Review: Prometheus

I think the more I have pondered on Prometheus, my attitude towards it has altered slightly. But I still maintain that there is no coincidence that Lost was all about great set-ups with incomplete finishes – clearly the writers of this film have a lot to answer for. Regardless of this, here is my original review from two weeks ago.

In the not too distant future, scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her partner Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of ancient drawings, and in them find an invitation to a distant world with the possibility of answers to mankind’s oldest question – how did we come to be? When Shaw and Holloway are employed by Weyland Industries to join an expedition to the mystical planet, things soon take a very sinister turn.

The world has been waiting 33 years for director Ridley Scott to return to the world of Alien. Although Prometheus has been cited as a ‘cousin’ to the first film rather than a direct ‘prequel’, there is still enough here to see a direct correlation between the two. But for those expecting the blood curdling brilliance of the 1979 sci-fi horror, you will be sadly left wanting.

As much as one would hope to call Prometheus a classic, it really isn’t. The first half of the film is atmospheric, tense and engrossing. But the minute a flamethrower gets used to eliminate a certain character; Prometheus descends into a convoluted spiral of brash and brainless cinema. Any subtle nuances put in place up to then are lost amongst confusing developments and unnecessary revelations. Because it’s at this point we realise the film has no emotional backbone. The film professes to be loaded with subtext and theological musings – and it is. But this all falls by the wayside when Ridley Scott becomes pre-occupied with fitting in allusions to Alien.

There are a few scenes of brilliance, with one scene in particular being outstandingly horrific. It’s a moment which takes some of the thinly veiled body horror metaphors of previous Alien films and brings it into a new generation. The bare bones of Prometheus show a promise of something brilliant, but the flesh is weak, flabby and slightly rotten. Despite this, it’s a film that is exceptionally well made and the cast are faultless.

It’s just a shame then, that the plot has more holes in it than John Hurt’s chest.

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15 thoughts on “Review: Prometheus

  1. If your premise is “we are going to go meet te creator” and then it turns out to be Star Trek V then something is wrong. Of course if it worked out well then you couldn’t have Alien happen afterwards, right?

  2. Saw it today. I pretty much agree with Brad’s assessment. Looked cool, but I like my sci-fi to at least try to make a little sense.

  3. This review sums up most of my complaints. Both my wife and I walked out on Saturday not sure if we liked it or not. I don’t feel like some did that this is a Phantom Menace level prequel atrocity. But Lindelof’s script sure didn’t feel complete. It had a lot of Lost like elements but lacked the characterization that made Lost enjoyable.

    A big problem was that there really weren’t any sympathetic characters. Seriously, Noomi’s character is no Ripley. And her boyfriend was amazingly annoying. They could have cut out Charlize Theron’s character entirely and missed nothing.

    The biggest problem is no ones motivations made much sense. Take the geologist and biologist (who act nothing like scientists). They go from being terrified of anything alien to offering their hand to a strange alien.

    Then there’s all the weird stuff thrown in for no good reason. The robot monitors dreams. (Why – it’s interesting but not really used beyond the bit about Noomi’s dad) The whole Lawrence of Arabia thing was what made the robot most human but never really is used. There’s not only homages to the first Alien but also inexplicably to The Thing. But that doesn’t go anywhere.

    It was visually interesting but had a bad script and a worse soundtrack.

  4. That review you linked to is hilarious, Clark. Thanks for the link. It is really spot on. Like I said, I like my sci-fi to at least try to make a little sense.

  5. It just makes it stupid symbolism. He needed to be more clever. BTW – here’s a funny but true poster. (Spoiler)

  6. That link John gave was a pretty valiant attempt at defending the movie. If Ridley Scott was attempting subtly hint at a Space-Jesus, as that blogger implies, it was WAY too subtle.

  7. I like Prometheus. I’m willing to defend it. It’s visually stunning, particularly in 3D. The performances, especially Fassbender’s are amazing. It makes you think. That’s more than can be said about 99% of movies.

    Much of the criticism revolves around Damon Lindeloff being one of the screenwriters. Because of his association with Lost most people contend that it left too many things unanswered. I find this unfair. If Lindeloff had been uncredited reviews would have been more forgiving. Besides, Prometheus answered many questions regarding the origin of human, and the origin of the Aliens. If you want everything tied up in with a neat little bow, there’s plenty of forgettable summer blockbusters out there for you.

  8. I didn’t mind his leaving things unanswered. And I didn’t find that a problem with Lost. I think the problem was that his characterizations were horrible and there were pointless characters. Also things just didn’t make much sense (which is different from being unanswered).

    The worst parts of the film were.

    1. The wooden exposition by the supposed dead guy
    2. The boyfriend being a pointless dick and then (as a scientist) risking everyone’s life
    3. The stupidity of taking off helmets just because the air was breathable
    4. The characters who switch from being terrified of a room to talking cutsy with an actual snake like creature in that room after being abandoned.
    5. The stupid way the humanoid tries to kill people at the end
    6. The characters who never saw a Will E Coyote movie and realized running perpendicular to the rolling object is smart.
    7. Being able to run around and jump with staples and a recent C-section
    8. The alien growing from baby sized to giant squid with no food in a couple of hours
    9. The supposed heartless industrialist being so incomprehensibly stupid about the alien

    Go back and watch Alien and Aliens and those work. This didn’t. It’s primarily the script but I’m not sure it’s fair to blame Lindeloff since he basically fleshed out Scott’s ideas. And Scott could have at any time said, “hey maybe that Scottish character doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

    There were good elements. The first half of the movie wasn’t bad at all. I really liked the setup for Fassbender’s character – and the fact they didn’t go anywhere with it was part of the disappointment.

    But seriously, you could have kept the basic plot, basic symbolism, and written a much tighter and more interesting script. While Lindeloff doesn’t come off well the primary blame is really Scott’s.

  9. I agree with Brad – a work colleague of mine! – I came away having quite enjoyed the film – great set up, absence of any real shocks, too many convenient plot twists (let’s have a robo-surgery to hand shall we?) and factors which play on your mind afterwards and make you realise there appear to be so many plot holes for anyone appreciating logic and with knowledge of the Alien series – even big inconsistencies in the film when considered as a separate unit. It is a farce not to regard this as an Alien prequel… However, stunning visuals, great sets and a cinematography and direction to make British Film industry proud – a film which will continue to divide opinion.

  10. My biggest question (I guess) revolves around the android (more Ash than Bishop): what was his motivation? Did he infect the one guy just out of curiosity, or was he more sinister than that?

    Oh, and it’s nice to know that surgical staples in the future really hold up.

  11. He was told to “do more” and that appears to be his motivation. i.e. it was the old man who at that point the crew didn’t know about. (I’d say the audience but frankly it wasn’t a big surprise when the reveal was made) The problem is less the android’s motivations than it was the old guys. Why did he think contaminating a person would do anything other than let loose a horrible disease on the ship?

    Some mysteries are fine to have. And if they are eventually answers (ala most of the Lost questions) it’s not bad to leave them as a mystery. In a film though that’s more of a problem when it gets to the very motivations of characters. i.e. how do you distinguish between an intentional mystery and sloppy writing? It’s easy to say something’s a mystery when actually it’s just bad writing and the writer didn’t see the problem.

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