The build-up to “Prometheus,” or, as I like to call it, Geek Christmas, was pretty amazing. The film’s subject is artificial intelligence. The anticipation of the film involves the artful release of trailers and websites which has led, not surprisingly, to much social media conversation, magnifying the impact two months before the release date. In the future — because this is what this film is about — Hollywood will probably try to figure out and reproduce just how Scott managed, with little precedent, to build so much buzz around this project. Here are five things about “Prometheus” that, in a really personal way, made this film, after Batman, the thing I — and many avids — most wanted to see this summer:
1. Ridley Scott returns to science fiction
Ah, the prodigal son returns. God bless Ridley Scott and his many incarnations — one involving a story of the Crusades as the West went off to war in Central Asia and modern day Babylon — but it is in his role as a master of science fiction in which he can do no wrong. From the infamous Apple 1984 commercial, where he cut his chops creating arresting video, to “Alien,” where Scott once and for all proved his geek bona fides as a master of the genre.
2. Who is Sir Peter Weyland?
Forget Howard Roark, Ayn Rand’s cartoonish Creator. Weyland, the founder of the Weyland Corporation, which caused so much trouble in the “Alien” films, has always been a bit of a mystery. Is Sir Peter a bit of a Sir Ridley, and vice versa? Both, clearly, have been fascinated by mythology and by science. Sir Peter, according to his fictional TED Talks biography, is the son of an Oxford educated Professor of Comparative Mythology and a self-taught software engineer. And Sir Ridley, like Stanley Kubrick, seems obsessed by the intersect between science and art, between artificial and artistic intelligence.
3. The Weyland Corporation
With a 218 trillion dollar valuation, the shadowy Weyland Corporation’s ambitions are more than international in scope — they are, indeed, galactic. “There are other worlds than this one,” Sir Peter boldly declared, “And if there is no air to breathe, we will simply have to make it.” Hello?
The company’s “website” is just masterful, the stuff that social media geek conversation is made of. There is actually an Investor Information page on the site, the sort one would find on any corporate website, only this one has fictional — but fascinating — charts (“Weyland Employee Satisfaction Rate”) as well as graphs of data that, no doubt, added value to the whole “Prometheus” experience. It only heightens the excitement.
Hello? If Weyland Corporation had a fictional LinkedIn account, how many people would apply? Which brings us to …
4. The viral marketing strategy
They had me at the fictional TED Talk, given in 2023. It was, of course, an instant social media success — to date over 6,000 re-Tweets and over 21,000 Facebook likes. There were also viral movie posters. This viral video campaign has been studiously calculated to tickle the g-spot of every tech geek, every aficionado of science fiction practiced at the highest levels. Sir Scott is best when he allows his creativity full reign, creating whole worlds out of thin air (for further reference, see “Blade Runner”). In the video, douche archcapitalist Peter Weyland chews up the scenery, giving an epic, Gordon Gekko-ish speech full of hubris about the Greek Titan Prometheus and a big technological breakthrough by his Weyland. At the end of the video — conceived and designed, incidentally, by Ridley Scott, Damon Lindelof and Luke Scott — we get the fully fake corporate logo of the hubristic Weyland Corporation..
5. The Stars
Nooni Rapace, Michael Fassbender and, of course, Sir Ridley. I. Was. So. There.