Welcome to The Full Article, where we here at Movieville go through a film piece by piece, to make sure that you, our glorious readers, get the most out of the films you love. The idea of this is to not just review a film and give a star rating, giving you indication on whether to flock to a film in droves or avoid like the plague, but to analyse, and study a film in its entirety. This will give a greater depth to our reviews, exploring in which ways films work or don’t work, how people viewed them, received them, and how the product came to life.
This Full Article is on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the film with mixed reviews, an excessive marketing campaign and the record for most pre-sold IMAX tickets.
First of all, Prometheus brought the hype. It was the return of director Ridley Scott to Sci-fi after 30 years, the genre which he redefined with Blade Runner (1982) and most importantly, Alien (1979). It was also the glorious return of the Alien franchise, which fell short with a third and fourth instalment, and spin off crossovers (personally, I think Fincher’s Alien 3 is extremely underrated, but that’s another story). This is where the problem starts, where the seeds of mixed reviews were started.
In 2002 the wheels started turning at Fox for a fifth instalment in the Alien Franchise, humorously dubbed ‘More Aliens’ through forums of unimpressed film lovers. Ridley Scott, James Cameron and The franchise’s lead Sigourney Weaver all expressed interest in the idea of another Alien film, with Cameron working with a writer on the possible project, but Fox went and did something very silly, and commissioned Alien Vs. Predator (2004). Cameron felt that this would ruin the credibility of the franchise, and stopped development shortly after that. In 2009 Fox reported that they were ‘rebooting’ the Alien Franchise, rather than continuing after the muddled Alien: Resurrection (1997). Development was stalled very quickly however, as Ridley Scott had pushed for former commercial director Carl Erik Rinsch to head the film’s production instead of himself, which Fox were not happy with. They expressed that they were only interested if Scott himself directed the film, and by July 2009, he was on board, with John Spaihts as writer. Later, Damon Lindelof (co-creator of Lost) was brought in to re-write the script, to make it a more original piece. This is one of the reasons why Prometheus received such mixed reviews, the writing, and we will get back to this later on.
After the script was reworked and made into a standalone film, there was a great attempt to distance it from being an Alien prequel, with Scott and Lindelof publically stating that it had the DNA of an Alien film, but was its own product, to which Fox’s marketing campaign went right against, and fed the misconception that it was the beginning of the franchise.
Here’s where it gets interesting, on December 22nd 2011, the first teaser was released, reminiscent of the infamous trailer for Alien, in fact, close to identical. The sounds, the editing, the style, everyone who saw that trailer had to wait for months excited as hell. But because of this teaser trailer, everyone forgot about Scott and Lindelof’s promises of an original story in the Alien universe, and instead geared up to watch Alien Begins. The trailer was so well received, twitter and the rest of the web went nuts, and thus Fox continued down this route, and thus reinforced what could be seen as one of the main reasons people weren’t impressed with the end result. We were then treated to an abundance of viral videos, including Peter Weyland, which as many of you will know owns the Weyland corporation, which sent the Nostromo into film history in Alien. If they wanted this to be a unique story in the same universe, the marketing campaign should have reflected this. But the problem with the whole situation is that its main purpose is to get as many people buying the tickets to the film, and the best way to do so is to capitalise on the success of the first, people love familiarity it would seem! So, we end up with high hopes ready to see an Alien prequel, and instead are given.... a film that had the DNA of an Alien film, but was its own product.
No surprises then when people left the cinema confused, expecting to have their questions answered regarding the origin of species in the Alien universe, and were instead greeted with a load more questions than answers. And this is where I go back to the writing of the film. Written by the co-creator of Lost, who stated that it was a film that had the DNA of an Alien film, but was its own product, how did anyone go into the cinema expecting anything less than unanswered questions?! But, not everyone out there is a hoarder of film knowledge, desperate for more points in the film category in a pub quiz, and instead, get their knowledge of what a film is going to be like from the adverts. So if we are looking closer at what lead Prometheus to become the product it did, it is money, and by breaking records with IMAX presale tickets, who’s to say it didn’t succeed?
Prometheus is still out at cinemas, and regardless of how it’s been received, I seriously recommend it, a beautiful, and unique Sci-Fi which feels like the awkward brother to Alien, replacing the claustrophobia with the sheer scale of space and our beginnings.