I heard the new Ridley Scott film Prometheus is sort of a prequel to that other seminal Scott film Alien but will supposedly “explore its own mythology and ideas”. That’s just as well considering that what made Alien so great was in the way the nature of the beastly alien after which the movie was titled was artfully revealed to its 1979 audience who for the first time beholds not little green men, Klingons or Chewbacca, but a gross-out parasitical organism that gestates inside a living human before bursting out of its host’s chest cavity in a spectacular explosion of blood and gore.
The premise of Prometheus doesn’t sound quite as original as Alien must have come across in 1979 though…
In the late 21st century, a star map is discovered within the archeological imagery of several otherwise unconnected cultures, which includes the Aztec, Mesopotamian and Magdalenian civilizations. The crew of the spaceship Prometheus is sent on a scientific expedition to follow the map as part of a mission to find the origins of humanity. Exploring the advanced civilization of an extraterrestrial race, they soon face a threat to humanity’s very existence.
…which sounds a bit like the premise of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate.
For me personally, the more notable common denominator amongst the great Ridley Scott movies is their humanoid automaton characters (often called androids — for those born before 1995, the term is not to be confiused with the Google-owned mobile device OS). The Alien franchise terms them “artificials” and the characters were given life by the exquisite performance of actors Ian Holm who played the artificial named Ash in Alien and Lance Henriksen who played the artificial named Bishop in Aliens.
That other seminal Scott movie Blade Runner was, of course, all about artificials — called replicants in the film — played by an excellent team which included Rutger Hauer, Daryll Hannah, and Joanna Cassidy.
In Prometheus Michael Fassbender steps into big shoes to play David, the most recent incarnation of Scott’s illustrious line of humanoid automaton characters. Fassbender describes his rendition of a Scott artificial as one who is “somewhat child-like” and is “jealous and arrogant because he realizes that his knowledge is all-encompassing and therefore he is superior to the humans”.
Whether the new mythology or ideas Scott will be “exploring” in Prometheus will be as groundbreaking as the premises of his previous classics is anybody’s guess for now. The trailers didn’t give all that much of a lasting impression as scenes of whiz-bang space ships landing on alien landscapes have pretty much become a commodity in today’s CGI-enabled sci-fi movie portfolio.