Prometheus (2012)


I never knew that Ridley Scott directed Thelma and Louise. Huh.

This revelation came about because friends and I were discussing the new Ridley Scott film in context of his other movies and someone asked, “What else has Ridley Scott directed?

The first films which sprung to mind were Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator, being three incredibly influential movies. Black Hawk Down always gets a mention from me because not only did I really like it but everyone always forgets Ridley Scott directed it (and I can be all pathetically supercilious).

Of course, as is inevitable, someone went “But, Thelma and Louise!” and of course, I denied it was a Ridley Scott movie. Fellow nerds, if you demand my geek stripes back, I will understand (and if you are interested, no one even mentioned Legend).

Ridley Scott has now added a fair few turkeys to his name and Prometheus is one fire which sparks a lot of hot debate (fellow nerds, if you demand my geek stripes back for that horrible joke, I will understand). It was not very well received at the time and time doesn’t appear to have been kind to it.

This film began life as a prequel to Alien (one of those aforementioned incredibly influential Ridley Scott movies). Then, at some point down the line, someone went off that idea and decided to make Prometheus its own thing albeit set in the same universe as that other movie.

The cynic in me can’t help but think that this is a marketing ploy to reinvigorate an ailing franchise, largely due to its ‘dilution’ with lacklustre entries (*cough* Alien Versus Predator *cough*)

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of the Alien Quadrilogy.

The first two entries in that series are sublime: they are amazing films that have great acting, great characters, great sets, great direction and well structured, genuine themes underlying their stories… they are brilliant films that just happen to feature a particularly unfriendly alien entity (and a preponderance for “blowing things out of the goddamn airlock”… three out of four films… just saying!).

The latter two movies are “Okay.” Let’s leave it at that.

So inevitably, I had high expectations of Prometheus. I tried not to, I really did. But when you tell me “Ridley Scott is directing a pseudo-prequel to Alien”, you can take your sense of perspective and nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

I went to see Prometheus at the cinema. Since the film has been discussed backwards and forwards by nerds across the internet, I don’t feel the need to go into heavy discussion of the plot.

Suffice to say, I enjoyed it: it has great ideas and themes, much like its cousins, Alien and Aliens. It has gorgeous visuals, great sets, some great acting, an ok script, two or three interesting characters… Do you see where this is headed?

The film had problems for me. And I think it is mostly due to editing because unfortunately, Prometheus does not know what it wants to be.

From the soaring optimistic overture which plays ad nauseum throughout the movie (even in scenes it clearly shouldn’t) to irrelevant characters making weird decisions and enough holes you probably could actually fill the Albert Hall, this film fails to deliver upon so much promise. It’s my own fault for having high expectations, I suppose. What was I thinking?

A friend said it best: there is a sense of a lack of commitment in this film.

"This is not the xenomorph you are looking for."

“This is not the xenomorph you are looking for.”

Is it a prequel to Alien? Kinda. It is clearly set in the same universe and you can connect the dots (as long as you draw your own dots in). There are a lot of nods to Alien and fellow fanpersons will likely enjoy that but in trying to be its own thing, it doesn’t take the time to really set itself up and truly be its own.

Has it got strong themes? Kinda. There are a lot of ideas but each time they start to tackle something, they shy away for fear of alienating the audience. Which it seems weird to me, given Alien was a shlocky horror movie and Aliens was a military action movie, both elevated by fantastic presentation and deep themes. What’s worse is the former was actually directed by the same guy!

Is it scary? Kinda. There are some truly disturbing moments of body horror but they don’t go far enough and shy away from actual scares. The film didn’t go far enough for me. It should have been an 18 certificate. It should have been Star Trek which quickly becomes Event Horizon. And it really, really could have been. It just didn’t commit because 15 certificate movies are more commercially viable.

"Do you have it in green?"

“Do you have it in green?”

There are two really very good characters (played by Michael Fassbender and the other by Charlize Theron) and one other character who I thought was good but missed some key notes. But that is a very small number amongst a large cast. For example, the bridge crew, of which Idris Elba (The Wire, Pacific RimLuther) is a member, are completely wasted. The film doesn’t take any of the time or effort to really flesh out the rest of the characters.

"I said it was pretty!"

“I said it was pretty!”

There are some great scenes and amazing SFX (and the Prometheus itself looks gorgeous, if you like looking at spaceships) but it just didn’t come together for me.

It isn’t a bad film. Which is why I feel a bit let down: this had everything in it to be a worthy entry in the series and it didn’t quite manage it. But I must stress how unobjective I am here.

Really, you have to watch it and judge for yourself. Some people will really like it. And I hope that people who read this before seeing it will say to me “I don’t know why you were so negative.

TL:DR “Ersatz prequel in the Alien series. If you go in watching it as its own thing and not looking for xenomorphs, it is ok.”


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