“If we don’t stop it, there won’t be any home to go back to!”
2012 has been a great year for movies, particularly during the summer. Summer blockbusters have always been about the spectacle, and that’s perfectly fine with me. The Avengers delivered on what it promised – an entertaining and visually exhilarating ride. It started off the summer season with a bang (it garnered critical acclaim and has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide so far, making it the third highest grossing film ever), and now Ridley Scott’s long-awaited Alien prequel finally hits movie theaters all around the world. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Prometheus, as it marks Scott’s return to the film that started his successful career. I was excited, and even though I didn’t love the first Alien film quite like everyone else, seeing a sci-fi epic directed by Scott was something anyone, regardless if they saw Alien, would want to see. Having seen it now, in IMAX 3D, I can say that it literally blew me away. It definitely lived up to the hype, and even exceeded my expectations.
In 2089 on the Isle of Skye, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover cave paintings identical to those already discovered in many different parts of the world – they depict a man reaching out to a strange constellation of stars. Three years later Shaw and Holloway are among the crew of Scientific Exploratory Vessel Prometheus, heading for the planet closest to the stars depicted in the drawings. Also on board are Captain Janek (Idris Elba), the powerful representative of Weyland Corp, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and David (Michael Fassbender), an all-intelligent android. Prometheus lands on the planet, and in a vast cavern the scientists make some strange, unsettling, discoveries.
Scripted by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, Prometheus is filled with subtle throwbacks to Alien. It really expands on the Alien lore and concepts – I was quite annoyed that I never re-watched the first Alien film when I came out of this movie because you get more out of it if you do. Regardless of whether you’re a newbie to this franchise, there’s still so much complexity you can appreciate from the film. It’s a truly deep plot Scott has going on his latest blockbuster, with themes of religion and our origins, and these link together beautifully. There are questions raised in the film about our makers, and like most films with a philosophical edge, these questions are never answered (it should be kept that way in my opinion). The film also follows a classic line of events, as the crew’s situation just gets worse and worse. Scott and his writers really tried to create a reminiscent structure to Alien, and he succeeded with that. My only criticism with script is character – there’s not a great deal of it than you’d expect. While the heroine, Elizabeth Shaw, is fairly well established and developed, some of the other characters aren’t. There’s no tension between some of them even though there should be, and times it fails to develop some members of the crew and even elements of story. Vickers in particular is established beautifully, but her character never has a chance to develop. The same goes with David. I don’t mind this as much as most movie-goers probably will, but it’s definitely a flaw in the film.
Prometheus always manages to keep you on the edge of your seat though. At the heart of it, it is a horror movie just like Alien. The film includes a dozen of unforgettable sequences – to be honest, every moment of the film is memorable. There are moments of gore, which definitely delivers on gruesomeness. A truly terrifyingly marvelous features Shaw performing abdominal surgery on herself. Expect a lot of blood. Also pretty spectacular was the climax – definitely the best sequence of I’ve seen all year so far. Holy shit, that got my heart pumping. From the moment it begins, you are tense and it won’t stop til the ending of the film.
Scott has a remarkable cast to work with, though some are kind of wasted on their weak characters. Noomi Rapace is awesome, making a big name for herself in Hollywood after the Swedish adaptation of the Millenium trilogy and starring in the Sherlock Holmes sequel. She’s fantastic in the role of Shaw, and provided the emotion and physique to pull off some truly unbelievable scenes. She’s one to watch, I can tell you that. Logan Marshall-Green is exceptional as Holloway, delivering on the desperate attitude of his character. Michael Fassbender meanwhile is a show stealer. He adopts a more different approach to playing the android as opposed to actors cast in this kind of role in previous Alien films. Fassbender goes for eerie feel with his portrayal of David, and it actually works really well, making the audience suspicious about his true agenda. Likewise, Charlize Theron also had a suspicious feel in her acting here, and it definitely allowed her to be an effective character. It’s a shame her character wasn’t developed enough, as Vickers was actually really interesting. Still Theron was excellent, and my god, she is fine as hell (anyone who follows my reviews will know I almost always say something like that :P). Guy Pearce makes a brief appearance in this under heavy make-up as Weyland, and his practically unrecognisable. Idris Elba is also superb as the captain, but his character, like many, is never fully developed towards the end.
The spectacle of Prometheus is one of the film’s strongest points. Scott is no stranger to working with a grand budget, and he always manages to work with it and create a visually terrific blockbuster. Everything about Prometheus looks beautiful. Shot by one of my favourite cinematographers, Dariusz Wolski, the film has rich, dark look, and it all falls into the place with eerie sets. The planet that the crew lands on is full of danger and death, and the film created this perfectly. The visual effects are top rate through out and definitely the best I’ve seen all year (yes, even better than The Avengers). The design of ship, Prometheus, is actually quite stunning, and the production design on the interior is superb – the space suits the crew wear look pretty awesome to me. While the score isn’t that memorable, it did add to the tension of the film, and the creature designs are just frightening. If you’re a fan of scary aliens, you’re in for a treat, as Prometheus features an array of shocking things that will have you jumping in your seat. I saw this in IMAX 3D, and while the 3D isn’t amazing (I was surprised considering it was shot in the format), it didn’t ruin anything for me, and was implemented well at times, particularly the climax. Scott stages some pretty spectacular action sequences that actually have a real sense of tension to it – it’s not just eye-candy, there is true suspense at work in Prometheus.
Yes, I have issues with the characters in the screenplay, but I still love this film. Prometheus is probably the first blockbuster with a complex narrative to be released this year. It’s rich with subtle themes and references, and the cast is fantastic. After watching this, it made want to watch the Alien series all over again, and that’s definitely a good sign. Once I’ve finished with them, you expect me in the cinema watching this another time. Yes, it’s that fucking good.