I will do my best to avoid any spoilers in this post, out of respect for anyone who has not seen this film.
When I first heard about Ridley Scott possibly returning to the Alien universe for a prequel, my interest was obviously peaked. Scott had redefined the science fiction genre with the landmark horror film Alien in 1979. Scott raised the bar again three years later with the mind bending Blade Runner, adapted from Philip Dick’s “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”. Yet after creating these two cinematic masterpieces, Mr. Scott left science fiction behind for 30 years, until now. The release of Prometheus marks the triumphant return of a master filmmaker to his old stomping grounds. Does Prometheus live up to the incredible hype driving its release? The answer to that is just as complex and muddled as the film itself.
Prometheus takes place in the year 2085, around 35 years before the first Alien film. Two scientists on Earth, Elizabeth Shaw & Charlie Holloway (Noomi Rapace & Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered ancient cave drawings all over the world from different time periods, all depicting men worshiping large beings pointing to a formation of spheres in the sky. This find got the attention of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, who does his best Benjamin Button impersonation), founder of Weyland Industries, who is obsessed with interplanetary exploration and colonization. Just picture James Cameron in 20 years after he gets bored of raping the ocean. Weyland funds the expedition to supposed home planet of these beings, and after 2+ years of cryosleep the scientists and their team arrive at their destination.
I saw this film at a packed midnight IMAX 3D screening. The management attempted to get the crowd to cheer by doing one of those lame “Who’s excited to see this movie?” speels that only works on the Twilight/Harry Potter/Hunger Games crowds. Know the audience. Did I mention she was wearing a rainbow afro wig from Madagascar 3? Know the audience…..just get the fuck out of my face and go start the movie, clown.
Prometheus is a gorgeous film to behold, and should without a doubt be seen on the biggest screen possible, though I can do without 3D. The opening titles sequences of vast, empty natural landscapes is awe-inspiring. The entire film is beautifully shot, featuring some truly epic action sequences. It’s very sad that the script does not live up to the visuals. With the script coming from Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of the TV show Lost, I should have known that this film would be full of vague explanations that leave the audience with more questions than answers. The film is intriguing, but certain characters make decisions that are terribly flawed or seem to react minimally to horrifying events. Its appears that upon first glance that most character development was horribly chopped out of the film. Nearly all the characters seem one dimensional. An extra 20 minutes could have done wonders for the plot and side characters like Capt. Janek (Idris Elba). The most interesting and dynamic character, ironically enough, is the android David (Michael Fassbender). It’s easy to draw comparisons to other androids in the Alien saga, but Fassbender’s David is the most complex. His introduction in the film happens when the rest of the crew is in cryosleep. He’s watching his favorite movie, Lawrence Of Arabia. He even styles his hair after Peter O’Toole in that film. He quotes the movie throughout Prometheus. People may forget that David’s creator, Peter Weyland also draws inspiration from the same source which can be seen on the viral video here. We are told right from the beginning that he is an android, and yet it is easy to let David’s slick tricks fool you into forgetting that he isn’t human. Feigning admiration of humans must be in his programming as well.
Scott does a great job creating a new film that both pleases and infuriates fans of the Alien films. But he actually includes bits from all Alien films and mashes them all together. The obligatory inclusion of someone/something getting incinerated by a flamethrower. Heavy in the script is the age old argument of creationism vs Darwinism, very reminiscent of the religious undertones of Alien3. There’s even a basketball scene, which was very memorable in Resurrection. All of these create a link to the franchise in the viewer’s mind and will bring a smile to most any fan’s face, but Prometheus is wholly its own film. As in each of the other Alien films, it has its own look and it’s own sense of dread and horror. Some of the creatures in Prometheus look less like H.R. Giger creations and more like cosmic entities from the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft. I want to be clear that this is NOT a bad thing. Prometheus is probably even more enjoyable if you have never seen an Alien film, but most moviegoers have and this is where I believe most people have a huge gripe with the film. Prometheus actually seems like a rehash because of all the familiarity, so people are feeling ripped off. The hype was huge on this film, and with anything but unanimous glowing reviews you will see a slew of negativity online. Just check out any forum on Prometheus and you will run into haters everywhere. The bottom line is despite it’s flaws, Prometheus is a solid film and a worthy addition to the Alien universe, even if Sigourney Weaver is nowhere to be found.