Prometheus Blu-Ray Collector’s Edition Review
Posted by Darkness on October 8, 2012 (Updated: 08-Oct-2012)
Prometheus comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on October 8th in the UK and October 9th in the US. There are a few different versions out there. The regular Blu-Ray release only comes with the Commentaries and the Deleted Scenes. In order to get all the special features, you need to fork out for the Special/Collector’s Edition set which includes the 3D Bluray, Bluray and Bonus Disk.
I must admit when I left the cinema after watching Prometheus, I was pretty confused by the whole thing, as were lots of other people. I wasn’t sure what to make of it and I still aren’t any closer to understanding it to be honest. What I’ve noticed over the past few months is that some people seem to passionately love the movie whereas others hate it. I’m somewhat in the middle. I was pretty devastated when the news came out that Prometheus was no longer going to be a direct Alien Prequel. I figured it would have a lot of similarities to Alien and it still would have been worth following.
So what’s the movie about? It’s sort of an origins story about the mysterious Space Jockey creature we saw in Alien, known in Prometheus as the ‘Engineers’. They are the creators of life on Earth as well as many other planets. The opening scene in the film shows a 9ft Engineer drinking a dark liquid and his cells begin to break down, thus seeding life on the planet. In 2089, a group of archaeologists find a star map in Scotland and Peter Weyland of Weyland Corp funds a mission to go to this moon on a spacecraft called the Prometheus, to find the Engineers.
The story was originally written by Jon Spaihts as an Alien Prequel and later Lost’s Damon Lindelof came on board to make it more of a standalone story. While it’s not an Alien Prequel in the sense of xenomorphs running around, I wouldn’t class it as a standalone movie either, as it’s firmly rooted in the Alien universe with many of the same elements. I think the trouble with Prometheus, it doesn’t know what it wants to be. The biggest problem with the recent string of Alien movies, is that they are all plagued with very poor scripts and Prometheus is no exception. I have yet to read Jon Spaihts’ original draft so it’s hard to judge if Damon Lindelof made things better or worse. He created a much grander mythology for the film, I suppose. I really liked Lost and the whole mythology in that show but far too many questions were left unanswered in Prometheus. Who were the Engineers? What were their motives? What happened 2000 years ago? What exactly was the dark liquid? I know fans of the movie will argue they like ambiguity but to me, it’s just very poor writing. Everything in the movie is kept very open-ended for subsequent sequels to answer.
Back to the movie, we’re soon introduced the main characters. We initially see David the android (Michael Fassbender) roaming around the halls of the Prometheus spacecraft. Noomi Rapace is the lead actress playing archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw and her love interest is Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Charlize Theron plays the cold-hearted Weyland Corp employee Meredith Vickers. Other characters include Captain Janek (Idris Elba), Fifield (Sean Harris), Milburn (Rafe Spall) and Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce). The true star of the film has to be Michael Fassbender. He really puts his heart and soul into his performance and in a lot of ways, this is his story. You’re never quite sure what David’s motives are in the film. I liked Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba, particularly and I think they bring a lot to their characters. I’m not so fond of Holloway. His character is just plain annoying. I also have to mention Guy Pearce who plays old Peter Weyland who appears at the end of the film. It’s no fault of the actor but he has been badly miscast as Peter Weyland. He even says in one of the bonus features: ‘Why didn’t they just cast some old guy to play the part?’. I agree with him. The makeup effects looked pretty strange.
When the characters land on the moon, they soon explore this pyramid structure. I will say this for Prometheus. The sets look absolutely amazing. They’re epic in every sense of the word and it really makes you believe they’re on some distant planet. Production designer Arthur Max did an incredible job. One of the things I loved about the original Alien was HR Giger’s work and they’ve matched it very well here. I am disappointed that Giger wasn’t properly involved in production… either designing the sets or the new creatures. He supposedly did some work on a mural which by the way, was never mentioned in the bonus features. He did some rough sketches of the new creatures but Ridley Scott said they didn’t have enough time to pursue them.
The characters soon discover more about the Engineers. Upon discovering a dead Engineer, Fifield and Milburn get scared and wonder off on their own. It’s a little hard to believe that these two would get scared so easily. The characters come across an Ampule Chamber with lots and lots of urns and this huge humanoid head. They make it back to the ship while Fifield and Milburn are still wondering around the Pyramid. It has taken us over an hour but we finally get some creature action. The Hammerpede creature kills Milburn and Fifield is infected with the dark liquid. Meanwhile, David infects Holloway who then inadvertently infects Shaw. Later Shaw performs a caesarean on herself using the Med-Pod and a squid-like creature (Trilobite) is removed. She runs off and the resulting creature is completely forgotten about until the end of the movie. Not even David seems to question it, especially since he was acting very strange about it when he told Shaw she was ‘pregnant’.
