By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 8, 2012 at 10:57AM
Over 30 years after the space jockey first appeared in "Alien," and after months of speculation, rumor and anticipation, Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" -- his return to sci-fi for the first time since "Blade Runner", and his continuation/prequel/spin-off/whatever to his 1979 space horror classic -- finally hits theaters in the U.S. today. The film is already inspiring fierce debate, and The Playlist team are split down the middle on the project, with wildly divided reactions from those who've seen it.
Love it or loathe it, there's a lot to talk about, not least from the cast and crew of the film: Ridley Scott, writer Damon Lindelof and stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Idris Elba have all been giving countless interviews over the last few weeks. To give you something to dig into once you see the film this weekend, we've collected some of the highlights about the production of the film, the questions it raises, and where a sequel might end up going. Be warned: major spoilers are ahead, so best to stick a pin in it until you've caught the film. Read on for more.
SERIOUSLY, MAJOR SPOILERS
"Prometheus" is an iconic name, with its suggestion to Greek myth, but it was one that only arrived relatively late in the process. Concept artist Steven Messing revealed to Hollywood.com that "Tomb of the Gods" was one possibility at one stage, while Scott himself liked the name "Alien: Paradise" when the film was still tied more directly into the franchise. He relates, "I was going to call it 'Alien: Paradise' because I thought that had a spooky connotation to the idea, because it concocts our notion and idea of paradise and 'what is that?' And paradise to us suggests religion and religion says 'God' and then God, who created us, and that’s certainly… you’ve got a scientist who believes in God and there’s lots of scientists who believe flatly in God and even though they may be in quantum physics, they say 'I get to a wall and some times wonder 'who the hell thought of this one?' and I can’t get through the wall. When I get through the wall more is revealed and I still see another wall, so who is making this sh*t up?'" [Bloody Disgusting]
For all the 3D bells and whistles, Scott still considers the screenplay king.
As one of cinema's premiere visualists, Scott has a reputation for spectacle, but he maintains that the most crucial thing to an audience, and a movie, is a story and a script. "The most important, significant thing in all films – I don’t give a sh*t whether it’s science fiction or a western or whatever – is the goddamn screenplay. Get the screenplay right and all this technology enhances it. But when the screenplay is weak… The technology is the means to the end, the screenplay is the end. If you get that right first, the rest is relatively straightforward. Consequently the hardest single thing to do is get it on paper, and that’s why today there are many, many more movies being made than, say, 20 years ago. I’m just going to say it flat-out: the screenplays, the stories are mostly pretty sh*t. That’s why people who are coming [to cinemas] yearn for better content. Now we’ve got prime-time television in England running a Scandinavian show called 'The Bridge.' I’ve watched nine hours of it. It’s subtitled, on prime-time British TV. What does that tell you? A massive audience has built up because it’s good, has great characters, and this is gradually going to shift into movies. At the moment we’re still getting away with it, but I think people are getting impatient, particularly in what I’d call the majority part of the world – which is now two-thirds of the world audience and is everything outside of the domestic market, i.e. outside of the U.S. Get the story right." [T3]
Scott used the opportunity of the film to improve some of the designs he wasn't happy with.
As memorable as many of H.R. Giger's designs for the original were, it turns out that when the opportunity came for Scott to revisit it, the director found some of the originals lacking in retrospect. According to concept designer Steven Messing "Ridley would call the old Giger stuff 'porkchops.'" For instance, with the engineer's pilot chamber, the designer says "I spent a lot of time redesigning that whole set. He hated it because [on the original], they basically took a bunch of plumbing and pipes that they found and laid it out on the ground. He walked in there and that's what he saw and he couldn't change it." [Hollywood.com]