People have had a lot of different views on how Ridley Scott’s newest effort, Prometheus ties into his sci-fi classic Alien, with some saying it’s a prequel and others saying that it’s a remake. For me though, it’s neither, it’s a film that takes place in the same universe, although some of the ways it is tied in to that universe feel quite thrown in and week. I’ll try to avoid spoilers in this review because, regardless of what you think of it, Prometheus is a film that is best seen knowing as little about it as possible.
Expectation plays a huge role in how people have reacted to this film since it’s release, and I’m no exception. Through an excellent marketing campaign, the film has created an excellent wave of promotion, which creates interest and high expectations for all. However, these expectations are so high, the film sometimes struggles to reach them consistently.
From the very beginning, the film is visually astonishing, with excellent visual effects and cinematography that are present, and fantastic, throughout the entire film. It’s visuals are one of it’s strongest assets, as an expansive alien world is created wonderfully, and it has presented some of the best images on a film so far in the cinematic year.
After the ambiguous prologue, we are introduced to doctor’s Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), who find a stone tablet that links to an ancient people of some kind. It is through this revelation that they join the expedition on board the eponymous spacecraft to try and find answers to some of the ‘big questions’ that remain present throughout the film.
Two of the crew members give the two best performance in the film – Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers, who brings an excellent quiet contempt to the role that resonates throughout her, and Michael Fassbender as David, the android on board the ship. His performances is truly something to behold, he brings an interesting and slightly camp physicality and tone to David, and packs an excellent O’Toole impression, as he wanders the ship (which can’t help but remind viewers of Space Odyssey with it’s expansive and empty corridors).
However, as the main plot moves forward, the film’s main issue reveals itself – it teases a myriad number of excellent ideas and subplots that are never truly realized. From the statues and paintings and architecture within the planet, an expansive mythology is hinted at, yet none of these ideas are fully explored, which can’t help but leave a bad taste in the mouth, especially considering some of the main stories weaknesses in terms of character development (which is startlingly minimal) and some visual elements that let down some of the film (bad makeup effects, but I’ll say no more on the subject).
Around ninety or so minutes in, the film suddenly jerks away from the speculative, high budget sci-fi that it does so well and immediately throws the viewer into a sequence that looks awfully familiar, as if to remind us all “hey, you’re watching an Alien movie”. Not to say that the sequences isn’t well done, it is an excellent created scene of visceral horror, which, if built up better, could have provided a wonderful contrast to the slow burning speculation of the films opening acts.
Prometheus is, if nothing else, an excellent piece of filmmaking, the visuals are almost faultless, from the stunning prologue sequence to the architecture of the planet to the eponymous ship itself. It is a film with exceptional potential, and so many avenues that could have been explored and led to something brilliant. However, like the crew of the Prometheus itself, one can’t help but want more answers.