Prometheus: Born To Disappoint

One of the most polarizing films of recent times is Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the prequel to his Alien movies. From all I’ve seen, opinions are sharply divided right down the middle, and I fall in the camp of people who hate and dislike this movie. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting from this, possibly a movie that could stand up to the awesomeness of Alien, but instead what we got was on the same level as the terrible Aliens vs Predator crossover movies. And that’s me trying to be the least bit positive there actually.

After a decent enough start, the movie just went downhill and it never looked back. I was honestly surprised that we had been given such a distinctly terrible movie from Ridley Scott. Amazed at it really. Anyways, here’s my review of the movie.

Note: Spoilers for the movie follow.

Prometheus Poster 001As a fan of the Sigourney Weaver-starring Alien-verse films, and even the novelisations of the first three, I’d been quite looking forward to seeing this somewhat tangential prequel of the movie that started it all back in 1979. The trailer and all the pre-release buzz around the project had got me really excited and I just couldn’t wait to see how Ridley Scott would deliver another masterpiece of a film, because that’s what Ridley Scott does. After having experience of the movie though, I have to say that I am really, really disappointed with almost everything that went into this. The movie failed to live up to my expectations at almost every turn and all it did is leave me disillusioned with the whole concept by the time I was done watching it.

The movie starts off well-enough, with the science vessel Prometheus arriving safe and sound to its destination with its crew in stasis, barring its keeper, the Android David as played by Michael Fassbender. From there, everything kicks up as the crew bring the ship down on the planet and begin exploring a certain rock formation that has roads leading up to it. After about half an hour in however, I was growing less and less enamoured with the movie. Things looked too cliched, too typical and they never really went anywhere. Any twists and turns that happened seemed all too gratuitous and predictable.

Michael Fassbender is one of the two good things about the movie, the other being the “bleak grandeur” of it as a friend of mine put it to me yesterday on Twitter. Fassbender’s performance is exemplary and impressive in equal measure because he gets the mannerisms and attitudes and behaviour just right. You can really see that he is an android and not just an actor pretending to be an android. Score one for the movie! I think he compares rather well to Ian Holm’s Ash in Alien and Lance Henriksen’s Bishop in Aliens, the latter more so. If anything, he is better than both of them since his android-ness is extremely apparent from the get go and there is no subterfuge regarding his nature in the narrative. The character itself, David, is a letdown though. There are undertones of a deep philosophical bent to him but nothing that is really explored in any depth by the writers or the director himself. Then there is also the fact that his motivations are never explained at all to the viewer. We see David do some things that imply some serious intrigue going on in the movie but things are either left unexplained or even when they are, they are abruptly put to the side while the main plot goes ahead. Score none for the movie.

Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers was another letdown. The character’s epiphany of sorts, when it finally comes, is robbed off its emotional momentum because it is too abrupt. The character’s resolution in the end is even more abrupt than anything else in the movie. I can see what place Vickers has in the plot and how she drives it in her own way but we never get a sense of why she does the things she does. And that’s a theme that runs through Prometheus: the characters are all cardboard cut-outs that lack any kind of depth. Charlize Theron mostly portrays the character well, even with all these limitations but she suffers nevertheless because Vickers is such a minor character in the end. “Guest appearances” like this really don’t do her justice because its films like The Italian Job, Young Adult, and Snow White and The Huntsman, where she has major roles, are where she excels at.

Noomi Rapace, both her acting and her character of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, were just another in a long line of letdowns in the movie. Both the character and the actor lack that necessary drive that the plot implies they have. Elizabeth Shaw is said to be one of the driving forces behind the Prometheus expedition but that is only told and not shown. You don’t really get that on the screen. Shaw is a typical archaeologist character being made to show as tough and one with convictions but that doesn’t translate. Noomi Rapace lacks that entire intensity to her acting here. She was far better inSherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, in which she was quite credible.

And this whole theme keeps on going. The characters and actors alike in the entire movie do nothing but talk, talk and talk but never really show anything. By the time the movie was in its closing stages, I cared about the characters not one bit. The movie failed to keep me hooked through the end. The blame falls on the script for the most part. It is ambitious but it doesn’t deliver on that promise. Yeah, we see the origins of the acid-spitting, face-hugging aliens well enough but that’s about it. The film had so much potential to transcend being a mere origin story and it just never gets things going.

Then there are all the plot holes. Whether it is the prologue bit in the beginning, involving the race of Engineers who supposedly created the aforementioned aliens and also, apparently, Mankind; or a certain bloody scene involving both Shaw and David, I was confused where the plot was headed. In the latter case, there is this whole subplot with David taking one of the alien canisters from a cavern in the gigantic cave-system where much of the movie is set. The android then takes one of the worm-state aliens from the canister and passes on the worm to Doctor Holloway, Shaw’s fellow archaeologist and love interest. When Shaw and Holloway have sex and the “worm” is passed into Shaw, she gets pregnant and is about to give birth to an alien foetus in that oh-so typical chestbursting scene. Fear not however, because there so happens to be an advanced medical pod aboard the Prometheus which Saw uses to do a caesarian section and remove the foetus.

And that’s it.

Shaw stumbles and staggers through the science vessel after the surgery in a drunken state and she never tells anyone what the hell just happened to her. I mean come on, walking around the science vessel in a medical two-piece with stapled stitches in her stomach and blood all over her body, you’d think that she takes the time to tell someone she just removed a bloody octopus like alien from her stomach and gassed it to death but no. She never does that. And that’s where the film completely lost it for me. That’s a pretty big statement and fact to ignore for the last quarter of the movie.

Add to that, why does David even do any of this in the first place? What does he gain out of it? Is he under orders from the supposedly dead Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce in another underwhelming performance, to do so?

All of what I’ve said is still not enough to display my massive disappointment with the movie. I kept expecting the plot and writing to improve and to give me that defining moment that would it all worth it in the end but it never arrived. Instead, all we got was an ending that failed to connect, and an epilogue that really is just another massive plothole for those who have been keeping score since minute 1.

Prometheus Stills 001

Like I mentioned earlier, the “bleak grandeur” of the movie is the second of two things that I liked about the film. The visuals are absolutely great and while the 3D is a little iffy in places, it is still decent enough.  The lighting, the camera, the music, it all combined to create a tremendous atmosphere and mood but the narrative squished it all. The score is really impressive and all that I take away from the movie is that I’ll be getting the Soundtrack/Score album for it soon enough. It is stirring and moving in all the right places.

As such, although I know the movie has been out for a while, I’d still not recommend the movie. Even on DVD. Watch it if it is playing on the tele, but otherwise, just give the whole thing a pass. You are better off like that.

Posted on February 20, 2014, in Movie Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m with you on this film, it was a huge disappointment. I was really excited for the film because the Alien trilogy was fantastic and Ridley Scott was involve so surely he wouldn’t just hacked up his own alien world but he did.

    For me, Dr. Shaw was the problem because she was the opposite of Ripley who made a stand against the alien versus Shaw who ran around the ship, the planet, everywhere, not doing much. It was really unnecessary for Meredith Vickers to die as well, like her death served no purpose other than to eliminate her from the movie, it wasn’t even to cause a reaction from the audience because she was a minor character that no one knew really well (perhaps some hatred towards her father was visible but who knows).

    The origin of the alien was cool though. I would probably watch the sequel if it ever came out, maybe not in theaters though.


    • Charlize Theron’s character got completely shafted. That whole thing with the rolling piece of wreckage and her running in a straight line in front of it? Yeah…. real smart there.


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