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Alien vs Prometheus - Why Comparing Them Doesn't Make You An Idiot

If you find yourself unable to shake the feeling that Prometheus owes more than it should to Alien that does not make you an idiot.

There€™s been enough discussion by this point about Prometheus€™ strengths and failures, and this article is not another attempt to rehash those. However, the topic of how much Prometheus owes to Alien and what effect that has on the final film is emerging as one of the most heated debates. But the idea that comparing the two is lazy and juvenile criticism does not take into account the fact that, as audience members, the safest way to see Prometheus as a film in its own right is to have never seen Alien. Alien was about survival in the face of an unstoppable killing machine that its victims had no hope of rationalising with. It was a slow-burn horror that immersed you in its world before suddenly, violently, turning, picking the crew off one by one before they could even work out what was going on. You cared about them because you knew them, and you reacted emotionally because it so masterfully handled the emotional beats. It didn€™t tackle bigger, cerebral ideas because it was completely focused on pushing you to your emotional limits. This is most likely why it is often considered a €œtranscendent B-movie€. Prometheus was always going to have that alien-shaped elephant in the room. With filmmakers returning to franchises many years later and coming up with disappointing returns (e.g. the Star Wars prequels, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), Ridley Scott€™s return to the Alien franchise was always going to be lumped into the same category. €œPrequel€ doesn€™t have to be an automatic qualifier for €œbad film€ but the term has developed unfortunate connotations. Considering that the final film developed from an official Alien prequel, even named €œAlien: Paradise€ at one stage, it is unsurprising that it put fans of the original on the offensive before even hitting cinema screens. Viewing any film that is part of an established series is difficult to experience entirely on its own merits because, whether you intend to or not, you have certain expectations on how you think the film should work. You want to be surprised and entertained in the same way as watching any new film, but it is likely that your experience of its predecessor was an important factor of why you are now watching this one. This is also compounded by the fact that a number of franchises do attempt to tell the same story in the same way multiple times, and that their audiences actually return to them because of that. Click "next' below to read part 2...
Contributor
Contributor

Freelance filmmaker, writer and proud geek. Mike is obsessed with film and television, and often stalls real-world conversations with the phrase, "This is actually a lot like something they did in ...". He also blogs at http://mikehiston.tumblr.com/.