Thirty three years ago, the film Alien defined the science fiction horror genre. For the first time movie goers watched a horrific monster hatching from humans. Throughout the years, the Alien or Xenomorph as it is called, appeared over and over in the Alien movies that followed, on TV shows, and even in comedy.
Now, Director Ridley Scott returns to the genre with the prequel Prometheus. Despite the similarities between the Alien films and Prometheus, Scott deviates from the original.
In the late 70s, Ridley Scott created two iconic characters: The Alien and Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver.
Ripley was the first female character to tackle a monster on the large screen. The role continued in the 80s and the 90s.
In James Cameron’s sequel Aliens, she saves a little girl from the Alien’s jaws. Ripley's maternal instincts match those of the Alien queen protecting her eggs. It’s a fight to the end.
In Alien 3, Ripley dies as she is about to spawn an Alien baby through her rib cage. She kills herself, taking her monstrous offspring along.
The trilogy was groundbreaking. From then on, women in film no longer cowered before physically superior adversaries.
But although Ridley Scott’s female survivalist is no longer novel, she still holds power over audiences, says Noomi Rapace who plays Elizabeth Shaw, the main character in Prometheus.
“She becomes a survivor, and she changes into a trooper and a warrior, a typical Ridley heroine,” Rapace said.
In the film, Elizabeth Shaw is an archeologist. During excavations, she finds evidence that humans have been genetically engineered by extraterrestrials.
Her findings inspire a mission in search of humanity's creators. They land on the planet where the first Alien film took place.
But in Prometheus, Ridley Scott does not follow the same pattern as in the previous Alien films. This one is cerebral and questions the theory of evolution.
The filmmaker says Prometheus stands on its own.
“I think we’ve tackled a lot of new ground which opened up the door of a different form of thinking. Get bolder, get braver, dare to talk about who made us and who made them,” Scott said.
But the film is not matching the success of its predecessors. Although its special effects are superior and it's in 3D, Ridley Scott’s spiritual search goes awry and the plot meanders.
The film has not been greeted as enthusiastically as was expected. Ridley Scott may have been undermined by his own genius.