The trailer for Prometheus had been a long time coming, and well teased too, but it’s been with us for a few days now.
And having had the chance to live with it a little, I’m still as absolutely fascinated as I was when the first footage rolled at Comic-Con in the summer.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some questions. Indeed, looking closely – very closely – at the trailer, I’ve seen some things that have left me not satisfied that Prometheus is going to be as tidy and muscular as the original Alien. There are ideas here that could go either way – provocative and exciting, or goofy and a little bit disappointing.
Let’s take a close look at some images from the trailer and see what we can’t work out.
First observation: more or less every one of these images features the slowly revealed title card, white text appearing in sequential fragments. The word Prometheus fades up during this trailer just as Alien did in the opening minutes of the original film.
This titling conceit is one of the most absolute and convincing pieces of evidence we have against the official Fox position that Prometheus is not an Alien prequel. They’re contradicting themselves by building a trailer to so specifically make this association and then denying it in official statements, and I’ll be blown if I can work out what the motivation for such caginess is.
The film most definitely is a prequel. I was told that a year ago and I never doubted it for a second.
So. From the top.
What does it mean that the Fox and Scott Free logos distort like this? It carries connotations of weakend signals from other places. This is how the Nostromo was led into danger… is it also the bait for the Prometheus?
I love that the camera retains the alignment of the ship and the planet rotates in the background. We’re very much “with” the ship here.
The vehicles are marked with the Weyland Yutani logo, as was witnessed on set earlier in the year.
I believe this shot is framed to recall one in Alien as an indication that we’re in the exact same location. Note that the tunnel is free of the strange, biomechanoid-looking surfaces, which I’d assume is because the Alien alien hasn’t yet taken over and made this place into home.
And when we go into the next room with the ampules, the same kind of shot recycling occurs. Last time, though, these were alien eggs and there was no giant head. The question is: if it’s the same room, which I am 100% convinced that it is, how do we get from what we see here to what we saw in Alien?
Suddenly, one of the characters is grabbing their helmet in fear and there’s some kind of smoke. From what we’ve seen in the other Alien films it might be assumed to be from an acid burn of some sort. But who is this character?
I think it’s Holloway, as played by Logan Marshall Green. There’s a shot of him later in which he looks like this:
You can see that his face has changed a little – some kind of bumps or, god forbid, bubbling. If you’re not sure of his identity from such a strained expression, take note of the name label on the top of his head.
It seems like a reasonable guess that Holloway may have removed his mask here to let some deadly gas out.
But I’d also guess that he was too late. Here’s how I think his mutation is going to continue:
And here’s what that character looks like, zoomed in a little:
We got another look at the burned, disfigured character in one of the countdown clips:
So, it would seem that Holloway becomes somehow affected by something, and ultimately, he ends up fighting with his unaffected fellow space peeps. A bit Sunshine-y that, maybe?
Now the trailer is about to get into something really exciting. Look at what they have in the lab here, on the scanner bed.
Who’s this in the glasses on the left, the fourth explorer in this tunnel? And what is that other explorer looking at on the floor? And what are the red lights doing?
I’m pretty sure this bedroom shot features Holloway sitting to the right, and Noomi Rapace as Shaw on the left.
What’s he so ashamed about? Or despairing of?
Here, Michael Fassbender’s character, David, is pulling something with organic components from some sort of container. The similarities to the facehuggers in the eggs in the previous Alien films are immediate and striking.
Now, here’s Charlize Theron as Vickers, running and stripping. Note that she is upright in relation to us but the corridor is not – is this after a crash landing of some kind?
Where’s she headed and why is she stripping? And can we assume that the next shot follows somewhere down the way?
Notice how the vehicles are racing back to the Prometheus on a “road”. Something industrial if not civilized has been working on this planet in some respect. It seems most likely that it would be the Space Jockey or Engineer characters, and that they are on this planet to terraform it.
