I was contemplating starting out this post with a fake-out about how a few days’ reflection had caused me to realize that I had been far too hard on Prometheus. This proved to be impossible, because instead of writing I just started imagining how much better this film would have been if I produced a vuvuzela from my purse and played it without ceasing until the final credits rolled.
In all honesty I am marginally concerned that spending a large amount of time (“large amount” being, in this case, any amount of time) thinking about what is truly a hate crime on cinema is having an adverse effect on my health. Yet I soldier on, determined to spread my gospel that Prometheus is a pile of pubes turned into a film by a truly bad wizard’s spell.
#5. IT’S NOT A PREQUEL TO ALIEN, UNLESS IT BENEFITS US SOMEHOW, IN WHICH CASE IT TOTALLY IS AND ALWAYS WAS SHUT UP
In its development phase, Prometheus was described in no uncertain terms as being a prequel to Alien. The original script by Jon Spaihts (entitled Alien: Engineers) was designed to set up the events of the original movie, and even took place on LV-426 – the same planet that the characters explore in the OG Alien. (Also of note: the protagonist of that draft was named Jocelyn! Since my name is Jocelyn, and I have been told by exactly one person who was squinting at the time that I “sort of look like Sigourney Weaver from the side”, this is unmistakably a shout out to me!) At some point along the way (or so Wikipedia tells us), Ridley Scott decided to go in a different direction in order to avoid repeating similar moments from the other Alien films. Now, I had my own idea of how an Alien prequel was going to look*, and I was pretty excited about it (Imagine! A time when I was excited about Prometheus! This is another reason I honestly wish I could send this toilet film to hell), but this is not a bad idea. Prequels are incredibly difficult to execute well. It’s hard to set up the action of a film (especially one made years ago using an entirely different aesthetic) in a way that feels organic and satisfying, or to try to “introduce” antagonists we are already familiar with without reiterating character beats that inevitably lose their impact for familiarity. So when I heard they were going in a different direction – one that was rumored to explore the famous “Space Jockey” character you see in the very beginning of Alien – I thought it was a solid idea and a great way to expand the universe of the franchise.
WOULD YOU IMAGINE THAT THEY FOUND A WAY TO DISAPPOINT ME
Instead of writing an entirely new script that reflected this new direction, they just changed bits of the old script (mostly, it seems, any parts of the script that made the characters not the stupidest and worst people in the world). So it’s a script designed to provide an explanation of how one set of circumstances leads to another set of circumstances, with ALL THE PARTS THAT EXPLAIN HOW THEY’RE LINKED REMOVED. This truly insane decision leads to a series of questions:
- Okay so what who are all these Michael Rapaports? WHO KNOWS
- Did they create humanity? UNCLEAR
- Are they good or evil? YES BUT ALSO POSSIBLY NO
- Okay but that wasn’t a Yes/No question. TRUE
- So wait what is this movie actually about STICKS HAND INTO BAG OF COCAINE AND LICKS IT LIKE A TERRIBLE LOLLIPOP
WHY WOULDN’T YOU JUST WRITE AN ENTIRELY NEW SCRIPT? If you’ve decided that doing a prequel is a zero-sum game, then DON’T DO A PREQUEL. This is like making a grilled cheese sandwich, deciding when it’s in the pan that you don’t want a grilled cheese sandwich, and changing direction by cutting a hole in the middle of the grilled cheese and FILLING IT WITH GARBAGE
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THIS?
If you’re going to do a prequel, then do a prequel. If you’re not, then don’t. You can’t create compelling mythology if you can’t account for why anything is happening, and you can’t do a good film if you’re making STUPID DECISIONS FOR NO REASON
*Okay so I totally thought that Prometheus was going to be about mankind being responsible for creating/releasing the aliens by exposing themselves to the black goo and mutating into them. I am not saying that this would have definitely worked better, but also I am totally saying that. Call me, Hollywood, you bunch of goons! Give all of your dollars to ME!