“In space no one can hear you make prequel movies” Prometheus Movie Review

Okay, like a month late on watching this, but that’s what I get for actually caring about graduating.

Let me first say that before this month, I never even gave the Alien movie franchise a second glance and pretty much grouped it along with the other franchises of Hollywood’s past that got run into the ground after one too many sequels.

Thankfully, impulse buys were able to slightly change my stance on the franchise (seriously, $30 for the quadrilogy on Blu-Ray is just too good a deal to pass up). My opinions are essentially the same as most I’ve heard: Alien redefined the genre of sci-fi; Aliens took a different route than I woulda have expected, but was equally good (and served as a good precursor to Terminator 2, who previously directed Aliens); Alien 3 just put me in a bad mood due to its overall crappiness; and I never even followed up with Resurrection since I didn’t want to be in too bad a mood for Prometheus. Still, an overall solid series that deserves its position in American film and pop culture (where would Freeza be without it?).

So a good 10+ years since the last sequel, I guess it was only inevitable that Hollywood would want to dip back into their old ideas with something of a prequel in Prometheus. The plot starts in the not-so-distant future of 2089, where archaeologists have found an odd link between multiple ancient artifacts from unrelated cultures—a depiction of a tall figure pointing towards circles in the sky. The archaeologists interpret the coincidence as an invitation from the race that preceded humans, and with some funding from Weyland Corp, a voyage to the star system depicted in those drawings from civilizations past is a go (with quite the diverse crew, might I add). But, as commonplace in sci-fi movies, nothing is as it seems, and things start going awry when the crew finds that the life they’re looking for may not be as hospitable as initially thought.

At its core, the setup of a crew of space explorers with good intentions only to be killed off one by one is pretty much what the first Alien movie was, too, but it makes for an instance of a good rehash that takes all positive influence from its predecessor without sticking too closely to its source material. For example, the deal with Weyland Corp, a group that pops up a number of times throughout the older movies without much backstory to them, is finally given something of a history that isn’t just “we wanna put people’s lives at risk for the sake of alien exploration” and advances the plot forward without merely serving as lip service to fans of the old series. Similarly, the claustrophobic sweaty visuals from the older movies are back in full force, taking classic cues and using them to the fullest here for a good horror-type of feel. You’re also given an equally large and quirky team in charge of the operation that makes sure that you find at least one person to root for to survive through all the nonsense thrown at them (the ship’s Captain and his two mates are the best characters in the movie; just saying). As a whole, Prometheus just does an excellent job of taking the themes present in the first Alien but taking enough of a different spin on them to be set apart from the franchise.

…though I will say in terms of use of sex / sex appeal in females, Prometheus takes something of an opposite approach than its forefathers did. The Alien movies, especially the first one, wasn’t afraid to be blatant with their use of sexual imagery, from the shape of the alien and the ship, to how main lead Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was portrayed, especially by the movie’s finale. To have such imagery in something as mainstream as a Hollywood sci-fi movie seems so contrary to what would one would expect, but it worked. Compare that to how Prometheus took character Shaw (Noomi Rapace) who starts off as something resembling a cute, bright-eyed archaeologist in hopes of finding new life only to transform into (not literally, and without spoiling anything) something disgusting to the point that when she strips off her clothes you honestly wish she’d put them back on. It’s an equally unorthodox approach to a female lead, but it works just as well.

As the movie’s release approached, one particular thing I was wondering about was just exactly how much from the previous films would Prometheus be using as a crutch—something like a shout-out to the older works that in the case of a crappy movie would at least get the fanboys on the edges of their seats. Thankfully, no cues from previous movies were used in any way to make up for the film’s lacking. Though that’s not to say that the film tried so hard to go out of its way to work as a separate franchise altogether. On the contrary, the film works as something that takes place in the same universe as the prior films, but doesn’t rely on anything from them as a crutch in the slightest. You see things like similar species of alien with acid for blood, robot helpers that look like humans, and even straightup designs from movies past, but never are they used as an attempt to take away from what the movie itself has to offer.

It’s a rare case of a spinoff taking place in the same universe as its past works and combining the right mix of old and new to make something enjoyable for everyone that’s a fan of the genre as a whole.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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