Is It Just Me?... Or Is Prometheus The Best Alien Movie?

One Total Film writer argues the case…

In our regular polarising-opinion series, Total Film writer Sam Ashurst asks, is it just me? … or is Prometheus the best Alien movie?

Let’s face it: to slam dunk this argument faster than Ripley throwing a basketball over her shoulder, all I have to do is prove that Prometheus is better than two Alien movies – the first one, and the second one. Alien 3 was launched out of the airlock by its own director, Alien: Resurrection featured a character that looks like big wet white dog poo and the Alien Vs. Predator franchise was so terrible it’s been scientifically proven that no human has watched any of them without glancing at their smartphone at least once. Seriously, I’d rather leap out of a plane into a jungle full of alien hunters with only a face-hugger for a parachute before I’d even watch a trailer for one of those things.
Which brings me to Prometheus. Glorious, misunderstood Prometheus. A film so good it not only contains the greatest ever Michael Fassbender performance, it allows him to continue on with that performance even after he’s been decapitated. But I’m not going to use that fact in my argument, because a) obviously Ash gets his head lopped-off in Alien as well and b) frankly, I don’t need it.
That’s because Prometheus is a great film. Sure, Alien and Aliens have had longer to become a part of pop culture. More people have seen the chestburster scene in Alien than have watched the actual film, and I’ve quoted “Game over, man” so many times it was cited during my last divorce. But I have a feeling that, in 30 years time, people will be reappraising Prometheus so heavily that this article will be held up as the wisdom of a prophet. It’s a heavy burden, but let’s do this. 
Alien is an excellent haunted house horror movie. Seriously, it’s great. Aliens is a constantly entertaining war movie. But Prometheus manages to combine spooks (that creepy first act), action (that flame-filled second act) while adding the element that makes it transcend for me – philosophy. Yep, Ridley Scott was brave enough to shove a philosophical exploration of the very nature of human existence into his summer blockbusting Alien movie sequel/prequel/reimaginequal. And for that he should be applauded. 
When some people look to the sky, they see God. Others just see stars. That dichotomy is at the root of Prometheus’ big question: If there’s no God, where did we come from? And it goes further: can God exist in a scientific world? Prometheus is Scott’s attempt to splice the wide-minded wonder of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with the DNA of the summer-movie template.
I’ll concede that it’s an experiment that didn’t work for everyone, but just because you didn’t get it doesn’t mean it’s not a good film. There’s so much to love in Prometheus, whether it’s the subtle theme of creators rejecting their creations, the jaw-slackingly beautiful visuals (as pretty as anything in Scott’s back catalogue), or the mindbending implications of that key conceit.
In your typical blockbuster set-up, humans create their antagonists. Here, the antagonists create humans. That’s a brilliant twist. All of these factors certify that Prometheus is obviously the best Alien movie. Or is it just me?

Agree or disagree? Have your say below and a selection of the comments will be printed in our next issue.


    • Tarantino3011

      Apr 10th 2014, 19:40

      I agree!! It IS the best Alien movie.

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    • FBMLaing

      Apr 10th 2014, 22:03

      I have tried to strike Prometheus from my memory. Like many Ridley Scott film's it is badly paced and the story feels like it had the Aliens franchise tagged onto it. It definitely isn't up to the standards of Aliens and Alien. Aliens 3 for me is hampered by the opening of the film, because they kill off Next and Hick's, which leaves the viewing audience Unsatisfied. Alien 4 has some very good bits but is ruined by the Alien baby, which just looked out of place. I would still say though that they are better than Prometheus.

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    • Hadouken76

      Apr 11th 2014, 8:00

      Put it this way, if plot hole master Damon Lindeof were to write a movie about plot holes, it would all make perfect sense.

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    • adrianiliesi

      Apr 11th 2014, 8:12

      yup,i agree

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    • soupherman

      Apr 11th 2014, 9:22

      I disagree. One first viewing, I was disappointed with the movie but engaged with the theological subtext of the absentee father/creator manifesting itself in the different motivations of each character. On second viewing, I thought this was an over-intellectualisation of a film that was standard sci-fi horror fare with too many plot holes and very franchise influenced idea of a conclusive story arch. It's certainly not the best Alien movie at all: certainly the third best.

