Prometheus marks Ridley Scott‘s return to a genre he helped define with his seminal movies Alien and Blade Runner. Comparisons to Scott’s sci-fi horror film are somewhat inevitable, after all, his latest venture into sci fi is set in the same universe as his other xenomorph filled fare. Prometheus undoubtedly adds to the the Alien mythos, though, at times it does feel as if tying it in to the franchise restrains the film’s scope somewhat, with nods that seem almost shoehorned in. But don’t be too worried, this flick is definitely NOT a regular prequel, as much as rumours would like to indicate otherwise, they may share the same DNA but Prometheus doesn’t lead directly to where we find the Nostromo in Alien. So if you’re expecting the triumphant return of chest bursting beasties to the big screen then curb your enthusiasm, it might not be the dark moody confined sci-fi horror you were hoping for, but there is plenty for you to enjoy.
Visually the film is stunning, the 3D, as expected when filmed with 3D cameras, is amazing and never feels gimmicky, whilst the effects and sets are top notch and second to none. The story, a quest for answers about where we came from, is gripping, if slightly rushed at times, and the acting from the film’s all star cast makes for a believable journey to another world.
However as good as the acting may be the biggest problem with Prometheus is underdeveloped characters, many of whom seem to be there purely for cannon fodder. We learn little about their lives and their motivations for undertaking the mission, whilst they stand around making small talk and bumping up the numbers. Sure, they’re certainly an A-list cast, but too many of them are simply bystanders within the film offering little to no plot advancement. I would have preferred a few less crew members and a little more time developing them. Honestly, at one stage 2 characters died and I wasn’t even sure if I had seen them before (and no crying about ‘spoilers’, after all… deaths were inevitable). The film could also be accused of rushing certain sections, a little more tension, especially when we are first introduced to extra terrestrial life, could have propelled a scary scene to a terrifying one.
Despite the underdevelopment of tertiary characters, the main protagonists, portrayed by Logan Marshall-Green and Noomi Rapace, quest to find answers is gripping, and they are able to establish a real emotional connection with the audience. Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw might not be the ass-kicking lady that Ellen Ripley was, but she puts in an absolutely fantastic performance and has the most tense and gruesome action scene of the whole film, god knows how this film isn’t rated 18 (R in America)!
However the real star of the show is Michael Fassbender‘s chilling performance as synthetic life form David. His creepy portrayl of the android, heavily influenced by David Bowie, is perfect, and keeps you guessing at his motives, and who is giving him orders, throughout.
Whilst there are indeed plenty of parallels to Alien, what really sets Prometheus apart from it’s predecessor is the motivation of the characters, well at least the ones that show any motivation. Rather than a quest to find the ultimate killing machine, a concept at the backbone of the original franchise, here we find people searching for the ultimate answer of why we are here. It’s dressed up as a prequel to Scott’s last extra terrestrial outing, but thematically Prometheus bears a greater resemblance to the director’s other sci fi masterpiece; Blade Runner. Ironically, and almost definately intentionally, the film leads the audience to have even more questions than answers, especially for veteran Alien fans.
Immediately after leaving the theatre I felt somewhat underwhelmed by how the movie had ended. After mulling it over on the walk to my train stop (public transportation for the win!) I realised how perfect the penultimate scene really is. It may be a bit of a slow burner but thematically it fits the film to a T. My real problem with the ending was the next scene, which in my opinion, offers nothing to the story and feels like a tacky after thought, without the opening 2 scenes and the final scene the movie is fantastic.
It may not hit the heights of the first two entries in the franchise, but Prometheus stands alone as a great provocative science fiction film.