Newest Review: ... by the half way point I was regretting watching it and had a sinking feeling that this was not going to get any better. The film suf... more
Member Name: goldenbat666
Advantages: Grandeur, fantastic effects, top-notch performances, especially from Fassbender
Disadvantages: Thin plot, lack of character development
The year is 2093, and with the handsome and secure financial backing of one trillion dollars by a shadowy company known as the Weyland Corporation, Prometheus lands on the distant moon LV-223, and awaken from their two-year hyper-sleep, the ship's crew are informed on their mission: to explore and investigate this new terrain and possibly make contact with any alien life-forms, which they dub "Engineers." They icy cold Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), whose job is to make sure everyone else does theirs, is very clear on a couple of points: everything should be reported back to her with no direct contact to be made with anything the team may find. And off they go, into a dark, damp, metallic structure that no sane person would dare enter on foreign land. What do they find? Dead bodies, presumably of one of their sought-after "Engineers." Gooey substance, haunting statues, vicious snake-like creatures, and it's only a matter of time until this chaotic expedition ends in sweat, tears, blood and other biological fluids.
Let's put one rumour to rest. Is this a prequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien"? Yes, it is. The endless confirming and denying coming from the cast and crew have gone out of control. Why can't they just come right out and say it? Yes it is a prequel, with several scenes and timestamps in the movie making it all the more obvious. But do you need to be familiar with the "Alien" franchise to enjoy the film? Absolutely not. "Prometheus" stands proudly on its own, and never relies on director Scott's previous sci-fi outing for any of the film's concepts. Most obviously, "Prometheus" deals on a much bigger, more ambitious scale.
Long gone are "Alien"'s narrow corridors, sharp corners, claustrophobic camera angles. Instead we have a series of expensive looking sets, spacious rooms, tons and tons of fancy technology that completely give this film a whole new spin from what the audience may have experienced with "Alien." The upside of this is what whatever Scott decides to show on the screen, everything looks marvellous, awe-inspiring, and the technical crew have definitely outdone themselves creating such gigantic, enormous stages for the actors to work on. The downside however, is that much of the anticipated horror has gone sadly mute. The more dimension this adds, the less effective scares get. We see everything, and with their brilliant scouting laser balls, a highly accurate three-dimensional schematic is drawn up, and suddenly we have become semi-experts on what should have been a tightly-wound, secretive place. A lot of tension is lost in how much we are told in the beginning, and anyone expecting a full-on horror film is bound to be disappointed. Not many believed "Alien" would work, which would explain the relatively small budget Scott had to play around with the first time, but after this became an international, timeless success, the studio must have had faith in Scott. Around 130 million was what he received, not quite 1 trillion, but a heck of a lot of investment nonetheless. With this backing, he has gone all out, and the stunning visuals show where the money was spent.
Despite the many characters, the only ones that require your attention are Rapace's Shaw, Marshall-Green's Holloway, Theron's Vickers, and Michael Fassbender's David, the droid. Other than that, the rest of the cast is merely there to be slain and to be served up as body parts for the bad guys to mutilate. One by one they fall victim to the more powerful race, and at times, this tragically feels like yet another violent slasher horror in which the separated members from the group have absolutely no chance in ever getting proper screen times. The shallow characterisation never helps, yet another factor that makes this look like an amateurish rehash of tiresome horror flicks. Some deaths are memorable, others not so much, either way, "Prometheus" does show signs of giving up on originality far too quickly.
So thank goodness for Fassbender, who really gives the highlight performance of the film. He plays David, a droid, a loyal and smart one. But it's always difficult to tell just what may be on his mind. Who controls him? The company does presumably. But does he have thoughts of himself? Technically, he shouldn't, and from what we see early on, he seems quiet and innocent enough, dutifully carrying out his orders without a fuss. But in his curious, inquisitive eyes, he appears to be more complex and devious. He seems to be thinking too much for someone acting as the ship's servant, and throughout the film, he does make some questionable moves that have us doubting his true nature. This is exactly the charming yet disturbing look Fassbender gets precisely right. He's sweet natured yet there is something undeniably creepy about him. He is also the one raising all the right, intriguing philosophical questions, giving this film an intelligent edge in the midst of the violent chaos.
As for other individuals we need paying attention to, they are played by not quite as standout but still solid actors. Rapace, although not quite the Ellen Ripley sci-fi warrior queen type we were secretly hoping for and expecting, is on top form as the conflicted religious scientist. Her fascination and passion for this subject certainly show and a lot of burden falls on her in the film's intense climatic moments, something Rapace can pull through drawing out unlikely strength from her character who first appeared to be out of her league. Theron, so cold and distant to the point where even a crewmember wonders whether she is a robot or not (she's not by the way), hovers and lingers in the background with sinister expression, suggesting concealed agendas. She's ambitious, and is out for the company's best financial interests.
The script is wordy, with dialogue used mostly for explaining the details and purpose behind this mission, and is a touch too slow to get started. The opening sequence, in which several aerial shots of beautiful landscapes might have you expect the smooth narrating voice of David Attenborough to guide us through a nature documentary, is impressive, but with his seemingly self-indulgent ways, there are several points in which the film loses its way. But boasting an unbelievably huge scale and a talented cast, Scott delivers yet another memorable sci-fi adventure, although never quite hitting that classic mark.
Summary: A good enough prequel with enough ideas and performances to keep things going