Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall
Yeah, yeah, I’m late to the party. See how easy it is to see a flick when it comes out if you don’t have a car, butthole.
So yeah, Prometheus. Legendarily lambasted as the movie where science lost and Ridley Scott jumped the shark. Everyone and their mother has reviewed this flick, and pretty much it’s universally panned by internet reviewers as an idiotically plotted mess and an example of incredibly wasted potential. Well, now it’s time to give my two cents about it. However, I will point out one thing about my review: I do not care if the movie’s an Alien prequel or not. Too many people have attacked the movie because it doesn’t make sense within the timeline and plot of the Alien films, when you really should judge a film on its own merits. So basically, my review will only pertain to what is on-screen, not any details outside it.
And I’m just gonna get this out of the way: I didn’t hate this movie. I didn’t think it was a GOOD movie, but I honestly can’t hate it with the venom other people who’ve reviewed it before me had. What I found the movie was underwhelming, and THAT is the biggest crime this movie commits: it’s only ok, when it could have been AMAZING, and you could FEEL that there was the seed for greatness underneath it all. It’s incredibly wasted potential.
The plot is thus: archeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway(Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green, respectively), after years of investigation, find a link between many different archeological sites on Earth from cultures which have never been in contact with each other: strange glyphs and the image of a giant man, which point to visits from an alien race and coordinates for their point of origin. Upon investigating further, the glyphs(which are a constellation map) actually point them to a planet which possesses a moon that has telltale signs of being able to sustain life. With backing from the Weyland Corporation’s CEO, Peter Weyland(Guy Pearce), a ship, the titular Prometheus, is sent with a crew of various scientific minds towards the aforementioned moon. Its mission: first contact with whom Shaw and Holloway call the Engineers: the possible creators of humanity.
Read that paragraph again and tell me that’s not an AMAZING setup for a sci-fi film. The film elegantly sets up its plot and already has us asking questions. Deep questions. THE questions. Where did we come from? Were we really created? Why were we created? Why did our creators leave us to our fate? If we were created, what about God? Some of these questions were first asked by our ancestors as they huddled around fires inside caves thousands of years ago, and are still asked by the best and brightest of us today. People like Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and many others have asked these same questions at one moment or another. The first ten minutes of the film, were riveting. The film firmly grabbed me by my balls. I WANTED DESPERATELY for this movie to be good. Anyway, after a two-year journey, the Prometheus finally arrives at its destination, and the ship’s crew awakens from cryostasis. Assisted by the ship’s android, Davide(Michael Fassbender), the crew then readies for its mission, led by Captain Janek(Idris Elba) and supervised by Weyland employee Meredith Vickers(Charlize Theron).
And then, the movie started to turn stupid.
First of all, basically, none of the members of the mission have actually been introduced to each other and the nature of the mission itself was kept a secret from the crew until the last moment. Flat what? So, what, these guys just agreed to be part of a mission where they’d be flown far away from home for two years without even knowing what the mission entailed? Not only that, but there’s basically no military or security personnel on the mission. BIG WHAT?! So, what, there’s the possibility of first contact with an alien race and the mission doesn’t even have a security detail?! What if the aliens are hostile? What if there’s hostile fauna? What if there’s a misunderstanding with the aliens and there’s a need for defense? What if the aliens have al-Qaeda-type extremists who, while not the majority of the aliens, are still fanatically violent towards humans?
Um, this isn’t nitpicking, these are actual concerns and situations that would be considered by any mission of this magnitude. This is, at its most basic, common sense. And these are supposed to be the brightest scientific minds on Earth. Yet, they gleefully sign up to go to an alien world unprotected, dismissing the lack of military support as the mission being scientific in nature and not military. These people, my friends, are lambs going to the slaughter. And that is the most infuriating aspect about this film: the conceptual framework is riveting, but the plot is acted out by idiots. Not only do characters act stupid, they act contradictory to their purpose.