Here’s a shot from Iceland, I believe, where Scott was filming “the beginning of time.” It seems like the birth of everything was presided over by a relatively featureless giant disc thing.
I don’t know who half of these people are but there’s some old man make-up lurking over there on the left, I’m sure of it. But who is this rubber faced “Little Big Man” in space?
I think it’s the same character we can see in a wheelchair in this shot of Shaw collapsing, bloody and beaten.
Now, my best guess is that it’s either Guy Pearce or Patrick Wilson under the makeup because I can’t confidently place either of them elsewhere in the trailer at all, and they’re both on the billing.
Why is he in a wheelchair in this shot, and not later? I assume he’s getting fitter after some time in suspended animation, is later seen to be building up his muscles sufficiently.
Several shots from the end of the trailer show the Space Jockey’s ship apparently crash landing but the most important, I think, is the one with a mid-air explosion. Is this the result of a collision – and if so, with what?
If we assume that the collision is with the Prometheus that explains why that ship’s landing gear can be seen burning on the ground in another shot during the sequence.
And that assumption, in turn, possibly places this shot, in which a torn-off landing gear appears, somewhere after the crash. But what’s causing the big blast? Has something exploded?
I don’t think we have enough info to be sure about that chronology, but it’s encouraging to know that the string of cause and effect is obviously bigger than we can seen in just this trailer.
One of the most isolated shots in the whole trailer is this inverted close-up of Noomi Rapace as Shaw.
She looks to be in a great deal of pain. But I don’t think we should think the shot just happens to be upside down. What’s going on that would lead Scott to film the shot this way? The most likely assumption, I think, is that she’s lying on a surface and characters are standing at her head end. This shot could cut into that sequence in several ways.
And so if she’s lying down, why? Well, a shot I saw at Comic-Con suggested she had something inside her. Something growing. Gestating.
And, finally, we get to this trailer’s big reveal.
I was saying that I don’t think the specimen under investigation in the lab/scanner scene was a Space Jockey head. That’s because I think we see the Space Jockey’s head elsewhere. In this next image, in fact.
Standing to the right of the frame is a tall humanoid character. Based on the scale of this room as presented in Alien, I’m guessing he’s at least ten feet tall, maybe twelve or even fifteen. Here’s a close-up.
Perhaps this is the character that Guy Pearce is playing, or maybe even Patrick Wilson – they have IMDB credits linking them to other roles but, well, that’s IMDB and I’ll believe it when I see it elsewhere.
I imagine Scott’s using performance capture technology for the Space Jockey character – or, if there’s more of them, these characters.
I believe that they are being referred to as Engineers, and I think this relates more to their involvement with bio-engineering than mechanical engineering. Or, this being an Alien film, that they meddle with the biomechanical, blending the two.
If you look at the control chair you’ll see the “mask” open where you’d see the head in the shots of this cockpit from Alien. It seems that the Space Jockey gets inside the big bio-mech exoskeleton to pilot his unusual ship.
Many of us had actually assumed, or at the very least fantasised, that this was case since seeing the first film.
The Space Jockey’s face looks a little bit like Ralph Fiennes, I think, but even more like the giant head. Here’s an image of that from the countdown clips:
So, there’s an awful lot more in the first full trailer for Prometheus than there needed to be – but something else was conspicuously absent.
The following is a grab from a very quick shot revealed in the first countdown clip:
What is that thing? And where in the story does it fit? Is it human?
Or… was it human?
It’s surprising that this image was released officially, but not used in the trailer proper.
Prometheus seems to feature humanoid aliens, odd spacecraft playing a part in the beginnings of time, and humans that mutate into… into other things.
Compared to the clean and lean monster house set-up of the first film, I’d say this picture is looking mighty complicated, and suddenly the rumoured plot ingrediants of gene-altering bioformer chemicals and humans transforming into the familiar starbeast Xenomorph don’t sound so unlikely.
It was only a minute’s worth of footage but this trailer has had me thinking for hours. Here’s hoping the film can manage the same ratio.