Prometheus – Review

Prometheus – Review

Review by FilmFellaHenry – 5/10

So here it is. The moment every Alien and Ridley Scott fan has been waiting for: the arrival of Prometheus. The film’s potential for success is significant for two reasons: firstly it would mark the rejuvenation of Scott’s markedly flagging career (the last watchable film he made was Matchstick Men IMO); and secondly it will give a breath of new life into a sci-fi franchise that had presumably run its course.

Without further preamble, I’ll get straight to the point and state the Ridley Scott has, without a doubt, fucked it up. Prometheus is an absolute disappointment of a film, tarnishing the legacy of Alien and proving that this guy is no longer a master director. Why has Prometheus failed? Rant initiating…

Scott’s first error was claiming that Prometheus was not a prequel to Alien. This statement is utter rubbish. Prometheus is set in the same world, features the same Space Jockey character from Alien as well as the same styled derelict ship and even has the character Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) strutting around – significant of course considering the company Weyland Yutani was prominent in the rest of the franchise. In effect, Scott’s distancing from the franchise is another way of saying ‘don’t expect Alien again, I will show you something new’. This would be a commendable approach if Prometheus was in fact a fresh sci-fi idea, that happened to be set in the Alien world; unfortunately, Prometheus is just  a repetition of the first film, but done much, much worse.

WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!

The story is achingly predictable. Corporate mogul Peter Weyland initiates an expedition to a far flung star system revealed in a series of ancient cave paintings. Once there, the scientific team discovers a vast alien bunker complex, full of dead creatures, holo-recordings of their last days and a stash of containers similar to the face hugger egg sacs we all know so well. From then on, it’s back to the old formula: crew gets infected, alien creatures spread on the ship, android turns nasty and everyone but the lead female dies. Only there’s no tension, no atmosphere, or suspense.

Thematically, there are ongoing questions over the creation of life and subsequent responsibility, relevant to both the android David (Michael Fassbender) and the human crew, who believe the new-found alien species were the creators of mankind. This would have been interesting enough, had it been developed fully and deftly handled. Unfortunately, the use of such a repetitious and unoriginal story structure constrains artistic license, limiting any worthwhile conceptual questions to mere breaks of sunlight in an otherwise cloudy day.

With the exception of David (who was strikingly good), the characters are largely unoriginal and often ancillary. The supposed corporate bitch Meredith Vickers’ (Charlize Theron) only action is to aid an assisted suicide and look mean. Most of the scientific team wander around spouting sci-fi jargon without having character or influencing the story. The ‘edgy’ captain Janek (Idris Elba) could have shown potential had he been given more scenes and better dialogue, while the other two ship crew serve virtually no purpose whatsoever. Noomi Rapace, playing the lead female scientist Elizabeth Shaw, is very much a poor man’s Sigourney Weaver, oscillating between a weepy naïve innocence and a panic-stricken desperation with none of Ripley’s sass and backbone. And the inclusion of Weyland himself… Once was fine in a holo-recording, but seeing the old fool stumbling around giving orders just seemed cumbersome and unnecessary.

As I said, Michael Fassbender’s performance was excellent and his portrayal of a 1st gen android arguably exceeds that of Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen. In fact, he was the only character who showed any kind of originality and scope for creativity; as such, the film would have been far better with him as the focus. Sadly, Ridley Scott seems incapable of making good film decisions these days, so we are left with a crew of 17 members (17 members! What is this, a bloody musical?!) that collectively bore and run through the all-familiar motions.

From a visual standpoint, Prometheus is admittedly shot very nicely. The set design is good and reasonably consistent with Alien, albeit this time without HR Giger’s monumental influence. But of course, this wouldn’t be Prometheus if it wasn’t flawed: notable in the half-arsed creature design that renders bad Lovecraftian monsters in some very dodgy CGI. And from a geek’s point of view, the technology used in the ship was far too clean and modern to fit in with the Alien timeline; what’s wrong with using retro monitors and chunky battered up hardware?

As for the score… what score? Instantly forgettable. A sin really, considering both James Horner’s Aliens score and Elliot Goldenthal’s orchestrations for Alien 3 were outstanding. A chimp banging a dustbin for two hours would have had more panache than Marc Streitenfeld’s muzak toss.

In summary, despite Fassbender doing his best to save a sinking ship, the film is a mediocre stab at reviving a lifeless franchise, which I find very very disappointing. Ridley Scott had his shot and has blown it, though audiences aren’t safe yet: with Blade Runner 2 on the horizon, it’s clear he’s on a mission of self destruction, laying waste to a legacy that would be better left alone. June is now ruined.

