Prometheus (2012) has gone back to the roots of the Alien franchise and produced a Summer blockbuster prequel that is sure to make huge profits over the coming months. So, were we right to believe the hype or was this just another disappointment to add to the ever growing list of horrific Alienspin-offs?
Well, to this particular reviewer the answer to that question would be; yes, we were right to believe the hype.
As a viewer, and one who thinks himself to be a fairly well educated critic of the cinema, myalready pre-conceived idea’s of this film were both positive and negative – leaving plenty of room to be persuaded either way. The positive side of the argument was that Ridley Scott both directed and produced the picture, leaving me with the belief that it was possible for the magic of the 33 year old Alien (1979) picture to be recaptured in this format. Furthermore, the promised narrative of Prometheus being a ‘prequel’ was also something which had me interested. However, the negative side of the argument was that Aliens (1985), and every other Alien film since, failed to live up to my expectations set by the brilliantly tense sci-fi & horror mixture that was presented in the original film. Therefore, this picture was going to have a lot of work to do to impress me. Luckily for myself, and all of the Alien fans out there, Prometheus delivered on all fronts.
At its base, Prometheus is a Sci-Fi prequel to the 1979 film – Alien – in which the crew of a space ship discover an alien race which decides to use their bodies as wombs and subsequently leads to the death of the vast majority of human characters in the film. In Prometheus the story follows a number of human and humanoid space shuttle members as they enter the atmosphere of a foreign planet in the attempt to contact thosewho some of the crew believe to be the creators of the human species. When met by a seemingly abandoned structure, the crew put on their space suits and go on a mission to discover the whereabouts of the race they are searching for and ultimately become entangled in a story bigger than all of the Alien films put together.
The narrative was simple to follow and was bulging with stereotypical good guy-bad guy character traits for each protagonist and antagonist, and it left a lot to be desired on the representation of the ‘other world’-like characters in the picture, but I feel that despite being a film which offered a series of mini-climaxes, the film still climaxed superbly with its most spectacular set piece. Incredibly, the writers also got the themes of the picture correct and presented them well – something which other films in the franchise have struggled with. Themes around ‘soul’, religion, money, and the ever present concern with robots were well thought out and clearly made in reference to the themes of the universe which the rest of the Alien franchise has helped create. This level of intelligence shown in the writing aspect of the production was, no doubt, also helped by the wonders of Ridley Scott’s direction. The incredible amount of tension and suspense that he was able to create around each of the mini climaxes was astonishing given its themes. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that in watching this film, I felt the most tense I’ve felt in a cinema this year.
The performances of the on screen talent wasanother aspect of the film which was truly beneficial to my reception and the overall delivery of the narrative. Michael Fassbender was truly magnificent in his role as David, the Wylam Corp’s cyber genetics representative for this particular instalment. His somewhat generic walking style and seemingly sudden movements were a great fit for his character and really built his performance which, I believe, removed him from the shackles of the star persona he has so often been associated with in First Class and Shame and subsequently forced him in to the realm of top quality dramatic actors in Hollywood. It really was a true transformation for the half Irish, half German actor and a performance which truly brought a smile to my face. Charlize Theron was also very good as the firm leader with a hidden agenda. Her performance was almost all about the look in her eyes and she pulled it off effectively and was completely believable. The support cast which included Benedict Wong and Idris Elba was also strong, but I believe the lead role played by Noomi Rapace could have been stronger. Despite her well established background in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) and its sequels, I never quite felt like she fully established herself in the role and was therefore never quite as invested in her as I perhaps should have been. Perhaps that’s a little bit too critical of what was a believable performance, but with the fantastic performance of Fassbender outlined above, I would have preferred to have seen more from her.
Watching it in 2D, I was told that my viewing experience would be diminished from that of the 3D audience as the film was filmed entirely with 3D camera’s and the intention to be shown in 3D. However, what met my eyes was a feast of magnificent visuals from the space ships to the titles, leaving me begging the question; how good must it have been in 3D? The shots wereperfect situated and moved at a pace which represented the ongoing development of the tension within the narrative. Furthermore, the CGI which accompanied a lot of the shots was top class and unlike most other CGI work I have ever seen. It truly was a beautiful film which seemed like the idealised representation of a Ridley Scott dream filled with easter eggs and commanding scenery. It was wonderful.
Overall, I feel the film came together really well. Stunning visuals, a good narrative, and some good acting really put my pre-conceived issues to bed and produced what I believe was a very good feature which far outshines the rest of the Alien franchise bar its original.
This is definitely one that children should avoid because of the blood and gore, but is a film I certainly recommend to all other cinema fans – specifically fans of Alien.