So, after years of waiting and weeks of re-watching the trailer over and over I’ve finally seen the long awaited sort-of prequel to Alien, Prometheus.
I’m going to start by saying that I really enjoyed the film. There were some great characters, effects and some real scares. Michael Fassbender was exceptional as David, an andriod whose loyalty is questionable at best.
The story, which you’ll already know if you see the trailer starts with cave drawings – different cultures spanning thousands of years all dispict people praying to a star constellation and a group of 17 people decide to go to there and find what it means and the origins of our humanity. Then all hell breaks loose – and that’s all I’m telling you.
Prometheus has a problem though – it has too many ideas going on and it lacks some real direction. Alien, which is one of my all time favourite films works well because of its simplicity – it isn’t thematic – it’s the story of a group of people on a ship who are being hunted. They try to survive by catching the hunter.. it would span 4 films and each one would get a little worse than it’s predecessor, until Alien Vs. Predator which basically is so fucking shit, it makes me want to kill myself.
There are many different themes and philosophies running through Prometheus – in one breath we’re looking into the ideas of faith – we have a scientist who wears a cross, but is searching for our creators – who they eloquently label “Engineers”. which in a way is a parallel to the problem that this film has which is that it’s unsure of itself.
It may be a mistake for some to label Prometheus as “intelligent sci-fi”, because the ideas which are introduced in the film and the plot points are not given enough time to really find their feet. each obstacle or story point is dealt with quite quickly and then we’re off to the next action set piece. Now, I’m hoping that about 30 mins from this film is sitting with Ridley Scott, who, if you’re a fan of his, will realise that he’s always re-cutting and re-releasing and I have hope that somewhere there is a much better version of this film, worthy of the title “intelligent sci-fi”.
There are some real scares in this film though – some of the secondary characters get knocked off in ways which, although lacking in the original magnificence of John Hurts death in Alien, have some nods to the original, which had me thinking “Yes, this really is an Alien film”.
The film is, as you’d expect, epic in scale. The sets are of a magnificence that, with the advent of green screen and digital technology, you just wouldn’t see today and I was utterly mesmerised. The film, felt like I was watching a film which fits into the Alien family with an attention to detail that would even make Stanley “can we move that pen 1mm to the left please” Kubrick.
I was fortunate enough to see the film presented in IMAX 3D and I found that it worked well on the steroid injected format, but the 3D didn’t add anything to the film at all – and even though the film was shot in 3D and not retrofitted, I still found a lot of ‘ghosting’ of the image, which is offputting. I am seeing the film this week in 2D, in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio – I think the film was cropped for IMAX, but I’m not sure. The jury is still out on that one.
Charlize Theron is great as your token bitch, but underused. Noomi Rapace isn’t Sigourney Weaver, and she never will be, but I was sold by her Elizabeth Shaw and was impressed by her strength that she brought to the character. I am pleased that we have kept a female lead. I think that someone out there should write a dissertation into the feminism in Sci-Fi horror.
Guy Pearce should never have been in it. I won’t say any more as I’m trying to avoid spoiling the film, but his role could have gone to anyone else and it would have been much better.
The finally, we have Michael Fassbender, who is just astonishing. Mark Kermode mentioned in his review that he was even looking to see if he blinked (as per that robot kid in AI) and I did look for it (he did blink) – he brought a creepiness that gave the film a slice of noir that I think takes science-fiction to a new level – He’s discipline to his craft just over shines every other actor in the film and for some will be the films saving grace.
Prometheus isn’t perfect, but as an Alien fan I still left the cinema pleased with what I saw. My faith in an Alien prequel wasn’t misplaced and I can’t wait to see the next one.