When you’ve got thirty years worth of manic fans obsessing over your franchise, it will be next to impossible to live up to anyone’s standards. See: the Star Wars prequels; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; and enter, Prometheus.
I’m not saying Prometheus is anywhere near as bad as Crystal Skull, but why any filmmaker would even dare walk into that trap is beyond me. It’s a cinematic death wish.
If you haven’t worked it out yet from all the buzz – this latest Ridley Scott directed venture is a loose prequel to Alien, the classic sci-fi horror that set a new benchmark for what could go down in space. Alien was minimalist, terrifying and burned iconic images into your brain – I remember watching it as young teen at a sleepover, it was my first foray into proper sci-fi and I’ve obviously never been the same.
However, Prometheus takes a bit of a tonal shift to its forebear. After finding a map, – or an invitation, if you will – a young archaeologist couple and a crew of mismatched experts are sent to a distant moon by super-corporation, Weyland Industries. They go to meet their makers, confirm or deny their faith and discover alien life – of course, things don’t exactly pan out to be all sunshine and rainbows, as they find evil, nasty creatures in the bowels of an abandoned ship and ulterior motives… sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
That is the first problem with this film – it has far too much universe mythology and fan expectation to hold up, and not enough strength to do it. A large percentage of this audience is going to go to this movie expecting answers about the Space Jockey from Alien or to see a well-crafted simple sci-fi horror – and that part of the audience is going to either be let-down or severely annoyed. Prometheus is so far removed from the essence of the other Alien films, that I don’t understand why it even needs to be in the same mythology. Was Blade Runner set in the Alien future, Ridley? No. See, you can make a sci-fi that stands alone – so why bog yourself down with these fan expectations?
I suppose they wanted to pull fans in with answers from the old franchise, yet explore these lofty theories on human existence and the meaning of life – but they can’t manage to make the two things mesh. And it is this dichotomy that destroys the plot (or it could be writer, Damon Lindelof? Who I am slowly developing a vendetta against). They can’t settle on anything, there are too many facets they leave unsatisfied and absolutely everything goes unanswered.
Somebody please tell me when it became uncool to make a movie that stands alone? Why do contemporary films always have to be left open for a sequel? It just leaves me feeling unfulfilled.
But it’s not all bad – it is honestly a gorgeous looking film, maybe even the best cinematography of the year. The visual effects are second-to-none to the point where it’s hard to imagine this ever looking dated. It is fantastically epic and pulls it off – definitely something to be seen on the big screen.
It has to be said that the strongest part of the film was scene-stealer, Michael Fassbender as the android on board. In fact, it was only when I saw the David 8 viral video that I became overwhelmingly excited for this film. I even stated publicly (i.e. on facebook) that “If [Prometheus] can be like this [viral video], I will be happy.”
So, I guess I have to admit that yes, half of Prometheus was like this video – in fact, the first ten minutes were flat out some of the greatest cinema of 2012. And thus, I did legitimately love the first half. It was beautiful, intense and entertaining. Every actor got a moment to shine – even Charlize Theron had a great lurking scene with Michael Fassbender.
But they soon let plot twists and shocking imagery rule the forward progression of the film. Unfortunately, none of these moments are memorable or surprising enough to stick in the mind and cover the fact that a lot of it is downright clunky and poorly written.
As my massive preamble to this review may have told you, I had a lot of expectations going into this film – I was bound to be let down. But I do believe it to be a confused and frustratingly open-ended creature, regardless of whether you’re invested in the Alien franchise or not.
Of course, like a sucker, I will be first in line for the prequel-sequel when it inevitably comes out. But I probably won’t be happy until David 8 gets his own spin-off.
I want to facehug that android so hard.
Prometheus was directed by Ridley Scott, written by Jon Spaihts and Damon “I ignored what was interesting about Lost” Lindelof, and stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and probably unnecessarily, Guy Pearce.
by Jenni Townsend
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