05/06/12
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Review – Prometheus

prometheus-film-head

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.

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.

4/5

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  1. Name? says:

    good job Gerald

  2. Martin says:

    “Certainly not destined to become a classic”??? I guess that is what they said about Star Wars in ’79

    People who do not know or appreciate Sci-fi should not review it. Sci-fi does not aim to give nuanced character portrayals just as fantasy does not. The reason is of course that these genres are ABSTRACTIONS of whatever themes the films occupy themselves with. Consequently painting a rich, naturalistic portrait of the characters with all the conflicts inherent in the human mind would BLUR the real object of the film which would be the telationship between man, creation, spirituality, technology/artificial intelligence and not least what Carl Jung has called internalisation of “spirit” an outside force which drives humans to extremes of achievement for no appearent “human” reason. This “spirit” is what drives Noomi Rapace in her quest.

    The role of Art is to formulate the pressing issues of the time. Art rarely gives the answers however…

    • Gerald says:

      I wholeheartedly believe that sci-fi works best when it leaves an element of mystery, and doesn’t attempt to provide all the answers. Ham-fisted attempts to address all questions inevitably fail ala The Matrix Reloaded.

      However, I do think that characters in sci-fi can and should be believably characterised. Star Wars contains interesting characters who we can believe in and empathise with. They are hardly dynamic or “nuanced” but they do engage the audience. Prometheus contains characters who rarely evoke emotional responses, and are not consistently characterised. This could be easily rectified without straying from the sci-fi genre, or compromising its thematic intentions.

      Also, as I gave the film four out of five stars, the one comment you picked up on does not represent my general view of the film.

  3. Hayden says:

    Good review, though four out of five is damn generous. If it’s for the technical polish of special effects (minus silly old-person makeup and guaranteed to date quick Alien reboot CGI which makes the original look like great art) I’d understand but the cobbled together crapfest of witless writing and characterisation really ruined it. Plus the Creator/created Why are we here Big Ideas shit was so shallow compared to the far more interesting 1st two films explorations of masculinity and femininity, corporate and human greed, and the terror and wonder of nature and motherhood. Overall Promiscious was a shallow paddle pool of surface sheen hamfistedly shoving recycled phallic symbols down our throats while setting up another needless sequel, serving as an unintended embodiment of the original films comment on corporate heartlessness, all while being cynically hyped as a ‘thinky’ Sci Fi and a return to form for Scott. Afterwards I felt like I’d just watched a very expensive episode of Lost where a bunch of cardboard ciphers endlessly drone ‘why are we here?’ and silly shit happens as the writers sit back grinning, having duped the viewers into wasting their precious time. Maybe it was meant to have us thinking throughout the film things like ‘who wrote this? What the fuck were they thinking?’ In that case it is a great work of conceptual art which made me consider ideas of creation and design on a far more critical level and I take back all my previous criticisms.

  4. Callum says:

    CAN’T WAIT FOR ALIEN VS PREDATOR VS PROMETHEUS