Enter The Man Behind the Mask, a prolific fan editor behind such edits as War of the Stars (the Grindhouse version of Star Wars) and the heavily shortened Kong. TMBTM’s vision for Prometheus is rather straight-forward: change LV-223 to LV-426 to make the film a direct prequel to Alien. This isn’t as simple as just changing the name of the planetoid on a star map and calling it a day, however. LV-426 is in many ways a radical departure from Prometheus, losing over 30 minutes of the original runtime and using new VFX work to alter the ending.
Taking a cue from JobWillin’s Derelict fanmix, TMBTM presents the film in black and white. While it looks great, I don’t know exactly why he went with this aesthetic. While Derelict is presented in this way to better marry the distinct visual styles and color palettes of two different cinematographers separated by 33 years, LV-426 doesn’t have this disadvantage, so what’s the point. Oh well, like I said, it doesn’t look bad at all, so there’s that.
Right off the bat, there’s a big difference: the entire opening. Gone are the ‘Beginning of Time’ and Isle of Skye sequences, replaced with voiceover from Shaw’s video message to Peter Weyland, pulled from one of Prometheus’ blu-ray features. This greatly speeds up the narrative, a theme that is carried through the entire film. In some spots, deleted scenes are used to fill the gaps, and with the exception of one, I enjoyed seeing all of them put back into the film. On the other hand, some other editorial changes I wasn’t too fond of, like the loss of David’s viewing of Lawrence of Arabia and all subsequent references to it, some of the humorous banter between Fifield and Millburn, and the wonderful ‘Navigational Map’ sequence, in which David activates the computer aboard the Engineer vessel. I also wan’t a fan of the repeated line, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” Once was enough, and it is in no way better than another line it replaces at one point: “Big things have small beginnings.”
Video and sound quality are in tip-top shape, presented in over 15 mbps. The soundtrack is in 2 channels with what sounds like a Dolby Digital encode. It’s pretty solid, and has a bit of surround activity, or as much as can be expected in a stereo presentation. New VFX work is very subtle and almost unnoticed at the beginning of the film, but the biggest shots come at the very end. Beware, spoilers:
TMBTM removes the end ‘Deacon’ scene, instead digitally matting the creature into the Engineer as he is locked into the command chair, thereby revealing him as the dead Engineer from Alien, and the Deacon as his killer. This is a bold vision, but not one without its own set of discrepancies. If the Juggernaut from Prometheus is the Derelict from Alien, why is it fossilized after only several decades? What happened to the planetoid that so changed its environment (listen closely during Alien to discover that the Nostromo team’s walk to the Derelict occurred during the day–why is it so much darker than in Prometheus)? These problems certainly show how a direct sequel to Alien was certainly not the best direction to go.
That being said, TMBTM’s edit is a fun way to kill an hour and a half. It’s stark and beautiful, its tight and suspensful, and it uses the much better Xeno-Fifield scene that so many fan editors are enamored with. It is not my prefered version of Prometheus, but I enjoyed my viewing, and that is way more than what I expected going in. Recommended as an alternate view of what could have been.
First off, editing the movie to omit any reference to this being a different planet was SMART. I mean we've got the engineer pilot with the chestburster EXACTLY like in Alien. You're telling me that's on a different planet? GTFOutta here! Good fix. The decision to make this in black and white was a bold move. At first I was kind of put off by it. Like the film quality is really high so being in black and white didn't make it seem like an older film. But given about 10-15 mins I started to like it a lot. I realized it helped desaturate against a lot of the excess color in the original cut while giving it it's own (non) color palette feel like how Alien was muted yellows and white (cool), Aliens was deep blues (sweet), Alien 3 was industrial molten steel red (umm, what?), and Alien: Resurrection was lime green (yeesh). So good on you for that!
The rest of the edit is a mix of fixing the character motivations, taking out excess engineer scenes with no true value, and keeping the pace going. I really like what was possible given the available footage. If I had my choice I'd prefer to recast some people (like discount Tom Hardy with yknow REAL Tom Hardy), rewrite half of the script, and have the spaceship NOT roll and crush Charlize Theron who should have JUST GONE TO THE SIDE LIKE 3 FEET... but beggars can't be choosers :) This is the best cut of Prometheus out there. Someone get it to Ridley Scott ASAP so he can fix whatever he's done with Alien: Covenant before it's out in theaters.
