Saturday, 20 October 2012

We Need To Talk About Prometheus

This is probably the last review of Prometheus you'll read. I don't mean this in a self congratulatory manner,"after this awesome Prometheus opinion, all other opinions will pale in comparison, wilting away under the glorious glow generated but this review." I mean it more literally. More than likely you'll already have read a millions reviews of the DVD by now, never mind a review of a film released in the cinemas many moons ago. Work commitments mean I've had to abandon blogging for a while, but as this was a film I so looked forward to I still wanted to share my thoughts. 

So to set the scene, imagine it's May; the PR men are still telling you this is the event of the year. We can still only imagine what it'll be like to host the Olympics, Lance Armstrong is still your hero, England haven't embarrassed themselves at another major footballing event, no one has broken the sound barrier whilst parachuting and my car hasn't over heated and died (that last one is more of a personal setting the scene moment). Now that we've travelled back in time without the need for a flux capacitor, 1.21 gigawatts of energy or plutonium from dodgy Libyans, read on.

So this is it. Ridley Scott's return to Sci-Fi films and the Alien ‘universe.’ We've had trailers, posters, teasers and viral marketing. It's the film we've heard about non stop for what seems like the last 6 years, Is it up to all the hype? More to the point, could any film live up to this sort of expectation? I've mentioned in previous blogs that I've tried to dampen down my expectations, with Alien being one of my favourite films of all time it’s been difficult. I’ll try and keep my references to Alien down to a minimum, and judge the film as much as i can on it’s own merits.

So what’s Prometheus about? The original Alien (first Alien reference but a necessary one) famously  contained the “space jockey.” An unfortunate alien who’d had his chest exploded whilst sitting in what looks like the biggest lazy boy ever created. Scott was originally asked to remove this scene as it added nothing to be plot. He however disagreed and the scene remained, with Geiger’s mysterious creature at the centre. The following Alien films made no mention of the space jockey again. It’s amusing that a scene that nearly ended upon the cutting room floor is now the basis of one of the biggest films of 2012.

The year is 2089. The crew of the good ship Prometheus are heading off into deep space, looking for an answer to the question that eludes all humans........ who created us. Based on what can only be described as quite flimsy evidence, Dr Shaw and Holloway, have gathered a rag tag team of scientists and set off for LV-223 (not LV-426 Alien reference number 2) to answer said question. It won't come as a surprise that things do not go according to plan.


First the positive stuff. The cast is on the whole outstanding, but then looking at the cast list you’d be surprised with anything less. In particular Michael Fassbender is the pick, as the android David. What sort of Alien film would be complete without an android who’s motives are less than clear. We’re introduced to David spying on the crew members dreams whilst they're in stasis, shooting a  few hoops, learning a new language the usual stuff you might do if your a robot and your on your own for a while. It's actually nice to see what the ships robot does whilst everyone else kips, even if it is a little bit creepy. David is constantly told he's just a robot, as someone who can't dream it seems obvious that he would spy on the dreams of the crew, the humans he is supposedly beneath. David has reached the point in his “life” where he is asking the same sort of questions the crew have travelled all that way to find out. The part of the film that works best for me is David’s questioning of his place in the universe. He is at various points in the film proclaimed to have no soul, be just a machine and yet he seems to grappling with that very human emotion of being overlooked continually. Fassbender is perfect in the role giving David a slightly odd manner, like he's been shown how to act human by Keanu Reeves. I know people who have questioned the motives for his actions in the film. To me he just seems mischievous, he just wants to mess with these people who created him “just because they could.”

Hmm why was Charlize cast to wear a skin tight space suit?
Noomi Rapace is also impressive, and I'm always a fan of Idris Elba. He just seems to fill the whole screen with his character even though he has only a few scenes in the film. However Charlize Theron is completely wasted, only present for her inability to run at a right angle and probably because she looks hot in skin tight clothing. With the removal of the scenes of Weyland as a young man, casting Guy Pearce in old man make-up also seems like a waste.

The special effects are outstanding. But when you've got an eye for the visual like Ridley Scott does you'd be amazed at anything less. It seems unfair to be so dismissive of the special effects, but he did so much with so little in Alien. When you watch it now, other than the presence of a BBC computer as mother it still stands up today (Alien reference number 3). We've become so used to good CGI we barely notice it now.


The script and plot is truly awful. Some of the characters are asked to deliver lines so poor even Michael Bay would think twice about including them."I can't create life" must be one of the most ridiculous lines uttered since George Bush said humans and fish can co-exist. Some of the dialogue is so dreadful it's unbelievable.

The black goo extras from the X-files have been
 waiting a long time for another role
Weyland also seems to have gathered a crew of the stupidest scientists ever compiled. Maybe if they’d taken some pretend scientists, like homeopaths (you know you're not real scientists) they might of had a better chance of finding the answers they're looking for. The plot seems to struggle to get things moving along so we’re introduced to X-files type black goo which seems to have a different effect on every one it comes into contact with. Underneath all this there probably is a good story about where we come from or the nature of our existence. Unfortunately the plot however seems so obsessed with posing questions it forgets that maybe we might want the odd one answering. There's a lot of arm waving and shouting things like, "if we don't stop them we’ll have no home to go to," a sound bite designed for the trailer if ever there was one. The original Alien (Alien reference number 4) was all about the smaller details. The only thing Parker and Brett were interested in was getting their share of the money, not saving the earth. 

And finally WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE ALIENS? Seriously that's all we wanted to see, some damn aliens killing stuff. Not angry, incredibly ripped, slap heads but shiny black xenomorphs killing people for fun.


I've aired my grievances with 3D in the past so i won’t start that rant again.  This is the first 3D film I've seen since Toy Story 3, I've actively tried to attend 2D screenings of films where possible. I am a huge fan of IMAX though, and the only way to see Prometheus in glorious IMAX is to watch in 3D. So unfortunately as stubborn as I usually am,ask my wife and she’ll roll her eyes and say very, I had to give in. 

As I always do, I forget to wear my contacts lenses when I saw Prometheus. So I had to wear the 3D glasses over my own glasses, which always ends up hurting my ears, more so with IMAX 3D glasses. Perhaps I need to invest in some prescription 3D glasses? It seems churlish to hold my forgetfulness against Ridley though.

In relation to the 3D I'll keep it brief. In all honesty, I forgot the film was in 3D about halfway through. Occasionally when I'd turn my head the side slightly to make sure my wife was still awake, the picture would blur a little reminding me “it's 3D idiot keep your head still.” 

Did the hype ruin Prometheus or was it just a poor film? It's probably a bit of both, which is a slightly lame cop out to be fair and sums the film up perfectly. I've read an article that looks into the hidden references in Prometheus which can be found here. It's an interesting and well researched piece but rather than a whole load of deep references in the film, I'd have been happy with a plot that wasn't shit.  Head over to Empire to read an interview with the original scriptwriter. Would the film have been better with his script? At least it had aliens in it. 

Roll on Blade Runner sequel(!)


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