There are rare times when an upcoming film gets you so worked up, so undeniably jazzed that even the trailer sends a chill down your spine. You check the calendar longingly, counting down to the far-off release date that seems as if it will never come. With science fiction especially, viral marketing offers a tantalizing peek into the world you are so eager to be a part of. The Dark Knight springs to mind, or the side projects that went along with Lost. This year, amidst a sea of thrilling potential hits, that film is Prometheus.
For anyone lucky enough to watch Alien on the big screen, it was a revelation. The scale of fear ranged all over the emotional spectrum -- from uneasy claustrophobia as the crew of the spaceship Nostromo make their way to Earth, shuddering disgust at the reptilian creature that gloms itself onto Kane(John Hurt)’s face, and sheer terror as the alien bursts from his chest. The images from Ridley Scott’s first science fiction film have become so hauntingly iconic, the chestburster is almost synonymous with the word ‘alien’. The meticulous work behind creating extraterrestrials and their world is unparalleled, and the fact that Scott has finally returned to sci-fi horror with Prometheus is almost too much to handle.
The project has been under way in one form or another for years. Scott believed that the Alien sequels (Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection) and prequels (Alien vs. Predator, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) had thinned what he first created. The story told in Prometheus, according to Scott and screenwriters Damon Lindelof (Lost) and Jon Spaihts (The Passenger), takes on even grander themes. Though the film has been cloaked in secrecy, viral marketing and plot details have finally made their way to fans chomping at the bit.
Set in the near future, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, Devil) discover the same star maps in Mesopotamian, Aztec, and Magdalenian ruins. Along with a military and scientific crew (Idris Elba, Luther; Charlize Theron, Young Adult; Rafe Spall, Anonymous; Sean Harris, 24 Hour Party People; Michael Fassbender, Shame), the two embark on a journey across the cosmos on Prometheus, their exploratory space ship.
The trailer reveals a world of incredible scope, jaw-dropping special effects, and that same indescribable suspicion that something is very, very wrong here. Has humanity's time come? “A King has his reign – and then he dies.” Charlie Theron’s voice, combined with a haunting score, reveals the incredible magnitude of the Prometheus. Elizabeth and Holloway explain their plan to the crew, and their hope is achingly tragic. This is a Ridley Scott horror flick, guys. Act accordingly.
Surely enough, the trailer shows that they quickly learn just how wrong they were, with glimpses of ancient alien ruins, unknown life forms, and a ship that makes the Prometheus look like a toy model. Just as the chestburster in Alien redefined our idea of science fiction horror, Prometheus seeks to do the same. The trailer ends with an eerily calm Michael Fassbender as David, who we now know to be the android aboard Prometheus. “Big things come from small beginnings,” he prophesizes, smiling ever so creepily. The android is a prototype to Ash (Ian Holm) and Bishop (lance Henriksen), the androids of Alien and Aliens, no doubt with his own flaws and incentives.
Fassbender’s role was discovered in some of Prometheus’ excellent viral marketing. Besides the titillating trailer, Scott released two short viral videos that successfully piqued the blogosphere’s interest. The first features Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland, founder and head of Weyland Corp. For those keeping score, Weyland Corp is the predecessor to Weyland-Yutani, the evil corporation responsible for the terraforming in Aliens, as well as seeking to study the aliens’ DNA for potential weaponry. Weyland participates in a TED 2023 talk to resounding applause, telling the Greek myth of Titan Prometheus as a metaphor for technology. “At this moment in our civilization, we can create cybernetic individuals who, in just a few short years, will be completely indistinguishable from us, which leads to an obvious conclusion: we are the Gods now.” Weyland Corp, clearly playing with fire, gave out futuristic business cards as the next part of the viral marketing at the WonderCon 2012. The cards redirect to Weyland’s website, and a substantially creepy commercial for David, the new “synthetic being” – Michael Fassbender.
All this information is just what Scott, Lindelof, and Spaihts want us to know. The specifics of the plot have been kept so under wraps that cast members had to sign non-disclosure agreements. Though Prometheus was initially intended to be a prequel to Alien, Scott has downplayed the film’s ties to its predecessor. However the quick-cut flashes of pods (1:37), covered faces (2:00), and a familiar masked creature (2:13) say otherwise. Does that alien look like the dead ‘space jockey’ pilot from Alien to anyone else?! If Prometheus delves into the alien pilot killed in Scott’s original film, this is definitely (secretly) still a prequel.
Despite thousands of unanswered questions, this much is clear: uncovering ancient alien artifacts is almost never a good idea. One can only hope the aftermath is a tenth as good as Alien. After twenty years away from the sci-fi genre, Ridley Scott returns to shake things up once more. For any and all fans of the genre, Prometheus is geared up to be the best alien horror movie in decades.
For Fans Of: Alien, Aliens, District 9, Michael Fassbender
Why We're Excited: Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi horror, fantastic viral marketing, aliens, aliens, aliens!
20th Century Fox’s ‘Prometheus’ will be released in IMAX 3D June 8, 2012. You can bet your spaceship we’ll be there front and center at a midnight show, ready for anything.