Contains Mild Spoilers
I saw Alien well before I saw Prometheus, but seeing Prometheus in the cinemas opening day sparked something in me. It led me to become obsessed with the franchise. I immediately went home and watched the original Alien again and again, to the point where it easily became my second favorite film of all time, so I do owe a great deal to Prometheus. But do I like it? If you were to have asked me that in 2012, I would have said I absolutely loved it, but I haven't yet revisited it in maybe 3 or so years. With the follow up, Alien: Covenant coming out in just a few weeks (JACK NOTE: Next week here in Australia!), I decided to watch it again to finally answer the question "do I like Prometheus?"
We pick up thousands and thousands of years later, which is where we meet Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace). Shaw is a scientist who, with her lover Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), has recently discovered multiple clues from ancient civilizations about a distant planet where these Engineers may be located. With funding from the Weyland corporation, the two brilliant scientists embark on a mission to this planet aboard the ship Prometheus, along with a small, 17 person crew. Included in this crew is a friendly android named David (Michael Fassbender). They may have come to planet LV-223 looking for the creators of life, but what they find may put their own lives in great, terrifying danger.
The film balances freshness and familiarity with great, great ease, mostly due to the return of Ridley Scott, director of the very first Alien. Scott's direction is every bit as intoxicating as it was in the 1979 classic. Much like Alien, this is a slowed down experience. The pacing is nothing like a typical Hollywood sci-fi adventure flick. Scott takes his time getting to the action and tension, giving us more time to buy into the story and become familiar with the main characters, not so much the supporting cast, but we'll get to that later. When the scares and excitement do arrive, you'll find that the wait was well worth it.
As I said, this film, despite being only five years old, has what I consider to be many now iconic moments that never fail to amaze. The reason I covered the opening of the film in my synopsis is because I love it so much. It's a beautiful, memorable moment, later matched by another astonishing scene where they first find proof of the engineers, entering the room with the black goo covered pods. It manages to be both pleasant and utterly horrifying, and I have no idea how. But how can you discuss Prometheus and not talk about that caesarean scene? It is easily the best scene in the movie and in my opinion, even rivals the chestburster scene from Alien for the best scene in the franchise. The film then goes out on a bang with that scene. Yeah, you know which scene. The very last one of the movie. How bad-ass was that?
These moments aren't the only thing the writers got wrong. Some fundamental story missteps happen along the way. It's not an awful script at all, but there are some huge annoyances I have with it. Firstly, the film seems to outsmart itself, leaving audiences lost in the process. What I mean by that is it often poises big and sometimes philosophical questions, but never bothers to answer them. This wouldn't be as annoying if some of these questions didn't directly relate to the main plot, but they do. Additionally, a lot of the action and conflict is set off by dumb character choices and sheer coincidence, which can get infuriating. A whole portion of the story is literally kick-started by two highly trained and intelligent scientists messing with a life form they have no knowledge of. Are the characters really that dumb, or did the screenwriters want them to be just for that scene? You never want to have points of your script feel forced, especially when you're crafting such an exciting story. A lot of plot inconsistencies also arise, especially in the final act.
Charlize Theron's performance is a bit all over the place. Sometimes she can be quite engaging and mysterious, while other times it feels as if she's sleepwalking on set. It pains me to say that because typically she's one of my favorite actresses. I have no idea what the hell Guy Pearce is doing in this film. He plays an elderly Peter Weyland, and while the make-up is good and Pearce looks old, why didn't they just cast an actual old person? Pearce was in his early forties when this film was shot. Logan Marshall-Green turns in probably the worst performance in the film. He's just so boring and lacking in charm, and to make it worse his character doesn't really go anywhere thematically interesting. The other characters on board the Prometheus are rather pointless as well, and we learn literally nothing about them.
I am in with the group of people who love Prometheus. It's not perfect, there are a lot of issues, mostly with the story, but the pros outweigh the cons, at least to me. I get that the flaws are too much for some people, I really do. I also believe that Ridley Scott and his team will do their very best to right their wrongs and knock it out of the park with Alien: Covenant. The only thing more exciting than that is how little the wait for that film is now. Bring it on, baby!
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