Prometheus: Special Footage Report
Set to be one of the biggest films of the summer, Prometheus has got everybody talking. Last month, the first full theatrical trailer was released on the web, and immediately set tongues wagging and lips salivating. Ridley Scott, director of Alien, has returned to the genre which he helped redefine over 30 years ago, and is about to unleash his newest sci-fi horror.
Yesterday, 20th Century Fox debuted footage from the film never shown to anyone but the head honchos at Fox. I had the unique privilege of being invited to see not only said footage (in superb 3D) from the film, but also to a exclusive Q&A with director Ridley Scott, and actors Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender, in amongst the strong crowd of journalists, reviewers, bloggers and little old me.
Before I get to the footage, a word on the movie itself from Sir Ridley Scott. When asked after the footage about how Prometheus came about, Scott said that it was all about one question “Who is the man in the chair?” And, after watching the previous Alien movies again, the idea for Prometheus (then called “The prequel to Alien”) was born. A study of the Space Jockey was what interested Scott most, (where he and the Alien were from, why they were there), but out of the idea of the prequel came Prometheus. Both a prequel and a film in its own right, Prometheus is only linked to the previous movies in the “final portions of the film”, that is set to excite and scare both Alien lovers, and new viewers.
The footage opens in the Isle of Skye, Scotland in the year 2089, where Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and a group of scientists and diggers are delving deep into the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Here, Shaw and partner Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) stumble across ancient markings in one of the many caves, markings that they have seen before. Markings that may well be a message from alien life - an invitation.
Though Shaw is an obvious mirror of sorts to Ripley, Rapace explained that Shaw will not be a Ripley clone, but will still have the “strong, fighter” characteristics that she had. But Shaw is her own character, a character that is not only a “traveller and an explorer of different cultures”, but has “huge faith in science and God.”
In the next clip, we are aboard the Prometheus, the gargantuan ship that will transport Shaw and crew to their destination. Here, we are introduced to Fassbender’s character, an android named David who, while everyone else is in hyper-sleep, patrols the ship waiting for them to wake.
In researching and preparing for the role, Fassbender said he didn’t look at either Ian Holm or Lance Henriksen’s performances in the previous movies, looking to become his own entity. He instead drew inspiration from The Servant and Lawrence of Arabia, the performance of David Bowie in The Man That Fell To Earth, and that of Greg Louganis, famed US diver, whose body language intrigued Fassbender. Of David, Fassbender said that he was purposefully “ambiguous” so that the crew, and the audience, would ask whether he was “taking the piss”.
The first person to wake is Meredith Vickers (Theron), a high-ranking employee from the mysterious Weyland Corporation, who is here to ensure the smooth running of the mission, as well as a secret agenda, to which Theron and Scott said nothing. “Cold” is how Theron describes Vickers, never more so than when we meet her in the footage. As the rest of the crew is busy vomiting and battling distortion, she is doing push-ups and callously enquiring to David of the welfare of the crew.
Up to the film's release though, a lot will be made of Vickers (friend or foe?), and Theron herself was quick to point out that Vickers “is an enigma“ and “not at all a believer” in what Shaw and crew are trying to accomplish, instead simply “there for the company.”
The footage then moved to a basketball court on the ship, where after Vickers lays down the law, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) himself appears to the group via a sort of retrospective hologram, to not only discuss the mission, but to have a little pop at Vickers (some old business between the two?). Shaw and Charlie then take centre stage, enlightening the group of their findings and intentions, and despite doubts, Prometheus sets its course for LV-223.
It's here that the tantalising footage came to a close, though not before a quick montage of footage from the rest of the film, not too dissimilar to that at the end of the full trailer, bar one or two shots unseen to the public, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of something that looked strangely familiar, before the title card presented itself boldly across the screen.
The 3D aspect of the film looks incredible, utilising the Avatar technology to full effect, and giving even the Scottish Highlands a brand new dimension. Of the 3D aspect, Scott said that the transition for him was “straightforward”, and that it was relatively simple for him to get to grips with. He also said that the transition was made that much easier with the appointment of DoP Dariusz Wolski, who had worked on Pirates of the Caribbean which had also had the 3D treatment. Before leaving, Scott was asked about the rating of the film, and what effect a higher rating may have on the film’s success. Scott simply replied “whichever one earns him and Fox the most box-office”. How droll.
Prometheus is definitely going to take some beating this year. As a rare sci-fi /horror entity in a summer filled with book adaptations, sequels and comic-book movies, it has the potential to grasp a huge and wide-ranging audience when it is unleashed, not to mention the stellar cast, director, and that it is shot in popular 3D. From the 10 or so minutes shown yesterday, it is already living up to its billing as this year's “monster” hit. June 1st needs to hurry itself along.