Prometheus Review

Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall Green, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender
Released: Jun 1, 2012

Click Here for Prometheus Official Trailer

One of the most beloved franchises of all time, the Alien series, began with Ridley Scott’s vision. He created images that haunted audiences long after the first film ended. One of the most profound of these, of course, was that of the Space Jockey. Who was this enormous creature sitting before the gun turret of an alien ship? Where did it come from? How relevant is it to us as a species? Now, 30 years later, Ridley Scott attempts to answer these questions.

The Plot:
Having discovered a series of cave paintings, all of which depict the same god-like figure, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and her partner Charlie (Green) receive funding from the Weyland corporation to go on an exhibition into space.
Their goal is to find the planet also depicted on the cave paintings in the hopes that, on it, they will discover the origins of the human race. However, once they arrive, bad things happen, as they so often do in sci-fi movies.

So to get one very important issue out-of-the-way: This is a prequel to Alien. If anyone has read interviews with Ridley Scott, they may be under the belief that this is a re-imagining of a similar story, or maybe re-told through the eyes of some kind of space badger.
No.
This is a prequel, and a poorly planned one at that.

The issue with Prometheus is simple. It is torn in an attempt to be both its own film and also in delivering fan service to those who fell in love with the 1979 classic sci-fi horror. By attempting to do both, it stumbles and flails wildly, eventually landing in a jumbled heap of xenomorph goo and plot holes galore.

It begins with great promise. After a visually stunning opening montage, we are introduced to our scientist heroes and their motives are partially explained. Similar to Alien, the next time we see them is as they wake from cryogenetic slumber aboard the Prometheus ship, in the dark recesses of space. In one area that the film can’t be faulted, it truly is beautiful to look at, in that surreal way that is only possible with sci-fi. There are many wide and expansive shots of the earthy landscape of Lvl-426, giving it a more epic scale than the original film.

However, from here on in, you become painfully aware of something nagging at the back of your mind. It’s half an hour in and you are still waiting for a thrill. An hour in, and there is still none of the tension or excitement of Alien or Aliens. You clasp onto hope, praying that Scott will whip some sort of miracle out of his bag of tricks in the final act. But unfortunately….it just never comes.

Take away everything that belongs to the Alien franchise from this film and you are left with barely half an hour of original thought. And while these original ideas are sound enough, it is the segments that are reminiscent or linked to Alien that really make the audience sit up and pay attention. Which is painfully unfortunate, because absolutely none of these segments even approach the original film.

There is a similar scene to that of the face-hugger, but unfortunately it is a rushed and uninspired affair, barely worth mentioning. The scene in which Ripley refuses to allow contaminated personnel onto the Nostromo is regurgitated also, but with a nice little twist. The only part that comes even close to the glory of Alien is a nicely twisted take on the chest-burster scene, both grisly and original enough to merit some praise, as well as giving a dignified nod to some of the more philosophical themes of the original film.

Then of course, there are the crew themselves. It is blatantly obvious that Elizabeth Shaw is an attempt to recreate Ripley, but she simply can’t pull it off. She hasn’t got the same edge, the same necessary brutality. You can’t help but feel that, if she had taken on the Xenomorphs themselves, she wouldn’t have lasted five minutes because she hasn’t got that same iron will to survive.

The same goes for the majority of the crew. Green, as Charlie, isn’t terribly believable, undergoing mood swings for seemingly no reason whatsoever. On top of this, he makes some truly idiotic decisions, one in particular regarding an alien infection.

The rest of the crew are rag-tag nobodies who attempt to recapture the essence of the Nostromo crew. Few, if any, have believable dialogue, meaning you’ll just be waiting, if not rooting, for their deaths. Charlize Theron, as the icy Meredith Vickers, is almost an exception to this rule. She acts her role well as a presence of the ominous Company. However, what her actual role or motives are, are unclear. With the exception of one brief scene, she may as well have been excluded.

The saving grace of the entire film, without a doubt, is Fassbender. Not only terms of acting prowess, his character, David, raises the most poignant questions of the film. As the ships android, he is calm, complacent, and waits on the needs of any of the crew without hesitation. So uncanny is his performance that you will genuinely find yourself forgetting he is just an actor. His perfect hair and features are coupled with a genuinely disturbingly calm voice and the slightly jerky movements of someone who has had too much coffee. As the crew attempt to discover who made them, he audibly contrasts their situation with his own, pondering without curiosity on his own creation.

In terms of fan service, this is a film that kicks you directly in your memories. There are a number of nods to fans that might think they are being clever, but instead serve only to frustrate. Most of these are semi forgivable, but no fan of the franchise can possibly forgive the absolute whopper of a plot hole that occurs at the very end. How the crew of this film could have let such a blinder slip through the net is beyond me. I am speaking calmly now, but for a full on rant on this outrage, click here. Beware, massive spoilers!!

Overall:
Fans of the movie Alien, exercise caution when watching this film. It may do irrevocable damage to the way you view the original. Those who simply adore the 1979 classic as I do, I would strongly suggest you pretend this film doesn’t exist. Unlike the Alien Vs. Predator movies, this is far more difficult to dismiss which in turn makes it almost worse.
Despite a promising narrative and it being the first half decent sci-fi movie since 2009’s Moon, most of the film simply pales in comparison to the movie it is trying to imitate. It might ponder over deep philosophical issues and look utterly terrific, but it is what it is: A cash in on a franchise that should have been lain to rest.

Rating: 5/10

How far would you go to get your answers?” – David

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • Films Fassbender watched to prepare for his role:
    Blade Runner,
    The Man Who Fell To Earth,
    The Servant,
    Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Prometheus refers to the Titan Prometheus who, in Greek mythology, attempted to bring fire to humans. This would supposedly elevate them to the status of the Gods. Naturally the Gods were not happy with this and so they bound Prometheus to a big ‘ol rock to have his liver eaten each day by a big ‘ol eagle.
  • …however, my first encounter with the name Prometheus came from a quirky little tv show called Prometheus and Bob, which is still as hilarious today as it was in the 90s! Click here to watch a few!
  • This film was originally going to be called ‘Paradise’.
  • The Androids names follow alphabetical order: Ash (Alien), Bishop (Aliens + Alien 3), Call (Alien: Resurrection) and David (Prometheus).
  • Alien may very well be my favorite movie of all time. It was the first horror film I can actively remember seeing and having nightmares from, and also featured in many college projects. Naturally, I am going to be quite harsh regarding any film relating to it, but rightly so considering how incredible Alien is.

This film is kind of like:

  • A beautiful tapestry that has been attacked with a lawn mower.

or

  • Telling a group of friends a story about how you met a celebrity like Bill Murray, only to have one of them interrupt and say ‘Oh me too!’, at which point they spend half an hour going into great detail about how they saw a former presenter of Blue Peter in a supermarket.
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