Jun 09

Prometheus {Film Review}

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It has been nearly 33 years since Ridley Scott came to the spot-light and scared audiences worldwide with Alien (1979). It was a science fiction/horror film that felt real; in-terms of the characters who were portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Ian Holm etc. The film was the complete opposite to Star Wars (1977), it was dark and grimy (Ridley Scott used The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as an influence on how he wanted to treat the film). Now Sir Ridley returns to sci-fi in 2012 with Prometheus.

The story is about two scientists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), who go off on an expedition (the ship called Prometheus) to discover the creation of mankind, lead by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) who represents Weyland Corp. Once they arrive on the distant planet, they soon discover a dark secret and everything soon goes downhill. It has been known as the Alien prequel but Ridley Scott decided to make it into an original science fiction film during pre-production. It does feature what we all know about the Alien franchise; derelict ship, android and Weyland Corp. but that’s where all ties from Alien stop. The story is very similar to H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness (1936), in terms with its premise and twist. The film deals with the themes of creation and faith, though this is a story that has been itching Ridley since 1979; the origins of the Space Jockey. Whilst the themes are executed very well and the opening scene certainly delivers a bizarre but beautiful glimpse of what could be viewed as the creation of life.

Noomi Rapace, from Millennium trilogy fame as Lisbeth Salander, plays an interesting character that you follow and really get involved with. You feel her struggle as her faith is challenged when she slowly discovers about our creators (or engineers as they’re called) and wanting to find out why they created us. It certainly is a nice change that both Scott and Rapace didn’t try to create another Ripley and made sure the character stood out. Charlize Theron plays Meredith as cold as you expect when a Weyland employee is involved. She plays the character as very calculative, dry but also very straight-forward as you’d expect someone who’s company is funding a trillion dollar expedition. The standout performance in this film (and has everyone talking about) is Michael Fassbender as David the android and he steals every scene he’s in. His presence is captivating and makes you equally as fascinated and curious with the Space Jockeys as he is. The scene where he’s walking around and monitoring the ship and crew is probably my favourite scene in the whole movie, where there is barely any dialogue involved except where he watches Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

This film is definitely going to get technical awards, especially for Production Design, Costume Design, Visual Effects and Sound. The whole film is exceptionally well made and it definitely shows where the money went and a lot of effort was put to make the best-looking science fiction film. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous; every frame is beautifully lit and shot. Ridley Scott’s eye to detail on every part of the production is mind-blowing. Even where there were scenes were live actors were interacting with digital creatures looked seamless. Ridley shot the film in 3D and this film features the best use of 3D (along with Hugo, TRON: Legacy and Avatar). The common problem with 3D films is when a scene is dark, you’re focusing on the 3D than the scene itself and becomes incredibly distracting. This film, however, did not have those issues and would even recommend on seeing this film in 3D.

As much there were positive aspects in this film, it is not perfect unfortunately. Most of the supporting characters were not all memorable, especially anyone that wasn’t put top billing. They were all basically meat waiting to be put into the grinder and that’s where there’s the lack of tension/suspense. Unlike Alien where you got to know all the crew members and you actually cared for most of them whether they will die or not. The scene where Dallas (Tom Skerritt) goes through the ventilation shafts to find the xenomorph was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve had in film. Here, most of the scares are jump-scares, that’s a cliché the majority of horrors fall onto and it doesn’t work. It’s the anticipation of the horror; the tension building up and thus makes it scary. So when you see characters that are getting killed off when you barely had time to get to know them, you’re asking yourself “who cares?” The pacing and story is a bit muddled once the Prometheus crew lands on the planet and start discovering the Space Jockey’s ship. It all feels too quick and things start happening before the next set piece begins. I cannot help but feel there’s an extended version somewhere in the cutting room floor. It also leaves a few questions unanswered and I can see why some people may find that incredibly frustrating and especially so when it leaves it open for a sequel (or sequel-baiting). Some of the crew members weren’t entirely smart, they in fact made some pretty stupid decisions. For example; Rafe Spall’s character sees a snake like alien creature, his first instinct to do is slowly approach it and touch it whilst this creature makes a snarling hissing sound. That’s like going up to try touch a rattlesnake, even when it’s rattling its tail and hissing at you at the same time. Also the surgical pod in Meredith Vickers’ room didn’t make much sense, as it can only operate on male patients (why couldn’t it be able to operate on both sexes?). The music by Marc Streitenfeld (American Gangster and Robin Hood) is good but not as memorable compared to Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Alien. Where most of his tracks in the film work (the opening scene), some scenes I felt that could have been a lot stronger without it (David monitoring the ship).

Overall; an interesting science fiction film, that deals with themes that are bold and quite daring with the story and scope. I give Scott and his production team +A for delivering a beautiful looking film. Although it’s a film that has quite a few flaws and hoping there will be an extended director’s cut in the works!

3 out of 5