Old 06-07-2012, 06:01 PM
Ridley Scott's Prometheus

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Prometheus (2012)

It’s been 30 years since Ridley Scott last dabbled in the realm of science-fiction. In 1979, he gave us his masterpiece “Alien” and followed that up with the classic “Blade Runner,” two films that, along with Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” have helped define the genre for the last several decades. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find a sci-fi film since their release that hasn’t been influenced by them in some way. Now Scott returns to his roots to bring us “Prometheus,” a film that is related to “Alien,” not just in one way, but in several.

Several years into the future, a pair of scientists, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover a cave painting which they believe to be an invitation to a far away star system. There have been several of these found around the globe, which prompts a space expedition to explore the system, where these scientists hope to find answers about the origin of life on Earth.

Commanding the mission is Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a cold woman who wants everything to run smoothly. Aside from Shaw and Holloway, there are other scientists on board, as well as an android named David (Michael Fassbender), who has taken care of the crew while they’ve been in stasis as the journey took over two years to complete. Now that they’ve reached their destination, Shaw and Holloway are anxious to explore. However, they soon discover that finding the answers to their questions is far more dangerous than they originally thought.

“Prometheus” is meant to act as a prequel to “Alien” with it being set in the same universe, which is where its first relation to it is shown. However, as the film proceeds, you can clearly see that they wanted to do more than just set it in the same universe. What they end up doing is emulating most of the beats from “Alien,” including almost the entire first half with just a slightly different plot.

You may recall in the original film that the crew of the ship “Nostromo” was transporting ore back to Earth when they get awakened from their stasis prematurely to check out a mysterious planet, which, of course, turns out to be inhabited by the aliens. From there, things go terribly wrong as the aliens infect and/or kill most of them. “Prometheus” changes things up a just a little bit by having our crew searching for the origin of life on Earth, but the scenario plays out very, very similarly.

They awaken from stasis to explore a mysterious moon where they find dangerous life forms that infect and/or kill several of them. I won’t go into the plot any more than that, but you can see where this would give the film a kind of “been there, done that” feeling. It does do a few interesting things with its own story, but not nearly enough to set it apart from the film it is trying so hard to emulate. It even comes complete with its own deceptive android.

The strange thing is that it seems to forget about its own story for a good chunk of the film while it slows down for its second act, only returning back to it after things begin to get shaken up, and even then, the writers (Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof) felt the need to have a character rush on screen and tell us exactly what is happening and what the purpose of everything on the planet is.

Another element that seemed to be lacking was the suspense. Since the whole film feels overly-familiar, we know where to expect certain things to happen, leaving out a lot of the surprise that should come with a movie where a crew is exploring an alien world. There is a little suspense in the second half where it tries to go its own direction, but it’s not really enough to make up for it missing from the majority of the film.

What the film does have in its favor are marvelous special effects and a stunning production design. As with the original film, we get interesting creature designs, but these are quite different than what we’ve seen before. The ships and other technologies are likewise well-designed and help bring this universe to life. With this being a prequel however, we do get a few small glimpses of things that will already be quite familiar to fans of “Alien.”

The film does leave it open for a sequel, and I’ve even heard that there is a possible trilogy of films in the works. With the way the film ends, it does seem that there is more potential for the creation of something original in this universe. It leaves us with some unanswered questions that the survivors want to get to the bottom of, leading the story in a rather interesting direction. Hopefully whoever ends up making that film won’t try quite so hard to make it like the original 1979 masterpiece. 2.5/4 stars.
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Old 06-09-2012, 06:00 PM
Hey Hal, decent review. While I agree Prometheus has many similarities to the original Alien, I still quite enjoyed it a LOT.

I look at it as the story of the Space Jockey's, basically. I was completely enthralled with it all. I look forward to possible sequels in the future as well!
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:13 AM
Hmmm. I think I'll wait for it to come out on dvd (to borrow,and not to buy).
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