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Now we know who to blame for Prometheus

If you were reading this blog a few months back, chances are you would be aware of the textual yowl of existential agony that was my disappointment with the long-anticipated Prometheus

Ridley Scott's sort-of Alien prequel turned out to be one of the summer's most underwhelming - or at least disappointing - of all the big-ticket releases: riddled with plot holes, cursed with silly dialogue, and not really recognisably of the "Alienverse" it couldn't seem to decide whether it was a part of or not. 

To refresh your memory, at the time I said

"So who's at fault here? My instinct is to look to Damon "Lost" Lindelof's script rewrite. Thanks to the Pentagon-level security/secrecy that surrounded the production from the word go, we will likely never be able to see Jon Spaihts' original drafts, but based on various interviews with the screenwriter (as well as knowledge of some of his other unproduced but very impressive scripts), the guy knows enough about sci-fi that had Prometheus been penned solely by him, it likely wouldn't have ended up Swiss cheesed full of plot holes you could drive the Nostromo through."

At the time, of course, it was mere speculation based on little more than the fact I am not a huge fan of Lindelof's work, and conversely, was very impressed by Spaihts'. 

But thanks to aforementioned tightly-held production secrets, I just assumed we'd never be able to confirm or deny whose fault Prometheus' suckiness was. 

UNTIL NOW!

Badass Digest today posted a link to the PDF of Spaihts' script (Alien: Engineers), and breathlessly noted, "This is the movie Prometheus should have been. Look upon it and despair. Especially if you're Damon Lindelof."

So are they right? 

Uh, that's a big fat YES. Spaihts' script (yes, I'm a fast reader) is terrific, connected to the Alienverse (blue-collar workers in space) while still breathing new life into the existing franchise. His dialogue is smart, the characters are rich, and you don't come away from it feeling like you just paid to be punched in the face. 

Plus Spaihts' descriptive passages are a pleasure to read: 

They are men - and yet not men. Their skin is snow-white. Their features heavy and classical - as if Rodin’s Thinker had risen from his seat. Their smooth heads are earless and hairless. Their glittering eyes entirely black.

(I should also note that if you found yourself longing for a chest-burster moment during the film, there's a love scene in Spaihts' script that should make your day.) 

If you're still smarting from the disappointment of Prometheus, I highly recommend putting the original score on and settling down to read Spaihts' script. 

Imagining what could have been is close enough to seeing it, right? 

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7 comments so far..

  • SamJ's avatar
    Commenter
    SamJ
    Date and time
    Tuesday 13 Nov 2012 - 1:46 PM
    for bonus disappointment, also try reading Derabont's original script for indiana jones 4... the one that spielberg wanted, but lucas apparently saw fit to re-write.
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  • Cameron Browne's avatar
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    Cameron Browne
    Date and time
    Wednesday 14 Nov 2012 - 8:39 PM
    Same thing with "Aliens 3". That was such a huge disappointment after the heights reached in "Aliens", mostly down to a weak story and awful dialogue. Then to read William Gibson's brilliant script for that movie which was rejected, you get a glimpse of what might have been.
    Reading "Alien: Engineers" now with great interest...
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  • blakeavon's avatar
    Commenter
    blakeavon
    Date and time
    Wednesday 14 Nov 2012 - 9:37 PM
    Wow i found this a remarkably stupid article. I am one of the people who actually loved Prometheus despite its few minors flaws. Name one major Science fiction film in the last ten years that was actually smarter than this? there isnt any. In theory it could have been better, and indeed worse (see John Carter) In a sense after watching the three hour making-of, the only real mistake Ridley made was thinking his audience was more intelligent than it really was. While some claim it answered nothing and listed all its flaws they called plot holes (?!), people like me knew most of the answers from one viewing. It is easy for us to sit at home and slam the finished product, however who here has actually made or even written a film. Ridley in life has delivered Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Black Rain, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator and they are only just his A films. He knows his stuff. But like all directors can make mistakes.

    He made a great point on the Blade Runner extras, he didnt want the narration but his choices were 1) not use, keep backers offside, it see the film never given a huge release, therefore be a failure/waste of time or 2) use it see backers happy with it, therefore getting a large viewing base. What back seat critics fail to understand is having a brilliant script is nothing in the Hollywood machine. Its takes so much more.

    You know what: Alien wasnt popular at the time, nor was Blade Runner now look at them, the same can be said of Prometheus in ten years time, im glad on the team that is ahead of curve and dont waste my time hating it for its slight flaws. He took chances some paid off some didnt, thats a talent film maker for everyone else there is Avatar, John Carter, Transformers or unremarkable remakes like The Thing, Total Recall
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  • gazza's avatar
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    gazza
    Date and time
    Thursday 15 Nov 2012 - 4:42 AM
    Worst scifi movie ever (after john carpenter). Waste of 3 hours of my life. Holes in the story, dialogue and acting. Having a few drinks in the gold lounge was the only thing that made me sit there, watch and numb the pain.
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  • -D's avatar
    Commenter
    -D
    Date and time
    Thursday 15 Nov 2012 - 11:13 AM
    "Name one major Science fiction film in the last ten years that was actually smarter than this?"

    Children of Men? Disctrict 9? Moon? Primer? The Road? Wall-E?

    How many do you want? I liked Prometheus, but left me wanting more. The Engineers script didn't.
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  • crystaltowers's avatar
    Commenter
    crystaltowers
    Date and time
    Thursday 15 Nov 2012 - 2:09 PM
    Cameron - I think I've read every Alien 3 script available online, and none of them were significantly better than the Alien 3 we got. IMHO.

    Gazza - Do you mean "John Carter"? Or are you referring to the entire works of director John Carpenter as though they're one 50-hour film? That WOULD be the worst. But John Carter was fun.

    Clem - I'll give it a go, but honestly, this debate over Prometheus. Wouldn't it all be null 'n void if there were no old films and this was the very first? I suspect a lot more people would be going "You know, that wasn't bad."
    The whole inadequacy argument is mired in a pit of past-experience bias, thicker and blacker than the film's magic tar. Imagine trying to meet all those expectations? What's more, I was pretty pleased to see a film - which is still easily the 3rd best in the Alien series overall - finally get made after 25 years of frustration and pain across 4 other depressing and often downright idiotic and irrelevant sequels.

    *SPOILERS*

    To have a film end with a woman...alone on a distant world, surrounded by alien technology, and with no hope of rescue and nothing but the still-working, decapitated head of a semi-trustworthy android in a carry bag. I actually found that conflicted and awe-inspiring in a classic kind of way.
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  • Pamela's avatar
    Commenter
    Pamela
    Date and time
    Friday 16 Nov 2012 - 5:14 PM
    Forget possible alternative scripts, forget possible alternative story lines, in fact forget Prometheus. No Alien can exist without Ripley! I was given the video collection by my wonderful son and all of them are better than this latest ham-fisted prequel. Ripley is the hero, alien monster is the protagonist, throw in a robot ,stick to the recipe and its all good. Ripley's character is defined. That poor little lead girl tried hard but just doesn't have the "it" factor to equal Ripley. I doubt if she is replaceable. Thanks Sigourney, for the memories!
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