Blu-ray Review: PROMETHEUS 4-DISC SPECIAL EDITION Makes the Case For the Prequel
Fox released this expansive four-disc set recently which includes the 3D version of the film on Blu-ray, a second Blu-ray with the 2D feature, commentary, and extras, and a third Blu-ray packed with additional content. Plus, there's a DVD copy of the film along with a digital code.
In any event. key takeaway from the collection of special features in Fox's Prometheus Blu-ray is that from the outset, everyone assembled knew that the Alien prequel (or "parallel" as screenwriter Damon Lindelof calls it) might be a hard sell to the type of crowd that would ostensibly be into a big, sprawling sci-fi epic from Ridley Scott. Consider all of the contortions Universal went through with their remake of John Carpenter's The Thing, that movie's failure likely attributable to both the quality of the work and the resistance of the horror faithful to an extended explanation/repeat of the first film.
"Well not with Prometheus," you can practically hear everyone involved here saying (not to imply they were thinking directly of The Thing remake--no one was thinking about that movie). It's almost defensive at times, with everyone from the writers to the producers charting the path from 2010 to the final cut proclaiming "this is why we did this, please understand."
That's not entirely accurate: Ridley Scott, in both his commentary and participation in the lengthy, multi-part making of doc seems very assured about the decisions that led to the Prometheus that made it to the screen. For all its faults, hearing the film's director speak with such confidence about his work--well, it doesn't resolve any of the faults with this troubled movie, but it makes them more understandable.
Screenwriters John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof have a separate commentary track, the two alternating in separate recordings where they elaborate on the how and the why of Prometheus. Spaihts spends much of his time talking about the differences between his original draft which was more obviously an Alien film complete with chest bursters and the familiar beats from the franchise while Lindelof does a lot of explaining, describing how and why some changes were made between drafts and the process of going with a more existentially-minded version of the story.
The movie disc also includes a collection of 14 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by VFX supervisor Richard Stammers and editor Pietro Scalia (36:51, HD). Many of these you've probably heard about already, including the alternate opening and closing, the latter featuring more Engineers in the primordial sequence, while some of the other cut scenes slightly altered the relationship between Shaw and Holloway and a dramatically different, CG-assisted version of Fiefield's attack on the cargo bay. I can imagine some viewers down the line clamoring to have these scenes reintegrated into the film proper, but that would give Prometheus an even more schizophrenic vibe than it already has now.
"The Peter Weyland Files" are four in-universe videos, one a psych assessment of Shaw; there's also the Weyland TED talk promo, a video transmission with interviews with the characters along with random Earth data for any aliens listening out there, and finally "Happy Birthday, David," the short focusing on Fassbender's David 8 line of android. One minor quibble: there's no option to select from the other shorts in the pop-up menu, and you'll have to back out to the main section, then navigate into the separate "Weyland Files" sub-menu.
Speaking of the menus, they represent a nice nod to the Alien Anthology Blu-ray release, sharing a more polished version of that set's Weyland archive interface.
Next we come to the dedicated features Blu-ray where we return to the idea that everyone really wants to explain why this movie exists. While I can't say I'm wholly convinced by their arguments, it's fascinating watch them lay out the hows and whys of the production, particularly in the nearly four hour (3:40:56) doc, "The Furious Gods: The Making of Prometheus." It's broken into ten parts from pre-production to release and uses an "Enhancement Mode" which offers sidetracks when an icon appears at the top of the screen, providing additional detail about a particular point in the production. I've been watching a lot of making of docs for indie movies lately and what strikes me about "The Furious Gods" is how relaxed everyone is here, how laid-back the production is versus the desperate, passionate scramble to get a movie made among some of the lower-budget counterparts. That's not a knock against Prometheus--just an observation.
"The Weyland Archives" offers a collection of pre-production art, screen tests, and footage from the shoot, along with the movie's trailers, TV spots, and two shorter promotional featurettes. As a bonus (on top of all of the other bonuses), the US and International trailers are available in both 2D and 3D.
Does the Prometheus disc make its case? I'm not sure, but it's damned fascinating to watch its journey to the screen, and if you're on the fence about picking it up, morbidly curious, or were outright in love with it during its theatrical run, you owe it to yourself to pick it up.
Prometheus is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD.