Dir: Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green
In 1979, Ridley Scott directed and released a film which would change the way we see Science Fiction forever. Not only was it a sci fi, it was a thriller, it was a horror, it was excellent. It paved the way for strong female lead characters, introduced new meanings to words in our vocabulary (such as ‘Facehugger’ and ‘Chestburster’) and sparked off a whole host of subsequent sequels and various franchises (of varying quality).
Never again would we be able to think of John Hurt without being put off our dinner. Never again would H.R. Giger be referred to just as an artist; rather, ‘The guy who designed the xenomorph’. Never again would anyone fuck with Sigourney Weaver.
Alien was a landmark in the film world, seminal in it’s field, and so when Ridley Scott announced that he would be making another Alien film, I practically squealed in excitement.
As more and more news was revealed about Prometheus, it became apparent that it was not going to be a prequel, but a film set in the same storyverse, with minor crossovers.
It was not going to be about the Alien, that was clear. There would not be the Chestbursters and Facehuggers that we know. This was about a question which had been bugging Ridley Scott for the last thirty years, and it’s conception lay in the first half an hour of the film he made those thirty three years ago.
It was The Space Jockey. A minor part of the film, merely an interesting detail, brushed over swiftly and quickly forgotten. But it had been playing on Ridley Scott’s mind. Where had it come from? What was it? What was it doing there?
And then, after three decades and a couple of decent Alien films and a whole mess of shit ones later, Ridley had the answer.
Prometheus, a space ship sent forth to discover the secrets of the universe. On board, a team of nerds (geologists, biologists, sciencey type guys), the guys who do stuff to do with the ship, other various Weyland employed red shirts, and an Android or two (although they prefer the term ‘synthetic’).
Whereas it isn’t a direct prequel to Alien, there are plenty of little nods to it hidden around for the true nerds, although it doesn’t require a knowledge of the original films to be able to follow. It does stand up on it’s own merit, and will be a welcome introduction to people who haven’t seen the original films.
Visually, it’s wonderful, but no surprise there, since it’s Ridley Scott, and with plenty of unpleasant gory moments which will have you watching through the gaps in your fingers whilst simultaneously being perched precariously on the very edge of your seat, some breathtaking landscapes and wonderfully designed sets, it’s classic Scott.
I think part of the problem for a film like this is the magnitude of the hype it received. When I first saw the TED talk they staged, I was ready for the biggest film of the decade. Since then, there’s been a fair bit of coverage about it, but no one giving away any details or secrets or spoilers, and so even though I saw stuff about it everywhere, I still didn’t know what to expect, other than a film which was going to be important.
And yet, despite being 30 years in the making, and all the hype surrounding it, I can’t help but feel Prometheus didn’t quite live up to what I had been expecting. This may be because I was expecting too much, and I try to go and see every film with an open mind. I will often completely avoid seeing anything about a film I want to go and see, and not allow my friends to talk about it, simply because I want to be completely unbiased.
I couldn’t do this with Prometheus, I was too excited and being totally geeky about, and so when I went to go and see it, in full headache-inducing 3D, I tried to calm myself, and remember that it’s still just a film. It’s a summer Hollywood blockbuster, and I had to try and lower my expectations a touch.
When I left the cinema, I did not feel disappointed. I felt that it was well worth the ticket price, I was even glad I spent the bit extra on the stupid glasses and the headache, as this is one of the rare films where the 3D actually works, and works well.
But a film isn’t all about how it looks, and past that it starts to fall down.
Alarm bells had already started to ring when I found out that it was co-written by Damon Lindelof, the guy who also wrote ‘Lost’, and whereas I haven’t ever seen an episode of Lost (it’s on the list, don’t worry) I am aware that a lot of people didn’t think that it had the most straightforward or well constructed storyline. And unfortunately, this shows. There aren’t any moments of dialogue I could quote from the film, nothing immediately awe inspiring, and the plot seems a little bit confused.
And I think that’s the word for it: Confused.
There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for a lot of things, and things that are alluded to at one point in the film may be completely missed out later on and never mentioned again. Moments that are of significance are massively underplayed, a lot of it just doesn’t really seem to come together. I felt, for quite a lot of the action in the film, that it didn’t have any real significance, it was just there to cause a bit of drama and tension for the sake of it. And there are far too many characters, and because we don’t spend enough time with any one of them, it’s hard to empathise, and so you don’t really care about their fate, whether they live or die. The closest thing I had to a relationship with any of the characters was with David, the ship’s ‘Synthetic life form’. Highly reminiscent of Ash in Alien, Michael Fassbender’s pseudo-Aryan, smooth look actually lends itself quite well to the character. But even his actions can be described as ‘erratic’ at best. Everyone’s just a bit of a prick, but not enough to make them a villain. There’s no connection involved, which leaves you wanting for something a bit more substantial.
But despite the confused writing, Prometheus is a good film. I enjoyed it, it was good fun, and I could overlook some of the less sensible plot points, and some of the larger plot holes, and I am glad that I have seen it.
And it did do something, at least: it got me talking. My traditional way of doing things like this is to go and see the film and then go and have a couple of pints afterwards and discuss what I’ve just seen with whoever I went to see it with (also, as all my friends know that this is what I do, it prevents them from talking during the film) and my friends and I had plenty to discuss. Also, I have the urge to now go and watch Alien again.
Prometheus; a good film, worth a watch, a few problems with the writing, but it certainly gets you talking and will make you want to go and watch Alien, which can never be a bad thing.