrian summer wearing nothing but a brown curtain and a nappy. He walks up to a giant dangerous waterfall and finds an equally enlarged poisoned Rolo, which he precedes to eat. He is then surprised to find that eating food left precariously on the edge of a giant waterfall is a bad idea and falls to his doom. Sadly – in a tragic display of prescience – this leads to the creation of the human race.
From there we meet his descendants: a plucky Christian scientist (uh oh) and a handsome man wearing a silly hat. They discover a piece of ancient space art which is enough to convince a mechanical prune who resembles Guy Pearce to fund their interstellar expedition to meet the artist on his not-at-all-ill-named spacecraft Prometheus. It’s a bit like naming your cruise ship ‘Spirit of Titanic’, or your child ‘Gaddafi Hitler’ and expecting shit to be Bisto.
Similarly, the approach to the mission itself is not unlike our descendants finding a piece of graffiti in an entombed urinal that suggests you should call ‘Dave’ for ‘a good time’, only to travel thousands of miles at great expense to find that not only is a hibernating Dave not up for ‘a good time’, but he’s also pretty pissed off that someone once suggested he was. It’s worth pointing out that one crew-member does describe this plan as ‘bullshit’, but he’s also a geologist who later manages to get lost in a straight cave made of stone. I would say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks, but he probably wouldn’t understand that, or the word ‘rock’.
Anyway, from there we are presented with behavioural patterns that appear to have been plotted with a broken Spirograph. Much has been made of the scientists taking their helmets off in an unknown alien climate, the aforementioned snake petting, opening the door to the missing geologist who’s about four-foot shorter with a head like a balloon and yellow eyes and my personal favourite: the scientist who throws his toys out of the pram when he finds out that the aliens are unable to high-five him, despite the fact that he has made the most significant discovery in the history of the human race – save for the Northumbrian waterfall Rolo that opened the film.
Clearly neither Scott nor Lindelof are dumb; in fact I’d say that they’re both very intelligent, which suggests that these plot holes and leaps in logic – not to mention the additional meta-displays of idiocy that come from the filmmakers – intentionally serve to highlight the one character who displays slightly more rational thought and intelligence than all the other characters combined: Michael Fassbender’s charming android David.
Through strange physical quirks David brings an arch-awareness and relatable humanity that’s curiously absent in every other area of the film. While much has been made of the deleted footage from Prometheus, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a large part of it consisting of David uploading footage from the crew’s helmet cams to YouTube for LOLs. It’s not uncommon ground for Scott: Bladerunner’s most overt displays of humanity came from the artificial replicants and not from the ‘humans’ themselves.
While I’m not going to suggest Prometheus is a worthy companion to what is officially recognised as the second best film of all time*, I will say that I enjoyed it more than most seemed to, despite the overt flaws – whether intentional or otherwise. It’s a very enjoyable mood-piece, which is probably Scott’s most consistent trait as a director. I only hope that when we regain the adventures of proto-Ripley and her head in a bag, not only have they discovered a little more about the origins of their creators, but they’ve also found a more complete script.
*Note: by me.
- ADVANCED WARFARE (or ‘Stop telling me what to do!’ The videogame)
- hashtag EX3
- Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
- Wake in Fright
- January 2015
- August 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- November 2012
- October 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- June 2009
- May 2009
- March 2009