I saw Prometheus pretty much as soon as it came out, I could hardly contain my excitement for several main reasons. The first being that it was directed by Ridley Scott, the creator of certain movies which are nothing short of special - Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Rain and Alien (loosely related to this movie) to name a few. The second element of my excitement was the genre and aesthetic of Prometheus - a slick and profound science fiction movie which explores broad ideas relating to the human condition, exploration and the notion of a higher power. The final reason was the tantalising viral marketing campaign ("Happy Birthday David") which worked a treat on me and made the sci-fi fan within squirm with a heightened sense of anticipation.
The response to Prometheus was somewhat mixed, generally varying from two star to five star reviews. Many people went into the cinema expecting Alien 5 - a gory and thrilling science fiction horror that would have people watching intently from between clasped fingers, popcorn being flung into the air every time there's a jumpy part. As a result many were left confused and disappointed by what Prometheus actually turned out to be. I didn't make the same mistake. As previously mentioned, I knew what Ridley Scott and the screenwriters intended to create and in many interviews they stated quite clearly that this would be an all together more cerebral experience and not an Alien prequel.
That being said, I was significantly disappointed by this movie.
I'll start with the positives. The cast were great in their respective roles - particularly Michael Fassbender who stole the show as David, the polite and well spoken synthetic human with a devious Machiavellian streak (very much in the tradition of Ash and Bishop from the Alien quadrilogy). Fassbender's career has really taken off and he's demonstrated a fantastic range and charisma in recent roles (I will soon be reviewing Shame, the second collaboration between director Steve McQueen and Fassbender). I thought Noomi Rapace was enthralling as the central character Shaw, a religious scientist hoping to meet her maker and find some answers. Shaw is a strong female heroin, not as much through violence like Ripley, but through conviction. I think the dynamic of a scientist with religious faith is incredibly interesting and the internal turmoil that this creates at times is great to watch. I personally also liked Idris Elba as Captain Janek. His Southern drawl and odd one-liner added a comedic element to the movie.
Prometheus was also very easy on the eyes. The set pieces were stunning and Scott's combination of CGI and old school special effects really worked well. It didn't have that artificial feeling that completely CGI movies usually have, where things look great but they don't look real. The combination of the ship's cold, technological minimalism and the rugged, ancient feel of LV-223 contrasted brilliantly as well. The only visual issue for me was the make up used to make Guy Pearce look like an elderly Peter Weyland. It was so bad it was laughable and it just made me wonder why Scott didn't use an elderly male actor.
There was one main thing that I didn't like about this movie - unfortunately that thing was the plot. I wont mention anything specific from the movie but needless to say, the plot should be the engine which drives a movie forwards and give it momentum and zeal. Unfortunately this movie was somewhat schizophrenic and couldn't quite make it's mind up about where it was going. One moment it would feel like it was heading down an interesting and thought provoking route, then all of a sudden it would trail off and descend into misplaced science fiction action/horror (never quite doing either well). Furthermore, at certain points in this movie certain characters suddenly lose all intelligence and do the most ridiculous things, putting peoples lives at obvious risk in order to push the plot along. It becomes harder to care about a character's life when they obviously don't.
Because of all of these higgledy-piggledy and unnecessary parts of the movie, the central questions which are broached upon earlier are barely discussed. This leaves the movie feeling shallow and rushed. I don't like to be spoon fed a movie, but the amount of unanswered questions in Prometheus is nothing short of frustrating (hence the mixed reviews which it has attracted). One of the writers, Damon Lindelof, wrote for Lost - maybe that's why there are so many questions with absolutely no answers. Scott has shown interest in making it part of a trilogy and it often does feel like Prometheus was designed in order to introduce something else and not stand alone. Unfortunately, this movie didn't live up to the promise of the viral marketing used to promote it. Case in point -
Nowhere near it's potential but worth watching for the performances and visual effects.