Directed by Ridley Scott
Ever since he hinted at a possible Alien prequel, expectations for Ridley Scott’s return to the universe he helped forge have been phenomenally high. The end result is an intriguing and unexpectedly cerebral piece of science fiction. Prometheus may be extremely flawed and clumsy but it is also thrilling, exquisitely shot and easily Ridley Scott’s best film in years.
Many people will be expecting a direct Alien prequel which focuses on shocks and gore. Prometheus is not that film and in fact it isn’t even aiming to be. Through the story of a group of scientists seeking humanity’s origins the film focusses on the notion of creation and purpose, with the crew constantly asking why we exist. Scott teases rather than providing concrete answers, inviting the audience to draw their own conclusions about the philosophical questions the script indulges in. This
is a fascinating angle and it’s unfortunate that such grand ideas are quickly abandoned as the film progresses.
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Scott has often been criticised for not being an actor’s director, although you wouldn’t know it from this film. Performances are generally strong across the board, helping to distract from the often one-dimensional characters and occasionally awful dialogue. Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron impress as the faith-driven, inquisitive scientist and the icy, corporate shill respectively. However, there is no question that the film’s greatest asset is Michael Fassbender’s nuanced turn as the ship’s android. Every scene featuring “David” is an absolute treat and it is often he who provides the most perceptive questions about the purpose of human life.
Unsurprisingly Scott has once again crafted a visual spectacle. The glistening surfaces of the titular ship stand in stark contrast to the eerily organic nature of the alien structure, which play off H.R. Giger’s original designs brilliantly.. Whilst the creatures encountered cannot match the sheer genius of the “xenomorph”, Scott should be congratulated for managing to imbue the film with even more phallic and yonic imagery. The result is a design aesthetic which pays homage to its origins, but doesn’t attempt to simply import them. To properly appreciate such consummate design work Prometheus needs to be seen in 3D on the largest screen available.
Perhaps this isn’t the film most of us were expecting. It’s messy, confused and certainly not destined to become a classic. Its narrative ambitions are lofty and yet it often falters in linking its many disparate threads. Make no mistake though; this is Scott’s most substantial picture in years, and one which remains incredibly engaging. Prometheus may not end up being the year’s best film but it just might be the most interesting.