Posted by: ckckred | June 10, 2012

Prometheus: It Aims for Greatness, but (just) misses the mark

Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi genre for the first time in 30 years since Blade Runner

Ridley Scott is a fantastic science fiction director.  He’s only made two films of the genre, Alien and Blade Runner, but both are considered sci-fi classics.   I have therefore been greatly anticipating Prometheus, Scott’s return to science fiction films.

The anticipation for Prometheus is probably better than the actual movie.  Scott has teased the movie in a similar manner to Alien, which has made audiences very eager to see the film.  And of course, there’s the question everyone’s been asking, “Is Prometheus the prequel to Alien?”

I won’t answer that in this post, mostly because I’d be spoiling the movie for you.  I will, however, say that Prometheus takes place in a world all its own.  There are parts that seem like the film is an Alien prequel and parts where Prometheus is its own individual movie.

The story is basic.  Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, who starred in the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and her boyfriend, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover a series of old markings from different ancient civilizations, all of which contain a marking of a planet very far away from Earth.  So Weyland Industries (which will eventually become the Weyland-Utani Corporation of Aliens) sends the pair of scientists up to the planet in an enormous spaceship called Prometheus.  In the ship they meet Merideth (Charlize Theron), the grouchy head of the ship, and Janek (Idris Elba), the captain.  But the most significant character in the film is David (Michael Fassbender), an android made by Weyland Industries to help the crew on their mission.

Fassbender showed his acting chops (along with other body parts) in the movie Shame.  He does the same in Prometheus, and is easily the show-stealer in the film.  David looks like Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (which he obsesses over in the beginning of the movie), and is similar to the robots in A. I.: Artificial Intelligence and Scott’s own Blade Runner.  But if there is a character David reminds me of, it is the villainous HAL 9000, the supercomputer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In fact, it is easy to make comparisons between 2001 and Prometheus.  Both films question the creation of human life and allude to the mysteries of alien life.  If you didn’t get the classical reference, Prometheus is the Greek Titan that created mankind.

Prometheus could easily be a great movie, but is held back by its pretentious story.  I didn’t have much of an interest in Noomi Rapace’s character (she’s no Ellen Ripley, the heroine of the Alien series), mostly because she suffers from her dialogue.  Some parts of the film confused me, and I had to look up some of the questions after I saw the movie to fully understand what was going on.

Prometheus, however, is far from a terrible film.  Its greatest strengths come from Scott’s direction.  Scott, like Scorsese before, uses 3-D well, and many shots are visually stunning.  And the performances from Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba are very good and make it easy to swallow down the weakest parts of the film.

But it takes a while for the horror to take off.  Some parts are pretty scary, the most notable being when a decapitated head comes to life.  But some are just a little too grisly, such as one scene where two of the crewmembers meet a violent death that grossed out everyone in the audience during my screening.  It doesn’t have the same effect as that famous chest-bursting scene from Alien, which while both scary and disgusting, is surprising as no one expected that was going to happen.  In Prometheus, it’s obvious that those crewmembers were going to meet their deaths, and that scene loses the intensity from it.

I can recommend Prometheus, but I would not put in the same league as Alien or Aliens.  It is, however, far better than Aliens3Alien: Resurrection, or any of those Alien vs. Predator films at all.  But you have to remember that both Alien and Aliens are classic horror films, and on its own, Prometheus is a good film.

Scott is one of the most visionary directors working it the movie industry right now.  He’s made some of the best action films of the last twenty years, such as Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.  Ultimately, Prometheus is not Scott’s greatest work, but is a good film overall.  And seeing the current state of big-budgeted films, Prometheus is one of the stronger blockbusters around.

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Responses

  1. Great review. As you know, I loved this one.

    • Thanks! It’s a good film, and though I wouldn’t compare it to Alien, it’s a film I would ultimately recommend.

  2. “…the opening shot which features a man jumping into a waterfall and dissolving apart. What does that have do with the overall plot? The movie never explains.”
    The film requires kind of a high amount of knowledge upon entry…
    Check out this (long) post about some of the unsaid things about the plot and what they mean
    http://t.co/I68DS8cZ

    • I wish I had known that was supposed to be the beginning of life on Earth. Thanks for showing me that post.

  3. […] Bryan Cranston in it but I didn’t know he was only in about 5 minutes of the film”), Prometheus (“not bad but I expected a lot more”), Red Tails (“Bryan Cranston’s also in […]


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