With the release of Ridley Scott’s new science fiction epic, Prometheus, there’s one question keeps popping up from left, right, front and back. That is:
“Should I watch Alien before I watch Prometheus?”
I get asked this question a lot, a few times on Twitter, where the character limit makes me want to scream in agony whenever I try to explain things, so I’ve decided to write a lengthy, wordy answer here in my blog and link to it every time it comes up.
Now, my personal answer to the above question is:
Because I’ve been reading reviews from various sources and I came to the conclusion that the more negative reviews usually mention “it’s not what [I] expected; this is not worthy of Alien/Aliens.” I interpreted that kind of remark as “I watched Alien/Aliens, I liked them, and I wanted Prometheus to be just as good as Alien/Aliens. But as it turns not, Prometheus is nothing like Alien/Aliens, and I’m disappointed, so now I’m going to call this movie a failure.” It’s akin to saying, “I don’t like the movie because it’s not like how it goes in the book.” And this really, really, REALLY annoys me.
Basically, Prometheus is a different kind of movie from Alien/Aliens. It’s as different as it could be. The only thing that connects this to Alien is that it’s set in the same (story) universe. It’s the version of this world that has Weyland Corporations that sends mighty ships to outer space, the world where humankind on Earth is finally able to travel to distant planets and meet monstrous aliens. That’s it.
It would be awesome if one knows the universe beforehand because they watched Alien/Aliens/Alien³/Alien: Resurrection, but this knowledge is not necessary for you to be able to understand Prometheus. Screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof ensures that you can follow the events of Prometheus without knowing Alien as it stands on its own. Admittedly the creatures are similar in Alien, but not totally. Only about 55%. It’s probably best if your brain is devoid of all Alien thoughts, to enhance your capacity for accepting the events in Prometheus because it is one mind-boggling movie.
If anyone is still worried that they might not follow Prometheus because they didn’t watch the previous Alien movies, it doesn’t hurt to watch Alien. Just Alien. If you’ve watched Alien, you’ve watched them all – as in, you’ll know what’s what.
But if you don’t have a copy of the movie, well… since I’m being very nice, I will give you a cheat sheet written in a simplistic manner for the Alien universe newbies.
HIGHLIGHT TO READ (BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS):
- Movies in Alien universe:
1. Alien (1979) directed by Ridley Scott – he made Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Robin Hood (the one with Russell Crowe).
2. Aliens (1986) directed by James Cameron – he made Titanic and Avatar.
3. Alien³ (1992) directed by David Fincher – he made Se7en, The Social Network and the Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
4. Alien: Resurrection directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet – he is French and directed Amelie. Script was written by Joss Whedon (The Avengers director).
- The leading heroine of the all Alien movies above is called Ellen Ripley. She is played Sigourney Weaver and considered to be one of the first, if not the very first, female action hero in movies. All Alien movies are centered on Ripley.
- In Alien, a spaceship named Nostromo – crew of 7, including Ripley – received a distress signal from a planet called LV-426. The Nostromo went to answer the call and found some icky alien eggs on the planet. One of the crew members got attacked by an alien that hugged his face and ‘impregnated’ him. A few hours later, this alien dropped dead on the clinic, leaving the crew member’s face intact. Then several hours later, another alien burst out of the chest of that crew member – killing him – and this alien turned out to be a very deadly one. The remaining crew members fought this alien with their lives.
- Remember these terms:
Facehugger – aliens that attach themselves to any host’s (must be a living being) face and inseminates them with its seed, to create the next one… Chestburster - basically the ‘result’ of a facehugger’s ‘mating process’ with its host, that bursts out of the chest of the host, killing the host.
Alien queen - the mother alien that lays out the eggs of facehuggers.
Xenomorphs – what aliens in this movie universe is called.
- On androids, or synthetic humans/artificial persons, in the Alien universe. They’re robots with advanced AIs made by Weyland Corporations. They’re by far the most interesting characters in each movie. The one in Alien was played Ian Holm, the one in Aliens and Alien³ by Lance Henriksen and the one in Alien: Resurrection by Winona Ryder.
That’s really all you need to know. Hope you find the notes helpful. Happy watching!