Prometheus Review

Prometheus

Prometheus is one of those films that had a huge marketing campaign and hype going into it (with a lot of the hype based around an incorrect idea that the film was a direct prequel to the original Alien film) and when it disappointed it created a large negative backlash. There are still people who put this on their “worst films” list, and that’s definitely too harsh, having finally watched the film for the sake of this Alien Week marathon, I can say that it’s … alright. It does some things well, other things poorly, but it’s far from terrible. Let’s take a closer look!

Synopsis:

The discovery of a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of the universe. Two brilliant young scientists lead the expedition: Elizabeth Shaw hopes that they will meet a race of benevolent, godlike beings who will in some way verify her religious beliefs, while Charlie Holloway is out to debunk any spiritual notions. However, neither the scientists nor their shipmates are prepared for the unimaginable terrors that await them.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Prometheus 2

One of the most frequently seen pictures from the film, but damn it looks good in HD!

Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) – One of the two scientists who go into deep space in order to “meet their maker”. Quite headstrong, but definitely not experienced in military matters, Elizabeth is dedicated enough to her quest for answers that she often excels far better than the trained staff. (Also, as a massive Doctor Who fan, I found it very hard to not make a Third Doctor reference here. You’re welcome.)

David (Michael Fassbender) – An android created by Peter Weyland in his own image, much like the Gods he believes to be seeking out. David is slowly developing more and more information about humans and their desire for answers from their creators, as well as feeling the sadness they feel when their creators reject them…

Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) – The daughter of Peter Weyland, Meredith is waiting for the day when her father dies and she inherits the company. She still feels that little bit of love for him, allowing him to indulge in his quest to meet the Engineers…

Janek (Idris Elba) – The captain onboard the Prometheus, the ship the scientists (and Weyland) are using to reach the planet of the Engineers. He is the most “common” and relatable person onboard the ship…

Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) – The second scientist and lover of Shaw, Charlie is expecting a close encounter with a new alien species that can confirm our origin… he may get a closer encounter than he bargained for…

Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) – The (extremely) elder head of Weyland corporation, Peter Weyland believes he can reach the “Gods” and ask for eternal life, from one great creator to another…

The Engineers – The race of extremely powerful and knowledgeable humanoids, whose combat suit helmets resemble elephant-like heads…

Plus more!

The Good:

Prometheus 3

Just another day at the office…

First things first, the film looks absolutely stunning, it made me wonder about 4K TVs because somehow I felt my HD TV with the bluray copy still didn’t do some of the sweeping planet shots and vividly coloured lighting and CG effects justice. I may not have been happy they backed out of the idea of elephant looking people and replaced them with white skinned humanoids, but at least the ship and technology was well realised and fitted in with the universe this film belongs to.

I also enjoyed the central plot and theme of the film. There is a scene where David, the android, is talking to Holloway, who is despondent that he didn’t get to actually speak to an Engineer. David asks why humanity made him, and after Charlie replied that it was “just because we could”, David replies that by asking how that response would have made him feel. It was such a great scene, both with a menacingly pleasant David (who is the star of the film, for the record. Brilliantly played by Mr. Fassbender) and a great sum up of the film: Don’t go searching for answers to questions you may not want to hear. What if “God” was actually just a race of intelligent aliens who actually just created us on a whim and then left us to rot (or seemingly planned to wipe us out).

Alongside David is Liz Shaw, which apart from making me think of Caroline John, is also a great lead. Once again in the Alien franchise the lead is female, but this time she is less bad ass and more relatable as things get more and more desperate. It’s a great character, and the things she goes through only to carry on really makes you support the character.

Meredith is an okay “sort-of-antagonist” who at least gets a great death of the Engineer ship landing on her (though why she didn’t just run left or right rather than forward I don’t know…) and Janek is a great anchor to the cast, with some good lines. Everyone else is pretty much picked from the stock sci-fi character bucket and thrown on screen to be killed, though I will admit that geologist Fifield and biologist Millburn do make an amusing comedy duo for the time they’re stranded, leading their unpleasant deaths.

Funnily enough some of the better scenes are featured on the cutting room floor, or in the extras menu as we apparently call it now! When a bunch of people visit and wake the last surviving Engineer on the ship, in the film it suddenly goes mad and kills everyone, but in the extended scene David actually talks to it, and it’s only when it finds out Weyland seeks immortality that it attacks, probably out of disappointment about this species and it’s arrogance. Made a lot more sense. Then when Shaw reaches the ship while being pursued by the Engineer, there is a longer scene of the alien walking around the ship and being surprised at our technology (as theirs is so different) and then the fight with Shaw is longer, leading to the giant face hugger thing’s appearance being a better pay off.

The Bad:

Prometheus 1

After all these years and the “Space Jockey” looks like that?

I guess my main criticism is that there isn’t ever a sense of fear, of tension or really anything other than a sense of watching an interesting sci-fi concept play out on screen. It does have good scenes, a lot of which weren’t actually featured in the film, but it also has a lot of scenes where you admire the scenery and the set dressing, but don’t really care about the people or what they’re saying. You wait for the shit to hit the fan, but when it does it’s only for short bursts and never really gets going. It’s fine for a sci-fi film to be high concept, but don’t throw in a bunch of scenes from other genres for five minutes in between it! The scene of Shaw cutting out the weird proto-face hugger is long and unpleasant, the weird infected zombie attack was pointless apart from killing off some minor crew members, and the scene at the very end with the Xenomorph-like creature bursting out of the Engineer served no real purpose other telling people that the black goo they’ve been seeing is some form of early-stage Xenomorph, which I think we could have all figured out on our own…

As I noted above, I wasn’t thrilled with the reveal of the “Space Jockey” from the original Alien actually being a white-skinned, tall human-looking thing. The elephant-looking thing was far more interesting looking. I guess Mr. Scott wanted them to look vaguely like us because the whole purpose of the film is about creators and their creations being in a chain of pride and fear, so if David looked just like us but we looked nothing like the Engineers then it wouldn’t really work, but if that’s the case they why make the central alien race the “Space Jockey” in the first place?

I didn’t really like the old age make up and effects for Mr. Weyland, I think I would have preferred they just cast an old man and be done with it…

Overall Thoughts:

Prometheus 4

I love me a good ringed planet!

Prometheus is a hard one to judge, despite what people had been telling me for years (most of which probably hadn’t actually seen the film and was just going by its reputation…) it’s actually not that bad. I like the central themes it explores and Shaw and David turned out to be really interesting characters, which combined with great visuals meant I was never actually bored. That being said there were never really any moments I was excited or thrilled either… I was just sort of sitting back and watching, my interest held but I was never smiling at having watching something great. Not bad, not good… average it is then!

3 Star Watch

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