Having just recently gone back to view Ridley Scott’s ALIEN I was even more excited to see his return to the same universe- which I don’t care what anyone says, this is a return to THAT universe. To what extent? That’s for an entirely different conversation. After all these years is Scott’s return as glorious as so many people were hoping? I would say yes and no- mostly yes though.
To keep from giving too much away (not that the trailers haven’t already done enough) I will just say that PROMETHEUS begins with the simple idea of two archeologists that want to know more about who is responsible for life on Earth- more so who created the human race. The rest of the film is them and a crew aboard the ship, Prometheus, trying to find exactly that. The only problem is that the answer they are looking for may not be exactly what they were hoping for.
I will start off by saying there are several aspects to PROMETHEUS that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I am not willing to immediately write them off as critical flaws that undermine everything that is really good about it though. Instead I feel like what has happened is an ambitious script that tends to lose focus at times, so much so that some of its ideas get lost and do not end up paying off. The script I believe reaches farther than it needs to and the film ends up overflowing with ideas- most of which are interesting, which makes it that much more frustrating when we are left with so many questions. Then again, having questions isn’t always a bad thing as it sparks many avenues for engaging conversations after audiences leave the theater.
The story itself isn’t overly complicated- a bunch of people want to know where we came from and that’s essentially the conflict from beginning to end. The problem is that the script feels like it gets ahead of itself by setting up all these different mysteries that I’m sure they plan on addressing in sequels based on how the film ends. Add a whole bunch of characters into the mix, some play bigger parts while others are just meat destined for the grinder and a slew of action mixed with breathtaking visual set pieces and the more frustrating aspects while still bothersome are more tolerable. The visuals are basically the equivalent to a gloriously effective pain killer for a massive hangover or some other debilitating injury.
The fact of the matter is that PROMETHEUS works in spite of its own flaws. What one perceives as flaw becomes merely a talking point once the film is brought up in conversation and because that, the film could technically be viewed as masterful. However, at risk of sounding too over anxious about my love of the film, there are nitpicks I have that dwindle my enjoyment. They are better served for a much deeper and spoiler filled conversation though.
PROMETHEUS is an absolutely gorgeous movie- though I screened it in 2D and cannot comment on how or bad the 3D version is. The scenery is breathtaking as is the CGI which at times blends so magnificently with everything else that at times it looks as close to photo realistic as we’ve seen in some time. Even the more horrific moments have this disturbing beauty to them that makes the images stick in your head long after the film ends- one scene in particular involves a callback to a previous set up and features an impromptu surgery. The quality of the visuals begins right from the get go with sweeping shots of truly remarkable landscapes and only get better once the crew lands on the foreign planet and encounter a phenomena that mirrors that of a sand storm. Towards the finale, the more action heavy special effects take hold and they are really something to behold- most that have seen the trailer have already seen a few moments from the particular scene I’m referencing.
The script doesn’t always give its cast much to work with, but certain cast members do give the material that something extra. Michael Fassbender continues to put in stellar work and he is particularly enjoyable here. Noomi Rapace is also very good in spite of some of the ridiculous things her character has to say and do. I normally really enjoy Charlize Theron, but I found her character to be almost useless throughout the course of the film and acts much more like a robot than the android, played by Fassbender. Idris Elba has a smaller part here as the ship’s captain and is quite good- so much so I would have traded a lot of Theron’s role if it meant he would have more screen time.
There’s very few movies that you can sit and make a very long list of questions have no answers and nitpicks in logic and still come out of the experience feeling thoroughly entertained and falling just shy of being blown away. PROMETHEUS is a visually stunning thrill ride that had me on the edge of my seat at several points, but is also a culprit of head scratching science and over anxious religious theories that left a little to be desired in the end. Even with flaws I found PROMETHEUS to be a fantastic science fiction that ties in nicely with the ALIEN franchise, but is missing some of Scott’s original directing flourish that made it so special.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)