This is a very interesting and visually stunning mash-up that does a great job at making Prometheus much more of a direct Alien prequel as opposed to a spin-off film that ties into the franchise while setting up things that occur in the earlier Alien. The two films transition into each other flawlessly and I love the use of black and white to really emphasize the shadows and further build up tension and suspense. Both films' narratives intertwine with one another very smoothly thanks to clever editing. I really loved this.
On a quick side-note, I also want to talk about another fanedit from this editor that isn't on the IFDB, a Star Wars prequel fan-edit titled The Chosen One, which I also really liked, as it removes much of the cringier elements from all three prequel films and tells a much more streamlined version of the overall story that works incredibly well, making its best aspects shine all the more brighter.
Not all fan edits exist to simply extend a film or fix some perceived problem with its story or pacing. Sometimes, an editor wants to make a work of art. An interesting mix of elements from different films can be combined to create an incredibly unique experience, and that is just what JobWillins has done here with Derelict, a combination of Prometheus and Alien.
Obviously, it isn’t as easy as sticking both films together at the ends and calling it a day. JobWillins’ vision calls for a marrying of both films’ stories, shifting back and forth between each film. This creates a unique dual narrative structure that increases the mystery element in each film and heightens the dread surrounding each cast of characters.
Roughly 30 or so minutes of Prometheus has been cut and replaced with an hour of Alien, staggered at varying intervals according to how well each scene fits. Beginning with David aboard the Prometheus, Derelict aims for maximum ambiguity: without the beginning of time opening or the Isle of Skye scene, the voyage and David’s role in it become a mystery, one that only heightens when the ship reaches its destination, only for the film to jump 30 years later to the Nostromo.
The unknown elements of Alien gain even more of a sinister edge with this approach. The repeated beacon that calls the Nostromo is now implied to have something to do with the Prometheus mission. The derelict vessel becomes an even bigger enigma once the Juggernaut is revealed. David and Ash become even more intrinsically linked. All of these new revelations aren’t specifically stated by the edit, just implied by the new ordering.
The best bits of this edit are in how the films transition into each other. The touchdown of the Prometheus cuts directly to the Nostromo’s rocky landing from inside the cockpit. Shaw, Holloway, and David’s escape from the storm cuts directly to Dallas and Lambert with Kane at the Nostromo airlock. An excellent montage of Weyland’s group entering the Engineer pyramid plays over Ash’s speech on the perfection of the Alien. And don’t get me started on how tense the new, combined climax is. With each cut of three decades, this edit’s legitimacy as FanEdit.org’s Fan Edit of the Month gets more and more solidified.
As mentioned before, large swaths of both films have been cut. Dropped is most of Prometheus‘ first act, sadly losing some of the better character moments between Shaw, Holloway, and Vickers (poor Vickers suffers the most from the cutting). Gone too is some of Alien‘s better bits of banter between Brett and Parker and some of the third act scares, but it’s all in the name of creating a pacing that fits in both stories effectively without turning the project into a 4-hour monstrosity. Two deleted scenes from Prometheus are also used.
Video and sound are presented at the internet standard of 15 mbps, at 720p resolution with a 2-channel soundtrack. Presented in high contrast black-and-white to cover the obvious differences between the films’ visual styles, Derelict does a great job at emphasizing Ridley Scott’s use of light and shadow. Sound is dynamic enough for a stereo mix and quite adequate.
Derelict is an example of the talent that exists outside the Hollywood system. Taking two films separated by 32 years and combining them into a single, flowing story is not an easy feat, let alone making it a unique and entertaining venture when both films have been pored over to death. JobWillins makes the project look easy-peasy. Highly recommended.
As I write this review, I'm only an hour away from seeing Alien: Covenant. I didn't have time for both Alien and Prometheus, but I did luckily have time for this. To start off, I love the decision to take the color out of these movies and make them black-and-white. Ridley Scott's cinematography is already so dark and artful, but black-and-white brings out the beauty in the shadows even more. When I read the description on this edit, I didn't think the narratives would gel, but with the removal of scenes in both films, the narratives intertwine very well and it's not nearly as jarring as I thought it would be. All in all, it was just a nice and interesting way to view both films in one sitting.
Soon after Prometheus was released, essays started to appear noting the similarities with Alien. Not that the latter film was a reboot or remake, but that there were structural and narrative echoes. The Derelict edit brilliantly aligns the parallel stories into one viewing experience.
Video - Inspired choice here of shifting both films to black n white. Greenish / bluish hues are gone. The deliberately vague transitions were another good move. Meaning, during several shifts it took me a beat or two before I realized we were back on Nostromo or Prometheus. This is not a complaint. It was unsettling and added to the uneasy tone of the movie.
Audio - 2.0 channel. No subs. The two music scores match nicely with each other. There seemed to be some bleed through of the Alien score onto a Prometheus scene and vice versa, which I appreciated. Ash’s final comments were difficult to comprehend, but they always are.
Narrative - With so much major cutting of plot, both narratives suffer. Each narrative, on its own, is barely more than a glorified pitch. There is no character development, no motivation, and the first half pacing drags slow. Part of Alien is about building tension, Prometheus more a journey of discovery. Tempo did pick up eventually, but I could imagine some viewers fast forwarding or cutting to the “big bits.”
Enjoyment - I liked this a lot. This edit is a clinic on detailing the mirrored elements of both films: strong females, corporate agendas, soulless androids. Similar interior designs - harsh exteriors. In the end, I wondered how much of the similarity was deliberate, how much was subconscious.
A provocative edit, though I suspect it won't be for everyone.