Monday, 12 November 2012

Film Review #45

Prometheus (2012)
Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 124 Minutes

Tagline: "They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end."

Few films were as influential or have gone on to be as revered as those of the Alien series. First arriving in 1979 courtesy of an unknown director, the original film was a revelation, and quickly reinvigorated not just the sci-fi genre but several others as well. Unsurprisingly, this success soon saw several sequels appear, some official, others less so. Like a few other cult franchises though, the quality of each instalment has dropped with each respective release, with the possible exception of the second film which is quite different to the first but probably equally as good. This decline has also seen the reputation of the franchise suffer so it wasn't too surprising to hear that Ridley Scott himself had plans to 'reboot' the series he created by way of an official prequel. As the film neared production, however, its producers began to distance the film from the Alien series. Could it be happening again, or would fans finally have another classic?

Unlike any previous entries in the series, Prometheus takes its name from the spacecraft on which most of the characters soon find themselves, but before we get that far we're introduced to a slightly strange humanoid alien standing atop a vast and angry-looking waterfall who drinks a mysterious liquid before disintegrating and falling into the crashing water. We next meet some slightly more familiar, but probably less intelligent creatures - two human archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green), who are investigating some ancient caves in present day (i.e. 2089) Scotland where they have found some sort of star map. Jump forward a few years and our two tomb raiders are aboard the aforementioned spacecraft along with a crew of ten or so.

The destination of this pretty cool-looking ship is a distant moon called LV-223 which is supposedly where the star map was inviting its discoverers. Its creators are believed to be the forerunners of our own race and were accordingly dubbed the ‘Engineers’ by the enthusiastic Shaw and Holloway who, like so many before them, are seeking the origins of humanity. Joining them are pragmatic mission director, Meredith Vickers (Theron), curious android, David (Fassbender), ship captain, Janek (Elba), as well as a couple of scientists - Fifield (Harris), an erratic geologist, the more subdued biologist, Millburn (Spall), and assorted lesser crew members. So basically, it probably sounds like they've stuck to the Alien template quite closely so far. Assorted crew members of mixed professions, some of whom will probably die? Check! Fancy human-like android? Check!

It's probably a bit unfair to imply that Prometheus is little more than a remake of Alien though. Whilst quite clearly based in the same universe and bearing more than a few similarities to one another beyond those already mentioned, it offers as many new questions as it does answers to old ones, and it also has a rather different 'feel' to Scott's earlier classic. Part of the reason for this is no doubt down to the crew. Scott has devoted less time to fleshing out their characters than in the previous film but the acting is certainly of a decent standard. Theron is quite cold as the stuffy mission director, even verging on sinister on occasion, and Elba is great value as the gung-ho ship's captain, but the two stand-out performances are Rapace (Swedish but doing a good English accent) as Shaw and Fassbender as David.

The former will definitely remind most viewers of a younger Ripley, probably more in terms of her appearance and situation rather than personality, but she makes the part her own. Even better is David. He only ever seems professional, polite, and friendly, seeming a lot like ship's butler at times, but Fassbender plays him so you're never quite sure what he's thinking or what he wants but at the same time he displays a child-like innocence and sense of wonder at the things and people around him. As always, Scott does a sterling job of immersing you in the world he's created and visually the film is stunning. It's very much a sci-fi film in that regard, consisting mostly of various blues and greys. It's also a film that benefits a great deal from being filmed in high-definition and looks gorgeous on a big-screen TV!

So, all things considered, it must be a resounding success then, and a welcome return to form for the much-loved franchise? That depends on who you ask I suppose. Although garnering a largely positive response from critics and fans alike, some of the Alien fanboys have been out in force bemoaning things Scott included, things he excluded, and lord knows what else. You can't please everyone though and, while it's probably true that the script could've used a polish, I think he's done a superb job. He didn't distance himself too far from the mythology of the first film but didn't seem to try too hard to please fans either. If you're hoping for another 'Alien film', then you may possibly end up a little disappointed, but if you're looking for a top-notch sci-fi thriller which just happens to be related to Alien, you won't find any better on offer at the moment.

RKS Score: 8/10


  1. Totally agree with that!

  2. Thanks Mr. Anonymous, I'm glad we agree :)

  3. Although I think it's a flawed movie that could have used another re-write or two, I still got a kick out it. Like you said, it looks *great* and the performances are good -- what more can you ask for from a summer blockbuster? Well, besides slightly better writing, of course :)

  4. Prometheus was harshly criticised by many, unfairly I think. You've said it yourself - a good film in its own right, good review :)

  5. You're right, Bryan, the script was the weakest aspect of the film for sure. I'm definitely looking forward to the next film anyway though! :)

    Cheers Luke, thanks for buying it so we could watch it! It was one of the highlights of a great weekend :)