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About filmfellahenry
Film reviewer, script writer and occasional painter. Fan of Lumet, Aronofsky and Kubrick, with a good measure of early John Carpenter thrown in. Particularly like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror and fantasy film genres.

16 Responses to Prometheus – Review

  1. Mark Walker says:

    Well said Henry! I sadly have to agree with you on most, if not all, of what you have said here. Scott has definitely shot wide here. I seen it last night as walked out rather insulted with the level of intelligence. Here’s my thoughts http://mrmarakai.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/prometheus/

  2. Filmfella Lozz says:

    I agree with your review for the most part. I think Noomi Repace was better than you gave her credit for. Fassbender was awesome, of course. And it looked great. But ultimately let down by lazy storytelling and boring predictable characters. You were right; it’s just Alien re-done, but re-done worse.

    • filmfellahenry says:

      My issue with Rapice was that she was cast in Ripley’s role, but simply didn’t live up to it. Admittedly she had a limited and flawed character to work with, but I could imagine a host of other female leads doing an equivalent job.

  3. Richie Russ says:

    Totally agree this movie was a massive disappointment and Scott is finished at the top directors table. Why would somebody spend $1T building the space ship only to fill it with a bunch of idiots that make more mistakes than a bunch of convicts.

    • filmfellahenry says:

      Absolutely! And why the hell is a mega rich industrialist being escorted by a bunch of scientists and 2nd rate ship crew? It just doesn’t make sense. He would have taken warships, soldiers, a whole well-equipped research team, basically everything to ensure his safety and the success of the mission. Not Noomi Rapice.

  4. Completely agree with you Henry. Sceptical right after seeing the trailers. Yet another film built on brawns and no brains. CGI on top of CGI. Fassbender was brilliant.

    • filmfellahenry says:

      Thanks mate. Fassbender was indeed the only redeemable character in the movie: a better story would have been just him making contact with the Engineers, discovering them from purely an android’s point of view. At least that would have been original.

  5. conordcfc says:

    Well I enjoyed the film a lot, but that’s what opinions are for haha. Still thought you raised a lot of valid points and constructed your review fairly! Give my review when you have the time, thanks! http://conordcfc.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/film-review-prometheus-2012/

  6. Rono says:

    I loved Prometheus. I think it’s a must see.
    Some might need to see it twice to understand it.
    http://www.absolutefiction.com/2012/06/08/prometheus-sci-fis-comeback-roooooocks/

  7. Just this Geek says:

    Oh man so in agreement. And I thought it was only me that thought the music was bloody diabolical. Why did the ending turn into Star Trek complete with captains log entry? Why did *spoiler* the Mohawk guy come back as a psycho when the first engineer just burnt up? Why? Why? Why? Etc.

    • filmfellahenry says:

      Exactly. Why? And the sad thing is, I don’t really care enough to find out.

      Thanks for reading.

  8. So agree with you. Charlize Theron was totally wasted here. She would have made a great ‘Ripleyesque’ character. Instead she’s a frowning bureaucrat…ugh. In any case, it did have great f/x, but storywise, it was underwhelming.

    • filmfellahenry says:

      That’s actually a pretty good point. Her character should have been axed, with Theron playing Rapace’s role. I do find the whole ‘ugly corporate villain’ theme a little dull now; they milked it in the 80’s, went back for seconds in the ’90’s and now this cow’s a dried up rotting husk. I think after the recent financial crises everyone is aware that corporations are ultimately self-serving and not to be trusted…

      Thanks for reading Gisele

  9. rapid says:

    That Ridley Scott should churn out such a rubbish movie! Unbelievable. A total waste of time.

  10. Dagon says:

    I found your criticism of this film to be quite valid. I had great hopes for this film when it first came onto my radar. In light of the horrible abuses inflicted on some terrific film franchises (Planet of the Apes, Predator, etc) I was hoping that more care would be excercised in its crafting. Unfortunately it satisfies the same threshold of dissapointment.
    The characters were the predictably quirky, edgey, pains in the arse.
    The mandatory “hook up” scene of the captain and Meredith was nonsensical and irrelevant. I suppose it satisfied the agenda of some frustrated screenwriter/ social engineer.
    The space psycho scene was similarly ill conceived and did not fit in the context of this film.
    Fassbender was terriffic. He deserves recognition for his work. There is some level of irony that the android gave the best performance.

    • filmfellahenry says:

      Thank for reading Dagon. Since writing the review I’ve given Prometheus another go: while I didn’t hate it as much (probably because my expectations this time round were drastically lowered), all the problems I initially had with it were still there.

      And i definitely appreciate the irony that an android was the character with the most depth. I shudder at the thought of Blade Runner 2.

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