All that changed on Tuesday 3rd July.
Because on that evening – and very much against my better instincts – a Siren persuaded me to pay a small fortune for a pair of cheap plastic spectacles.
Despite resembling sunglasses these eyepieces afforded no protection against ultraviolet light. They were, however, effective at creating a spurious sense of depth when watching 3D movies at the cinema. The effect they produce is similar to that experienced when looking at Soviet realist portraits of Stalin. All too often Uncle Joe looks like an overlaid cut-out that could at any moment topple out of the frame.
A reviled monster of a slightly different kind featured in the film that I settled down to watch. The creature in question had been brought back to life thanks to another siren song, this time broadcast across vast tracts of the cosmos. This call succeeded in luring a rag-bag band of unsuspecting space travellers into its slithery embrace for the purpose of injecting a little fire into their bellies. Hence the title of the film: Prometheus.
Ridley Scott’s blockbuster revives and reprises a creature that was first introduced to movie-goers way back in 1979. This was Alien, one of the masterpieces of cinematic history.
For its part, Prometheus must count as one of the disasterpieces of the silver screen – whether it be in two dimensions or three.
Luckily for me, the saving grace of Prometheus was the fact that it happened to be the first (and I suspect last) time that I opted to pay for an extra dimension. Fittingly enough, this 3D experience turned it into an expensive novelty.
Alien was visually stunning, excellently written and well acted with a plausible (albeit fantastic) plot that remains to this day thought provoking, gripping and genuinely scary. Moreover, it was underpinned by an excoriating social commentary on the machinations of big business. The omninational Weylan-Yutani corporation’s casual disregard for its human employees contrasted with the genuine interest and sympathy they generate in us, the audience.
Prometheus is the absolute antithesis of all this. Its plot merits no comment whatsoever.
And yet, bizarrely enough, the fact that it is so utterly awful renders it the perfect prequel to Alien.
A specially-made pair of 3D spectacles should be hastily manufactured and given to Ridley Scott’s extraterrestrial creation. I have a feeling that its razor sharp mouth would hang open in gob-smacked admiration for its master’s work.
This is because Prometheus is the ultimate parasite.
It owes its existence entirely due to its host. Without that host – i.e. the original film – it would be nothing. Alien’s prequel is a mind-numbingly naked commercial venture that treats the paying public with the same contempt as the Weylan-Yutani company showed to the doomed crew of the spaceship, Nostromo.
One member of that crew is the character, Kane – played so brilliantly by John Hurt. In a particularly memorable scene we see him in a prone position, his features occluded by the facehugging Alien.
The best way to sum up Prometheus is to look upon Kane as an embodiment of the 1979 film as a whole. Thanks to the prequel it is now no longer possible to properly appreciate that movie. This is because, enfolding it in a deathly embrace and leeching it of all its vital signs, is its bastard spawn: Prometheus.
The unearthly star of Alien would surely applaud this act of ruthless parasitism.
But s/he would, I feel, have one criticism. The name is all wrong.
The single word title beginning with “P” should not be Prometheus but Parasitoid: a parasite that kills its host.
Because that’s exactly what Prometheus does to Alien.