A fan of the Alien franchise reviews “Prometheus”

Released: 2012

Synopsis: A crew of scientists embark on a mission to find answers about the origin of the human race in a distant planetary system. What they find is not only surprising but a bit more than they can handle.

Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba

Director: Ridley Scott

To watch Prometheus on the big screen at your local multiplex is an experience that should not be missed. From the gorgeous visuals, to the effectiveness of the cast and the artistry of the special effects, Prometheus is one of those pieces of cinema that is well worth the admission price.

After years away from science fiction, Ridley Scott shows that this genre might be his true forte as an artist, always able to create immersive worlds that border on the sublime. The stylistic language in Prometheus takes cues from Scott’s previous work while utilizing the latest in special effects to modernize his view of the future. Whereas Alien featured clunky, heavy machinery with computers running on MS-DOS in a maze of dark hallways filled with smoke, Prometheus takes the route of revisionism and updates Scott’s vision towards sterilized, streamlined, minimalistic technology inside spacious rooms adorned with splashes of bright colors. The change is mostly an aesthetic one. Prometheus continues with the tradition of Alien, crafting sets that contribute to the suspense, almost too large and too perfect to be inviting.

Despite Ridley Scott’s insistence that Prometheus was not to be considered a prequel to the first Alien released in 1979, it seems a bit contradictory for the film maker to consistently go out of his way to establish the connections to the original on a visual and thematic level, choosing to construct the film following a similar sequence of events to those that defined Alien, and duplicating spaceships and specimens that are part of the original saga. While these might end up being elements that fans of the series will cherish for years to come, the truth is that nothing is exactly duplicated, coming off as a imperfect copy, rather than an improved original.

Beyond the visual spectacle, Prometheus is also an ambitious story that touches upon interesting questions about the existence of God, life outside our planet and the creation of the human race. Though most of the questions linger and remain unresolved by the end, the myth created by the team of writers is memorable, never failing to entertain.

The loose ends of the film, as speculation suggests, seem to largely respond to an unspoken, yet predictable desire of the studio to have a sequel (none of which has been confirmed just yet). In fact, there are some who suggest Ridley Scott was forced to cut some content that may have made the film feel a bit more complete.

Central to the success of Prometheus is the performance of Michael Fassbender as “David”, the android at the center of the expedition. Unlike the character of “Ash” played by Ian Holm in the first Alien film, the identity of David as an android is quickly revealed, thus allowing Fassbender to fully embrace the character, without the need to always “act human” but only to look like one. This is a surprisingly layered performance that is mysterious, funny and playful, but bordering on evil. If the true enemies of the crew of the Prometheus are to be found in the distant planet they visit, it would not be a stretch to claim that Fassbender’s David may be the catalyst to all that goes wrong on this quest, proving to be an equally dangerous enemy that is silently pursuing a secret agenda.

At the center of the action, Ridley Scott chooses another kick-ass heroin played by the up-and-coming Noomi Rapace from the Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Though a bit more adventureous than Sigourney Weaver‘s famous Ripley, Noomi’s Elizabeth Shaw is an equally strong and determined woman who is not only interested in staying alive, but who is also looking for answers on a quest to save humanity. In doing so, Noomi is almost as entertaining as Fassbender, taking part in some of the best sequences of the film, though not altogether convincing in the slower more intimate moments opposite a bland Logan Marshall-Green.

Despite the many loose ends of the plot, the sci-fi construct of Prometheus is as satisfying and believable as it is impressive to look at, overcoming some of the corny and highly predictable moments with sequences that are memorable.

Whether or not Prometheus continues to build onto the myth of Alien with another sequel is a question that will be answered soon enough, but more importantly, Prometheus is a film that can easily stay with you for a long time, getting richer with every discussion and inviting future viewings.

Rating: 4/5 (very good)

Next on The Blog of Big Ideas: a review of the wonderful Tree Of Life

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8 thoughts on “A fan of the Alien franchise reviews “Prometheus”

  1. I gave Prometheus 7.6 in my monthly review post. I enjoyed it too!

    I agree about performances. Worked well in terms of suspense I think, a weakness was how unprofessionally the “brilliant” scientists behaved.
    The big questions to me are tacit as with Blade Runner. I welcome an intelligent sci-fi experience, because happens so rarely for blockbusters.

    The innate problem with prequels is we already know the universe, and therefore the films lack the freshness and surprise of the original. I can’t think of many great prequels? Except Godfather 2, and maybe Indy temple of doom, or X-men first class. It’s a shortish list…and I think a second watch is required to see if Prometheus should join those…

    A problem I had was, maybe, there were too many characters in Prometheus, so tough to care about them, when they have so little screen time?

    1. I do see a fault in trying to squeeze in some many characters. It could have perhaps been more memorable had they gotten rid of the fillers and the idiotic mannequins that were just in the film to be killed.
      As for prequels go, I completely agree with you. It is impossible for me to think of a single film that could do better than Prometheus given all the we already know about the franchise. I’m not sure if The Godfather 2 should be considered given that only half of it is really a prequel.
      I wasn’t too thrilled about X-Men First Class either, mostly because I’m a fan of the series and it bothers me to see how many unnecessary changes they’ve introduced to the storyline.
      I would think The Temple of Doom is the only one of a similar level. Maybe even Episode 1? lol. Only kidding.

  2. Excellent review. You know I’m new to the franchise, but I now know why people dig the series. I have the same rating 4/5 and glad you loved Rapace as well. I agree that this is a movie that stayed with you, perhaps because there’s a question on The Engineer and our existence

  3. The “birth” scene was as memorable, if not more, than the one in the original film. It was so real and so intense I could not take my eyes off Rapace.
    I insist though, Fassbender as “David” stole it for me, a performance I would place among his best, and he already has quite a few.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Nice review. I was entertained, to say the least, but I think I was expecting something so much better after all of the promotion for this flick. Maybe it was too much like Alien.

  5. Great review, Niels. I also liked this one quite a bit, and I loved the performances from Fassbender and Rapace. I can see how some people let the unanswered questions ruin the movie for them, but I embraced the ambiguity. A great blockbuster.

  6. Nice writeup, Niels. I think ambitious is an appropriate term. It was entertaining and visually it was great, but apart from that, all those questions are all for naught.

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