prometheus | my movie review

Posted on June 28, 2012

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So as you may have realised, the director of the classic [and classic isn’t a strong enough word really] Blade Runner and Alien movies has recently had a new movie out. The man who gave us the great Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, Body of Lies and Kingdom of Heaven [a great movie apart from the serious miscasting of Mr Bloom in the lead role]; The director who, despite being one of the greatest in his field, also has his ‘meh’ moviemaking moments – Robin Hood, Black Rain, Hannibal and White Squall being the Scott movies that didn’t really float my boat. But…
If someone asked me what movie I would most like to see made – I think I would have said another soujourn into the Alien universe. For the record I don’t count the numbingly awful AvP movies as ‘proper’ Alien movies! They are terribly realised cash monkey movies, and as such do not deserve to be acknowledged. For me they don’t exist. :/
Of course we cannot mention the Alien universe without tipping our hats to its visual creator – HR Giger – the Swiss surrealist with an eye for the weird and absurd and downright creepy.

So who better to take us back into that universe than the man who introduced us to it, Ridley Scott. This is the man who, in my humble [and correct] opinion reinvented sci-fi with Blade Runner and Alien. Within the space of 2 years he gave us two completely contrasting visions of the future, both beautifully paced to dramatic effect. One full of undercurrents exploring what it is to be human, the other – motherhood. Both these ideas carried through to his latest gift to cinema goers everywhere. This is also his first sci-fi movie since Blade Runner in 1982. So does he still have what it takes to create great sci-fi 30 years on?
For the most part – yes. Before dissecting Prometheus, however, I just want to say that this is a great movie. Not a perfect movie, and certainly not a classic. There are a few too many issues with it for it to be a classic, but it’s a thrilling movie nonetheless – and I loved it.

The film begins with a discovery of cave drawings in the Scottish Highlands which share certain similarities with other drawings from across the centuries. In the year 2093 a ship is built – Prometheus – and a team of experts are pulled together to head off for a very long sleep, 500 million miles into the stars in search of, what can only be described as, our maker. The crew is awakened by the ships android, David, or “synthetic human” as he prefers to be called, in a manner that is all very reminiscent of the original Alien movie with its stasis chambers etc.

The crew consist of Shaw [Noomi Rapace – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, almost unrecognisable sans punk hairstyle and ripped leathers!]. She’s the lead scientist along with love interest Holloway [Logan Marshall-Green – Brooklyn’s Finest]. Charlize Theron is Vickers, the head of the mission, and ship’s captain Janek [Idris Elba – Heimdall the Gatekeeper from Thor] have two weak roles. The rest of the crew is made up of tropes – mouthy tattooed weapons freak, bespectacled biologist, etc.
The other stand-out performance is from Michael Fassbender as David the android. He’s eery, and probably the most interesting member of the crew.
The inclusion of Guy Pearce as Weyland, the wrinkly old sponsor, was one that confused me. I wondered why they hadn’t just cast an old actor. However having since seen Pearce in the TED talks viral video for the movie, it makes perfect sense.

Prometheus the ship is a thing of beauty, as are all the set designs – and when we get to the alien planet with its dank tunnels and caverns, Giger’s influence can be seen in abundance. I love the fact that Scott had all the sets built in order to give awe and wonder to the proceedings for those involved in making it, and to minimize those blank/confused stares you sometimes get from actors who are trying to act against … nothing! It all feels very physical and real.

The problem I had with the movie is that there were just too many stupid moments. People running from danger in a straight line rather than using common sense and veering off to the side is one example. And can anyone tell me why space helmets are made from such brittle glass/plastic? The gorilla glass on my smartphone is more durable than a space-helmet from 80 years into the future! Small things like that spoil a movie for me. If I’m expected to accept a movie as intelligent then the least I ask is for the characters to be written as intelligent beings.

As you would expect with a movie that asks questions about the origins of man, there is some deep philosophical and spiritual material herein for group discussions. Various members of the crew have conflicting views which we can all relate to. Shaw believes in God and this is her chance to get closer to that God, while Holloway is expecting to be able to fully debunk any spiritual beliefs that she [and mankind] may have.
Characters ask questions such as “If they did create us… who created them?” that can be discussed at length.
At the centre of the storyline is the fundamental question “Why are we here, and where did we come from?” and it explores that idea somewhat – but not to the extent where it becomes too talky or preachy. It is after all a thriller! It simply asks the questions without making any bold statements.
Unlike many reviewers who are stating that this movie is so obviously taking a Christian slant – I disagree. It’s obviously NOT a Christian viewpoint as they are looking for the “alien race” who made us! Now forgive me if I’m being picky here – but my Bible says nothing about giant aliens from another planet being involved in the creation of mankind!
All this movie provides is plenty of content for productive discussion amongst those who watch it about life not purely being an accident and the suggestion of there being a creator behind it all.

Prometheus has some great performances, excellent visuals and is one of the best science fiction movies for a long time. However, it’s not another Blade Runner or Alien.
I expected more from Prometheus, but I’ll happily settle for what we got.

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