This is the first of what may become a regular thing. Usually the Friday review has lots of short reviews but I have decided to occasionally do extended reviews which have a bit of discussion about various elements of the film/book/game/whatever it is. Today’s is about Ridley Scott’s sort-of prequel to Alien, which is called Prometheus.
First of all let me try and explain the plot as best I can without spoiling it too much. A company funds an expedition in a space ship to discover the origins of mankind. Two doctors believe that we were created by something else and they quickly find evidence of this, though the creators appear to be dead.
Though the plot sounds different, it plays out very similarly to the original Alien film. The crew of a spaceship go an investigate something and gradually are wiped out my various alien threats and other things. It works well as a stand-alone film but there are definite links to the Alien films. It’s in the same universe for a start so things like the ability to freeze people and make androids are present and there is a huge link back (well forward I guess) to the Wayland-Yutani Corporation. In terms of it being a prequel it does do the job. We find out a bit more about the ship and dead creature at the start of Alien (or at least the type) and find out why the Xenomorphs etc exist. And it’s quite a disturbing reason actually.
The film is acted brilliantly. Most of the crew are quite forgettable (there’s 17 rather than the 7 of Alien) but the more memorable ones are fantastic. Charlize Theron is excellent as the expedition leader (she is gorgeous too I might add) and equally Idris Elba is great as the ship’s captain. He manages a pretty decent accent really considering he’s a Brit. You may know him as the gatekeeper of Asgard in Thor and British TV viewers would probably recognise him as the detective Luther. They are both relatively minor characters though and it’s Noomi Rapace who is the star. Her character, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Exactly the same name as one of the Third Doctor’s companions I might add) is clearly the new Ripley. Or the old one, because chronologically she came first. This whole prequel thing is confusing. Rapace is most well known for playing Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish film versions of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. You wouldn’t know it here though as the character is very different although still tough in her own way. I won’t give it away but in one scene she is properly fearless.
The best acting though comes from Michael Fassbender who portrays the android of the film, David. Incidentally the androids in the series are named alphabetically in real world order. The android in Alien is the first and is Ash and the one in Prometheus is the fourth and is therefore called David. Fassbender does a brilliant job of playing an android and it’s hard to imagine that he is actually a human being. Plus he manages to seem particularly sinister in parts, though it’s not really David’s fault as he just does what he’s programmed to do.
The special effects here are predictably fantastic. It’s actually relatively effect light and is certainly not CGI overload. The landscapes and the spacecraft look absolutely fantastic. My Dad has raved many times about the special effects in it and I suppose it’s understandable. These days such effects are expected but compare it to the original Alien and the difference is astounding. A little frustrating though is how all the computers in Alien look very 70s whilst in Prometheus they look very modern despite the fact it is set earlier. This is of course because of when the difference between when they were made but I would have quite liked it if Prometheus had shown old-school graphics or at least avoided showing modern ones. Still, it’s a relatively minor niggle.
I now wonder what will happen to the series from here. There is plenty of potential for a Prometheus 2 here as the surviving character/s (he says avoiding writing spoilers where possible) is/are going off to find more answers. And like the characters I feel that these answers are necessary. It also feels like more explanation could be given for the start of Alien. How did the spaceship they investigate end up on that planet? Where was it going to? And given what we learn about the race that fly them in Prometheus, why was the ship sending out a warning signal? Although Prometheus has answered some questions, it brings up many more. I just hope that if more films are made they don’t end like Alien3 and start to go severely downhill.
As you can tell, I rather liked the film. Personally I think it is on a similar level to the original Alien, though the aliens here aren’t quite as exciting/terrifying. I shall give it 4 stars but what do the proper critics think? Well I shall leave you with some of their thoughts.
SFX: Prometheus is already one of the year’s most talked-about movies. It’s set to stay that way – but unfortunately having fanboys pick holes in it rather than debate its grand ambitions is probably not what the filmmakers intended. 3 stars.
Total Film: You can relax. Prometheus is very good. Not as frightening as Alien, not as thrilling as Aliens, but a 3D sci-fi blockbuster that’s easily the saga’s most spectacular entry. 4 stars.
The Guardian: Ridley Scott has counter-evolved his 1979 classic Alien into something more grandiose, more elaborate – but less interesting. In place of scariness there is wonderment; in place of tension there is hugely ambitious design; in place of unforgettable shocks there are reminders of the original's unforgettable shocks... 3 stars.
The Telegraph: There's entirely too much to process in a first viewing of Ridley Scott's Prometheus -- some of it good, some of it great, almost all of it mental. How the movie fits together -- both internally, and in sequence with the Alien series Scott launched in 1979 -- are questions its core audience will come out fiercely debating: those who've managed to hold in their dinner, anyway. 4 stars.
I hope you liked this review and if you did let me know so I know to write more in the future. Also be sure to share your own thoughts on Prometheus!