Film Review: Prometheus
As a contender for most anticipated film of the year, rivalled only by The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus has a lot of hype and excitement to live up to. Can it live up to it? Not quite.
The plot is mostly hokum; after following a star chart discovered on ancient murals, the crew of Prometheus land on a far off planet to find the answers to who created man. The plot isn’t really important to Ridley Scott when it comes to Prometheus, and neither is character or development; it’s much more about visuals. In that sense, Prometheus is similar to Avatar, another hyped blockbuster that is incredible to look at, but suffers from a bland script and characters. You long for the creature-on-board simplicity of Alien.
Let it be known now, that Prometheus will probably take the prize for best looking film of the year, with stunning cinematography and locations. The opening scene, which shows mostly Icelandic landscapes, is beautiful, and one of the highlights of the film. However, this does not excuse some of the flaws of the film.
The actors, or more specifically, their characters, let the film down. Unlike the original Alien, which featured real, human characters who you cared about, nobody in Prometheus, bar one character, stands out. Noomi Rapace, as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw, is solid when it comes to emotional scenes (and she gets plenty; Ellen Ripley never suffered this much), but lacks the charisma to be the star of a blockbuster.
Logan Marshall-Green, as her love interest, also has very little charisma, and spends most of the film being miserable and looking angry. To call it underwritten is an understatement, and you don’t care at all about his plot strand.
Barely recognisable under heavy prosthetics, Guy Pearce’s turn as the elderly Peter Weyland feels somewhat pointless, given his brief running time. You will question why they went to the effort of make up, when they could have hired virtually any elderly actor to play his part.
Also on the ship is Idris Elba as the ship’s captain, who doesn’t do much, Charlize Theron as head bitch Meredith Vickers, who gives a solid performance as the main villain on the ship, and Rafe Spall as goofy botanist Milburn, who has comic potential but is in the film so brief, he gets no chance to do anything.
Thank god, then, for Michael Fassbender, who gives another knockout performance as David the android. After first showing his potential with indie films like Hunger, Fish Tank, and Eden Lake, he has shown he can handle big action films, like X-Men: First Class, and this is another step forward on the rungs for Fassbender. He is so good, he makes the other characters compelling. Everything, from his unnervingly straight walk, hollow eyes and calm manner of speaking makes him one of the creepiest film characters in recent memory. Yet, he is strangely loveable, and, in a point Ridley does use too much, more human than the human characters.
With all this mind, though, the film is not as bad as many would think. As an Alien film, it is mediocre, and as an intelligent, well thought out film, it is not nearly as clever as tries and wishes to be. However, this does not make it Transformers; as a spectacle film, and a blockbuster, it is better than average. It is never boring, and there are plenty of highlights.
One scene, involving a cave, two trapped men, and a creature in water makes for good scares and gore (while only quick, there is a repulsive arm breaking), while later, there is the most gruesome pregnancy-related scene since the horrific French horror, Inside. Indeed, it is one of the goriest blockbusters in some time, and it’s refreshing to see a director appealing to the mainstream while keeping in tone with classic horror, with a few well timed scares. Also, the cinematography is absolutely topnotch, with gorgeous sets and FX making Prometheus one of the most beautiful blockbusters in years.
If you expect the same great story, realistic characters and dialogue and killer lead actress of Alien or sequel Aliens, you will be disappointed. However, if you enjoy a few good scares, beautiful views, big budget action and a fantastic Michael Fassbender performance, Prometheus definitely lives up the hype.
By Harry Ford