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    • michaelbeltran

      Apr 11th 2014, 9:28

      It has a some bold ideas & the visuals are its strong points but where it falls short is the terrible characters, literally the dumbest crew in space. A biologist afraid of 1000 year old corpse but happy to prod a clearly deadly alien snake?? It couldn't decide whether it was a direct prequel to Alien or not & I think that's where it lost a lot of people. I actually like it more than most people & I hope they get it right with the sequel. But best Alien movie? Nah, I'll put it above 3 and Resurrection for sure.

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    • batt101

      Apr 11th 2014, 11:39

      Yes, it is just you....

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    • FBJWhittle

      Apr 11th 2014, 11:45

      No no no no no. No. There are whopping problems with Prometheus, almost none of them Scott's. This is a film where you can almost hear the studio wrangling over the bombastic score, and you can clearly see the burst-out corpse of a half descent original script lying on the canteen floor while Damon Lindelof's plot hold-riddled offspring scampers around the screen squealing intolerably. It's just not the dumb-as-a-bang-of-hammers crew (of which there are far too many) nor the frankly painful script ("I LOVE ROCKS") but the way in which Lindelof pays lip service to the original films without really getting what made them great in the first place (the Star Trek reboot suffers from the same issue). Google "Prometheus alternative effects shots" and you'll see slices of the original version of the story (before the studio got greedy and decided they wanted more films - plot be damned), and hints of a superior storyline where the infected become xenomorphs themselves (not weird ginger zombies who don't even make it back onto the ship). Then again, if you like the film as it is... maybe don't.

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    • kuzco890

      Apr 11th 2014, 13:55

      THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Thank you for this article! I am a God-fearing christian and i love my faith. I was able to not let that stop me from watching this movie, i did and all i can say is WOW! I watched it again immediately! lol... The second time round i went into a "neutral" mode. As a person who has never heard about religion, God, heaven and hell etc. When the credits rolled round i then told myself that this movie is gonna go down in history as one of the greats. The plot is so good, whether you are a fan or not. This movie has everything in it and can be watched by anyone who is "open to a good movie" whether they like this genre or not. All i can say is wow. what a good "movie". It surely got me intrigued. I hope years from now when they do hail this article as great, all of us that commented are honored too. (^^,)

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    • ranaarenosa

      Apr 11th 2014, 15:52

      First off, it's a battle of the Ridley's, since you have Alien and Prometheus, and then Cameron's Aliens. I get that it's the same world, same characters, etc., but one is not like the others. Second, once we get that off the way, Prometheus does not win over Alien. That first movie changed everything and has a poetry to it: the way it was created, built, shot and presented. It is archaic in a way we know nothing will ever be and there lies its beauty. Prometheus on the other hand has the beauty of well crafted, well justified technology, CGI, special effects, or whatever you call it: it serves the narrative and not the other way around. Every person that saw the movie, walked out talking about it, wether they loved it or hated it, the movie got stuck in such a way to our minds that few things do, because it does ignite those questions most don't ask and are very difficult to answer. And it doesn't matter if you are a man of science or of faith, because in the former or the latter, we beleive in something that comes down to a choice... what makes us human? The right to choose. I mean, come on, it's a line that sticks throughout the movie, pushing the two key characters forward: Shaw and David. So yeah, I think it is an excellent movie, but just under Alien.

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    • CaptainCrazy

      Apr 11th 2014, 20:05

      Here's my mini-thesis: it's s**t.

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    • jerryanguelo

      Apr 11th 2014, 21:00

      THANK YOU! This movie WILL be remembered as one of the all time greats. It leaves some to the imagination which I enjoyed. Great acting, great story, great visuals. Those who expect every movie to spoon feed the plot should stick to watching the Muppets.

