Monday, 11 March 2013

Prometheus' Marketing Campaign Was Its Worst Enemy

You might recall a few months back I reviewed Prometheus, the film set in the same universe as the Aliens saga. Probably most notable for the large opening quote and the large comment in response to it. Said comment was largely a criticism of my views, opinion of the film and seemed to display more rage than I generally do upon encountering something insultingly bad.
While I don't agree with the vast majority of the comment, it was enough to make me reconsider some of my praise for the film and see it as a much more flawed film than before. Not for the content of the film itself so much as the approach its creators took.

I do plan to return to Prometheus at a later date. For the time being I think it's best to point out that while the writing was bad, its worst enemy was its marketing campaign.

For those not in the know, prior to its release the film had a very extensive campaign which built up the entire universe around it. Much of it was used as a hype machine to build up to a much bigger profit once the film was released, but hey that's what they all do. However, it went into extreme depth on the film's plot, characters and a lot of details unseen elsewhere. While in combination with the film they did make the experience feel far more extensive, I think they were far too extensive for their own good.

Let me explain:

One of the most notable problems within Prometheus was its lack of answers. Mostly involving the Engineers but also some details which without certain information were misconstrued as plot-holes. In many cases the answer to these questions were presented in the marketing campaign. With timelines, short videos and backgrounds being given in universe to whoever took the time to read them. Among these answers was the reason for the ship being called Prometheus and a lot of details surrounding Michael Fassbender's character David. Details which the film itself either never got around to going into such as the technology of the era.

While all of this was extremely interesting, the film seemed to expect you to know the answers 

One outstanding example of the problems within the film was Wayland himself. One excuse I'd personally come up for why he was being played by Guy Pierce in heavy make-up was to give the potential for the Engineers to give him what he wanted: eternal life. Instead it turned out the reasons for why was because there were promotional videos of him in his younger days. Admittedly the film did plan to include scenes of him much younger through the dream reader but these were never included. And the whole eternal life thing? The only reason I know about that is due to the marketing campaign and a commentary by Ridley Scott himself.
Further details such as his age and why he was doing what he did were all answered by them but never actually included in on-screen scenes.

In many cases a film is usually written first and then the promotional material such as ARG games are then added on as minor easter eggs and bonuses. In this case it seemed to be that the film was supposed to serve as a direct continuation to them. With many facts and background details established in them rather than scenes within the film itself. The campaign was a huge achievement but ultimately ended up being the film's greatest flaw.

I would otherwise detail exactly what answers were given but there's already been an extensive video listening every one of them here. I'd advise it for anyone to watch if they felt the film asked too many questions but did not deliver enough responses to them.

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