‘Alien’ is one of the most enjoyed and successful sci-fi franchises of all time, so it was inevitable that there was going to be further installments to the universe at some point. Whilst ‘Prometheus’ is not officially listed as part of the famous Xenomorph series – and Ridley Scott insisted he had no intention of revisiting – there are clear links between Scott’s 2012 sci-fi thriller, and his film from 1979. But I will primarily judge this film as a separate entity, as per Ridley’s wishes. So if you do want to investigate the links between the films, there are hundreds of theories online. As a stand-alone film though, this is a decent effort, but not altogether out of this world.
The thesis of ‘Prometheus’ is a fairly complicated one, and one that I can’t divulge in too much detail without delivering major spoilers. The principal idea, however, is that scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her partner (both romantically and professionally) Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered a common feature in many of their archaeological finds, with murals and cave paintings depicting a group of people who appear to worship a cluster of planets in the sky. The scientists believe our “maker” dwells in this cluster, and when these painted planets are found to match up exactly with a planetary system millions of miles away from Earth, Shaw and Holloway are invited on an expedition to the planet in question, by elderly, multi-billionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce). The ship that takes them there is captained by the charming Janek (Idris Elba) and a rather more stone-faced Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). At Meredith’s disposal, is David (Michael Fassbender), an artificial intelligence being with the freedom of thought, created by Weyland, to oversee the smoothness of the operation. It soon becomes clear, however, that not everyone aboard the ship is simply there to meet our maker, with ulterior motives aplenty.
Whilst the plot is explained well in the film (I might not have done quite so well here), I’m afraid that I simply couldn’t buy into the idea that the human race was created and placed on Earth by another race of beings. My scepticism wasn’t helped by the fact that I didn’t particularly like how the aliens looked, or how their motives weren’t sufficiently explained. However, when you watch a sci-fi film you have to expect a certain amount of far-fetched storylines. It would be other factors then, that would determine the success of ‘Prometheus’. The acting, on the whole, is sound. Aside from Rafe Spall and Sean Harris’ characters – who very much fulfill the “blundering idiot” role and had me hoping they would be killed off sooner rather than later – all of the characters are very intriguing and the performances impressed as a result. The standouts, for me, were Fassbender, Elba and Rapace. Fassbender is brilliant as the heartless, emotionless robot. Elba is far and away the most likable character in the film and in my opinion adopts the role of the true hero. Rapace also shines as the main protagonist, and it is indeed one of her scenes that I enjoyed the most; a gruesome self-operation scene, which is far from pleasant viewing, epitomises Rapace’s performances as a woman who is hopelessly out of her depth in this alien world. Whilst this film is science fiction based, it’s certainly not afraid to exhibit aspects that you’d commonly associate with a horror flick, so expect blood, gore and plenty of horrifying moments like the aforementioned game of operation.
After discussing the vast array of characters and the plot of the film, any science fiction film will usually be judged in terms of its special effects. Whilst others have disagreed, I certainly felt a sense of awe watching ‘Prometheus’. You won’t see much in the way of vast, star-filled landscapes that grace films like ‘Interstellar’, as the majority of this film takes place on the planet. Instead, a lot of the wow factor is supplied by the technology that is present on this planet (again, it’s hard to explain without giving away the plot details.) Just look out for the scene with David on a solo mission on the planet, and be prepared to marvel at what he discovers. Then there is of course the finale of the film, where the special effects really are astounding. Other than that, there’s not a lot to write home about. The spacecraft looks pretty good, and I’m a big fan of the suits that all of the characters don throughout. So I would say that aesthetically, ‘Prometheus’ is a success.
Overall, this is a good return to the extra-terrestrial domain for Ridley Scott. It’s full of action and drama, but also contains some more subtle, deeper messages for you to enjoy as well. Whilst it’s not a ground-breaking film, it’s still really enjoyable and the general consensus must suggest the same, as a second installment has been announced, which I am happy about for two reasons. Firstly, because the story clearly states where it is going next, so it was simply logical for a second film. But more importantly, I hope this second installment will answer some of the questions that I’m left with. And that’s why for me, this is a good film, and not a great film. I was left slightly annoyed that a few things were left unanswered, and I really hope that ‘Prometheus 2’ will go some way towards addressing this.
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba