Being awake now, I do feel inspired to address the phenomenon that my latent fears pointed to, namely the likelihood that Prometheus will not live up to Ridley Scott's genre-changing films Alien and Blade Runner. Both films have so permeated the SF zeitgeist that fully appreciating their genius is likely hard for those of us born too late to have seen science fiction on the big and small screens before and after. There have certainly been filmmakers with far nobler ambitions than Scott's. One may find many of Scott's films more entertaining than Kubrick's Odyssey or Tarkovsky's Stalker, but we mustn't dismiss the moral dimension of the making of art. Great films, great products of art in general, come from artists who feel the full weight of the rational agent's obligation to The Good, The True and The Beautiful. Ridley Scott is a craftsman, and his oeuvre has demonstrated that he is among the best, but his work suggests the approach of a skilled worker rather than a real thinker. For this reason it is strange that he so often seems to be billed and described as an auteur, and I have certainly been guilty of talking about him in these terms (or assuming them) in conversations past. How then has this exceptionally gifted hired hand managed to make two films that raised their genre "to the level of thought" and change the way that we are used to conceiving of the future visually and conceptually?
Both Alien and Blade Runner benefitted from Scott's excellent tastes, and upon examination they are clearly the result of serendipitous collaboration. Scott deserves great credit for seeing the filmic potential in the artwork of Jean "Moebius" Giraud and H. R. Giger (both fresh off Jodorowsky's aborted attempt to film Frank Herbert's Dune) to flesh out the world of Alien, and Giraud's sense of the fantastic combined with Syd Mead's mastery of the functional to describe a Los Angeles of the near future in Blade Runner. Both movies were penned by top notch genre writers, Dan O'Bannon (Alien) and David Peoples (Blade Runner, with Hampton Fancher) who found material inspirational enough for masterpiece work in each story. Both films were polished off with scores by influential composers at their peak, Jerry Goldsmith for Alien and Vangelis for Blade Runner, and Blade Runner especially benefitted from the work of effects master Douglas Trumbull (most recently involved in Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life"). In either case a masterpiece was born out of the genius supervenient on a team of master craftsmen each perfectly suited to their task.
The question to be asked then is whether or not one sees all of this adding up on Prometheus' credits, or if it is simply Ridley Scott's name carrying the brunt of the load. Of course, this is all a bit nerdy of me to speculate on, but I do think some moral can be squeezed out of it. If you're looking for Ridley Scott's next amazing movie, the one that Cormac McCarthy is writing is a much safer bet than that Sci-Fi movie that the guy from Lost worked on.