The story of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus might be one of the most frustrating in cinema’s recent history. Obviously, I don’t mean the narrative of the film, but the movie’s production itself. While we’ve had a few hints about actual plot details, that may or may not be true, it’s been mostly described by what it supposedly isn’t: a prequel to the 1970s classic Alien. The movie that pretty much created the sci-fi horror genre, like Zeus pulling Athena out of his head.
This refusal to call a Xenomorph a Xenomorph feels like the most public case of self-denial a filmmaker has ever had*, and mainly because it persists even after we’ve had significant evidence that whatever happens in this story, it will likely dovetail perfectly into Scott’s original masterpiece. Honestly, after both the teasersand the trailer utilized the Alien font/title reveal and showcased the exact same ship and the exact same pilot (of that exact same ship) as the one that plays a pivotal role in the Alien(s) mythology, it kind of feels like Ridley Scott thinks we’re all bloody idiots. Not just for making the connections that are plain for any fan of the first movie to see, but mostly for wanting to make the connections. And the trend seems to be continuing with a new video that reveals Guy Pearce’s previously unknown character as the most blatant tie between the new movie and the old.
What follows is a very special look into the not-too-distant future of 2023, where Guy Pearce addresses the crowd at TED as his Prometheus character… Peter Weyland. Of Weyland Industries, and according to Alien lore, the first part of the eventual Weyland-Yutani corporation that kept sending Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley to the desolate planet that housed the only known alien hatchery in the galaxy. Ridley Scott didn’t direct the piece, but he did “oversee” it and previously had this to say about the movie, specifically Pearce’s character:
“When the first Alien movie and Blade Runner were made, I thought that in the near future the world will be owned by large companies. This is why we have the Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner, and Weyland-Yutani in Alien. They sent the Nostromo spaceship. The Prometheus is owned by an entrepreneur called Peter Weyland, and is played by Guy Pearce. That’s the connection between the two films, and nothing more. Prometheus is a new film, a new world, and is full of new ideas. And of course new monsters as well.”
The emphasis was mine, and I believe Scott when he says that Prometheus is a whole new film whose enjoyment is not predicated upon knowing jack or shit about Alien. But the insistence that the movies aren’t obviously going to be indelibly intertwined, possibly so that knowledge of both will increase the appreciation of either, is just laughable. Well, it would be if it weren’t so frustrating. Here’s the video, see for yourself:
Don’t get me wrong, I think that was fan-fucking-tastic, and I can’t wait to see Prometheus in the theater; possibly even in 3D. I’m even more pumped for the movie than I was after the trailer, and not least of which because 2012 now seems like it might hold some sort of Guy Pearce renaissance. I just don’t understand why we can’t call this an Alien movie now. No matter how often the director denies it, the movie itself appears to be begging for the kinship. And, besides, wouldn’t more people go see a “new Alien movie” over a “new Ridley Scott movie?” That Gladiator is still his top grossing feature would seem to suggest as much.
So stop being afraid of the obvious, Mr. Ridley. The word “prequel” only has as much power, and negative connotation, as you give it.
* Okay, fair enough, Zack Snyder’s inability to see the sexism in Sucker Punch, or Mel Gibson’s staunch belief that Passion of the Christ contained absolutely zero antisemitism, or George Lucas’ claim that Han never actually shot first, nuh-uh!, might top it. Probably all three.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He doesn’t really care what Ridley Scott says, as long as Prometheus is even half as amazing as it looks.