Fifield, who has been mutated by the dark liquid, appears at the hanger bay and attacks the Prometheus crew. So this is what Prometheus has resorted to? Mutants running around attacking people? It’s quite frankly hard to believe this somehow started off as an alien prequel. Again, this is my trouble with Prometheus. It’s never explained how the dark liquid works. It seems to mutate organisms but there are way too many different variations of what can happen. Like the Engineer seeding life at the start of the film and a creature gestating inside of Shaw. The life cycle in the Alien franchise was perfectly designed. It was simple to understand. In Prometheus, the dark liquid is more like a virus, similar to the Resident Evil series.
The third act of the film involves Peter Weyland being awoken from stasis to meet a living Engineer, played by fan-favourite Ian Whyte no less. David speaks to the Engineer only for the Engineer to kill everybody and Shaw escapes. The Engineer sets out to complete his mission and destroy Earth. He flies a wishbone-shaped spacecraft “Juggernaut” out of the ground only for Janek to crash the Prometheus ship into it. I admit it’s a great moment in the film seeing the Juggernaut spacecraft in flight and then seeing it roll over. Just like the sets, they’ve got the design just right. Similar to Giger’s Derelict Spacecraft but with subtle differences. Shaw reaches the Life Boat and the Engineer attacks her. She releases the Trilobite creature which has now grown exponentially. It easily overpowers the Engineer and infects him in a similar way to a Facehugger in the Alien franchise. A new creature emerges from the Engineer: The Deacon while Shaw and David fly off on another wishbone-shaped ship headed for the Engineer homeworld.
As I already mentioned, I’m no fan of the script and I honestly would have preferred it had Lindelof not been involved. There’s no denying it. I wanted a proper Alien Prequel with Facehuggers, Chestbursters and Xenomorphs… and maybe ending with how the Derelict Spacecraft crashed on LV-426 in the first place. Too many questions are raised and none of them are answered. It almost feels anti-climactic. There’s no payoff and I don’t think Prometheus really ever accomplishes anything in the two hours running time. We don’t learn really anything about the Engineers let alone the Xenomorphs that we didn’t know already. The film is full of big ideas, the origins of life on Earth and all that. You don’t often see this sort of story in a big mainstream movie so I applaud for them for that.
The movie that Prometheus reminded me the most of was AvP. The similarities are quite striking. Even some of the scenes in Prometheus were almost carbon copies of AvP. For instance, when the characters were receiving the mission briefing by Peter Weyland, it was virtually the same setup as Charles Bishop Weyland doing the same thing in AvP. Then we have the underground pyramid, the exploring of it, the ‘Chariot of the Gods’… the idea of an advanced civilisation helping human beings in some way. The Engineers are virtually the Predators, both beings capable of creating/breeding Aliens, albeit for different reasons. Then we have the final shot of an Alien bursting out of one of them in both movies. I know we like to criticize AvP but there are many aspects to AvP that were simply done a whole lot better than in Prometheus. More time was given to the characters and exploring the pyramid whereas the ideas in Prometheus were grander and it had more style to it. Even without the Alien creatures we know and love, I’d say Prometheus has the edge on AvP, but not by much.
For a movie that’s 2 hours long, it’s surprising just how little action there is in Prometheus, and even less creature action. Prometheus also isn’t a scary movie. They don’t even try to build up any tension. Ultimately, this is because the creatures aren’t the star of the movie. They’re more or less an afterthought. The creature designs seem very generic and uninspired. These creatures are supposed to be the precursors to the Facehugger, Chestburster and what did we get? The Hammerpede creature is a weird mutation of a worm, the same with Fifield, and the Trilobite is a giant squid that serves the same purpose as the Facehugger. The only one I think they got right was the Deacon which actually did look like a precursor to an adult Xenomorph. It was very Gigeresque in nature. I just wish they’d have involved Giger from the outset. Who would be better to design early versions of the Alien creatures than the man who originally designed them. I don’t particularly mind the design of the Engineers. It’s been known for quite a long time that Ridley Scott was going down the route of having a humanoid creature inside of a suit. I doubt this was Giger’s original intention when he designed the Space Jockey but I think this was the best way of getting the Jockeys into another film.
