“Prometheus” — Ridley Scott’s philosophically dense, occasionally ooky and Fassbender-ifically thrilling 3D return to the sci-fi genre — arrives in theaters at midnight tonight. Which means that, as a discerning consumer of quality summer movie fare, you will probably be seeing it at midnight tonight, or at least sometime this weekend. And that further means you only have a brief period of time to prepare for this epic cinematic journey through space, time and stuff that will make you go “Ewwwww.”
I’m here to help by providing this list of five things that you should do and/or think about before settling in for the nearly two-hour “Alien” prequel. (And yes, I happen to think it’s a prequel.)
I will not issue major spoilers in this list because it’s my understanding, via Fox studio policy, that an alien being will burst forth from my torso the moment I overshare any plot details from this film. I don’t want that; seems like it would kind of hurt. My newsroom colleagues don’t want that because it would be completely gross.
And you don’t want that, because spoilers would ruin the movie for you. Plus, if an alien being shoots out of me and presumably results in my decidedly disgusting death, I won’t be able to write about the season finale of “Mad Men” or share future, additional insights about Miley Cyrus’s engagement. And obviously that would be just terrible.
So we’re all in this together then, right? Great. Let’s do this.
1. Watch 1979’s “Alien.”
It’s possible to follow the “Prometheus” narrative without having seen the original “Alien.” But given the abundance of parallel plotpoints between the two, the enjoyment of Scott’s latest film heightens if you’ve recently watched or rewatched the movie that kickstarted the franchise.
For extra credit: Watch “Aliens” or “Alien 3” if you’d like, though doing so is not as crucial as watching “Alien.” If you have tons of time and really want to study up, you also could watch “Lawrence of Arabia,” the film whose dialogue helps inform the word choices of Fassbender’s robotic David. But “Lawrence of Arabia” is, like, longer than “The Dark Knight Rises.” So if you genuinely have time to watch that on top of all three “Alien” movies, and still have plenty of time to see “Prometheus” in addition to that, this might be a sign that it’s time to apply for more jobs.
2. Check out the viral clips of Fassbender as David.
I mean, you don’t really have to do this before seeing the movie. But since when do you need a good reason to look at Michael Fassbender? If someone says do it, you just do it. Or heck, you just do it without permission or an invitation.
Honestly, I am surprised you’re still reading this and not skipping ahead to the video clip, which contains — in case this wasn’t clear — images of the very handsome and talented Michael Fassbender!
Extra credit: Watch Joel McHale in this “Soup” parody of the David videos, just because it’s funny.
3. Realize that “Prometheus” may, in certain ways, remind you of “Lost.”
Now, I realize that I have a tendency to see “Lost” connections in basically anything that passes through my field of vision, including the new trailer for “Django Unchained,” pretty much every show on television and any airplane that flies over my head from now until the end of time. Still, the “Lost” factor is strong in ”Prometheus,” in part because the co-creator of the Oceanic 815 series, Damon Lindelof, is co-writer and executive producer of “Prometheus.”
There’s lots of mythology (and exposition explaining that mythology) in this film, as well a moment that feels like a cooler, futuristic version of a Dharma Initiative orientation video, and a preponderance of philosophical questions that aren’t entirely answered. If you love “Lost,” all of this will be seen as mostly a good thing. If you didn’t and/or get frustrated by what Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir calls a “cynical hodgepodge of bogus science and even more bogus theology,” then you may have some nits to pick after the movie’s over. (By the way, O’Hehir liked the movie despite the hodgepodge.)
4. Prepare your mind for the deep, potentially pseudointellectual discussions that will inevitably ensue after the credits roll.
As this Slate piece notes, the “Alien” films spawned multitudes of academic analysis on matters ranging from feminism to Freudian psychology to the significance of Ripley’s cat. Expect more of the same after “Prometheus” comes out.
Here, I’ll get your gender studies classmates started: Some of the creatures in “Prometheus” blatantly look like female private parts, and yet — minor spoiler alert — also have the capacity to penetrate people. Discuss.
5. Remember to stay until the end of the credits.
There’s a message that pops up at the very end of the credits that you may want to read. It involves Weyland Industries and implies that the viral marketing campaign for “Prometheus” will not end after the film’s release.
Oh, and yes. It totally reminded me of “Lost.”