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'Prometheus': Blow by Blow on London's Footage Screening and Q & A with Scott, Theron, Fassbender, Rapace

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by Matt Mueller
April 10, 2012 12:46 PM
11 Comments
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Ridley Scott's "Prometheus"

Tuesday morning in London, Twentieth Century Fox held the world’s first screening of 3-D footage from “Prometheus,” treating an early-morning crowd to three scenes and thirteen minutes followed by a Q&A session with director Ridley Scott (“Please stop calling me Sir Ridley”) and stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron. Fox is definitely keeping its powder dry for now: the footage didn’t contain any action, nor did it reveal much more beyond what we already know from the all-hell-breaking-loose trailer. Nonetheless, from an aesthetic, spectacle and performance perspective, it made an excellent appetizer for the cinematic experience Scott has in store.

First up was a scene where two research scientists (Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) in the year 2089 discover some ancient cave paintings in the Isle of Skye, Scotland, that sit beside a peculiar etching of what looks to be an extra-terrestrial pointing to six celestial bodies in space. “It’s an invitation,” reasons Rapace’s earnest, bright-eyed Elizabeth Shaw. Not an invitation anyone who’s seen an "Alien" movie would accept but she’s convinced of its benevolence...

The next, most substantial sequence was set four years later on board the scientific exploration vessel Prometheus. Following two and a half years in stasis chambers, the ship’s 17 crew members are awakened by Michael Fassbender’s blond robot David. First out of her chamber is Theron’s Meredith Vickers, who launches into a few push-ups before casually asking David, “Were there any casualties?” Okay, we get it – she’s an ice maiden, evidence confirmed by the fact that she’s the Weyland Corporation suit heading up the mission. Also on board is Rapace, who is shown puking her guts out after emerging from her long outer-space nap.

Assembling the crew together, some of whom look so dodgy you wonder how they ever passed the rigorous job interview to get on board, Theron initiates a holographic presentation by big cheese Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, coated in some very iffy-looking old-age prosthetics), who explains he’s dead by now. He hands the floor over to Rapace and Marshall-Green, who explain to a grumpy-looking crew their interpretation of the alien symbols and how they pointed to the very planet they’ve just pulled up beside. The final sequence showed the ship’s laid-back, bad-ass pilot (Idris Elba) guiding the Prometheus into a safe landing on said planet’s surface.

During the Q&A, Scott explained that “Prometheus” was born out of the questions that have been plaguing “Alien” lovers for decades: Who’s the big guy in the chair, why was he there, what was his cargo and where was he heading? (“I don’t know how he ever came to be called the Space Jockey,” Scott chuckled.) While developing the script, however, Scott found that the story “adjusted itself into much larger questions so that it barely contains ‘Alien’ DNA now.” Only in the final seven minutes of “Prometheus,” he revealed, will the two films link together.

Rapace gave a brief background précis on Elizabeth Shaw: she was raised in Africa by a father who was also a priest, thus making her a scientist “who possesses the great gift of believing.” Of course, that faith in God comes to be severely tested on the Prometheus mission, with Elizabeth forced to become “a fighter, a survivor and a warrior…I’m not sure she believes by the end.” When Theron was later asked whether she felt pressure to live up to Sigourney Weaver’s iconic Ripley, she swiftly batted the question over to Rapace – “That’s more Noomi’s character” – with the Swedish actress admitting, “It’s not Ripley but she is in the same family.”

As for Theron, she was initially worried that Meredith might come off as a one-note corporate bitch who’s “just there for the purpose of making everyone’s life hell.” But the actress added that the enigmatic Meredith is on board the Prometheus “for very personal reasons, of which I cannot speak."

Rapace’s performance looks promising but judging from today’s clips, it’s Fassbender who appears in serious danger of walking away with the movie. From the way he strolls around the ship in sandals with an arch robotic gait, to his display of childlike enthusiasm during the exposition presentation, to his referring to Theron’s Meredith as “Ma’rm” as if he’s addressing royalty, the actor conveys an unanticipated levity. Even Scott said he didn’t expect Fassbender to bring so much wit to David (who, the director adds, is “a nod to Ash”). “I thought you really walked like that,” he joked to the actor, who for his part listed one of his inspirations as Olympic diver Greg Louganis. “I loved watching him during the Olympics,” says Fassbender. “He had such a weird walk, it really made me laugh.”

