At the end of the 21st century, two enthusiastic scientists lead an expedition to a distant alien world, convinced it may hold the key to the mystery of life on earth. However what they find, along with the motives of their crewmates and the powerful corporation they work for, may not be what they expect.
With Prometheus director Ridley Scott returns to his most successful cinematic territory, science fiction. He’s responsible for genre classics like Alien & Bladerunner, so it’s little surprise that Prometheus boasts strong future-noir visuals. He’s also had no trouble assembling a well-respected cast.
Michael Fassbender is simply outstanding as David, a morally ambiguous android with a penchant for Peter O’Toole impersonations. As in X-Men First Class and Shame, Fassbender commands the screen with an alarming degree of charisma. Co-star Noomi Rapace also displays a growing grasp of the English language in a performance much improved on her negligible presence in Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.
Hard-core fans of the Alien franchise will at least be pleased to see it return to its roots in a prequel that partially answers lingering questions from the 1979 classic and at least echoes its iconic visuals.
In truth it would be almost impossible for any film to live up to the incredible levels of hype and fan expectation that have been carefully cultivated by the marketing campaign for Prometheus. Add to that the critical reverence for Scott’s past sci-fi efforts and it’s a recipe for inevitable disappointment.
Though Prometheus does show early signs of ambitious promise, it ultimately sacrifices intelligent storytelling and grand themes in favour of increasingly chaotic action sequences. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof previously wrote lacklustre blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens and contributed to the indecipherable confusion of TV series Lost. Sadly many of the same flaws are evident in Prometheus.
As the film progresses it’s hard to avoid noticing the growing list of obvious plot holes and an overall feeling of disappointing predictability. It doesn’t help that the film’s countless trailers and viral marketing materials actually managed to give away a surprising amount of the film’s end game.
Even a potentially good cast can’t make up for the film’s other deficiencies. Unfortunately with the exception of Fassbender’s exemplary performance as David, the rest of the crew of Prometheus are simple stereotypes lacking both personality and narrative substance.
Though the film boasts accomplished visual effects and effective 3D, that success is undermined by one very bad example of ‘old man make-up’ and a surprising lack of the terrifying creature effects that have memorably defined the franchise.
The Ugly Truth:
Prometheus will only leave you satisfied if you manage to avoid challenging it with unrealistic expectations of excellence. It’s a watchable sci-fi summer blockbuster at best, not the work of instant classic genius that optimistic critics and fans were hoping for. The film may be a little more rewarding for earnest fans of the franchise or Fassbender, but it lacks the fantastic fear of the terrifying original Alien.