It’s T-50 until the release of Prometheus and on Tuesday the great and the good (OK, film hacks from around Europe) were invited to London’s Leicester Square to watch a teensy bit more footage from the movie.
The crowd were shown approximately five minutes of new material, including what may be the entirety of the opening scene in which archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her lover and colleague Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) uncover a pictogram that Shaw sees as confirmation that aliens visited Earth in pre-history and invited humans back to theirs. Next we were whisked straight off into space and the exploratory vehicle Prometheus. We are introduced to the crew, from push-up loving suit Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) to disgruntled staffer Fifield (Sean Harris). There’s an on-ship briefing, a bit of truculent banter and the judicious use of technology which, it’s fair to say, is far more sophisticated than that in the Nostromo, despite it taking to the skies decades later (in Alien time). From there the descent begins to planet LV223 and, one suspects, the trouble starts.
Back on Earth, we got the chance to pop a few questions in the direction of cast members Theron, Michael Fassbender (who plays the ship’s android, David) and Rapace. Oh, and Mother himself, Ridley Scott. With the film so highly anticipated and its relation to the Alien series of movies still debated, what did we learn from this little event?
1) It’s all about the “space jockey”. The colloquial name for the creature uncovered by the crew of the Nostromo in the original Alien, the space jockey (James Cameron calls it “the big dental patient”) is a carcass, its chest exploded in bits, probably by a xenomorph. In the Q+A, Scott said the “who is the space jockey?” question will be answered and that the film is “the story of a pilot”.
2) Elizabeth Shaw is the new Ripley. This may not surprise everyone – although it did one journalist, who asked Theron what it was like to follow in the footsteps of Sigourney Weaver only to be told to redirect her question to Rapace instead. Shaw is the wide-eyed archaeologist who, in the UK trailer, discovers a crucial cave painting that leads to a trip into the stars. By the end of the movie, we’re reliably informed, Shaw is transformed into a hardened, remorseless soldier. Whether that’s a hardened, remorseless soldier with a weakness for ginger cats, remains to be seen.
3) Watch out for the Weyland Corporation. That’s the company that funds Shaw’s trip across the universe, and its CEO and founder is a nonagenarian called Peter (Guy Pearce in, it’s fair to say, excessive prosthetics). Of course, anyone with even a passing association with the Alien movies will know that suits are not to be trusted. The footage showed a hologram of an apparently now deceased Weyland (that can happen during a transgalactic journey) publicly humiliating his charge, Vickers. This suggests they’re still not to be touched with an electrified bargepole.
4) There will be other Alien echoes. More than just a few, perhaps. While Scott says the links between Prometheus and the original film will only become clear “in the final seven minutes”, it seems as though there will be a deliberate pairing of characters and events throughout. So for Shaw read Ripley, for Idris Elba’s Janek read Tom Skerrit’s Dallas (the scruffy but debonair captain) and there seems to be an expanded cast of disgruntled below-stairs workers too. Most intriguingly though, Scott hinted at there being an equivalent to the defining chestburst scene. When asked about the original, Scott said there will be a refiguring of some sorts in Prometheus; “There will be an equivalent, but it will be private to Shaw,” he said. The lucky girl.
5) Fassbender might just steal the show. Everyone’s favourite half-German plays David, the sole android on ship. Again, we know that in Alien Iain Holm’s Ash sold the entire crew out. Will David do the same? That audience suspicion will seemingly be played on as, going by the footage, Fassbender plays David as an airy, affable butler figure, shuffling around the ship with the awkward grace of an arthritic ballet dancer. The character looks almost lovable, which would make for an even better doublecross. In London, Fassbender cited an intriguing mixture of influences for his role, ranging from the obvious, Blade Runner, to the unlikely, Dirk Bogarde’s The Servant and Lawrence of Arabia, to the downright odd, in the shape of former Olympic diver Greg Louganis.
• This article was amended on Wednesday 11 April 2012. We originally said that Prometheus lands on planet LFE222, in fact the ship lands on LV223. This has been corrected.
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