Scott explained that, before they’d even greenlit the film, he convinced Fox to splash out a significant sum to allow his production designer Arthur Max and five top-notch industrial designers to nail down “Prometheus”’ design over a period of months. “One of the problems with sci-fi is that everything has already been used up – suits, corridors, ships,” he said. “But if you start with the characters, you can come up with the evolution for different looks.” He also expressed frustration at the MPAA’s seemingly random approach to ratings, saying he wanted Prometheus to get a rating “that allows it to make as much money as possible. I know the importance of that. When a big film fails, it’s disastrous for all of us.” But he also blasted some of the “films this year that have got PG-13 ratings – it’s absolutely fucking ludicrous. So MPAA, get your house in order.”

“Prometheus” marked Scott’s first 3-D shoot and, unsurprisingly, he deemed the technology “dead simple to use – it wasn’t a problem. Anyone who says it is just doesn’t know what they’re doing.” He also teased that “Prometheus” contains a sequence he calls “the equivalent to [“Alien”’s chest-burster] scene.” Rather than being a group scene, however, it will only feature Rapace’s character. The rest stays a surprise for now.

“Prometheus” is released in cinemas on June 8. Here's the trailer.

11 Comments

  • Ted | May 15, 2012 2:24 AMReply

    I just saw that footage. It's amazing. Going to a massive hit. Not much given away that isn't in the trailers. Not too big on the look of the space jockey, not quite right. The original looked much bigger. I'm sure Vickers is a robot. I was amazed that was an old age makeup on Weyland. I just thought it was an old guy they cast. Wow very convincing. I guess we always assume its special effects. Who knows. June 8th, Not long now.

  • Diana | April 13, 2012 3:40 AMReply

    Michael Fassbender's physicality is one of those things that's usually noted about his acting (same as for Tom Hardy, actually), so I'm not surprised to hear that he's making this robotic character into a highlight of the film. I hope that we might see him stay in a proper action movie one day, and not just one where he waves his hands to activate his awesome powers of magnetism; that fight sequence in "Haywire" was way too brief.

  • robbie | April 12, 2012 3:14 PMReply

    I..need to see this film..I will give up sex..for an entire year..if I dont see the must-film

  • Meredith | May 8, 2012 2:19 AM

    Robbie sweetheart... no need for such drastic sacrifices! Only a month to go now and then the moviegasms can commence!!!

  • Mark | April 11, 2012 2:56 PMReply

    Thanks for the article, but - not ONE single sentence on how the 3-D looked? This is Ridley Scott's first 3-D film, and not ONE word on if it's good 3-D or not? Really?

  • WIL | April 11, 2012 5:47 PM

    The 3D just looks AMAZING. I have never been a big fan of it, but in Prometheus' case, the technology has been aesthetically used at its best. The film was shot with RED Epic cameras in 5K definition, like Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit', which gives a gorgeous and colourful result with a very detailed image. At the end of the screening, I could hear the whole audience around me whispering stuff like 'the 3D looked so good!'.

  • Will | April 11, 2012 6:28 AMReply

    They just screened those scenes this morning in Paris, also followed by a session with R. Scott and the cast. I agree, not much revealed but definitely looks promising!!!

  • Erik | April 11, 2012 1:52 AMReply

    Just saw the trailer. Looks absolutely fucking incredible. Cannot wait!

  • Kate | April 10, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    "it’s Fassbender who appears in serious danger of walking away with the movie."


    Like this is a surprise. He has to be the most promisingly versatile lead actor to emerge in the past 10-15 years. He has as much depth/intensity as Day-Lewis, way more range, and more willingness to stretch in genres and performance styles.

  • Chris | April 12, 2012 5:00 AM

    Ryan Gosling and Tom Hardy are right up there with Michael Fassbender

  • Nick | April 11, 2012 11:19 AM

    And he don't look bad naked as well. Lol

    Very excited about this movie. To be honest I want the movie to get an R rating. Let the kiddies stay home and anticipate it's release on DVD. That's the way it was for me with Alien.

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