FILM REVIEW: Prometheus

So after over 30 years of waiting, Ridley Scott makes his return to the sci-fi world of Alien.  Sort of.  The sad news: Prometheus is a lesson in style over substance. Not just in its execution as a film but in its considerable, impressive marketing efforts.
The hype, the rumors, the speculation and finally the film has all culminated in an event that would have to have been something very special to avoid being a disappointment.  Unfortunately, if somewhat predictably, the film does indeed falls short.

The story is this: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Where to start with Prometheus? The first 50 minutes genuinely excited me and for a moment lauded me into a false sense of hope that Prometheus could live up to my, and many others, considerable expectations.  Well crafted, intriguing and impressively made, Ridley Scott’s film initially had me hooked.  It was proper sci-fi – the hunt for creation and our creators, a mission to find the origin of life itself.  It’s just a shame that  what happens after that is an abject lesson of just how easily a film can fall to pieces when too many disparate elements are thrown into the mix by a filmmaker desperate to please everyone, who will end up pleasing very few.

From nonsensical plot jumps, a script that lurches into Transformers bad (no really, just watch the moment Idris Elba explains the complex back story of the world they are investigating with little evidence, rhyme or reason), massive plot developments and character deaths that go past without hardly a raised eye brow… oh and not to mention the Android (or is that synthetic human) that can read, write and speak a language with absolutely zero experience or example. It’s so bizarre a step change that you kinda wonder if the second half of the film was shot by a different director pretending to be Ridley Scott who walked on set with a new script.  At best it’s like two films that have nothing to do with each other edited together into one, nonsensical narrative.

It gets worse (major plot spoiler) when Guy Pearce’s Peter Wayland is unveiled, heavily made up (and for now reason what so ever) as the 93-year-old head of the Wayland Yutani in heavy prosthetic make up, so distracting and so pointless it just snaps you out of the film’s narrative.  It’s both pointless and distracting.

As for how it ties in with the Alien movies well, it doesn’t.  Not really. In fact the half arsed attempts to link the two together would best have been left on the script editors floor as in truth Prometheus would have existed better in a universe of its own, without the needless ties to what are much better films.

In fact this highlights another problem.  The curse of the retrospective prequel.  Having watched both Alien & Aliens in preparation just days before, it struck me just how much better the technology was in Prometheus, a film set several years before the original Alien & Aliens.  The Star Wars prequels suffered the same problems (amongst others of course) and all it ends up doing is reminding you that this isn’t the same world, the same characters.  In fact I almost wonder if Prometheus fits better as a reboot rather than a prequel.

Okay so it’s not all bad.  As you would expect, the SFX are top-notch, the film is never boring.  It is a shame that the best sequences are in the trailer but at least seeing them on the big screen, they are handled well as you would expect from the man who brought you classic such as Blade Runner & Gladiator.  And whilst Noomi Rapce still fails to excite me as an actress, she is supported well by the likes of Alba, Charlize Theron and Logan Marshall-Green.

But it’s Michael Fassbender who once again proves why he is one of the most exciting actors of his generation, giving both menace and heart to android David (although why we needed another Android with an agenda is beyond me.)

I guess deep down I expected that Prometheus would be a let down.  The hype machine was almost too good, the promise of something special so tantalizingly close. It’s just a shame that at it’s heart is a solid idea that, with a better script, a more passionate direction and maybe without the hamstrung link to a world that should have stayed another universe away this could have been great.

In short: Alien fans will feel short changed, Scoff fans will feel confused and those expecting the Summer blockbuster of the year will find that next to Avengers, The Raid and Chronicle it falls quite a way short.

Rating: 2.5/5
Reporter: Phil Hobden

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2 comments

  1. montoc1701 /

    Good review and I have to say I have been feeling this since it was announced

  2. philhobden /

    Cheers. Yeah it was a crushing disappointment that alas gets worse the more I think about it! Oh well…

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