Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Note: Prometheus opens Friday June 8 so this review only contains minor spoilers included in early trailers. A more in-depth, spoiler filled discussion will be posted after wide release.
With Prometheus, director Ridley Scott gives audiences almost too much of what they want in a big budget 3D sci-fi film. There’s an incredible spaceship, a bombastic score, kick-ass women, android humor, chills, thrills and gore. You name it and Prometheus probably has it. It also has mysterious connections to Alien, the groundbreaking film that Scott released in 1979. (Though I’d say this “informs” that movie rather than relating to it directly.)
Add that all up and you have a very intense, entertaining movie that tries to be all things at once and suffers for it. The laser beam focus of Alien is gone. Prometheus is just the laser beams. But they’re well worth watching.
Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Tom Hardy lookalike Logan Marshall-Green) are scientists who believe they’ve found an ages-old invitation from an alien species to visit their planet. A science research ship, the Prometheus, is sent to investigate. Its crew includes an android named David (Michael Fassbender), a representative of the bankrolling corporation (Charlize Theron) and several other crew members played by Idris Elba, Rafe Spall and more. What they find will not only challenge them, it will potentially change the course of human history.
The fun begins from frame one as Scott immediately draws his audience into this futuristic new world. Prometheus is mysterious, beautiful, and for the first 45 minutes or so, information is provided and teased with enough forward momentum to keep things very interesting. In fact, when the crew first encounters some alien activity after landing on a distant moon, there’s so much going on in the scene, and between characters, that you’ll wish you had a rewind button to check it out all over again. It’s that dense and exciting.
As the film moves on, there’s an attempt to explain every single little nuance that happens in that scene; there are about half a dozen points and ideas. This all or nothing, kitchen sink ambition is where Prometheus begins to go off the rails. We don’t need four good mysteries, just one or two great ones.
However, before things start to get too muddled, you’ll likely be fascinated by each narrative thread because they’re all so intriguing and presented with such a wow factor. The second act is chock full of extremely intense, edge of your seat moments populated with original, gorgeous visuals. One example is those red laser things that shoot down the halls in the trailer. Wait till you see how those things work and pay off, especially in 3D, which is used to fine effect throughout by Scott and crew.
Still, the sheer amount of plot points Scott and screenwriters Jon Spaiths and Damon Lindelof try to pay off is daunting. Some connect with each other, others do not; some connect with Alien, others do not, and along the way several of the threads are left dangling about in a frustrating way.
Prometheus ends up feeling like a hundred people tried to shove their own ideas into a single movie. It is disappointing because you really want all the strands to line up perfectly and they don’t. There’s some extraordinary stuff in there including scenes, themes and questions you’ll be talking about long after you leave the theater: Where do we come from, how did we get here, and are we living a good life? But because you’re presented with so much information, it gets murky and the film fails to live up to the admittedly unfair expectations both the filmmakers and fans placed on it. We’re left with a flawed, fun, well-above average sci-fi movie that fans will enjoy dissecting but wish was a bit clearer.
/Film Rating: 7 out of 10