“Prometheus” follows the story of a group of scientists investigating the origins of the human race. Based on a star map common to all cave-dwelling humans, Doctors Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have developed a theory that by following this star map, mankind will at last be able to meet its maker or as they prefer to call them, the Engineers. Along with other specialists they set off for the planet contained within the star map. When they arrive, they find evidence of both the Engineers and another life-form ………
“Prometheus” was probably the most eagerly-anticipated movie of the year. I don’t know whether this was because Ridley Scott was re-visiting the genre which made him a movie-god or simply because the words “Prequel” and “Alien” were mentioned in the same sentence. If you were anticipating this movie more because of the second reason than the first, you’ll be disappointed. This isn’t a prequel to the 1979 slasher-in-space “Alien”. “Prometheus” is however a thought-provoking science fiction movie of the old-fashioned sort which doesn’t quite pull off the tour-de-force it aims for.
Technically, the film is spectacular. The set-designs are also close to mind-blowing and hugely reminiscent of the images throughout the “Alien” saga. I liked the cast in general but there are suspect choices, chief of which is the Scottish medical officer whose accent is grinding. The best performance comes from Michael Fassbender as the android, “David”. Fassbender follows in the tradition of Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen brilliantly. Guy Pearce’s appearance as the millionaire-backer “Weyland” was a nice touch too but he receives little screen attention despite being quite intricate to plot development. Logan Marshall-Green does really well in a role similar to John Hurt’s in the original “Alien”. I would say that his demise is easily the most poignant moment in a film which tries to be far deeper than it need be. Scott’s decision to kill-off key members of the cast is a welcome addition in an age where this so rarely happens.
There are a couple of ‘nasty’ scenes although fans of the type of gore which characterised latter entries in the “Alien” series will be left somewhat disappointed. The best of these ‘nasty’ moments is certainly the scene in which the impregnated Dr Shaw uses a medical machine to abort the alien foetus inside her. But, this isn’t a film designed to shock in the same way that “Alien” was. You won’t need to look away at any point and nor will you feel the nervous tension throbbing in your limbs because Scott doesn’t build any suspense throughout the film. That, I suppose, is my major gripe with the movie. The sequence where our band of human-explorers first stumbles upon the Engineers could and should have been much more suspenseful. Why it wasn’t I cannot really tell you but it does make you wonder whether the Ridley Scott of the late 70s/early 80s would have missed such an opportunity to thrill an audience.
The first hour of the movie is significantly better than the second. Once people start dying, the film doesn’t really seem to know which way it’s heading apart from hurdling towards some deeper philosophical meaning. Quite clearly, in Scott’s eyes, the answer is summed up by the words the ailing “Weyland” utters with his last breath. The film leaves many questions unanswered, which I won’t go into here. Is this deliberate and does it matter? I don’t claim to know whether it’s the former but I do feel that too many questions are left open for this sort of criticism to be brushed aside easily. The script, primarily, is at fault for this. But I don’t see these open questions as being problems necessarily. If anything, it makes you want to watch the whole movie all over again.
Lastly, I want to add that the ending so clearly panders to fans of the “Alien” franchise that it borders close to fan-wanking. Some will see this as a positive and others as a negative. For me, it was something of a cheap trick.
So, all in all, I have to say that I found “Prometheus” to be a little too much enigma and chronically lacking the brooding atmosphere of Scott’s earlier “Alien” and indeed “Blade Runner”. For these reasons, I cannot give it a high rating. Despite that fact, it’s one of the most intriguing movies I have seen in a long time and as such, I could well change my opinion on subsequent viewings and reflection.
hotdog rating: 6.5/10