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Prometheus – Ridley Scott returns to the world of Alien … or does he?

Prometheus - Theater Review
Release Date: 06/08/2012 - MPAA Rating: R
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

'Prometheus' is a visually impressive movie that succeeds at moments of tension for the most part, but fails utterly at achieving its high concept goals. But is it connected to Ridley Scott's 'Alien'?

Humanity has always struggled with what is often called “The Big Questions.” Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Is there life anywhere else? What is truly the best flavor of ice cream? (By the way, it is not cookie dough — sorry, but that’s ridiculous.) In Prometheus (from director Ridley Scott), such questions are brought up, slightly addressed, vaguely answered, and mostly pushed off for a sequel. But there are some exciting monsters and highly impressive visuals.

But there may be another Big Question you have about this movie: How does this connect to the other Alien movies? Ridley Scott has already said he doesn’t consider this movie necessarily in the same “universe” as the other movies (I think especially those Alien vs Predator ones). But without spoiling things, there are some clear connections. The Weyland Corporation is in this movie and the Alien movies, and there is a similar sense of visuals based on the works of H. R. Giger. Before watching this movie, I had not seen any of the Alien films, but I was with folks who had — so I could ask if I had missed anything. The answer, it seemed, was no, you can watch this movie as a entity unto itself. But there are connections, subtle at times, obvious at others, to the Alien movies. I won’t spoil the specifics. It seemed to me, though, that people expecting another Alien or Aliens will be disappointedbut I digress.

We start on something thousands of years ago I won’t spoil, but I will also say it doesn’t really make sense. It’s the opening scene of the movie, and it barely is coherent with the rest of it (with what you discover later), although you can make some leaps of logic to explain it. Fast forward to 2089 where archaeologists (and lovers!) Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of mysterious “star maps” around the world, which seem to be pointing somewhere far in space — a distant moon of a distant planet. An expedition there is formed, funded by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, unrecognizable in highly unconvincing old man makeup) and his Weyland Corporation, heading out on the good spaceship Prometheus. The ship is piloted mainly by Captain Janek (Idris Elba), with the careful supervision of mission director Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron).

The crew stays in stasis until they arrive in the year 2093, being cared for by human-like android David (Michael Fassbender), who also seems to have a plan of his (its?) own. They head out to explore a mysterious seemingly man-made structure on the moon, with Elizabeth and Charlie being the only characters with enough characterization or personality to matter. Naturally, the two archaeologists are searching for what they call the Engineers, the believed progenitors of the human race on Earth. At first, they seem to have only discovered a long abandoned tomb, complete with mysterious everything. And then it’s time for jump scares, creepy walking in dark tunnels, and alien monsters (although not necessarily the ones you’d expect)!

Will Elizabeth find something to justify her faith in a creator or a religion? (Spoilers!) Will Charlie become a character we care about? (No.) And what about David’s odd machinations? And will it end with everyone just dead? (Not saying.) Will it set itself obviously up for a sequel? (Yes.)

The problem with the movie isn’t in the visuals (which are almost always excellent to watch, although the 3-D is really pointless and wasted), or the acting, which is mostly great (specifically a cold, angry Charlize Theron, an incredibly impressive “fake human” Michael Fassbender, and a smarmy, competent Idris Elba). It’s that there really isn’t any “point” to the movie. Questions are raised, slightly answered, but it’s mostly just a pretty looking horror movie that tries to be more artistic than it really is — the themes are hammered over your head obviously (case in point — the name of the movie). It’s a fun, “above-average” space horror movie, but really just an average movie. Sometimes pretty special effects and acting chops don’t make a movie into anything that great.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

7 Responses to “Prometheus – Ridley Scott returns to the world of Alien … or does he?”

June 8, 2012 at 12:20 AM

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I think you know I’m a big Alien fan, Jerms … but I didn’t see either of the Alien Vs. Predator flicks.

This one I’m looking forward to, however. And your review has me even more interested. I have a feeling about certain aspects of the film and I want to see them realized or tossed off as mere fantasies I have about what I thought might occur.

Until then …

June 8, 2012 at 2:26 PM

First of all, Mint Chocolate Chip.

Second, I wonder if this similar to Snow White and Thor, in that it had lots of potential but didn’t really all add up.

June 8, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Yes, although it’s not as disappointing as Snow White, which was pretty incoherent when you came right down to it. This one was coherent, if not as good as I’d hoped.

Also: You’re right about the ice cream.

June 8, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Moose tracks, hello!

June 10, 2012 at 10:28 AM

. . . . .

Well … that was pretty much a mess.

Did I enjoy it? Yes … very much so. Still, I recognized the jumbled, sometimes idiotic story that made sense in some moments and slung hash others.

Being a fan of the previous films (but never having seen the Predator series and, I’m certain, thankfully), visually this was a stunning treat. It did many of things you said above, Jerms. There were abstract points and doofus sequences a first-year film student would be able to point out. The dialog was equally brilliant and groan-inducing throughout.

But I’ll disagree with you on one major point: The acting …

… unless the acting was meant to convey dumbassedness, mediocre characterizations and overall uselessness. If these were the goals, it succeeded. Interesting that the only really well acted part in the film was that of Fassbender. And I take that back slightly: I enjoyed the rough and tumble demeanor of Sean Harris as Fifield, especially when he got in the face of Shaw and called out his “place on the team” and a few other moments.

There are so many questions raised by the film it’s not even funny. One big one I have is: What was the point of Vickers? There wasn’t one. I called her status as Weyland’s daughter from the very start, I saw her as a bark and not a bite and she was a none entity in the overall scheme of things; meaningless, transparent and throwaway.

The nods to the mythology of the subsequent films were pleasing and appreciated and I enjoyed the fact we saw evolutionary “mechanics” where the alien was concerned, wrapping it up in a nice, pretty bow at the end. If people are disappointed with that or in the fact they didn’t get to see the tried and true creature of before, they do not understand the Alien films nor the alien and its various incarnations.

Overall? Okay film with a craptastic story superseded by its visuals, references and soundtrack.

June 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Yeah, I would have liked to have seen Vickers developed more … as in she’s actually there for a reason. I found her character surpassingly interesting, but not because the flick tried making her so.

June 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM

So I took a chance and paid the money to see this the other night on the I Max 3D. As talked about the 3D was not that great but still a amazing thing to witness in that theater. You know I have to agree that my whole group walked away with as many questions as answers to what was really going on in the movie. But not one of us walked away upset. While this Prometheus fails to lay everything out for you would that be any fun? Would you want to sit though that 3 to 4 hour event? I feel the movie was a fun watch with actors that fit the parts well. Given the captains random heroics along with his mates at the end comes from almost no where but I let that go. I see nothing wrong with a movie that leaves you wondering if gave my friends and I a chance to stand around and talk about a few questions like what was David really hoping to do? What where the “Engineers” planning and what in the world did David say to him? Having seen many more of the Aliens movies than I should admit to it is clear to see how close this movies is to that world if not a part of it is a copy. I loved how much this movie let you read between the lines take what you knew from the past films and make up your own mind. Sure I might be wrong but pretty hard for you to prove it. Glad to share more but not looking to give out a lot of spoilers. In the end if your into Scify or in Horror this movie can entertain you and it has visuals to impress anyone.

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