is a prequel to Ridley Scott's Alien (1979),
opening with a creature disintegrating itself into the Earth.
Forwarding to the
year 2089 and archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie
Marshall-Green) discover that a map has been left by the alien as a
another planet. A few years later and both archaeologists are onboard
Prometheus. The ship is sponsored by the rarely seen Weyland (Guy
is captained by Janek (Idris Elba) and manned by the tough talking
(Charlize Theron). There is also an android on the ship named David
Fassbender), who is occasionally taunted for not being human. Interest
when the group lands on a moon and discovers that there is a direct
between human and alien DNA. Problematically however, some of the crew
separated from Shaw and the rest of the group, forcing the others to
from the safety of the ship to find them.
is bigger, louder and flashier than Alien
ever was, but not as effective. Where director Ridley Scott once relied
minimalism, including the use of silence, deep shadows and selective
of the alien creatures, he deters instantly from the 'less is more'
from the very opening of this disappointing prequel. The immediate
vision of an
alien badly in need of a suntan, with a UFO hovering above him, is the
of the impatience of both contemporary films and modern audiences.
After all, Prometheus was delayed to make way for
the likes of Alien vs. Predator (2004).
Interestingly, that Razzie Award-nominated feature became the highest
film between both franchises worldwide. What has followed is a lack of restraint
Scott's film, particularly in the visual design, which compromises his
stylistic imprint. The clear, white, sterile tones of the ship's
along with the tight fitting grey uniform of Meredith, hint at a
regime. But the emphasis on digital technology upsets the mood and the
isolation. The ship is comprised of see-through computer screens and
sophisticated touchpads, while in the caves the crew can use flashing red scanners
through darkened areas. If this is a prequel to the retro, low-tech Alien, how is it that they have access
to such advanced gadgetry? The illogical choices in design also flow
to the narrative, which is unresolved and emotionally hollow.
fascinating ideas surrounding destruction as a form of creation and
creators are squandered by deliberate obtuseness. Rather cynically, the
main questions, specifically the relationship between humans and
purposely unanswered if only so audiences will have to tune in for the
the characters in this film are noisier and more talkative than in Alien but still have little to say. The
film is painfully short on characterisation and the cast is underused.
is perhaps the strongest because she's intense and visceral but she is
of a conversationalist. Idris Elba, Guy Pearce and a barely seen
are all fine actors but they aren't well-served by the script because
largely excluded from the action and substantial details about their
are scarce. The plot struggles around the midpoint because the motives
goals of many of these characters feel sketchy. Similarly, there are
better at playing ice-cold than Charlize Theron but she's unusually
heavy-handed and the part feels underwritten because it limits her
emotions. The most elusive member is Fassbender's David, who seems to
when he is being taunted, which adds some much-needed tension, but his
actions make it difficult to tell whose side he is on. These characters
also drawn into dumb plot points, courtesy of even dumber actions by
expendable side characters. There are moments where you'd like to
split up' and 'don't touch that alien' but these events unfold with
outcomes, thanks to an intrusive music score that cues us in on when to
frightened. The thrills are meant to be amplified but everything is
with little self-awareness for the genre. There's a laughable scene
character undergoes the world's fastest caesarean and after the alien
all I wanted to hear was Agent K say: "It's a...squid." The aliens,
including but not limited to an enormous tentacle beast, might be more
and more violent but that doesn't mean the film is more exciting or
because of it. After the screening, I wondered why Scott had taken so
make the film. On top of a proposed Monopoly
movie, based on the board game, and the recently announced sequel to Blade Runner (1982), I questioned
whether Scott was officially short on new ideas. Watching Prometheus,
the answer seems simple. In terms of design and
direction, it is a product of our times and not in a complimentary way.
I watched the film in 3D but aside from Hugo
(2011) I am now convinced that there are few films being released that
justify the additional costs, including this one. If you must see it,
in 2D. Or better still, rent Alien again.