Thursday, 7 June 2012


Well it's been a week since Prometheus landed Ridley Scott's return not only to the Alien franchise but to science fiction. The film not unlike George Lucas's return to the Star Wars universe has seen some frenzied fanboy action who've been waiting 30ish years for Ridley to get back to the future.

Thirty years that's plenty of time for people's ideas and beliefs about a film, and what a film should be to become quite ingrained. Even Scott who was responsible for so much of what we would expect from any film connected to the Alien franchise would have a mountain of expectation to climb. Despite Scott being the drive behind Prometheus, as he appeared haunted by the hollow eyes of the 'space jockey' and its role in the creation of the xenomorph.

As Scott is drive behind Prometheus it's only natural that his influences and sensibilities' will show through. What do I know about his influences? Well I believe that one of those influences to be the work of Moebius and comics like Metal Hurlant. From the opening 'sacrifice' scene where a unidentified alien destroys himself leaving bits of its DNA all a familiar looking landscape, before skipping millennia to a group of futuristic archaeologists. Somewhere around this point I wondered if I was watching a live action version of a Moebius strip. It seemed that Prometheus would be a grandiose, sometimes queasy, mixture of ancient mythologies and futurism often found in comics of the 70's.

Like these comics, Prometheus is a bit of a fantastic mess. It has plot holes that you could fly the Nostromo through. It also has several competing plot strands; this element invoked a comparison with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. Mulholland Drive being an unmade TV series mushed into a film leaving a few stories untold. Of course Scott's films aren't always celebrated for their plots. The film seems to breeze through characters, or does it? Comparisons between the crew of the Prometheus and Nostromo can be drawn, though the crew of the Prometheus are meeting for the first time and therefore don't have the shared experiences and the petty grievances of the Nostromo crew.

The exception would be Fassbender's David who is pretty much the focus of the film and thanks to the behaviour of pervious androids (expect Bishop) we know that androids are sneaky and not on your side. Preferring to tow the company line and admiring the alien. Having an android at the centre of the film does invite comparisons with Blade Runner, though the androids in Blade Runner are much nobler then the ones in Scott's Alien universe. In both films androids have disappointing encounters with their creators.

All that aside what has Prometheus brought to the Alien franchise. For me it has brought of back a sense of Freudian unease to the alien. When characters become infected by the alien there is an undercurrent of a sexual act being forced upon them. The character of Shaw herself is infected through 'normal' sex in the ultimate corruption of human reproduction. This corruption of reproduction and therefor a corruption of humanity lies at the core of what makes the alien scary. Killing you out right isn't enough, especially if it can infect you and force you into becoming the genesis of some other vile creature. You can see my point when you are confronted with the possibility of giving birth to a squid baby, a squid baby that has eyes that shoot tentacles.

Prometheus is uneven, but it is ambitious and tries to deal with everything from the parent/child bond to the ultimate question of why are we here. Maybe not successfully but after a week I'm still thinking about it where with some blockbusters I've forgotten them on the walk home.

PS. I saw it in 2D.

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