We’ve been waiting a good long time for Sir Ridley Scott to venture back into the world of science fiction. So secretive was he about Prometheus, no press screenings were held until the day before it’s world premiere just a couple of days ago.
The viral ad campaign was a stroke of genius, expanding the universe the film will be inhabiting and giving us a few strands of that promised ‘Alien’ DNA. Ridley Scott’s Alien left an impression on me, the dark bleak setting was the stuff of nightmares and its legacy and impact on the film industry cannot be ignored.
What started life as 2 Alien prequels, evolved into an original single movie and finally after 33 years the wait is over and Scott’s Prometheus is now out in UK cinemas.
Has it been worth the hype? But more importantly, has it been worth the wait? I can’t fully answer that without spoiling everything. So what can I say?
Is this a full-blown Alien prequel? No, not at all. Think of it as another story set in the universe created by Scott back in 1979. There are elements from the first Alien film that all fans will be familiar with, there is also the answer to one of the greatest cinema mysteries, who was the Space Jockey?
This was the hook that got the filmmaker interested in making the movie, all the other Alien sequels had ignored this freakish giant. James Cameron’s Aliens explored the Alien Queen, the cluttered 3rd installment went back to a single alien and Ripley impregnated with one and the 4th created a human hybrid creature.
None of those filmmakers asked the question of how the aliens came to be in the first place, we knew they were not indigenous to LV-426 so where did they come from? That question is very much answered in Prometheus, however it does raise a few more.
I have tremendous respect for Scott for going back to science fiction, the director only had to make 2 sci-fi films before he became synonymous with the genre. Prometheus is a stunningly shot blockbuster; the performances are solid but Noomi Rapace as Shaw and Michael Fassbender as David give the stand out performances. The addition of David styling his hair on Peter O’Toole from Lawrence of Arabia, was a neat little touch as it’s one of Ridley Scott’s favourite movies.
The crew of 17 people is easily overcrowded, some of the supporting characters are dispensed quickly and ultimately serve no real function other than to be killed off early.
Guy Pearce is unrecognizable as the aged Peter Weyland, and Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Hard Candy) makes the briefest of appearances as Shaw’s father. Charlize Theron is the steely Weyland employee (and mission leader) Vickers, she fills the prerequisite for having a ‘company man’ on board but she’s not given much to do, other than some impressive zero gravity push ups.
Idris Elba is the salty ship Captain, and he adds some sorely needed everyman charm and some cheeky laughs.
For all the films intelligence, good acting and stunning set pieces (I can not state enough just how well shot this movie is) the tired format of humans going where they shouldn’t be going is still played out by the book.
Back in 1979, Alien was filled with dark corridors, claustrophobic chase scenes and a sense of dread that you feel in the pit of your stomach. Sadly there is little of that in Prometheus, but Scott makes no bones about this being very different from his earlier film.
I promised a spoiler free review, and hopefully I have stayed true to that promise. That said I simply couldn’t write a review of this movie without mentioning the breathtaking self-caesarian scene. It’s a rare moment of frenzy and fear, perfectly executed and harks back to Alien, it’s nearly as impressive as the final scene in the movie, but my lips are sealed.
Whilst it’s not an Alien prequel in the strictest sense, it restores a seal of quality to the franchise and the mythology after Alien Resurrection and two AVP movies made a shambolic mess of series.
Overall I can’t help but feel a little disappointed, its not a case of the movie not ticking the right boxes it’s just I expected something more from Scott. When he explained how excited he was to be returning to the Alien universe, we all knew it had to be something special to lure him back.
For the most part the movie is a success, but it’s light of terror and heavy on metaphysical concepts. Prometheus is a brave film from a near fearless director, in a summer of big blockbusters this movie stands as the thinking mans event film but The Avengers remains the most enjoyable thus far.
You can expect a spoiler loaded Prometheus Podcast Special over the next couple of weeks, until then go watch the movie on the biggest screen you can find.