We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
In 1979, director Ridley Scott made the science-fiction / horror masterpiece Alien. That iconic film created a lucrative and popular movie franchise that included the excellent 1986 sequel Aliens, the less-than excellent Alien3, and the head-scratchingly odd Alien Resurrection. There were also the two spinoff movies pitting the title creatures against the alien hunters from the Predator franchise, none of which generated much excitement within the sci-fi fanbase or among general audiences. None of these sequels were helmed by its original director, but on June 8th, Ridley Scott returns to the franchise that launched his career with Prometheus, which is one of the most anticipated films of the Summer, if not the year.
The basic plot outline of Prometheus seems very similar to the original Alien in that it follows the crew of a large spaceship sent to study alien life who seem to come into contact with a strange, undiscovered life form. As shown in the trailer, things start to go very wrong at some point, but the actual cause of their troubles is unclear. Based on the images we see in the trailer and on the stories of the previous films, we get a good enough grasp of who these characters are that we can guess which of them will earn our sympathies and which will earn our suspicion. Whether these expectations will actually be met will be determined when the film premieres.
Prometheus is a unique entry in the Alien film series in that it does not include the word “Alien” in the title, and aside from some subtle callbacks to the previous films in the series, there is not much in the trailer that makes it apparent to general audiences that it has anything to do with the original Alien. Scott himself has remained extremely tight-lipped about the major details about Prometheus‘ script, co-written by Lost‘s Damon Lindelof, who is no stranger to enigmatic, cryptic narratives. The most information Scott gave during his Q&A session at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con was that the movie takes place “within the universe of Alien,” but he never officially uttered the words “prequel” or “sequel.” A scene from the film was recently released online involving cast member Guy Pearce, revealing that the Weyland Corporation is somehow involved in the plot. Weyland is believed by many fans to be the parent company to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which is the very company that funded the raid on the alien planet in James Cameron’s Aliens. As we learned in that film, Weyland-Yutani had some rather sinister intentions for the title creatures, and Pearce’s lines in the scene promising a bright new future for the human race may in fact have something to do with the company’s actions in that film, which we are led to believe takes place after the events of Prometheus.
Secrets and internet rumors aside, Prometheus promises to be a return to the kind of smart, atmospheric sci-fi that made the original Alien such a classic and that none of the sequels effectively duplicated. It’s fitting that Scott, whose most recent film offerings have been both critically and commercially underwhelming, would find inspiration in the kind of film that made him famous in the first place, and it is equally fitting that he would be the one to bring the franchise back to its creepy, cerebral roots. The special effects in the trailer look amazing, and the ensemble cast, which includes Charlize Theron, Idris Alba, Michael Fassbender, and Noomi Rapace, is quite impressive. None of us know just what sort of connection this story will have to the original Alien and its successors, but the curiosity and interest that Scott and his co-creators have instilled in movie fans will no doubt make Prometheus one of the biggest hits of the Summer.