In one particular sequence, the mission’s geologist and biologist, Fifield and Millburn(Sean Harris and Rafe Spall, respectively), are freaked out by finding an alien corpse and decide to head back to the ship, get lost and are eventually attacked by an alien creature. Now, as I described it, nothing stands out as particularly out of place or illogical about the sequence, right? Well, Fifield, the geologist, uses a series of spheres to map out the structure they’re exploring, so he’s actually in charge of creating a map of the place. The guy who created the map of the structure got them lost inside it. And then, when they find the creature, a sort of snake-like thing, Millburn, the biologist, actually starts to coo-coo ga-ga it. The thing hisses and opens up its face, and he decides to poke it. ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? You are a biologist, your main area of study is LIFE, an alien creature does the universal signal for “leave me the fuck alone” and you FUCKING POKE IT? AAAARGH!!! And the movie is full of little bits like this that make you groan out loud. Characters do things that are flat-out retarded and we can see their demise coming a mile away.
Prometheus, like Cosmopolis, is a movie that is betrayed by its script, but while Cosmopolis is marred by characters that don’t act like real people, Prometheus is marred by characters that act real fucking stupid. And this is a total shame, because the movie actually has a load of things going for it. First of all, the movie is visually STUNNING. Ridley Scott, as always, uses the camera masterfully to really immerse you in the goings-on of the film, and this movie OOZES atmosphere. The visual effects team also did an incredible job with all the creature effects, technology and sets. The costuming department also deserves kudos, cause the suits the characters wear look AWESOME. Both the visual effects and costuming people are the guys I’d go to if I wanted to make a movie based on, say, Dead Space or Mass Effect. One particular scene that illustrates perfectly how this comes together is a scene where David finds a holographic projection room, and a hologram shows the Engineers as they find Earth. The scene is awe-inspiring in the way only the best sci-fi can. We’re talking Enterprise-on-its-docking-bay, Star-Destroyer-following-the-Rebel-ship, Christopher-Reeve-flying-as-Superman awe-inspiring. Powerful as all hell. That scene genuinely gave me goosebumps. If there’s only one gripe I have about the film visually is that the old man makeup on Guy Pearce is fucking awful. Johnny Knoxville’s old man makeup in Jackass is more convincing.
On the acting side, the movie is superbly acted. It’s not the actors’ fault the script is stupid, and they give it their all. Specifically, and quite surprising for me, Michael Fassbender’s role as David was hands down the most interesting character in the film. I don’t have the nerd crush on Fassbender that the rest of the internet seems to have, I actually find his acting to be run-of-the-mill or downright dull. In A Dangerous Method, I found him actually making me not care about the plot because of his cold, wooden performance. But funnily enough, that same subdued acting was an asset for his role as David, on account of him playing a character who’s not human and reacts to the situations happening around him with detached interest. I give you credit, Fassbender, you really hooked me with your performance. Everyone else does great acting as well. Noomi Rapace is always gorgeous and intense, although she plays a more vulnerable character in this film when compared to tougher characters like she played in Guy Ritchie’s second Sherlock Holmes film or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Idris Elba is charming and likeable as always, and Charlize Theron can act the stone-cold bitch in her sleep. Everyone else did a good job. As I said, the film was well-directed and well-acted.
But now, I’m gonna spew vile at the writers. No, I didn’t hate the film with a passion, but yes, I’ll hate the film’s writers with a passion. The movie’s writers are Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Before this, Spaihts scripted the absolute fucking shit-fest that is The Darkest Hour(that invisible alien invasion movie)… and nothing else. NOTHING. Lindelof is known to sci-fi fans as a producer and writer for Lost, and any fan of that show can easily point out he was the writer when Lost headed straight to the shitter. These are two guys that have NO BUSINESS scripting a high-concept movie such as this, let alone a movie directed by Ridley Scott. Their script is idiotic, their characters stupid, and the movie asks a bazillion questions without answering any of them. I understand a movie doesn’t need to tell me everything about it straight up, but it shouldn’t insult me by refusing to answer any questions I have and expect me to remain interested.
When all’s said and done, Prometheus is a film that has a fascinating concept, expert direction, gorgeous visuals and excellent acting, while having a truly execrable script. These two extremes meet in the middle and result in a film that’s merely mediocre, which is a damn, damn shame. Still, I will give this film credit: I’ll go see the sequel if and when it comes out, just to see if the concept can be salvaged and the questions answered. Cause as I said, the seeds for greatness were there, they just didn’t fertilize them with a worthy script. I guess in the end the movie can be considered an amusing diversion, but not really worthy of being considered amongst the greatest of sci-fi films. Watch it to see what all the fuss is about, but don’t interpret this as me giving it a recommendation.