Friday, 1 June 2012


In space no one can hear you pretending to be Steps

Nearly three years ago, when this blog was still crawling around the floor shitting in its nappy and vomiting on the carpet, I wrote a thing about Ridley Scott's announcement to make a prequel to Alien. Have a read if you like, but basically it's an embarrassing cowpat of idiocy in which I claimed the film "would require the complete absence of humans to remain plausible" (because if there's one thing sci-fi should be, it's plausible).

I'm not sure, but I think my point was that the relationship between the aliens and the "space jockey", which Prometheus would hopefully involve, was surely one which had absolutely nowt to do with homo sapiens. It would just be too unlikely and coincidental that we got ourselves into all that business as well as having John Hurt stumble upon them however many years down the line. Well, it's a good job I'm not a sci-fi writer, because I clearly wasn't thinking big enough. Not even nearly big enough. Because Scott, along with writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, has traced the roots of his tiny haunted-house-in-space horror back to just about the biggest ideas science fiction could muster, and human beings are absolutely central to it. For that, all three of them are to be saluted.
To be fair, it's Lindelof's fingerprints that are all over Prometheus. There was a lot of talk about it "sharing the same DNA as Alien", but in terms of going back and telling an origin story, it's got more in common with Lost and Star Trek; two other Lindelofferings that turn an idea so far inside out that you end up wearing your brain as a crash helmet. It's exactly what science fiction should do: take the most fundamental questions that have plagued mankind since the dawn of time, apply some otherworldly framing to make it fun and avoid upsetting creationists and/or evolutionists and suggest the most insane answers, while simultaneously finding new and grotesque ways of killing annoying characters.

Like much of Lindelof's CV, though, the execution of these ideas leaves a little to be desired. Ridley Scott has shot Prometheus beautifully, with some achingly gorgeous compositions for fans of alien landscapes, HR Giger's iconic designs and Charlize Theron's face, but it occasionally feels like a distraction for some of the nonsense within. There are at least a couple of characters and plot threads too many, some excruciating dialogue from Kate Dickie's Basil Exposition and, considering it proposes to answer some big questions about life, the universe and everything, it still doesn't answer some of the most burning questions posed by Alien - or, indeed, by itself. Whether or not any sequels are planned, internet forums are going to go into overdrive attempting to fill in some of the gaps.

It's to Scott's credit that Prometheus is consistently entertaining, because there's actually very little in the way of the kind of threat, conflict or focus that drove its predecessors. A great deal of what holds the attention is waiting to see how it will tie in to Alien, but it also has to stand alone as a self-contained adventure. By and large it does, but whether or not it stands up to repeated viewings once you know how it ends remains to be seen.

For now, it's one of the most ambitious science fiction films of recent years, and while serious flaws might show up after a lengthy post-screening discussion, it's still the best Alien film we've seen since 1986. And as a bonus it features the most hilarious running-away-from-an-object-that-can-only-travel-in-a-straight-line-while-in-the-middle-of-a-wide-open-space scene for a long, long time.


  1. I like how you put pen to paper, or should that be fingertip to keyboard? Anyway, good job.

  2. Good job! The words "...dawn of time..." betray an imagination so inflexible that it has plunged over the edge of the flat earth and been caught one handed by the man in the moon. The Incredible Suit has many qualities but being a Space Suit is not one of them.

  3. How on Earth did you make that top picture? Was that a previous cover of Empire?

  4. Top notch review (again) Mr Suit. I was concerned your cynical-meter would be turned up to 111 due to the plethora of pre-release viral guff that hit the interwebs, but gladly you have given credit where its due. Sir Ridley has delivered another epic and given Noomi Rapace one heck of a leg up along the way.

  5. The 'running away' sequence is, indeed, hilarious. 'Go the other way... THE OTHER WAY... you know, the way the large object isn't falling!'

  6. On the subject of running away, has The Incredible Suit become The Lycra Suit and run away? This blog needs tending.

  7. I believe it is Ridley who is mistaken. About a great many things.

    What the effing fuck happened to Charlize Theron's ice cold bitch, who was awesome and may or may not have been a replicant...sorry, artificial person...until she clearly became a weak plot device to get Capn' out of the hologram room...really fucking poor.

    Why did spiderwalking gingernut show up and kill off half the crew, if not for another device to reduce the cast? We already knew there was something rather amiss during the quite emotional sacrifice of the sabotaged scientist.

    Why did the film almost end and tie it rather neatly, with some imagination from the viewer, into the first Alien movie....and then puke up on itself and go off on such a tangent that you're left going...huh?? Don't get me wrong, I liked all the evolution stuff, that was excellent. And the proto-alien looked fabulous. But I was left now you've got to go and find one of the other ships and infect an engineer in hyper sleep, grow to five times the size of John Hurt then try and get off the planet then crash on LV426 with the warning signal...activated by whom? The engineers WANTED to be found and start the destruction cycle, no? So does this mean that David and Redhead self-C-sectioner make it to LV426? Was the ship on LV426 the ship they already took off in, and she was still infected? In which case the alien would look different anyway...see?

    And why did the engineer sacrifice himself at the beginning?? Was this to start the cycle? Because later it's revealed that the whole DNA-morphing thing was purposely designed to destroy.

    This film also suffers the same fate as Danny Boyle's Sunshine. A fantastically original Sci-Fi movie, then rather suddenly turning into a slash fest. The exception of this film's ending being that the 'is he evil, is he not, is he just following programming' HAL-Fassbender-bot and the science chick going off to find the race of engineers what exactly? Wipe them out? ALL of them? Or do a Contact and just earn knowledge?

    I am annoyed. Because I wanted to really like it. I just found so much wrong with it!

  8. Ok, more stuff that I left out.

    What is it with you people that write prequels that depict technology far superior to the chronologically-later universes you depicted in original movies!? Lucas did it with SW, now Ridley has done it with Prometheus. Watching Alien after this movie does not flow. I tried it.

    Handy hint: if a giant wheel that measures only a few tens of meters wide is rolling directly toward a right angle! These are supposed to be hugely intelligent humans. And they can't apply simple physics??

    Why was the Engineer that was wakened from hypersleep so aggressive and hostile? The engineers shown in the holograms David stumbles upon were clearly running away from something. Did these beings have elements among them with different motives also?

    The whole shoehorned-in Basil exposition moment from the Captain about it being a 'military installation'...totally unecessary. It still adds no explanation for the engineers' reasoning behind the creation of the organism.

    Was the first scene meant to be taking place on Earth...and was this supposedly the creation of the human race? In which case, why aren't all humans in that universe reproducing by ripping through each other's chests? Why evolve sexual reproduction if this method was already so successful? The first Alien movie established that the organism needs a's essentially a parasite. But if these (the original 1979) aliens had evolved from either A: the engineer that crashed on LV426 or B: a completely different being - perhaps Shaw - then there would be no need to evolve a Queen to make eggs. What did the 1979 Alien (prior to being discovered by the Nostromo crew) infect to make so many copies of itself...and make eggs...did it stumble upon the black oil...oooh, wrong franchise...and essentially clone itself and then leave the planet...or become so autonomous that....oh for frak's sake this is hurting my head. Ridley, please explain!!