Movie Review: Prometheus

Stars: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce

Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language Running time 124 minutes, Action/Sci-fi/Horror

Compare to: Sunshine (2007), The Thing (2010)

To define what I just watched might take more than a single review. I don’t want to describe the movie with the impression that I’ve never seen anything like it before, but rather to process everything I’ve just watched and decide how much I loved and how much better other aspects could have been. One viewing might not be enough. That being said, Prometheus is one heck of a thing to watch, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the Alien series. We can all even further implore the recovery process to forget the last two Alien VS. Predator films. It seems the creators of Prometheus have already, thanfully for us.

In the year 2089, an archeologist couple find ancient drawings that make a star map; a tool to find their way to a distant planet that may lead to contacting what Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Holloway (Logan Green-Marshall) refer to as “The Engineers;” an alien race that planted what ultimately became humanity. A few years later, the ship “Prometheus” has been launched and is well on its way to reach this planet. While initially discovering artifacts that lead to even more questions, the crew finds that your questions being answered might be even scarier. Prometheus takes its place as a prequel and fifth installment in the Alien (1979) series.

Everything you see in the first forty five minutes in this film will make you feel almost as thrilled as the characters themselves are while absorbing their findings. From the opening shots of a massive waterfall on earth, to the underground alien tombs on a distant moon, the visuals are some of the most impressive ever brought to screen. Space travel and alien contact, both have been explored and combed through every inch in past films (Alien and otherwise), but very few have felt have felt as in-depth and impactful as our director, Ridley Scott, showcases them here; thankfully without lulling us to sleep. Many times it seems as though space travel and “close encounters” need to be action-oriented or go the very opposite route by boring us. Prometheus strikes a nice balance of letting us appreciate the environments and technology without losing its pacing and move forward with the story.

The cast is nice as well, with Noomi Rapace taking the lead and quite a departure from the original female lead in the Alien series that Sigourney Weaver made us so familiar with. A change of pace is nice though, as Rapace’s good intentions and determination is welcomed after four films of Weaver’s portrayal of a desperate and eventually detached Ripley we’ve come to know. Nothing against Weaver’s character though, as this is a completely different crew with a completely different mission. That is, before our menace makes its move.

I know I’m watching quality filmmaking when I can’t make a good decision on whose performance is the best. Rapace should certainly receive all credit where credit is due for not only creating a character that’s as likable as she is annoying (just try not yelling at the screen in some scenes “Just RUN, stupid!”). Rapace owns a scene thats intensity hasn’t been matched since the sexual assault in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a remake of Rapace’s original claim to fame.

Bragging of Rapace’s acting is not to take away from the rest of the cast though. Every actor here is just as worthy as the next, be it for the character’s humor or for their antagonistic approach to others. Idris Elba plays the ship’s captain that’s not so much interested in talking to aliens as much as he is just making sure he flies his ship where it’s supposed to go so he can get paid. Lightyears away, with a crew that’s on the brink of possibly discovering alien life but this man cares about as much as a zookeeper cares about shoveling animal crap. Hey, it’s a job. Charlize Theron plays her part favourably as the mission director that has a much more direct approach to the ships crew and makes it clear that she thinks everything that’s going on is a waste of her time. If you were hoping for a character with any kind of resemblance to Weaver’s Ripley, you might get it with Theron here, although she plays a much colder figure.

Another standout performance is Michael Fassbender’s rendition of David, the android. The Alien series has a penchant for placing these life-like robots on the ship’s crews and having us always second-guess their motives, no matter what the character’s intentions are. Then again, not being a human, the character does not have intentions and only directives, making for uneasy alliances if David is to be trusted at all. Fassbender goes from having a child-like curosity one moment to “I can’t believe he just said that” frivoulessness the next. Any scene with him in it will immediately get you interested in what his course of action will be. Definitely a positive thing in a film that had me wondering where the prequel of thirty year old film franchise can go. He easily fits in with past portrayals of suspiciously neutral androids of Aliens past; Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen.

The problem here is not with characters or special effects or even timing. The issue at hand involves it’s place in the series. As a film itself, it’s great, but seeing that the entire idea is it’s placement in the series and exploring how things became so…gooey. Does it do these things? It’s definitely entertaining and keeps you guessing…but it often has you guessing on things it doesn’t answer. While a sequel isn’t certain (an odd thing in this age), the only thing we’ve been told is that it would be an even further retreat from the original series. A nice gesture but I thought the point was to explain things the vague previous tales purposefully left out?

While I enjoyed the film, while all is said and done, you may be left wanting more; partially because it’s good, and partially because it doesn’t give you enough.

Grade: B

On a sidenote, if you’re interested in the movie as more than just a passing intrigue, you might want to check out the ridicuously detailed viral marketing campaign, which involves promoting Weyland Industries at http://www.weylandindustries.com/, the company responsible for launching Prometheus as well as triggering many pivotal twists in the Alien stories.

3 Responses to “Movie Review: Prometheus”

  1. An interesting review… I hated the film! I find this comment you made interesting…

    “Rapace owns a scene thats intensity hasn’t been matched since the sexual assault in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

    Surely matching a scene from a film which came out last year isn’t a huge feat although I haven’t seen TGWTDT so can’t compare the scenes!

    I just hated Prometheus – I thought it was poorly acted, cheesy and probably only makes sense in Ridley Scott’s mind where it has been festering for a decade!

    Thanks for the review though!

    • Taylor Says:

      Yeah, I was going to compare it to Irreversible which came out in ’02 but TGWTDT came to mind and I was left with only being able to go back six months. Check it out, get scarred.
      As for Prometheus, I don’t know how you could say any of that! I didn’t have high expectations which helped but even if you hated the acting, you’ve gotta admit… it was fun to look at.

      • We would have a great debate about this in person! I’m going to throw a grenade and duck beind the sofa…
        it was SO boring to look at… all grey and depressing!

        Will consider checking out Irreversible though!

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