Alien is one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time. So when its prequel, Prometheus, was announced, people were excited to see all of their favorite Alien staples return.
They wanted to see the origin of the Xenomorph and the Engineers; however, this movie didn’t pan out like that. Prometheus fared well with critics and performed well at the box office, raking in $403.4 million, yet it’s still considered to be a massive disappointment.
The reason for this tragedy is fairly simple and easy to fix. Let’s take a look.
Downfall of the Prequel
The pitfall of this film has nothing to do with it being a bad film, but everything with the fact that it is a prequel film.
Calling Prometheus a prequel to a film so beloved by fans actually does it a major disservice. That moniker set a certain expectation among fans that certain things would happen that would tie us to the original. Regretfully, this film was never supposed to cater to those expectations.
Audiences wanted to see the Xenomorph, the eggs, or even the face-hugger, all of which we see in part during the film, but was obvious it was only there because of the fans.
Ridley Scott and his team felt they needed to add these references, which is why the story feels like a battle of two very different films. One was the actual story they wanted to tell, and the other was nothing but fan-service.
As a result, we end up with a weaker film. The thing that baffles me the most is the fan-service wasn’t necessary at all. In fact, omitting most of it may have even improved the film.
Making It A Separate Story
Not once does this film feels like it needed to connect itself to Alien, so why force it?
The major change I’m making here is to cut all ties to Alien and make Prometheus its own, self-contained story.
That being said, not many changes are necessary other than small parts of the third act. While it doesn’t seem like much, it would go a long way by not falsely setting the audience’s expectations. By separating itself from another fabled franchise, we give it more room to stand on its own two feet and create a unique and more compelling narrative.
This major change would allow Prometheus to explore its interesting themes more deeply and create a name for itself without trying too cater to another. It’s hard to create your own franchise if you’re constantly being compared to another classic one.
Ridley Scott created such an interesting story that explored divinity themes, but what happens when we meet God, what’s the purpose of our life, and should we even seek to meet him? Scott aptly handles all of these themes and pays them off well enough, but as soon as its ending rushes to tie into Alien in one way or another, it all falls apart.
If Scott wasn’t bound by the limitations of a “prequel,” he could have ended the film on a more thought-provoking and thematic note, rather than just establish an ancestor to the Xenomorph.
A New Sci-fi Classic?
Probably not, but in a world full of prequels, sequels, and reboots, it would’ve been a welcome addition. It’s not often we see original films on a scale like this these days, especially not ones that bear the themes and existential questions that Prometheus does.
While there’s an argument to be made that it was the Alien name that made it get the box office receipt it did, I’d argue if this was a truly great original film… *cough* by the Alien creator *cough* (don’t worry, I don’t have Coronavirus).
People want original films. The box office has proven that consistently, Knives Out being the latest example, but they want them to be good, if not great.
With the potential Prometheus had, it could’ve been just that. If only it wasn’t a prequel.