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    • rickymartin

      Apr 12th 2014, 0:36

      Is this the best Alien movie? No, because it isnt an Alien movie. Simple as that. Prometheus is its own movie that was burdened by its forced connection to the alien franchise, i say a burden because for me the weaker parts of the film was when it tried to connect to alien but put a twist, therefore not giving us anything completely new, nor nostsalgic. The first half of the film is great, visually brilliant and interesting. The second half is when it completely falls apart, becomes rushed and the last 10 minutes are a horrible cgi fest. You say it has the creepyness of alien, but i ask when? The action of aliens? When? In my opinion this movie pales in comparison to the first two alien movies, it offers nothing superior. And when you talk of the concept of the film, just like the first alien film, ridley scott is wrongly credited with it. The Ancient Aliens theory has been around long before Prometheus, Ridley scott was very vocal in citing it as an influence, these arent his original ideas, and he didnt write the movie either. Much like the original alien. If you want to label Prometheus as an Alien movie then ok, but its the Michael Bay version of an Alien movie, all style, no substance.

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    • andrewlynch

      Apr 12th 2014, 1:54

      I do not believe the theme of "creators rejecting their creations" in prometheus was "subtle", it was the reason I went to see the movie and it annoyed me that the concept got side-stepped and forgotten half-way through the film. It is a terrible "Alien" movie and a terrible movie as it drops it's excellent potential for an intelligent discussion on creation and replaces it with pure shock-value gore and horror. In my view, the film lost all substance when it decided to ignore the storyline. Sure the film could be appreciated (the same as Blade Runner) in years to come but I believe if that does prove to be the case, it would be out of pretension just as I feel "Blade Runner" earned it's praise (ok, yes the World was excellently vivid and imaginative (for the time) but I hated everything else about "Blade Runner", excessively violent, a storyline that never pans out, horrible pacing and boring characters)

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    • BenTramer

      Apr 12th 2014, 11:30

      In no way is Prometheus better than Alien and/or Aliens. Sigourney Weaver was nominated for an Oscar for Aliens because she was damn good in it. Nobody from this film got Oscar nods for acting. The Prometheus script was stupid (that idiot talking to a hissing, alien cobra thingy like it's a cute kitten, DUH!). Prometheus can't compete for spooks with Alien or pile-driving action like Aliens. Prometheus is an old man's movie. The obsessiveness of Ridley Scott's younger self isn't there anymore. It's not as clever either and doesn't stand up to repeated viewings.

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    • BenTramer

      Apr 12th 2014, 11:36

      Plus, Alien created the first realistic life-cycle for a movie Alien creature; egg, face-hugger, chest-burster, young adult, warrior. It was straight out of a biology book. Did Prometheus do something 1% as difficult and original as that? NOPE! Case closed.

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    • vincentgaine

      Apr 12th 2014, 16:16

      A good argument that makes plenty of salient points. But it only scratches the surface as to philosophy in 'Prometheus'. For further thoughts on this, check out the thinkingfilmcollective blog on 'Alien' and 'Prometheus'.

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    • Donovan

      Apr 14th 2014, 0:38

      I enjoyed Prometheus and wait for the sequel. Some say "plot holes" but they actually leave a mystery which invites a sequel. Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender had excellent performances and the special effects were superb.

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    • jontherkildsen

      Apr 14th 2014, 11:49

      I little too much snaps, but I would agree; it is certainly underrated and offers much more than the silly plot challenges which are often attacked. Alien stand out as one of the best space/horror flicks ever made and Aliens stand out as perhaps the best sequel ever done. Alien3 is up there in the mix as it too does not try to copy its sequel and seeks to close the epic venture in a grand self-sacrificing manner. Alien4 was an insult, so let us not waste more ink on that. The questions remain; where is Prometheus? It certainly lifts and deepens the universe and story and personally, I love how it connects human history to the Alien history – but then it sort of stops here; it gives us the foreplay, but not the climax. Was it a prequel or not? Even the good Director lingers on that question. And in my humble and loving opinion, Prometheus fails on the mere fact that it doesn’t really and full heartily commit to the Alien creature and the franchise – is sort of spins off of it, with the intent to rock, and yet it only give us an accord or two...and that was a damn shame.

