If you follow the development of major motion pictures, you may know that "Prometheus" was first conceived as an unambiguous prequel to "Alien." After a time, director Ridley Scott decided this wasn't a good idea, so he gave an already-written script to Damon Lindelof for a thorough revision.
We'll never know why decided against making it an official prequel, though it might be that since "Aliens" followed "Alien" he'd have to call this new one "Alie." And that would just look weird.
As filming progressed, it was admitted that "Prometheus" was in the shared universe with "Alien." Now that I've seen the film, I'm here to tell you this is all needless jibber-jabber. There are similarities with the "Alien" films both big and small and, luckily, I was paying close enough attention that I can share them with you now.
Warning: Below are spoilers that will enter your system and burst out of your chest.
Before Bishop, Before Ash
One of the best surprises in "Alien" is the revelation that Ian Holm's character Ash is a robot. (And an evil robot at that!) James Cameron's follow-up "Aliens" featured Lance Henriksen's on-board A.I. named Bishop.
Bishop's identity isn't kept from us, indeed we open up with his inhuman dexterity with a knife. Similarly the opening scenes of "Prometheus" introduce us to Michael Fassbender's David, an eerily perfect, slightly threatening and fastidious caretaker/language expert/cinephile. You never knew a robot could be this blonde.
As the crew spends two years in cryogenic stasis (much like they did in "Alien" and Sigourney Weaver's Ripley did in between the next two films) David prepares himself for the forthcoming mission.
During a spookily-shot montage we see him riding a bike around a gym, making trick shots with a basketball. You might think this is nothing, but three other colleagues besides myself saw this as a direct homage to Weaver's defiant basketball pwnage in "Alien Resurrection."
Visual Similarities Over Easy
Once the crew wakes up, they do just like we all do: vomit from nervous system trauma and then have breakfast.
The breakfast scene in "Prometheus" serves the same function as the one in "Alien." It is an opportunity to suss out the collected characters and observe them interact in a low-key setting. The gag is that it looks EXACTLY like "Alien." The room is designed the same and the camera make near-identical slow swoops from afar using long lenses. When Sean Harris starts complaining about his wages, just as Yaphet Kotto did in "Alien," you have to wonder if maybe the homage is going a bit too far.
MILF – Mom I'd Like To Fly (With)
In "Alien" the on-board ship computer is called "mother." (It's spelled MU-TH-UR which I'm sure is an acronym for something but I'll leave it to fanfic authors to fill us in.)
There's no "mother" on Prometheus, but when David addresses the corporate boss of the expedition, Charlize Theron's Meredith Vickers, he calls her ma'am. Now, despite the fact that every good Briton knows that it's "ma'am as in ham, not ma'am as in palm," she STILL pronounces it "ma'am as in palm." Plus he gives it a special spin to make it basically sound like he's almost calling her "mum." There's no way for longtime "Alien" fans not to notice this and wonder...
Building Better Worlds
It is soon discovered that David's true allegiance is to the corporate outfit that is funding the Prometheus' scientific exploration. That company is run by Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce in some ridiculous old age makeup.
Those of you with sharp memories will remember the printed-but-not-stated name of "the Company" in the other films being the "Weyland-Yutani Corporation." (It could be you are recalling the name from geek chic T-shirts, too.)
During an exposition hologram you'll even see the same tagline "building better worlds." You may not notice it, though, because there's also an adorable dog in that scene.
"Prometheus" is all about mankind's desire to speak to his creator. Our lead scientist, played by Noomi Rapace, is convinced that we've been seeded by aliens who live on LV-223. (Not to be confused with LV-426 from the other films, but the fact that they are both LVs is another similarity.) We first see them as holographic projections and later as giant Karloff-esque blue guys. However, when they wear their spacesuits, they look an awful lot like the guy discovered in the derelict ship sending the distress transmission – the guy fans have been calling the Space Jockey for years.
At the end of the film there's a money shot. A gun emerges with a seat that's identical to the one in the other film. Everybody goes "yay!"
Lots of people get killed in "Prometheus," but not by those nightmarish, black creatures with the elongated heads and projecting chompers. Heck, they're not even in the movie. Until the VERY LAST SHOT.
How it gets there, and, more importantly, why it gets there is something movie goers will be arguing about until the "Prometheus" sequel.
The Strong Female Lead
Another seldom seen creature is found in both the "Alien" films and "Prometheus" - an intelligent, strong and forthright woman central character.
Think that is too vague to be included in a list of similarities between these films? You clearly aren't watching enough big budget Hollywood movies then, are you?
But before you go telling your pamphlet-distributing aunt to go see this flick, know that "Prometheus" is just like "Alien" in its readiness to leer at its female lead as it runs in terror wearing thin white underpants.
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