In 1979, Ridley Scott hit us with an instant classic. Alien is widely renowned as one of the best sci-fi horrors ever made. Since then, there have been sequels, videogames and mash-ups, such as when Alien met Predator. However, now comes the first prequel to the franchise and it packs one hell of a punch.
From the opening scene-which offers an entirely new perspective on the origins of the human race-it is unclear where this film will go. It seems to attempt to tackle issues regarding religion, life and death, and the creation of our race. However, anyone who goes in expecting to see a philosophical drama that may answer some questions may be disappointed. After touching on these issues in the opening scenes, and with a few references to it a little later on, it then becomes a sci-fi action movie through and through, with maybe a little horror element thrown into the mix.
The plot centres around Professor Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), an archaeologist who – with her partner Charlie (Logan Marhsall-Green) discovers a painting on the wall of a cave. After matching some symbols with other paintings, they realise that the symbols actually depict a cluster of planets, one of which seems able to sustain human life. Shaw believes that the ‘Maker’ lies in wait on this planet, and so she, Charlie and a group of other researchers (including Charlize Theron as the head of the operation) journey out to find this planet, and let’s just say that the inhabitants of the planet were a little less friendly than Shaw hoped.
The first thing to notice about this film, is that the special effects are absolutely stunning. It’s clear that a sizeable chunk of the movie’s $125 million budget has been spent making the film look spectacular. However, unlike films such as Avatar, this film doesn’t use special effects to cover up what it lacks everywhere else. Prometheus has managed to combine superb visual effects with an engaging storyline, pulse-pounding action, and the edge-of-your-seat suspense that the series is known for.
As far as the performances go, Rapace manages to give a great performance as the lead character, and the co-stars (Theron, Green, etc) all give particularly normal performances, with nothing notably good or bad about any of them. The only member of the cast who stood out for me, was Michael Fassbender, who’s portrayal of the android known only as ‘David’ was near flawless. His ability to play his character with such a lack of emotion, yet be able to make the audience care for him is something to be admired.
However, it isn’t all plain sailing. Whilst certainly engaging, the narrative isn’t entirely clear to any audience who hasn’t seen the Alien films. Whilst there are no direct references to it, many of the scenes (particularly the ending) will fall short of the desired effect. What makes this worse, is the fact that the film is clearly aimed at a teenage audience, who may not be familiar with the series. It seemed as though Scott couldn’t decide whether to make a separate film, or a direct prequel, and so decided to go halfway.
There are also many elements to this film that will have you frowning in confusion. Not from an overly-complicated plot point, but from moments when the characters ignore the most ridiculously obvious things, in order to progress the story. There are many moments that may have you wondering if the people on the screen are actually true scientists, as some of the things they do are so incredibly stupid, such as standing and watching a huge spaceship that’s moving towards them at high speeds, before turning to run.
As a standalone title, Prometheus is a decent sci-fi, action movie. However, if you’re wanting to see a deep, philosophical movie about the origins of life, or perhaps a direct prequel that will explain any and all unanswered questions of the Alien franchise, you’d be flying to the wrong planet.