Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus is be set in the same universe as his classic sci-fi/horror movie Alien.  Beyond that, the film seems to be a bit of an enigma.

Unlike a lot of trailers that give you a clue of what the movie will be about, the first trailer for Prometheus tells us very little, except: “They went looking for our beginning, what they found could be our end.”  The advance press material describes the film as “A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”  This alone sounds like an old, B-movie, sci-fi pitch, so I, and I am sure countless fans of Alien and Aliens, are hoping this movie ends up to be a lot more.  If the first trailer is any indication, this feels more like Alien 3, Ghosts of Mars, Event Horizon, or Predator 2, each of which had a few good points, but for a Ridley Scott follow-on to Alien, and from the director of Blade Runner, expectations are, and should be, high.  Here is the first trailer released:

A trailer’s sole job is getting us to change our behavior–getting us to decide to pay money to go see it–and not just decide to wait until it shows up on video, or worse, wait until it makes it later to a cable network.  One of the worst sci-fi films ever was Solar Crisis.  It was billed to the effect of being from one of the creators of Star Wars, in hindsight it must have been someone like the caterer, but that Star Wars reference got folks to the opening weekend.  Since then I have scrutinized every trailer I see.

How big will Charlize Theron's role be in Prometheus?

The website  www.prometheus-movie.com (possibly an official fan site?) shares a little more information about the plot of Prometheus:

“Little is known about Prometheus’ plotline. But what we can share with you is that the film is set in space for the most part. Similar to that of “ALIEN”; the jumping off point to this project. The film’s name “Prometheus” is that of the space vessel, used by a crew of select individuals who set off to explore and investigate fragments of “Alien DNA”.  The film itself revolves around the Space Jockey creature; as seen in the original film ALIEN (1979). When the team of scientists embark on this journey, they get stranded on an Alien world which tests their limits; both mental and physical.  Prometheus is also largely based on the creation of mankind, life and the Earth. From the recent synopsis publicly released by 20th Century Fox, we can determine roughly that Prometheus involves a team of scientists, “The Company” representatives and robot / synthetics which investigate and search for keys to unlock man’s ultimate mystery. But in the process, they threaten the future existence of mankind and are faced with unimaginable horrors.  The Aliens themselves are said to be much larger than the original “Xenomorphs” we are used to. However, their overall construction will be easily noticable to that of the original Alien canon.  Prometheus will be much more than just an Alien sci-fi horror. Ridley Scott is digging deeper for this project and Prometheus will unlock many questions and will touch on many aspects of life and existence. A true masterpiece.”

Nostromo crew observing creature piloting artist H.R. Giger's "Space Jockey" ship in Alien, an early victim of the xenomorphs

Huh?  I think the production for Prometheus needs to work on its marketing a bit.  So this is supposed to be kind of a “deep” movie, like 2001: A Space Odyssey was supposed to be?  Are they really trying to sell this through claiming bigger aliens?  And telling us it’s a “true masterpiece” in advance is kind of weak –I guess I just think they could do a lot better to try to sell us on this one.  Not that we’re looking for spoilers here.  Interviews Ridley Scott has given to the press so far have seemed cryptic, too, seemingly trying to tell us it is only somehow related to the Alien universe, but emphatic that it’s not a prequel.  When you have a big-name star like Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (who was awesome in sci-fi previously as the star of Aeon Flux), and fan favorites and up-and-coming names like Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) and Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise), why not show us more of them?  That said, if the actors are going to get drowned out behind the action and effects, then thanks for letting us know upfront.

Cast of Prometheus, seen very little in the new trailer

I still count myself among several that believe the movie Aliens improved on Alien.  I realize loyal Alien fans strongly disagree.  I also loved the pairing of the “xenomorphs” from the Alien franchise with the Nausicaan-looking creatures of the Predator franchise, both in comic books and on film in the movie Aliens vs. Predator (not a great flick, but still a lot of fun).

You can’t judge a movie until you see it, and often good movies follow stale trailers (and vice versa!), so let’s just hope the next trailer, and more importantly the movie itself, delivers what fans are after:  a solid and exciting story, innovative setting and solid acting, more of Alien and Blade Runner, and not another Predator 2, Aliens 3, or Alien: ResurrectionPrometheus is scheduled to premier June 8, 2012.

 

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