Film review: PrometheusBy Kim Francis
June 13, 2012
Billed as a prequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal science fiction horror Alien, Prometheus owes more to the conveyor belt copycats that followed in its wake than it does to the groundbreaking original.
In an effort to tie it in to the super successful classic series of space-set films, what Ridley Scott and co have done is shoehorn Alien references and weave rehashed sequences (decapitated android anyone?) into an all-new story as if doing their very best to ruin the franchise, George Lucas style.
Ultimately, Prometheus should be a spin-off rather than a prequel, free of the chains that conspire with a disappointing screenplay to plot its downfall. As it is, it’s a confusing, underwhelming, unimaginative mess of a movie that badly lets the side down.
So what’s the story, then? In a nutshell, when a team of explorers finds a tantalising clue to humankind’s origins, they head off into space in search of answers to man’s most pertinent questions – and what they discover shocks them to the core.
So far, so compelling. But a confounding array of alien life forms, events and occurrences that just don’t add up (readily opening the spaceship flap to one suspect crew member while incinerating another on sight with a flame thrower?) and some really bad bits (Fassbender’s discovery of a flute-initiated start-up system for the alien spacecraft) make Prometheus so very crushingly second rate.
But it’s not all bad. There’s a brilliantly gruesome self-operated surgical procedure involving Noomi Rapace that’s fresh, tense and horrifying, and the casting of Rafe Spall and Sean Harris is inspired, even if the rest of the casting is depressingly predictable; it’s a who’s who of who’s hot right now.
Prometheus also deserves credit for touching on the ramifications of a male-only civilisation – the opposite of the matriarchal society represented by the alien race in Alien. It’s interesting to explore the flip side in this way but it’s also problematic in that it ends up undermining the subtext of the 1979 film.
Throw in Guy Pearce in some questionable old man make-up that has him looking like a cross between Val Kilmer and Ted Danson as the vicar at the end of Three Men and a Little Lady and you’ve got an addition to a cult sci-fi phenomenon that will both madden and sadden fans.