About the argument about "they should have gone to the side" when the ship was rolling behind them. Well, in fact there's a shot where Shaw and Vickers DO run to the side.
BUT he ship also rolls the same way, so visualy it's not super clear for the audience.
Plus on each side of the ship there are big elements on fire falling down like bombs, so it's not super engaging to change course...
TMBTM has invented a new way to approach the material with more tricks up his sleeves than any of his predecessors have employed. Envisioning the film as a direct prequel to Alien requires some re-purposing of scenes, clever dialog juggling, and impressive visual effects work. While the original concludes with David and Shaw finding their own ship to head off to the Engineer's home-world, TMBTM has successfully ended the film with all of the characters dead, and a single Xenomorph left alive on the ship, alone on planet LV-426. His third act, especially in comparison to the endings of all of the other fanedits that precede it, is worth the watch in and of itself.
I was sincerely hoping that TMBTM could somehow fix the roadblock that is the second act, marked by the crew's entrance into the dome. However, each and ever clever edit he does to circumvent one problem is often accompanied by another moment of awfulness that went untreated. In this version, David accidentally triggers the hologram recording - which is a great improvement - but he still talks to himself with exposition-friendly lines like, "Impressive," "Sweaty," and "It's organic." This edit removes the senseless line of Holloway saying, "This is just another tomb," but it keeps in dialog like, "Just like home," and "This is just one small step for man." This edit successfully removes the awful sex scene between Holloway and Shaw, but keeps in the even worse exploding head sequence. I understand that, to one degree or another, I have preferences in these regards. However, I think there is a very strong argument to be made that despite removing 30 minutes from the movie - as impressive as that may be - there is still room to make it even more tighter than I ever thought possible.
Regardless, the second act of the original film is painful and so it goes with all of the edits, including this one. However, the third act is where this edit really shines. The momentum of the film finally starts to come back after the Cesarean/abortion scene. The surprises that follow, especially starting with the confrontation with the Engineer to the edit's closing shot, are totally unexpected and a drastic improvement over all of the versions of this film - including my own. While Prometheus will remain a deeply flawed movie, this edit goes a long way to create not only a more positive experience from the original, but something completely unique compared to all of the other edits that are out there. Strongly recommended.
Audio/Video Quality - I sense the choice to make the film in black in white is less about artistic purpose and more about making the deleted scenes and visual effects work appear seamless. The film was not shot with black and white in mind and a lot of shots suffer on account of it. There are no bitrate or pixelization issues to speak of.
Visual Editing - Nothing out of place here such as flash frames or obvious continuity errors. I am overtly familiar with the source material, and only a moment or two felt like something was missing. For example, the way Janek responds with, "I'll have you know this once belonged to..." without Vicker's first commenting on it didn't feel right. However, such moments will be completely missed by casual viewers. The added visual effects are successfully blended in such that few will complain unless they are expecting the ILM quality from a fan edit.
Audio Editing - There is impressive audio work that includes adding music and changing dialog that is completely unnoticeable to the casual viewer.
Narrative - The surprises in the third act overwhelm the challenges of the second act.
Enjoyment - I found this to be the most enjoyable edit of the film to watch, including my own.
One thing though: I have worked hours to color correct every deleted scenes and make the new effects shots looking all right. That work was almost completely done and I really think it could have been released this fanedit in color.
The black and white is all about artistic purpose. It just looks beautiful to me and I don't feel a lot of scenes suffer from it (if any).
The "one small step for mankind" dialogue part is slightly edited. I think this line works better now (little lines like that are rarey upsetting me, but, yeah, Holloway have a lot! I thought this one was not bad, just not well delivered and with bad timing)
I don't mind David talking to himself, describing things. It shows the robotic side of him somehow.
But you are right in saying more things could be cut. At one point I considered doing a short edit (about 30 minutes).
Thanks again for the review :)