Optional Continuity

So, I'm pretty psyched about Ridley Scott's Prometheus. It's a space opera following the crew of the starship Prometheus. And unless Scott has lost it, it'll be a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi adventure.

I have a thing with sequels: I like continuity. Re-casting an actor takes me out of it. Sometimes a "movie reboot" is the solution to whatever ailed the old series; other times it's a death-knell to a flawed diamond. Turns out there's a third option: the pseudo-reboot.

JJ. Abrams Star Trek (2009) was created in such a way that if you were new to Star Trek, you could disregard 40 years of baggage. On the other hand, if you were a trekkie (( Or trekker, I don't care about the difference. )), the movie gave you a straw to grasp at which would acknowledge those 40 years of continuity. Star Trek did the impossible — provide an entry for new movie-goers yet satisfy (the majority) of the trekkies, all the while actually being a good movie! I don't even need to explain to you what exactly Star Trek did to respect the old continuity, that's the point. If you didn't pick up on it, it's because you don't need to worry about it.

Now watch this:

That's continuity. If you want it to be. Did you get it? You might prefer not to read on.

Still here?

Turns out Prometheus is a pseudo-reboot of Alien. Peter Weyland is the co-founder of the Weyland-Yutani corporation, the evil conglomerate and eternal nemesis of Ripley. Which means, if you're an Alien fan, you can consider Prometheus a successor to Alien. If you like, also Aliens. Perhaps even Alien 3, but I would expect most of you to disregard Alien Resurrection (whose only good part was the whiskey cubes). On the flipside, if you don't care about Alien, you're unlikely to watch the above viral video. You're probably unlikely to even care. But there's a chance you might go watch Prometheus anyway because every effort has been made to convince you it's its own thing. The continuity is optional, and I like that.

11 thoughts on “Optional Continuity

  1. Lol. above comment, so true.
    I will be seeing this, but knowing now the “Alien connection” it does lessen, a little, my excitement to go see it. The last Alien movies were OK, but didn’t add anything, not the way Aliens added to Alien. But im def seeing this.

    1. Alien was a great movie. Knowing Ridley, that’s the only connection there is.

      The point is, you can disregard 2, 3 and 4 if you like. You can even disregard all 4 Alien movies and pretend this is a different Peter Weyland.

      After all, all the characters are new.

      And that’s why I like this type of pseudo-reboot. You pick your own continuity 🙂

  2. Good to see you posting again. I found Noscope a little while back and have been enjoying the archives. I hadn’t seen a post in awhile though and feared the blog was a goner!

    I like the idea of optional continuity. A lot of folks get really hung up on anything changing in a beloved series. I’m usually one of em… I watched that Weyland-Yutani video and the first thing that came to mind, despite me being a fan of Guy Pearce was… where’s Lance Henriksen!? I also bitched in Alien 3 when the pulse rifle didn’t sound the same as it did in Aliens, so, yeah I’m a bit anal when it comes to the Alien universe. Regardless, I’m willing to let my obsession with continuity slide in honor of this nice bit of fan service. Thanks Mr. Scott!

    I’ve got a keen, but wary eye on Prometheus. All of my favorite childhood sci-fi films have seen their franchises flushed down the toilet in recent years. Alien/Aliens produced the underrated Alien 3, but then the abysmal Alien Resurrection and Aliens vs Predator fiascoes followed. Predator spawned the decent Predator 2, then became Predators and well, yeah, that franchise is obviously done. And to think how pumped I was to hear that Robert Rodriguez might have a hand in it! What a disappointment. I don’t think I need to even mention Terminator Salvation (or Terminator 3 for that matter) as that was quite possibly one of the biggest, most disappointing pieces of shit I’ve ever seen committed to film. Don’t ask me how someone could fuck up the Terminator future wars, but they somehow managed to. None of those sequels came even remotely close to recapturing the magic of the originals. So, yeah, I’ve got my fingers crossed, but am prepared for disappointment.

