One of the first questions you will want to ask yourself before going to see Prometheus is, “Am I a science fiction fan?” If you are then most likely you have grown up watching in admiration and horror (for more than one reason) the Alien series. The original movie, released in 1979, propelled actress Sigourney Weaver to stardom and instantly made Ridley Scott a favorite director among sci-fi enthusiasts. Aliens was the critically acclaimed sequel that had James Cameron in the director’s chair and brought back Weaver as the series mainstay, Ripley. The rest of the Alien films can be considered a “mixed bag” at best especially once Alien vs Predator rolled out.
Now Ridley Scott is back where he started. Prometheus is indeed a return to the old school, sci-fi, horror genre. The unfortunate part is seeing various plot points presented that don’t seem to go anywhere. Read on for the full review (MAY CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS).
The plot involves a group of scientists on their way to a moon in a distant galaxy which supposedly holds the secret behind the beginning of mankind. A theory is held (and hammered on incessantly) that a humanoid alien race called “Engineers” came to Earth and created life resulting in the birth of the human race. Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), CEO of the Weyland Corporation, is an elderly man who funds the trip to this moon as well as the ship, named Prometheus, that takes the crew there.
A handful of these crew members include David (Michael Fassbender), an android and personal servant to Mr. Weyland who watches over the ship and crew while they are in stasis during the trip. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are archaeologists and lovers with contrasting viewpoints in faith and God. The commander of the ship, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), is a Weyland employee who is on board to monitor the mission. She is very “by the book” and likes taking control of any situation. Another character of note is the ships’s captain, Janek (Idris Elba). He’s a grounded and realistic man with a military background and dedication to his crew.
Performances range from below average to average for the most part. One big exception is Fassbender’s portrayal of the android David (pictured below). This is someone who is known right from the start to not be human and yet is built to act as close to human as possible. Fassbender does an amazing job balancing these aspects of his character and truly stands head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. One fun fact is that he watched Blade Runner, another Ridley Scott film, in order to understand how to approach the role.
Click here for an amazing scene between David and Holloway conversing about why humans created androids.
Now we move on to probably the weakest part of the film, the plot. There aren’t too many things that annoy me more in a movie than presenting a plot point then never following through with it. Prometheus seems to be peppered with these instances. An example of this is when David mentions to Elizabeth in one scene about her father contracting the Ebola virus in a very cryptic manner. Did David know Elizabeth’s father? Was David responsible for him contracting Ebola? It’s never mentioned again after that. It is known that David was able to see Elizabeth’s dreams before the crew woke up from stasis. How even that works is beyond me and never explained. Just because this is science fiction doesn’t mean something can be brought up and dropped without closure.
This problem of the film is most likely the case of the script going through many drafts and rewrites. It’s apparent the film shares a lot of different plots that are left over from before and sadly the dots just don’t connect. Even the main story of this team looking to “meet their makers” is relatively flimsy. A brief scene is brought up that’s supposed to prove this theory when in actuality it does not. These “Engineers” could very well be other carbon based life forms that live on a planet similar to Earth. Normally I’m not one to complain about minor details not syncing up completely but there are far too many moments of this happening and it hurts the film as a result.
If there’s one thing Ridley Scott knows how to do, it’s to put on a visual show and Prometheus is no exception. The look of the film is simply gorgeous and really places you right in the dangerous situation we find our crew in. In order to track what’s ahead when exploring underground, these floating orbs are used (pictured below) to scan the rooms and hallways for any lifeforms. This effect seemed pretty simple but executed very well and really gave a sense of this being a futuristic setting. The Prometheus ship itself was also very well done. Watching it fly and land was one of the more breathtaking scenes.
Death scenes are expected in a movie like this. Fortunately these are well executed and makes for some truly cringe-worthy moments. No one simply dies from a bullet to the head here! I won’t spoil anything here but watching what happens to the first two guys to go had me jumping out of my seat. There is also a “near death” scene involving Elizabeth that had the most tension in the entire movie for me.
With all the hype revolving around Ridley Scott‘s return to what he knows best, I was hoping for an amazing space horror flick. He did his job and did it well. The writing is what makes this pretty disappointing however with all the plot holes and discontinued thoughts. I hope if there was to be a sequel that Scott would hire some better writers because the Alien franchise deserves better than a plot riddled with half baked ideas. At the very least I will say that the final scene should make long time fans very happy.
Prometheus receives 3 Death Rays out of 5.