As I sit here writing this, I’m trying to remember all of the visual moments in Prometheus that just stopped me. Ridley Scott’s “prequel” to the Alien franchise delivers all of the breathtaking visuals and thrills that fans have expected, and we are left with a film that is not only beautiful, but weaves itself into the Alien mythology with relative ease.
The core story centers around the crew of the spaceship Prometheus as they investigate what appears to be an ancient “invitation,” found by two archaeologists, pointing the way into space. They embark on the mission to search for, what is believed by some, to be our creators, our beginning, and answers from our past. Once there, as you may have guessed, things start to go horribly awry and people quickly begin dying in a variety of ways. In a similar way to the Alien films as well, Prometheus does not overdo the scares and really takes its time getting to them so that when the terror does begin, the audience already has a feeling of dread.
Despite the amount of suspense and horror in this film, it is unlike most other horror films because instead of instilling just terror or fear, it also leaves you with a lingering sense of wonder. The world that Prometheus is set in is vast and gorgeous. None of the surroundings of the Prometheus, once it lands, can be described as anything else. The cinematography from Dariusz Wolski, in his first time collaborating with Ridley Scott, is absolutely inspired. The camera moves calmly and really allows the viewer to take in the sights. The visual language is serene in contrast to the suspense on-screen and, as an audience, we are rarely confused as to where things are in relation to each other within a scene. That’s more than I can say for a lot of modern films. These visuals, when coupled with Marc Streitenfeld’s score, really do instill a sense of adventure, mystery, and wonder. Streitenfeld’s music does a flawless job at towing the line between majestic and horrific and pairs fluently with Wolski’s imagery.
In addition to the cinematography, what really makes this film stand out are the performances from the cast. Noomi Rapace excels at playing the passionate archaeologist, Elizabeth Shaw, whose past tragedies seem to be pointing her towards the stars in her search for answers. Both she, and her co-archaeologist, Logan Marshall-Green’s skeptic character Charles Holloway, will do anything to find out the answers they came for. One scene in particular, between Holloway and Michael Fassbender’s android David was particularly revealing. I’ve embedded it below as it is spoiler-free and offers a quick glimpse into the core of his character. Watch Fassbender’s portrayal of David as well. The way he moves and speaks is noticeably deliberate. He is, in fact, emotionless. A brilliant performance from a man who has rapidly become a go-to actor.
Read the rest of the review after the break.
Those three being the main stars, they obviously stuck out the most, but the rest of the supporting cast put in great performances as well. Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Guy Pearce, among others, round out the cast. Each bringing to the table exactly what their character calls for. You couldn’t picture anyone else playing their roles so perfectly.
All that said though, and although this is a film that is worth your time, it does have flaws, which for some people ruined the film. The biggest of which that I’ll write about here is complete lack of competency from everyone on board the Prometheus, save for Idris Elba’s Captain Janek. No one else seems to have it together or understand what “safety” is or fully understand the gravity of the situation besides him. Most of the deaths in this film can be attributed to sheer stupidity. You would think that a group of “experts” sent to a distant planet would actually know what they’re doing. Instead they quickly become the outer-space equivalent of college co-eds who decide to split-up in the woods when a murderer is loose.
Now, I noted earlier that Prometheus fits into the Alien mythology pretty neatly, that said, it is not a prequel to Alien. That fact alone left a lot of fans disappointed as it would have been relatively easy to tie the two films together. However, the detail that has left a lot of people upset is the fact that Prometheus asks a lot of questions, almost tauntingly, that it never answers. One might contend that there wasn’t enough time in the film to answer all these bigger questions, and the film does feel fairly self-contained. There was one scene towards the end of the film where two characters are talking and one essentially lists all the questions that the audience is left with.
Those issues aside, it still was a very memorable film for me although it starts out with more promise than it follows through on. Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi horror genre may not be the complete revelation everyone hoped for, but it is a truly unique experience.
RATING: 8 out of 10