Director:- Ridley Scott
MILD SPOILER ALERT!
Without question, Prometheus is the most anticipated movie of 2012 – argue with it what you will.. But it’s a cold hard fact. Namely because it heralds the return to the sci-fi genre of one Sir Ridley Scott – one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. And after over 30 years since his first sci-fi feature, Alien, Mr Scott returns to the franchise that chained one of the greatest film series of our time. But has he, and such a wonderfully talented cast delivered what we’ve eagerly been anticipating?
In a nutshell – Prometheus is a sci-fi spectacle that delves into one of the most posed questions by the human race. Where do we come from? After discovering ancient markings courtesy of ancient civilisations that have a striking parallel - Doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) lead a 17-strong expedition paid by the Weyland Corporation to investigate a distant planet literally written in the stars, in the hope of finding the answers they seek to the beginnings of human life.
On a production standpoint - Prometheus is visually astounding. Seamlessly blending physical sets with amazing computer generated imagery. Landscapes and beautifully shot vistas are undeniably epic in their scale, beauty and atmospheric effect… And give the film an extremely grandiose aura, harkening to some of Scott’s more recent work. It certainly gives credence to the frequent statement from various medias that Prometheus is a BIG film, in all its aspects and ideas. Building a whole new blueprint to work from (Yes that’s a minor spoiler, this film does bait for sequels). With a production on this scale and a superb bout of timely effort by the designers, the performances and stunt work in some external action scenes are lifted to a higher plane - far away from the craptastic green screen factory line that Hollywood have churned mile after mile of uninspiring bloke flicks on a continual cycle. A very refreshing and welcome shift for a big budget production. No doubt Ridley has set a benchmark here.
Unfortunately, that is where the film’s positive notes end. Because the film, as an entire package, is extremely disappointing.
Prometheus’ running idea of challenging opposing beliefs is highly abundant throughout the film’s first half. Irrevocably, it does nothing to drive the plot or premise of the film – leads to absolutely no character development or actual culmination, and certainly does not make for memorable, or even notable dialogue between the crew mates. A strong aspect of Scott’s ‘Alien’, was the camaraderie between the team aboard the Nostromo. As opposed to this film – With what is a rather extensive crew, are barely even given arm’s-length to stretch their characters and are, as predicted, merely just lambs to the slaughter. Shaw and Holloway’s relationship is kind of a surprise(?)… we get a teeny bit of insight on their past during one scene midway through the film – but as a whole, the exposition police are still at the station eating donuts. Shaw, individually, is actually given a few brief flashback moments thanks to some nosey digging of synthetic bod ‘David’ (a pitch perfect Fassbender). But it only amounts to more questions surrounding the Doctor’s ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ of there are really answers out there for what she’s looking for. It’s a real shame, as these ideas surrounding the subject are logical and reasonable – but it’s not constructively or appropriately developed. Rapace borders from passionate scientist come religious optimist (notably pitted against her partner Charlie – who is more privy to the scientific theory of humanity’s origin), to a reasonably small-scale heroine. In perhaps one of the closest scenes to Kane’s chestburster surprise in Alien, Rapace’s Shaw is subject to some pretty gut wrenching stuff. Subsequently stepping over that border aforementioned. For me, Noomi Rapace doesn’t really excel here – more a case of what she was given to work with.
Elsewhere there’s an impressive performance from Charlize Theron, as Weyland overseer, Vickers. Using her icy attributes and pragmatic nature to carry the film’s more ‘diplomatic’ moments and rather channelling franchise poster-girl Ellen Ripley. Idris Elba was a major surprise as perhaps another throwback to the early Alien movies, playing the ship’s captain – Janek. There’s a definite attitude, a groove that he runs on – engaging in some interesting sequences with the two female leads. Though his screen time was small at best, he was perhaps one of the more characterised crew members of Prometheus.
Michael Fassbender, is on another level as the ship’s caretaker/android ‘David’, who oversees the operation of the Prometheus for the two years that the crew remain in stasis. Our introduction to David is probably my favourite sequence in the entire movie. Fassbender almost seems like he’s fresh out of the mould – the mannerisms, a cold and disconcerting tone and quite often humourous nature really notches up some points. Really something. Proving yet again that he is one of the most versatile and talented actors working today.
Prometheus – though with its stunning visuals and fairly strong cast. Massively falters on its most important aspect – the story. With a very intriguing premise, and being overwhelmed with anticipation being such a huge Ridley Scott fan – I was disheartened to see such a promising start keel over near the half way hurdle. It spills out of steady hands into a structure that is fragmented and a very loosely ended narrative. Seriously dampening the efforts from the cast.
Without speculating about sequels - there’s an immediate brain wave after watching the film that not enough back story or development is given to the planet-dwelling (sort of) antagonists. Rendering the film’s last 20-30 minutes nose-pinchingly redundant. Additionally, one of the film’s most important and key moments – unfortunately destroys the entire idea of this being an Alien prequel, completely blowing one of the most mystifying aspects of the franchise’s history out of the water. Fact is, yes it is an Alien prequel, regardless of what’s been reported (sharing ‘strands of Alien DNA’ is a double-entendre, people). Even though some of the references to the franchise are incidentally misplaced that it almost seems less ambiguous and more ‘here look at this little easter egg we tacked on’.
Undoubtedly, opinions will be split right down the middle for Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction, and though the film sets out to ask the great question. We are left asking ourselves a shit load more by the end…