So can the director for arguably one of, if not the, finest thriller in film history deliver at the same level 30 years later in a prequel to the original? Ridley Scott, Prometheus and Alien are the variables involved in this question. My answer would be that after a first viewing, Scott has created a wonderful, bordering on excellent film in Prometheus. However, I think history will show that Prometheus is not the same caliber film as Alien. But then, how could anyone honestly expect such a result.
Now that the comparison to the standard bearer is out of the way, lets talk about Prometheus on its own merits. Prometheus is a entertaining, fast paced and engaging science fiction film. Its staging and acting by its leads is as good as any film can provide.
I am on record as disliking Computer Graphic Imaging (CGI) simply for the sake of doing so. Scott uses CGI to great effect in Prometheus – simply because it is used to supplement and enhance the story. Many could learn from its application. When watching Prometheus the phrase moving art seems more applicable than film, movie or flick.
Noomi Rapace (Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows) as Elizabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Bastards, A Dangerous Method) as David deliver standout lead performances. Rapace plays a Shaw who is idealistic and vulnerable but learns she has tremendous survivalist skills and uses them in the some of the most pressure-packed scenes imaginable. Fassbender plays a programmed Robot who reaches into the lowest-level of subroutines to leverage uncanny and logical survival techniques when none would seem to be available. Both the roles and performances are extraordinary.
If anything Prometheus feels like a blend of Alien (thriller) and its sequel Aliens (action) that is not quite as effective as each. I believe Alien and Aliens might be the best one-two combo in film history, in that they were very different, but equally effective in approach.
To use a baseball metaphor, Prometheus is a World-Series championship caliber film. whereas Alien won the World-Series with a seventh game walk-off Home Run hit into the light tower.
Take in the remastered version of Alien. Linda and I watch it Tuesday night for preparation. After 32 years, Alien absolutely stands the test of time. The visuals, the story and the acting is simply as good as it gets.
My friend Les Dilley, Art and Set Director (AA Star Wars, AA Raiders of the Lost Ark, AAN Alien, AAN Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back, AAN The Abyss) tells a great story about the Alien coming out of John Hurt’s stomach. The reason the actors expression of surprise looks so real? They did not know it was coming out! Although I could be considered biased, Alien and The Abyss are the two of the best staged films ever. I felt that long before I ever met Les (one of the most humble guys you could ever meet).