I recently sat down to watch Prometheus (for the third time), this time with my partner who was desperate to see it. To be honest, it was a Saturday night, depressingly far away from payday and it was premiering on SkyGo, so our options were pretty limited, Prometheus seemed like a good shout.
As I said, this is the third time I have seen Prometheus, and I still can’t dispose of those initial thoughts and feelings; like why is this not as good as they said it would be? Ooop, metaphorically watch out, there’s another plot hole. And I got to thinking about overhype and films. Cinema has recently seen a swathe of productions which promise to be the biggest, the best and most incredible movie you’ll ever see. I’ve been drawn in by it before, with the finale of Dark Knight trilogy, I had an app on my phone counting down the days and everything (a significant proportion of the trailer views on Youtube was me). Overhyping a movie before it’s released is dangerous territory. I am fully aware that despite my love for the Dark Knight, I know some viewers thought it was a weak ending, after the Dark Knight (ala Heath Ledger and The Joker) which was cinema-platinum (all disagreements on a postcard) and were majorly disappointed in the film. Which brings me back round to Prometheus, which was basically marketed as the second coming of cinema. The reality of Prometheus in all it’s glory, was fairly average. A good sci-fi film, very typical of it’s genre, arguably harking back to the Golden Age of Sci-Fi (Star Wars, Space Oddessey etc) good, yes, brilliant? Exceptional? Worthy of the hype? No.
The problem with hype is that it sets up a fairly good film to be received in a less than positive light. If Prometheus was a one off, unknown director, same cast, same dialogue, same scenery, it would probably stand out amongst a crowded market, as a cracking bit of cinema. But Prometheus wasn’t a one off, it wasn’t an unknown director. It was billed as a prequel to the Alien series (notably, the first obvious reference to Alien is in the dying moments of the film) which some sections of the audience probably wouldn’t appreciate. It was billed as essential viewing for sci-fi fans, Alien fans, Ridley Scott fans, cinema fans, sound fans, editing fans, spaceship fans, the list goes on, and this is essentially why Prometheus was lost on so many. The die-hard Scott fans who were around for the first outing the of the epic Sci-Fi/Horror genre combination are a little bit older, they experienced the cinematic explosion of Alien first time around, they want to see the beginning of Alien, they want a repeat performance of the Alien films. Whereas younger audiences, who may not have seen Alien, some of this may be lost on them, the mythology, the references. What Prometheus ended up doing, was pleasing neither. Die hard fans, got a side story with plotholes, and younger audiences got a story which on it’s own, didn’t make much sense.
The overhype isn’t just confined to Prometheus, Iron Man suffered with Iron Man 2, The Hobbit suffered and inevitably there will be many other films to suffer, 50 Shades of Grey for example, the movie on a Google search returns over 63 million results, and this is a movie which has no director, no cast, no scheduled shooting dates. The hype for this is monumental; and I cant help but think that it could go the same way as Prometheus, fans of the book will dislike the transfer to screen and the other half of the audience will find it flat and nonsensical.
As the film industry expands, I suspect that films will eventually become so big, and the hype surrounding certain types of films will lead audiences to seek out Indie films, films which haven’t had reams and reams of press. Which could be a good thing. But you can certainly have too much of a good thing, particularly when that good thing is falling by the wayside.