Monday, 11 June 2012

Prometheus (2012): Review

Prometheus is a 2012 science fiction film. Directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) starring Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Fassbender (Shame, Inglorious Bastards) and Charlize Theron (Monster, The Devil's Advocate). The film is set in the same universe as the Alien franchise and is arguably a prequel to 1979's Alien.

The film follows the spaceship Prometheus carrying a crew tasked with discovering the origins of mankind and the universe based on extensive research by Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace). This expedition has been financed and set up by the Weyland corporation and Peter Weyland himself (played by Guy Pierce), as such Weyland representative Meredith Vickers (Theron) and Weyland's personal android David (Fassbender) are along for the ride to ensure the companies wishes are carried out by the scientific team. Upon arriving on LV-223 (not LV-426 as in the other movies) the team discover massive ancient temple structures and set about investigating the origins of mankind, however, they find the "engineers" all dead and only their abandoned biological experiments to greet them. It is soon revealed that certain crew members have ulterior motives and that not all the engineers are dead, this leads to an epic climax where the remaining crew members are thrust into a race against time to not only save themselves but all of planet Earth.

In the short time since it's release much debate has raged about Prometheus and whether it lives up to the hype, and like many I was slightly disappointed with the results, however, satisfying the hype and expectations surrounding the film was always going to be an impossible task. That being said the film is still a triumphant sci-fi epic for two main reasons, Scott's visionary direction and a couple of standout central performances. Visually, the film is jaw dropping in so many ways; the extensive location shooting in Iceland and Scotland and the fantastic creature designs leave an impression that lingers long after the credits roll and satisfy much of the horror/action criteria. Personally I was left underwhelmed by Rapace's central performance and was drawn more to the always superb Michael Fassbender in his portrayal of ship android David. Fassbender evokes the spirit of Ian Holme and Lance Henrikson but also channels the replicants of Blade Runner and is mesmerising throughout. There is also an outstanding supporting performance by excellent English character actor Sean Harris as belligerent geologist Fifield.

These strong elements help to propel the film through most of it's runtime as an exciting and gripping thriller however, like many, I felt the film crumbled somewhat in the third act. This can be typified through one key scene that many have described as difficult to watch, which I agree with but for different reasons, in which suspense and tension are built to an excruciating climax and then something faintly silly happens. Sadly this continues as Guy Pierce stinks up the film with his portrayal of the geriatric (and mechanically enhanced) Peter Weyland and the already sub par script descends into farce as minor characters start explaining the plot to the supposedly highly intelligent scientists. Then the ending, without wishing to give too much away the closing moments of the film are practically a trailer for Prometheus 2: coming soon, leaving many issues unresolved and many viewers underwhelmed.

Prometheus overcomes it's flaws due to the sheer talent involved with the film and will still be counted amongst the finest films of the year however your enjoyment of the film will depend largely on your expectations. Those expecting answers and resolutions to the questions posed by the mysterious "space jockey" in the seminal Alien and explanations to the origins of the Xenomorph will be sorely disappointed. Prometheus answers it's own questions and is only as concerned with the rest of the franchise as it needs to be to attract Alien fanboys. The film's tremendous trailer (one of the finest in years) is ultimately the best indication of the film itself; half existential sci-fi pondering, half slimy action-packed horror leave the viewer exhilarated but left wanting more.

4 Stars ****

What did you think of Prometheus? Did it live up to your expectations?


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