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    • dex2010

      Apr 16th 2014, 18:18

      It's just you and a crazy you at that!

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    • mattstickland

      Apr 18th 2014, 20:41

      No actual way, it had an awesome cast, amazing cinematography , but the story was like like a cheap, predictable, straight to video horror film, should have had the tag line ' people do the stupidest things in space' , like if a gigantic circular ship is rolling towards you, why would you run in the same direction?

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    • michaelperry

      Apr 25th 2014, 11:55

      It's just you. Just because it flails to make a big statement doesn't mean it pulls it off convincingly. While visually gorgeous, it's underwritten, overblown, and deeply unsatisfying.

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    • sebastianstar

      Apr 28th 2014, 19:21

      It's all wrong. In Alien the crew stood dwarfed beside the awe-inspiring Space Jockey and the audience understand that they are insignificant within the unknowable designsof this mysterious race......oh no......Hang on! It turns out that everything is about humans after all! We ARE the most important thing in the universe and the Space Jockies spend all their time and effort hating us 'cause we're so ...whatever. And to cap it all it opens with a silly, childish premise. We aren't made by aliens. Fact. If you don't believe me just read a science book once in a while and you'll eventually find all the answers about where we come from. And no - Erich Von Daniken does NOT count as science.

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    • TheGreatWent

      May 7th 2014, 4:15

      Worst.Alien.Film.Ever. It's just you dude.

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    • mattspiewak

      Sep 2nd 2014, 5:57

      Prometheus had great visuals, I'll give you that. What I didn't like about it is it didn't have the realism that alien had. I mean come on, your gonna travel tons of light years to a planet just because the constellation was drawn in a cave? That is a little much for me to swallow. Also, the characters. These guys are exploring an alien ruin for the first time, and they are completely disinterested! I mean some of them care, but the other ones are like "I'm just in it for the money." WTF? Who travels lightyears in a spaceship to visit the ruins of the first alien civilization ever discovered FOR THE MONEY? I like the idea of humanity maybe having been influenced in the past by aliens or whatever, but I just felt like if you gonna do it make it somewhat believable. Do your research. And why did the guys who made humanity want to destroy it? I didn't understand why the big alien was so hostile. In my opinion, any civilization that is able to travel interstellar distances has to be somewhat peaceful, or they would destroy themselves before they developed that kind of technology. Intelligence i think creates less violence. It just seemed pointless, why attack them? All in all, those are my gripes with prometheus. It was a beautiful film, but its beauty wasn't matched by it's brains. I have high standards for any films in the Alien franchise, mostly because I love the first one. The second is pretty good as well.

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      Sep 6th 2014, 21:17

      Are you insane this movie was horrific the cgi was epic Fas was awesome Theron was hot as always but the rest was utter c**p. WTF was up with the plot? The alien pilot in alien sudden becomes a big human in a suit??? what?? they showed all his ribs bent out etc we al know Scott didn't like where Cameron took the franchise which is a shame since Aliens is the best movie. In terms of the franchise - Alien - Great Aliens - AWESOME (spec ed ofc) Alien 3 - Trying hard to be one and failing Alien 4 - Trying to be 2 and makes you appreciate that 3 wasn't as bad as it could of been Predator - Epic (I've included these due to the crossovers) Predator 2 - OK AVP1 - Terrible you just wanted every member of the cast to die, slowly and in a lot of pain it's the hypercube meets a dozen other films meets aliens and predators pooooor AVP2 - What can you cay it was AVP2 utterly passable exactly like the first Predators - EPIC Prometheus - Really poor Fas was great the visuals were great the plot was terrible full of holes and the space jockey turns out to be a humanoid alien in a suit that sacrifices one their kind to make an alien to kill humans who they also made with no explanation of wtf was going on. This is one of the WORST and that's saying something with alien3 and avp1 and avp2 in that list.

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