The sets on the planet, inside the pyramid and the Juggernaut are fantastic. It’s easily the most epic movie out of the Alien franchise. The visual style and effects are equally as stunning which is what we come to expect from a Ridley Scott film. Another plus for the film is the R-Rating. It’s a very tame R-Rating. Other than Fifield attacking the crew and Shaw’s caesarean, there’s not a whole lot of blood or gore. It’s kind of surprising the studio agreed to the R-Rating. Finally, the score was done by Marc Streitenfeld. Some people didn’t like it but I thought it was alright. It does seem to give the impression that something big and profound is happening. There are some moments in the score that actually reminded me of Superman/Smallville.
I think we can agree on one thing, Prometheus didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it. The idea of an Alien Prequel has been rumbling for years and years and in the end, we got some weird mixture. I’m still very interested in any sequels they make. There is a lot of potential here with the mythology to create something spectacular but all in all this was a very disappointing movie for me. It’s better than Alien Resurrection and both AvPs which isn’t a hard task. In case you’re wondering, despite the early rumours of a Director’s Cut or an Extended Cut, the Blu-Ray release contains the Theatrical version. There are some deleted scenes but they don’t answer any of the questions we have, despite what the recent marketing campaign says.
The Picture & Sound
The movie is presented in a widescreen (2.40:1) presentation, with audio in DTS-HD-MA 7.1. As expected, the film looks awesome. The picture is clean and sharp. The alien environments really do come alive. The audio is equally as good too. Dialogue is very clear throughout. I wasn’t able to view the 3D Blu-Ray as I don’t own a 3D TV so I’m basing this on the regular 2D version.
The Special Features
Commentary By Director/Producer Ridley Scott
I must admit I was pretty disappointed with Ridley Scott’s commentary for Prometheus. He generally spends the whole commentary giving an overview of what’s happening on screen. Occasionally he’ll go into some detail about the behind-the-scenes of a sequence but I haven’t learnt anything from the commentary that I didn’t already know. Such a shame too as his commentaries for the original Alien releases were quite good. He almost seems quite bored doing this one.
Commentary By Writer Jon Spaihts And Writer/Executive Producer Damon Lindelof
The second commentary on the release is with writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. This one doesn’t disappoint, however. I’ve often been fascinated as to what Spaihts’ original script entailed so I enjoyed hearing about how Prometheus evolved from a direct alien prequel to a more or less standalone movie. They also reveal quite a few scenes that were scripted or changed from the original drafts. It’s far more interesting than Ridley Scott’s commentary either way.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes
I guess the vast majority of us were greatly anticipating the deleted scenes for Prometheus. There are 14 deleted/alternate scenes in total with some optional commentary from editor Pietro Scalia and visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers. Some of them were quite interesting. The alternate opening with the Elder Engineer, and the Engineer talking with David at the end of the film. It’s not hard to see why they were cut. It sort of de-mystifies the Engineers by showing too much about them.
Another interesting scene was Fifield’s attack at the hanger bay. The makers toyed with the idea of making Fifield a completely CGI creature. There’s a bit of a mixed reaction to this but I actually liked the idea of Fifield more or less transforming into a xenomorph-like creature. Instead we got a f**ked-up mutant on the loose though I can definitely see why Ridley Scott preferred makeup effects since it’s more realistic than CGI. Another interesting scene was the fight between Shaw and the Engineer which was greatly extended. Again, I can sort of see why this was cut but it was nice seeing that there was more to this scene. The rest of the deleted scenes don’t had a whole lot to the movie. They’re mostly just slight extensions of existing scenes. Unfortunately none of the burning questions the film raised are answered in any of the deleted scenes.
The Peter Weyland Files
If you’ve been following the various Prometheus viral videos online over the past year, then you’ll have seen these four videos already. The first is called Quiet Eye and features Elizabeth Shaw doing a sort of video interview for Peter Weyland. The second video is called Happy Birthday, David which features a demonstration of David and his capabilities. This one is my favourite. Michael Fassbender is equally great here as he is in the movie. The third viral video is called Prometheus Transmission which features several characters being interviewed. The last viral video is the TED Conference 2023 with Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland giving a speech.
The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus
This documentary is the main feature on the Bonus Disk and clocks in at a monstrous 3 hours 40mins. It covers every aspect of pre-production, production and, post-production and release. The feature starts with the origins of Prometheus and how it all began as an alien prequel. Writer Jon Spaihts talks at great length about his original alien prequel script and we learn how Damon Lindelof came aboard. The next section deals with the conceptual stage of production. We see a lot of the concept art and storyboards that were done for the film including what the creatures could have looked like. One part I found interesting was HR Giger’s contribution. It always remained a bit of a mystery as to what Giger did on production and Ridley Scott said in the feature that some of Giger’s drawings were interesting but he didn’t have enough time to pursue them. It kind of makes me wonder why they even bothered involving Giger at all. The next section ‘Reverse engineering: USCSS Prometheus’ covers the design of the Prometheus spacecraft and vehicles from concept to construction. We move onto the cast and how they came aboard the project as well as their various costumes.
