Film Review – Prometheus

Prometheus (MA)

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Prometheus has turned out to be a curious creation. Hyped as a sort-of prequel to the seminal space creature feature Alien, existing in the same universe as the double jawed xenomorph, yet so far removed that those without a good eye for detail may miss the vague links. The result is a distant cousin of sorts that could play as a stand alone film. It is a risky move on the part of director Ridley Scott and scribes John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof: not enough face hugger action and hard-core Alien fans may be, erm, alienated. Stick too closely to what has been done before and endure the wrath of those who are tired of another installment of unimaginative rehashes.

In another risky move, Prometheus answers a few of those burning questions Alien fans have been asking for more than 30 years, and then asks a slew of new, philosophical ones. While some preview audiences have derided Prometheus on a number of script and storytelling flaws, and whether or not the ties to Alien are strong enough to warrant the prequel label, a so far uncommon point of view is that these were risks worth taking with those behind the scenes using the opportunity to take its audience into the unknown and to another level.

When archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) find ancient markings in a cave that they believe are directions to our makers, or as they refer to them as: our “Engineers”, head of uber corporation Weyland Yutani, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), funds the trillion-dollar expedition to another planet to see if they can make contact. On board the ship Prometheus is the steely Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) as the bureaucratic presence, laid back captain Janek (Idris Elba), humanistic robot David (Michael Fassbender) and a handful of scientists and crew. Despite what each individual’s motivation for landing on that planet is, what they discover is more than they bargained for.

Capturing both the awe and dread of the expedition, Scott creates one of the most remarkable build ups in recent cinema. But this was only possible because Scott has immersed us in the world and politics of these characters, much like he did with Alien all those years ago with his keen eye for realism. Mirroring the storytelling beats is a subtle, yet delicious nod to the plight of the crew of the Nostromo in Alien. Scott isn’t just relying on design-based references here.

The environment the characters inhabit here is astonishingly three-dimensional. The costume and set designs are impressive and breathtakingly detailed. Our 2012 technology has allowed Scott to come up with sensational imagery that in some ways surpasses some of the extraordinarily detailed sets achieved in 1979. While there is some whiz-bangery on display, it’s not so much about futuristic laser guns and gadgets as it is about the practicality of the machines and hardware the characters use.

But Prometheus is not solely about spectacle and therein lies the reason it may eventually be held up as another cult classic alongside Scott’s other heavily debated sci-fi classic Blade Runner. Scott and his script writers pull out the big guns here, so to speak, with existential themes that explore faith versus science and the creation of life in a much grander scale than others film have attempted. There is plenty to ponder once the credits begin to roll.

Admittedly, the final third doesn’t live up to the build up of the first two-thirds, with new plot points not developing as organically as those that have preceded them and a seemingly endless anti-climactic sequence. But as curious a creation as Prometheus may be, the end result is one worth visiting. Could Prometheus be the new template for remakes and prequels? In an age where audiences can barely differentiate between them and their original source material, let’s hope so.

2 Responses to “Film Review – Prometheus”

  1. Brilliant review! Felt you really told a lot about the film, whilst carefully ensuring not to give away any spoilers! Check out my review if you find the time, thanks!

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