From watching the trailer for Prometheus you would think you’re about to see the prequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece Alien. The man who Directed the classics Alien and Blade Runner would surely return some maturity to a genre that hasn’t reached any great heights of late. Prometheus looks and feels like a prequel to Scott’s Alien, but it really isn’t, which will come as a dissapointment to some.
Instead Prometheus is more akin to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey in tone and depth with a dash of the biological horrors that made Alien so famous. It has some very strong foundations, ideas, and concepts, but it stumbles over its poor script and. It’s a good movie, but its a lot less than what it promised to be.
The film opens with a homage to Kurick’s 2001 declaring that the inhabitants of Earth are really the genetic descendants of an Alien species who seem to have deliberately brought us into existence. Skip forward to 2089 (roughly 30 years before the events of Alien) and a team of explorers have travelled to a distant star on the back of evidence they found on Earth. This evidence suggests what the opening sequence already confirmed, that we were not created by a mystical being called God.
To go any further with a plot description is to ruin the film, because this is a story not based on suspense and bloody thrills but instead on tension brought about through mystery. Needless to say, what the explorers find is not what they expected and it certainly is not going to lead to a happy ending.
The film is shot exquisitely, Scott has an extraordinary eye for detail and scope and every sequence is littered with eye candy and a seemless blend of computer generated effects. He is a master when it comes to the visual components of story telling and the film exudes his signature brand of imagery.The screenplay and script on the other hand, by Jon Spaiths and Damon Lindelof (of Lost fame) is simply not good enough and littered with too many faults to match the brilliance of Scott’s Direction.
The basis of the story, if you manage to get a handle on it, is essentially brilliant. However the details, characters, and components that go into developing an interesting story for a two hour movie are simply not there. It feels rushed with too many characters who don’t get enough screen time to develop. As a result they all fit into stereotypes who seem to behave as if they are exaggerating their characters traits ten times over. It makes you feel like they aren’t real, and their decisions are even less so. The film probably reaches its most absurd point when a character goes through an incredible trauma but because the plot needs to move on quickly every other character behaves as if it never happened.
Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, and Michael Fassbender deserve a mention for bringing what they could to their roles, despite the aforementioned issues. Fassbender especially steals the movie playing an android who attempts to mimic human behaviour to make those around him feel more comfortable. He is very unnerving and believable and displayed the only real charisma in the film, which is strange considering he was playing a robot.
I did enjoy this movie, despite it’s faults. I felt the tension and I was hooked on the mystery of what was playing out. The grounds are here for a fantastic film, but it never really takes off and kept managing to break the tension with a few absurd moments. The film also doesn’t end very well, either the scriptwriter didn’t know what you should see when the curtain was drawn back or he’s already written a sequel. Either way, the films ends as if there is going to be one. Personally I think a film needs to stand on its own, so that is a little disappointing.
I’d recommend Prometheus to anyone who enjoys their Science Fiction or Horror movies, its an above average film in that respect, but really it could have been a whole lot more. It has me hooked however, I want to know more, and there is plenty to talk about in terms of it’s larger meanings and spirituality. If there is a sequel (and there will be) then I will find it hard to stay away.