The next part of the feature involves the construction of the massive sets at Pinewood studios. After that is the creature designs and how they worked in the film. Key moments include the Hammerpede, the Med-Pod sequence, the Trilobite and the Deacon. The features moves onto the stunts and the visual effects. They talk about the Fifield sequence and the idea of using CGI vs makeup effects. The last section of the documentary covers post-production and release. Things such as sound effects and the score. Take special notice in the final five minutes of the documentary because AvPGalaxy can be seen when they start talking about the fanbase for the film. Overall, this is a fantastic documentary. I highly recommend you see it. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, it’s still interesting learning about how it was all done. One thing that struck me is just how passionate people were just to work on the movie.
The Enhancement Pods can either be accessed during the previous documentary as they popup from time to time or they can be accessed from the main menu. In total, there are 23 ‘Pods’ which last over an hour. They’re basically short videos about certain behind-the-scenes moments. Again, these are very interesting as they weren’t properly covered in the Making Of documentary. The first one covers the various titles the film had which range from Alien Genesis to Alien Origins. The Sexburster video covers an interesting scene from Spaihts’ original script. Originally Holloway was going to be infected with a Facehugger creature and the resulting creature was going to burst out of him during sex with Shaw. Other videos cover the Weyland logo, the Ampules, the Gigeresque sets, the Engineer’s language, the Engineer’s chair. The creatures get some attention too, each having their own video. There’s also a feature dedicated to the Alien Harvest fan script with shots of AvPGalaxy again.
The Art of Prometheus
This section contains hundreds of images from pre-production. Firstly, the first section is called Ridleygrams which covers various storyboards, sketches and notes done by director Ridley Scott. Next, we have artwork from H.R. Giger & Alex “Gutalin” Kozhanov. There’s 25 pieces from Giger and most of them are quite radically different to what we saw in the movie. To be fair, his early sketches for Alien and Alien 3 were also quite different to what we got in the final movies. Gutalin has a very similar style to Giger… very biomechanical in nature. He was hired to create some concepts of the Juggernaut and the Engineer’s facemask. The rest of the galleries include Concept Art, Costume Design, Creatures, Vehicles, Props and Logos. Some of the images have been released online already but there is a whole heap on new stuff here.
The Pre-Vis feature clocks in at around 25 minutes and contains select scenes from the movie that were done in pre-vis. Those scenes include the Prologue, Discovering the Planet, the Med-Pod R-Rated and PG13 versions, Awaking the Engineer and Prometheus vs. Juggernaut.
The first video shows a ten-minute screen test of Noomi Rapace acting two scenes with Rafe Spall. The first scene is similar to the deleted scene when Holloway is drunk and the second is with David’s severed head in the Juggernaut. The second feature shows Costume/Make-Up/Hair tests of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris and Emun Elliott with optional commentary from the actors.
Timelapse Sequence: Juggernaut
This feature shows a timelapse sequence of the Engineer’s control room being built with some optional commentary with production designer Arthur Max.
There are five huge galleries in this section containing production stills and behind-the-scenes photos from the Prometheus, the Pyramid, the Juggernaut, the Creature Shop and the shoot on Iceland.
The first gallery contains something I don’t often see on bluray features. It contains over 200 images of unused poster artwork for Prometheus as well as different title variations. The second gallery contains Key Art which is more official posters as well as some more concept stuff.
Trailers, TV-Spots, Promotional Featurettes, HBO First Look: Prometheus
As the title says, the first section contains all the Trailers and TV Spots you may have seen online, on TV or at the cinema. There are also 9 promo features which are short segments with interviews with cast and crew. Most of them have been released online over the past year. The last item on the set is the 12-minute feature that was shown on HBO back in May.
Fox Entertainment has put together another great Blu-Ray set here which is up there with the likes of the Alien Anthology in terms of content. I don’t think there is anything more they could have put into the set. Actually, scratch that, the one thing that was missing is Jon Spaihts’ original draft. It was rumoured to appear on the set or via the mobile app but at the time of writing, it hasn’t appeared. I am also disappointed that there is no Extended Cut but I guess Ridley Scott and Fox were happy with the theatrical cut of Prometheus. I think I gave the movie 3.5/5 back when I saw it in June but I’m going to give it 2.5/5 now. I’m still very much on the fence about it. I give the Blu-Ray release overall a solid 4/5.