Prometheus 3D review
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Ridley Scott returns to sci-fi, and to the very roots of the film which shot him into the A-list...
You can never go back. And if you can, usually, it's not a good idea. Ridley Scott's Alien prequel (and that's just what it is - that debate is now over) decides to go back anyway, to dust off a dozen or so beloved shreds of Alien iconography and reconstruct them into a sci-fi movie that, spiritually, has more in common with the likes of Contact (1997) and Sphere (1998) than the pulse-pounding ambit of the Alien quadrilogy (1979 - 1997). That in itself is not a problem. Neither is the enigmatic publicity, which taps more into the likes of Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey than the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre blood-fest which fuelled Scott into making Alien a sci-fi/horror classic.
The big problem is that Prometheus is very average - if 'average' can stand the superlative. But after 30 years of waiting for Ridley Scott to make another sci-fi movie in the wake of his travails of Blade Runner (1982), we'll just have to make an exception and allow 'very average' past the sub-editors.
As an exercise in sci-fi awe, Prometheus is hamstrung by the necessity of trying to shock, since the Alien connection was part of what got it funded. As an exercise in shock, it's hamstrung by not having a monster or species of aliens that out-do the Giger xenomorph; as a movie in general, it's hamstrung by an excessive number of good actors who are, with the exception of Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender, absolutely wasted. On the relatively rare occasions when the dialogue is audible, you'll mostly wish it wasn't. Mostly.
It's also joke-free - and why not? The film doesn't generate adequate interest in most of the characters or enough tension to require breaking with a little humour. The spaceship sets recall the brilliance of Ron Cobb, but extended with the absurd expanses of space displayed by any version of the starship Enterprise. Claustrophobia is absent from this movie. To boot, the costumes look like they're straight out of one of the numerous Star Trek TV spin-offs.
And worse, worse than any of this, far worse, in the lee of the brilliance of Alien - Prometheus has less atmosphere than LV-426 before the shake-and-bake terraformers landed.
The plot is simple; remarkably so for a film that is so confusingly directed and edited. A bunch of space explorers follow archaeological signals found on Earth to seek what may be the font of mankind on a planet (not yet quite named LV-426) in a distant solar system. During the crew's two-year doze in hypersleep on the journey, android 'David' (Michael Fassbender) studies all known Earth dialects in the hope of being able to communicate with whatever species the mission might find (and the idea of an android's solitary waking existence during hypersleep was originally to appear in Aliens (1986), with Bishop walking the empty corridors of the Sulaco).
Fassbender immediately makes an impression. Though Noomi Rapace slowly 'Ripleys up' (and it is a very slow process indeed), you'll likely only remember Fassbender's glacial yet strangely sympathetic cybernetic turn when you leave the cinema. As for Idris Elba and Charlize Theron, respectively the 'suit' and the captain of the story, it quickly becomes clear that they're on board just to make the Prometheus publicity pop. The Oscar-winning Theron plays a one-dimensional corporate bitch with her own luxury suite on the exploratory spacecraft/luxury-liner, while the extraordinarily capable Elba is given nothing to do but cop out of the action on the bridge and try and get into Theron's knickers in a moment of great boredom - which moments are sadly numerous for the viewer.
Meantime most of our heroes spend their time in an archaeological environment not entirely unfamiliar in tone to the temple in Aliens Vs. Predators. The space-jockey chamber, we already know, has been recreated for this movie, though it does not entirely resemble the vastness or detail of the original, despite the presence of H.R. Giger in the crew's roster.
There's a lot of walking down dank corridors - enough corridor-walking to satisfy the most ardent Doctor Who fans, and a drip-feed of Alien references to keep any old-school franchise fans hopeful. Several events from the original Alien are either recreated or mirrored, along with numerous moments/homages from Aliens and 1992's Alien 3.
And if you wanted to know the truth about the space-jockey and what that bone-shaped ship was doing out there in Alien with a cargo full of lethal xenomorph eggs, you'll get your answer. You might not like it, but you'll get it.
That's about as far as I can go without spoiling the movie for you, if you're curious enough to check it out. But if you hop down a bit to the link to the next page, find below some of the spoiler-laden questions we'll look at.
Prometheus is on general release now.
On the next page: SPOILERS! SPOILERS! Do not click if you don't want SPOILERS!
Are there any xenomorphs in Prometheus?
Who are the primary 'enemies' in Prometheus?
Are the main enemies frightening?
Does the ending of Prometheus logically lead to a xenomorph-free follow up or franchise?
What does Prometheus bode for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner sequel?
Is Prometheus a worthy prequel to Alien?
Is the film frightening?
Is the ending spectacular?
How's the 3D?