Six new horror movies releasing this week at home, including Netflix’s ‘Incantation’!

Erich Von Däniken first popularized the ancient astronaut theory in 1968 with the release of his controversial Chariots of the Gods?, which suggested that human civilization was influenced by aliens who inspired primitive religions While the book has been heavily criticized by academics for its misleading presentation of legitimate historical findings, its popularity has spawned everything from sensational TV shows to online conspiracy groups, with many people becoming obsessed with this quirky piece of pseudoscience.

Ancient aliens would explain many coincidences and inconsistencies in the history of our species, so it makes sense that people would be fascinated by an idea that acts as a bridge between faith and science, mixing traditional evolution with hints of creationism. While the rise of fake news and scientific deniers have made conspiracy discussions a controversial topic, admit that these concepts make for compelling genre stories. After all, the hallmark of good science fiction is the use of futuristic technology and fringe theories to explore intrinsically human concepts such as belief and existentialism, so it goes without saying that ancient astronauts have become a part of popular fiction.

And the way I see it, there’s one particular movie that stands out for its chilling use of the concept, which would be Ridley Scottis controversial Alien precursor, Prometheus† It’s been ten years since I first saw it in theaters, but I still look back on the film with a mix of wonder and fascination. Don’t get me wrong, the film isn’t a masterpiece, it suffers from a clunky script, questionable action sequences and some superficial character work, but the picture is built around a series of burning questions that still resonate 10 years later, which is why I’m eager to talk about it .

A sequel to 1997 Alien Resurrection was actually in the works since 2002, when James Cameron contacted Sir Ridley Scott with the intention of producing the next chapter in Ellen Ripley’s xenomorph-busting saga. These plans were eventually canceled when Fox decided to focus on developing Alien vs Predator, which led to an argument with Cameron. However, the germs of that unfinished project would eventually lead to: Jon Spaihts to write Alien: Engineers in 2009, where that scenario became the forerunner of Prometheus

It may not be completely superior to the final product, but I’d highly recommend checking out this original script as it makes a bit more sense than the final design and some set pieces are scarier. Engineers actually led directly to the events of the 1979 Alien, adding a Lovecraftian twist to the origins of both humanity and the xenomorphs, as it filled in some of the gaps left by the original series. In fact, the story was so Lovecraftian that this production ended up sabotaging Guillermo Del Toro’s proposal In the mountains of madness adaptation, with nearly identical action scenes and plot twists.

There’s no denying that the film has Lovecraftian influences.

However, Scott ended up in agreement with: Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof before production began, with the writer suggesting that the project be revised into an open-ended spin-off only tangentially related to the Alien movies. Not wanting to repeat himself, Scott finally agreed and hired Lindelof to rework the story with him over the next few months. In fact, while I have several objections to the changes made to Spaihts’ script, I have to admit that making… Prometheus standing alone was the right move.

Still, the overall plot of the finished film was largely unchanged. It still followed a group of scientists who traveled to a distant planet after archaeologists uncovered a string of clues suggesting aliens visited humanity in the past, leaving star maps so they could one day make contact. This Weyland (pre-Yutani) funded expedition eventually leads the team down an ancient alien-inspired rabbit hole as they uncover the sinister intentions these alien engineers had for our species.

Along the way, the story makes use of various religious references, incorporating everything from gruesome virgin births to multicultural creation myths and even referencing the Alien Jesus conspiracy theory. Although this important piece of knowledge was cut from the finished film, Scott would later admit that one of the engineers’ main motivations for wanting to wipe out humanity was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, who was apparently a peaceful alien emissary sent by a superior species. to help us in our cosmic evolution.

While removing such a controversial idea makes sense from a marketing standpoint, it’s a shame Scott wasn’t allowed to pull out all the stops with these crazy theories. The director is clearly fascinated by religious and existential themes, and even if you’re not a fan of PrometheusYou have to admit, these are bold concepts to explore in a big-budget blockbuster. Scott would come back to some of these ideas even later in both Alien: Covenant (another underrated sci-fi/horror romp that deserves its own revaluation) and the tragically underrated HBO series Raised by wolves

Prometheus is actually filled to the brim with references to other work by Scott, with various sci-fi elements harking back to Blade Runner† Weyland’s “I want more life” motivation is clearly a nod to Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty, and Michael FassbenderThe whole character seems to be a riff on the themes explored in the iconic Phillip K. Dick adaptation. While David isn’t technically a replica, the film’s additional material suggests that Weyland and the Tyrell companies once competed to produce synthetic life, placing the two franchises in the same universe.

PROMETHEUS |  via FOX

David is the real star of the show.

Besides the esoteric story, the rest of the film is also a masterful achievement in filmmaking. Thanks to Sir Ridley Scott’s regal influence, this meaty sci-fi thriller has a surprisingly star-studded cast, including Noomi RapaceCharlize TheronIdris Elba | and the ever lovable Benedict Wongo† Even the stereoscopic photography is top notch, with Dariusz Wolskiz making this one of the most impressively shot 3D movies out there.

The horror elements are also quite effective, with sinister touches like composer Marc Streitenfeld let the orchestra play its score (and unused) Alan Silvestri compositions) backwards and then reverse the music so that it sounded creepy in the final movie. This creative approach to the film’s terror extends to the visual design as well, with the production team originally aiming to avoid copying HR Giger’s iconic imagery. However, they soon realized it was impossible to get away from the artist’s biomechanical nightmares when designing something xenomorphic, so Giger was inevitably brought on board as a consultant. Prometheus is actually the last film to benefit from the Swedish artist’s input, with Giger contributing to the project with several new alien designs.

Prometheus Noomi Rapace

These qualities don’t exactly excuse infamous blunders like Rapace engaging in intense action sequences minutes after undergoing horrific surgery or less-than-intelligent moments like supposed experts endangering the entire expedition due to unprofessional behavior, but I’m firmly believe that the creative intent here trumps the film’s flaws. If you think about it, these imperfections only stand out because the filming around them is so damn good, not because they ruin the experience.

Frankly, the only problem that really bothers me here is the bloated ensemble, which leaves no room for talented playwrights like Elba and Guy Pearce to fully develop their admittedly interesting characters. The over-reliance on supplemental material like the viral marketing campaign (which spawned a series of brilliant short films and in-universe ads) to fully understand the story is also a bit annoying, especially when so many cool concepts and monster designs are on the floor of the cutting plant.

While it’s fun to speculate about the movie that Prometheus could have been, I still think it’s a marvel of a movie, despite its many flaws. It is definitely the most creative feature to get out of the . to come Alien franchise since the 1979 original, and I think the prequel’s reputation as a missed opportunity is largely unjustified. In a world where interesting intellectual properties are usually wasted on boring replays, Scott somehow managed to gift us an intelligent standalone thriller that still offers plenty of treats for hardcore Alien fans, which is why it is still worth revisiting 10 years later and beyond.

PROMETHEUS by Ridley Scott

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