So, we’ve just been lucky enough to see a chunk of Prometheus footage, followed by a Q&A hosted by Empire Magazine’s Chris Hewitt and featuring direct Ridley Scott and stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, at press event held by 20th Century Fox in London’s Leicester Square.
The footage lasted about 15-20 minutes, and consisted of mainly of completed scenes, both extensions of bits we’ve seen in the various trailers, and new stuff, before merging into what seems to be a slightly modified version of the International trailer footagethat we have all seen by now. Before the screening began, we were told that we were the first people outside Fox to see the footage.
The following descriptions come from my hastily scribbled (in the dark) notes, and memory, so my apologies in advance if they seem a bit disjointed.
The footage opens on the Isle of Skye in the year 2089(?) and is a longer version of the opening of the International trailer, with Shaw and Holloway on an archaeological dig and uncovering the pictogram/constellation we have seen already.
Cut to the year 2093, and the Prometheus glides through space. David the android walks alone on the ship, which suddenly judders to a halt – it appears to have reached its destination.
David goes to the bridge and fires up all the systems before going to wake the crew from stasis, only to find that Vickers (Theron) is already up and finishing what looks like a punishing exercise regime. Ever the hard-nosed business woman, her only question to David is ‘did anyone die?’
After seeing the crew recuperating from their hypersleep, including some copious vomiting from Shaw, we cut to the Prometheus’s hanger. Here we see a hologram video message from Peter Welyand, recorded in 2091. If you are watching this now, he says, “I’ll be dead, may I rest in peace”. He uses his recording to introduce Shaw and Holloway and they then give their talk shown in the trailers, though extended here. To paraphrase – “The constellation shown in the pictograms was so far away that the there is no way the civilisations that appear to have made them could have known about it, but we do. We know it has a sun, and we know it has an Earth-like planet. And this is where we are now.”
That planet is LV-223.
Next we get some new shots of the Prometheus landing, and an extremely clear shot of the ‘mountain’ structure previously glimpsed. Now, while we have said that this reminds us of the work that Giger did for an abandoned adaptation of Dune (see below), in the shot here it’s unmistakeable. It’s missing the ‘arms’, but the ‘head’ and face are clearly visible in profile.
Here’s where we cut back to more familiar ground, consisting mostly of the international trailer footage with maybe a few tweaks here and there, though nothing real note.
I have to say it was all very impressive. The footage looked fantastic – Scott has hit a visual home run on this one, without a doubt. I’m not a fan of 3D at all, but I must say it works well, not drawing attention to itself, but definately pulling you into the movie. This could be the movie that changes my mind about – well utilised – 3D. The old age makeup on Guy Pearce is also very well done. It may have been helped by the hologram VFX, or it could even be CGI-enhanced, but it looked very natural and didn’t interfere with his performance. I’m also now more convinced that ever that, despite the character saying otherwise, he is very much alive and more or less well when the Prometheus lands on LV-223, and that the images below do in fact show Weyland. Did he get to LV-223 before the Prometheus, and the crew find him there?
Next up was the Q&A. Empire’s Chris Hewitt took charge, as a few lucky audience members go to ask questions. We’ve been promised a full transcipt along with some clips of the session, so in the meantime here’s a few highlights I picked out, along with my thoughts.
Scott commented on what brought him back to the Alien universe – The sequels had not explored the biggest question – who was was the Space Jockey, why did he have that cargo, and where was he headed with it? The Alien sequels were “all jolly good, in one for or other”.
While the project started as an Alien prequel, the more he got involved in another story, the “less inclined I was” to connect it to Alien.
Noomi Rapace calls he character conflicted. Shaw is a scientist with a faith in God – her search for the origins of man-kind doesn’t lead where she expects.
Michael Fassbender didn’t rewatch Ian Holms or Lance Henkrikson’s performances, but instead looked to Blade Runner and Lawrence of Arabia amongst other for inspiration and clues for his performance. Scott said there is a lot of humour in David’s character – I did get a certain sense of deadpan wit Fassbender’s performance – and that we “are allowed to laugh”.
Theron said that Vickers starts the film as detatched and cold – I guess that will change – and is neither a believer or scientist, but is there for a personal reason – does she know that Weyland is on LV-223? Is she related to him?
Scott spent 4 and a half months working with production designer Arthur Max and his team before the film was even greenlit to get the designs locked down.
Scott was then asked a quesiton about the rating of the original Alien, but his answer was a more general one. Starting with a half-joking “I want a certificate that’s best for the box office”, he made a valid arguement that it’s in everyone’s interest to make a film that is as accessible to as big an audience as possible. After all, he pointed out, if a studio doesn’t make its money back, there are no movies. Even if a rubbish film is a hit, overall it’s a good thing. I have to say, as much as I’d like to see a full-on R/18 rated Prometheus, I understand completely that studios are running a business – Scott himself said is a director and a business man. Given that movies like The Woman in Black and The Hunger Games are pushing boundries at the lower rating, I don’t think we should be too worried if Prometheus ends up a PG-113/12A – after all, there’s always the likely uncut video release.
Scott promised that Rapace has a scene ‘equivalent’ to Alien’s chestburster, that no other actor was involved in.
Finally, touching on his use of 3D, Scott seemed to dismiss those who say it adds too much complexity to shooting. As a strong visual director, Scott says, he found 3D “pretty straightforward”.
Overall I came away very impressed. The look and feel of the footage we saw was excellent, while the director and stars seemed really enthusiastic about the film.
So what did we learn? Nothing massively earth shattering, though many peoples’ suspicions that the movie does not take place on LV-426 appear confirmed. Perhaps Scott’s regular comments that the last few minutes of the film will tie to Alien will see a change of location. Perhaps the ‘derelict’ we see crashing is not the same one that appears to be taking off when we see the giant ‘hanger doors’ open under Shaw’s feet in the trailers, and it’s this second ship that the crew of the Nostromo find?
As I said, we have been promised a full transcript of the chat, which will hopefully make a bit more sense, and we’ll get that online as soon as we have it!
Prometheus is directed by Ridley Scott, from a screenplay by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts. The film stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Patrick Wilson and Kate Dickie, and is due for release on June 8th 2012 in the USA, and June 1st 2012 in the UK.