    1. I’m right with you with most of this, but in the case of Alien, I’ve decided that the only true masterpiece of the series was the first one. So with the mandate of optional continuity, I’ve decided to consider “Alien” the only movie in the franchise, and Prometheus a prequel. Funny how a mind works, eh?

      1. Point being, of course, that if we disregard Bishop from Aliens, Guy Pearce could be Weyland just fine.

  3. Funny indeed! If Alien was the only true film in the series, then we’ve got zero continuity problems. But, at least in my mind, it is not! I think that at the very least Aliens has a solid place in Alien canon. Aliens is also a masterpiece, just a masterpiece of the space marine variety. I have yet to see a sci-fi action film that gets my blood going as much as Aliens does, even after 20 years and god knows how many viewings. That said, the directors cut is crap and it screwed up the pacing of the film by adding 30min of extra footage to an action film that was already over 2 hours long. I consider the theatrical version the true version.

    Either way, I’m cool with Guy Pearce as Weyland and any other changes to the canon that Scott wants to make. The series needs a solid reboot or its dead. I wonder if Weyland will actually be in Prometheus? He doesn’t appear in any of the trailers and footage I’ve seen so far.

    1. I saw a featurette where Ridley confirms Pearce _is_ in Prometheus, but that he didn’t want to spoil the film by saying anymore.

      Aliens is a great movie, and agree that the shorter version is better. It’s just not as good as Alien, in my mind.

      Finally, I enjoyed Alien 3, and if we’re talking continuity this is where it gets tricky. Presumably you could argue that Lance Henricksen could be an old version of Pearce. So aging exists. Let’s then say that the Bishop android was created in the likeness of old Weyland. Now at the ending of Alien 3, if I remember correctly (and it’s likely I don’t), supposedly-Weyland tries to convince Ripley to not jump in to the lava. He gets hit, white blood spurts out, and we see he’s actually the android. Except, in the extended work print cut, red blood spurts out, so it really is Weyland. And since that movie takes place in the distant future, either Weyland spends a lot of time in cryosleep, or there’s a continuity issue.

      Also, let’s ignore any Alien vs. Predator films.

  4. I’m praying for lots of Alien lore, of course, but all-in-all it’s Ridley Scott returning true-to-form to sci-fi. Nuff said no matter what the outcome.

  5. I cannot argue with your mastery of continuity logic, however I had always thought that the Weyland in Alien 3 was an android. That hit to the head should’ve killed him and a big chunk of scalp was hanging off, if I remember correctly. That said… I have not seen this extended version of Alien 3! Is it a director’s cut or something? Is it worth watching?

    Also, the second trailer for Prometheus and the David viral video were outstanding. I actually think that David video got me more excited than any of the trailers or other promotional material… it was exceptionally well done and very creepy. “Well that explains it and the 8.2’s always were a bit twitchy.” Can’t. Wait.

    1. I have not seen this extended version of Alien 3! Is it a director’s cut or something? Is it worth watching?

      It’s part of the terribly named Alien Quadrilogy box, and the full title is “Alien 3 Assembly Cut” or “Extended Workprint” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_3#Special_Edition_DVD_.26_Blu-ray). For the box set, each of the directors were approached to make a special edition version of their movies. That’s what made Ridley trim Alien and insert the cocoon seen and call it a Directors Cut. Cameron filmed an introduction to his existing special edition, and there’s also an even longer and worse version of Alien 4. The original versions are also included.

      David Fincher declined participating because he hated the experience working on Alien 3. So instead, the producers took a previous workprint version of Alien and some of Finchers notes iirc, and cut a new extended version of Alien 3. While it’s still not a magnificent movie, it makes a lot more sense than the theatrical release. For example, a whole subplot of the con who releases the alien was restored, explaining that this con actually worships the alien as a god (which sort of explains his motivation). The burial scene is also way more somber, and the scene at the end as well, where in the extended version the alien doesn’t burst out of the chest as Ripley jumps into the lava. It really adds to the scene I think.

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