At this point it is safe to say that the amount of pressure for this film to live up to Scott’s Alien franchise is almost as high as it was for George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel…that’s a lot of pressure. And while The Phantom Menace is widely regarded as a complete missfire, does this prequel of sorts manage to attain the status of Ridley Scott’s breakthrough film? Well to put it bluntly, don’t go in with the artificially inflated expectations that I’m sure you all have.
Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway under the eyes of Meredith Vickers lead the crew of the Prometheus (a space exploration vessel) on an intersteller quest to find our roots amongst the heavans. What the explorers find is something that none of them expected.
Prometheus has been heralded as an origin tale to that beginnings of the Xenopmorph (the titular menace for the original Alien saga) and while the tale does throw in some hints – by looking at this film as part of the Alien saga you will likely walk out disappointed with your expectations crushed. As soon as Prometheus is distanced from its influence, the film becomes a lot more interesting and plays less like a prologue to a book that you just want to rush through to get to the meat.
Prometheus more easily relates to Stanley Kubriks 2001: a Space Odyssey than it does to Alien – it deals with a group of scientists that travel the expanse of space to locate the origin of an artifact, in 2001 they followed a signal that sent them to Jupiter, in Prometheus they follow a map that has been laid down by ancient civilisations. Yes, it does sound vaguely similiar to Alien but the vagueness of the plot and a focus on exploration sets Prometheus apart and while the plot seems a little less fleshed out, it makes for great interpretation and speculation by the time the credits role.
The acting for what it is worth is acceptable, I wouldn’t call it Oscar worthy stuff (with the exception of Michael Fassbender’s performance), but for all intents and purposes it gets the message across. One thing that is emphaised throughout the film is a tendancy for theological discourse, it tends to be hypocritical and forced but it gives Elizabeth Shaw’s character slightly more depth…because without it she would just be as forgettable as the rest of the crew.
Scott has always been first and foremost a visual artist but at the same time he doesn’t sacrifice story for the sake of a beautful film. In light of this, Prometheus is a breathtaking beauty to behold, almost supernatural in its conception of a foreign body that is eerily similiar to Earth – if only in terms of geological familiarity. While the planet may seem very Earth like, it’s what is buried within that is of even more interest. The “pyramid” is a labyrinch of tunnels with H R Giger inspired architecture forming the basis of this beast long forgotten. The amount of ambition and scope in the visuals is truly monolithic in execution and if anything should remain memorable for the visuals alone.
Just like the original Alien, Prometheus is not for everyone – the pacing lags at times and for the most part is a wildly unbalanced story but it’s so well put together that the loose nature of it just makes it altogether more interesting. If you’re looking for a typical summer blockbuster than Prometheus is not for you, it requires decipline and thankfully the 3D implemented while nothing special doesn’t distract eaither.
The Bottom Line
When going into Prometheus, I was habitually keeping my eyes peeled for any easter eggs that would lead to connections between this film and Scott’s Alien – this was my biggest error and while there are obvious connections, the film plays more like 2001 with its domineering pacing and focus on visual spectacle. When you leave the cinema, you won’t quite feel satisfied as if by a run of the mill blockbuster but Prometheus will linger in thought hours, days, weeks after, feeding questions and possibilities to the expance of the vague plot elements that were intentionally left open ended – this is the sort of experience that filmmakers dream of providing and Scott reached that level, finally.