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?