Archive Review – “Prometheus” (Director: Ridley Scott)

Review first published 01/06/12

Prometheus

The year is 2089 and archaeologist Doctor Elizabeth Shaw has discovered an invitation from an ancient race known as “The Engineers” who may have the answers to the creation of life on planet Earth.

But is the invitation all that it seems and do all of the crew of the research ship Prometheus have the same noble mission in mind as Shaw?

Hype is one of those things that’s a double edged sword.  If the product matches the hype surrounding it, then it’s a win all round.  If the product doesn’t match the hype, the audience can be left disappointed and, perhaps, a little cheated.

Unfortunately, “Prometheus” falls into the category of the latter for me.  It had the majority of the ingredients to make the film of the year that the pundits have been touting – Ridley Scott returning the “Alien” franchise, albeit in a very loose prequel to the main series that sired it, beautiful cinematography and special effects and a “stellar” cast (please forgive the pun).  What it didn’t have was a cohesive script which set the tone and the direction of the film.

With regard to the cinematography, the set design and the special effects, it’s very much a case of “you can’t see the join”.  I would have to say that technically, this film is bob on the money and I have to admit that it’s probably one of the most beautifully shot films in the sci-fi genre.  I am of the expectation that “Prometheus” could be up for some of the major technical awards come awards time later this year and the beginning of next.

The acting side is well represented with major acting talent throughout the cast.  Noomi Rapace takes up the lead in the role of Shaw and given the limitations of the script, which I’ll go into more detail about later, she makes a darn good fist of being the anchor for this film by being a strong lead character whilst showing an element of vulnerability which isn’t out of place for her character, particularly in a scene later in the piece that is particularly gut wrenching.

Michael Fassbender continues his run of well performed character pieces in the role of David, the Prometheus’s resident android.  Fassbender gives a pitch perfect portrayal as on the one hand David displays a level of arrogance that he knows that he’s better than his human crewmates in his physical and mental abilities.  On the other hand, the character has a childlike quality of wonder in his discoveries on the planet LV223.

Charlize Theron is becoming the go to performer for female characters which can only be described as the “Ice Queen” as hot on the heels of her role in “Snow White and The Huntsman” comes a very controlled, cold performance in the role of Weyland Industries executive, Meredith Vickers, who comes in with an atmosphere of having her own agenda on this mission.

Main supporting cast behind the big three roles are Logan Marshall-Green in the role of Shaw’s love interest and archaeology colleague , Charlie Holloway, Idris Elba in the role of Prometheus’s captain Janek, Rafe Spall as biologist Milburn, and Guy Pearce making pretty much an extended cameo in the role of Peter Weyland.

Now, for the fly in the ointment and it’s a pretty big fly, in my opinion – the storyline.  Unfortunately, it seems that the script can’t decide which direction it wants to go in.  On the one hand, it wants to be a high brow sci-fi film in the nature of “2001” or “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, whilst on the other hand it tries to deliver the scares synonymous with the “Alien” franchise.  This lack of direction alongside some muddied and conflicting motivations for the characters, in particular those of “The Engineers”, David and Meredith left me confused and unsatisfied by the end of the film.  Basically, I got the feeling that the film didn’t want to be seen as the direct prequel to “Alien” that it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be… very much a case of pulling your punches.

It’s a film that everyone will want to see, it’s part of the “Alien” franchise and it’s Ridley Scott’s first science fiction film since “Blade Runner”.  All I’ll say is guard against the hype or else you could be disappointed.

Rating: 2.5/5 on the basis that this film didn’t know what it was.

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