Big Things Have Small Beginnings: Prometheus In Retrospect

Ridley Scott's Prometheus crashed into theaters in 2012 and divided hardcore Alien fans somewhere down the middle. Some loved it. Others despised it. 

As the hype machine built up to a massive crescendo with the movie's release, many loyalists didn't know exactly what to make of the feature. Scott had said the film was not a direct prequel but existed in the same universe as our favorite space heroine, Ellen Ripley. The strange construct of the movie's plot was torn to shreds by people on both sides of the aisle. Even apologists take issue with a narrative that allows extremely smart people to make really bad decisions repeatedly. As beautiful as the visual elements are, many flaws were apparent and the internet became a wretched place where a battle was fought over Scott's way of adding newer, more underhanded religious tones to a series that was always about action and the horrifying acid bleeding xenomorph. Did audiences need more questions answered? And did Prometheus open up too many new doors that would lead to nowhere? One of the most problematic things about the feature was the failure to close those gaps. 

Having recently seen Alien:Covenant, Prometheus becomes a more succinct chapter in the Alien saga. Scott's creative directives become more clear and it also seems likelier that he had a major shift in focus between the two entries. Fans were not happy. So, Scott would try to satisfy them in any way he could, even going as far as to apologize for the movie. Where Prometheus shows his struggle to start anew with a broader spectrum that would entangle the Engineers and a creationist plot into the long game, Covenant seems like Scott was more or less trying to please the fans with another prequel that would satiate their thirst for their long lost acid bleeding friend. While I'm not here to review the latest entry, I'd be amiss in not stating that Prometheus is for all intents and purposes, the far better film. It looks better. It sounds better. And the script actually takes chances. In time, more people will begin to revere the dynamic changes that were made to take focus off the past and place it more firmly on the movie at hand. 

Remembered the Jello shots
but forgot the fishing rod. Damn it.
Time to destroy some humans. 

Upon a recent viewing, it became clearer. Despite the poorly written motives of many crew members and the poor decision making that goes on, Prometheus simply doesn't get the respect it deserves. With this prequel, the mythology was getting a denser, much more populated background that was based more in the sci fi expedition elements than the darker horror of his original Alien. Within the confines of the story, Scott pushes many different narratives that not only concentrate on the coldness of space, but show us the corporate structure that would use and abuse any major find of alien life. We're given another solid female hero that selflessly offers herself to a mission as a crew of poor decision makers continue to poke the hornet's nest of doom.

It seems that our expectations are possibly skewed when going into a movie like Prometheus or the upcoming Covenant. The original Alien remains a classic, one which will never be matched. Perhaps, we as viewers should temper the way we enter prequels that come decades later. There will never be another first for this franchise and to expect anything to live up to that level of originality is completely unwarranted. In an age where everything has been done already, Ridley Scott won't be able to out perform himself but at least he has the balls to try, knowing that internet trolls and vitriolic fanboys are going to light him up at every turn.

So, is Prometheus the horrible movie that many remember? Absolutely not. While I've never been a detractor, the problems have always been glaring but still excusable. Watching it again, Scott's vision is much more concise than first thought. The elements of the universe are there but he meticulously originates a brand new mythos within the confines of the macrocosm he'd already visited back in 1979. The dots begin to connect without breaking up or changing too much of what existed before. With Noomi Rapace at the helm, the strong female protagonist remains a focal point without walking on Ripley's legacy. Shaw is at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. Where Ripley was a warrant officer aboard the Nostromo, Elizabeth is a scientist in search for answers. The characters have some minor similarities but both remain potent representations of women in extreme situations that handle themselves against all odds. 

Yes, they have Redtube aboard this vessel.
I shall enjoy this each day of my boring android life. 

Prometheus succeeds on its visual merits alone. Withstanding a script that definitely struggles to maintain focus on the prize, Scott and his team still deliver a worthwhile addition to the Alien storyline that establishes history to fall back on. Will this ever be considered the best? Absolutely not. But it's way better than the thrashing it got from fans and critics. Again, it's a matter of balancing expectations. There are not many cases of a sequel/prequel living up to the overzealous hype of marketing and fan's unrealistic hopes for the second coming of the xenomorph. Prometheus is just about the best we're going to get when revisiting the well for the fifth time. Covenant may try, but having seen the film I can say that many will be disappointed. 

Think what you may. I won't discount your opinion. We're all entitled. But I think Prometheus is a great sci fi spectacle that has an excellent score, great acting, and is stunning to look at.