Ridley Scott’s Long Awaited Return to Sci-Fi, and well worth the wait.
When I was 8 years old I remember the most vivid and scary movie poster of the 70’s stated that “in space, no one can hear you scream”. To quote another reviewer “you could park yourself at the other end of the galaxy, and still not drown out the sound of the hype heralding the release of Prometheus.”
Indeed for the hype that surrounded this movie ever since Sir Ridley Scott announced his return to the Sci-Fi genre, you might think that the pressure heaped upon him and his team of fellow movie-makers of Prometheus might cause them to stumble and fall. But as far as I am concerned, the hype got it right. I’m relieved to tell you that Ridley Scott has re-taken the controls of the Alien series in stunning and assured fashion.
The memory of the sub-standard, poorly crafted follow-ups such as Alien Vs Predator should now be obliterated permanently by the stunning visual scale and fantastic performances in this film.
A complex plot unfolds in the year 2093, where a corporate-funded space mission is under way to investigate the origin of mankind. After a two-year journey, the 17-strong crew aboard the spaceship Prometheus land on a distant moon LV-223, where they quickly discover a dome-like structure that clearly does not belong there. Once inside the tunnels and caves within the dome, the visitors experience a sequence of terrifying phenomena hinted at in the first Alien film.
The cast of Prometheus is exceptionally strong, with Idris Elba (the accordian-playing spaceship captain), Charlize Theron (as the pretentious company-woman) and an outstanding scene-stealing performance by Michael Fassbender, as an android with a secret agenda. In the tradition forged by Sigourney Weaver’s immortal Ripley in the first two Alien outings, it is an independent female that stands the best chance of beating the terrifying odds. The original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, impresses as Elizabeth Shaw, a feisty archaeologist who makes the discovery that takes her and partner Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) all the way from the Isle of Skye to another solar system. There are some unfamiliar faces here, but all deliver under Scott’s direction.
On a visual level, Prometheus truly delivers upon all expectations, with superb creature design, stunning landscapes of LV-223 and remarkable digital effects, such as the map room in the alien ship. The interior designs, especially the space jockey’s set, were truly spectacular and it was good to see H.R. Giger’s influence from the first film visible here.
Unlike many of the visually-driven blockbuster pictures of today, there isn’t a single wasted frame to be found here. Prometheus effortlessly transports us the viewers to another world, and keeps them there. The illusion is never broken.
If there is a sticking point for those who are not die-hard followers of all things Alien, it is the quality of the screenplay. The story told here sometimes lacks both the clarity and urgency many would expect of a blockbuster film. Finger of blame leveled at writers Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts for thinking this was just another TV show like “Lost”. Sorry guys but your dialogue sounded at times like you wrote it on the way to the office on the back of your hand – “I can’t make life, what does that make me?” whispers Shaw in a very boring and badly written scene in the middle of act 2.
However, when you watch Ridley Scott you get a genius at work who wants you to know you are somewhere you’ve never been and you just may not make it out of the theatre (Alien, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner). This is a modern twist on Sci-Fi / Horror and delivers in the best possible way – visually stunning, fine performances and genuine gut-wrenching horror.
For those other reviewers who turned up hoping for another Alien spin-off, I have some stern words for you. Why did you go with such pre-conceived ideas? Or should that be ill-conceived ideas? Prometheus gives us a glimpse of the Alien universe unlike anything we’ve seen. Ridley Scott gave us the claustrophobia of Alien, James Cameron gave us the unrelenting action thrills of Aliens, David Fincher was forced to give us a poor third act (David, I forgive you as it wasn’t your fault), and the fouth instalment fell over itself to give us a potentially awesome movie that just missed the mark. If you wanted a re-hash of the original movies, go rent them out on Blu-Ray today and enjoy.
And one final comment aimed at the few reviewers/bloggers who didn’t quite get this film: Prometheus takes place on LV-223, and Alien and Aliens took place on LV-426 – different moons, ok? If you thought Prometheus took place on LV-426, then you need to go back to the cinema and watch the movie again (and leave your “smart phone” at home). First class idiots.
The sheer ambition and scale at work throughout Prometheus allowed me to look beyond the scripting issues and treat them as a forgivable flaw. I get the feeling this will not be our last trip to the Alien universe.
June 17, 2012