[Official Review] Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’

Say what you will about Prometheus, it’s still guaranteed to be this summer’s blockbuster that will cause Twitter to light afire and have fans standing outside the theater talking about it for hours. It’s extremely high concept in a way that it will alienate half the audience, while the other half will snarkily approach it with the “I’ve already read about this” mindset. In short, I expect harsh criticism. Much like Prometheus, I’ll stand outside the circle and approach this with an open mind.

Since its inception a few years back, director Ridley Scott, and writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof have firmly attempted to separate the film from Scott’s breakthrough sci-fi horror Alien. While insiders continued to push that this was in fact a prequel to the 1979 classic, also directed by Scott, the filmmakers stood firm only teasing that Prometheus had the “DNA” of an Alien film. They will be redeemed by the time the end credits roll. For once, they weren’t lying.

Briefly summarizing the deep, thought-provoking plot, Prometheus opens with an alien creature standing on Earth, drinking something from a cup, and then melting into a water supply that quickly transforms into cells and DNA molecules. Is this the creation of man? It cuts to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) making a life-changing discovery in a cave in Ireland. As teased in the TV spots and trailers, the couple proposes that man was created by an alien species and that these aliens have invited us to visit their planet – to meet our maker so to speak. They join the motley crew – David (Michael Fassbender), Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), Janek (Idris Elba) and a few others – assembled by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), whom spends 1 trillion space dollars to fly the Prometheus ship to this unknown planet mapped on the cave walls. Once there, (some) questions are (vaguely) answered as chaos erupts.

Without giving anything away – which is extremely difficult – the ideas presented are quite anti-Hollywood. What I mean by this is that Hollywood (executives, filmmakers) likes stories to be told in formula and to be overbearingly clear. Prometheus is anti-Hollywood in the sense that Scott and co. tell the story the way they want to tell it without any care as to whether or not theater patrons will understand. It sticks firm and will gladly take criticism.

We are all constantly screaming for originality in film; that’s what was delivered. And while some of us may already be aware of such “big” creation conspiracy theories through stories like Erich von Daniken‘s 1968 “Chariots of the Gods?” or TV shows such as “Ancient Aliens,” those unaware will literally be blown away by the mind-bending story. It’s such a massive idea that many viewers will be immediately alienated either through confusion or by not actually understanding the events that occurred. Of course, everyone will claim to understand (God forbid anyone can be honest and just be like, “enlighten me”)…

Without getting into the real meaning of the movie (it’s impossible to examine without an onslaught of spoilers, but watching David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia is a good start), the relationship between man and alien, and man and android are juxtaposed. There are many themes touched upon from creation to religion (Shaw wears a cross around her neck even though they know they were created by an alien species; “who created them?” she asks) to playing God, and thankfully none of it is thrown in the viewers face. But what’s so incredibly impressive is how cohesive Lindeloff and Spaihts’ screenplay is considering the high concentration of complex themes.

Digressing a bit, and moving away from the “ideas”, the scope is equally as massive. Prometheus is a visually striking sci-fi epic that delivers an incredible sense of awe mixed with breathtaking visual effects. The 3-D effects work is mind blowing, adding various levels of depth while also toying with some new 3-D concepts (such as holographic imagery and real-life recordings). The ships, planets, costumes and structural designs are nothing short of Oscar worthy, as is the score. There’s even a gorgeous mix of CGI with miniatures and even what appeared to be claymation?! While just as venomous, the newly imagined creatures will be recognizable, but are unique to this universe.

(Spoiler Warning) Speaking of recognizable, the highlight of the film comes in a shocking moment when Shaw must give herself a C-section to remove an alien from her stomach. And while this sequence will go down in infamy, unfortunately, the rest of film struggles to deliver the same impact. The third act is a bit muddled, and ultimately won’t be “finite” enough for some readers. The biggest complaint expected is that Scott never truly bridges Prometheus to Alien. It should be recalled, though, that the intention is for this to be a trilogy. (Spoiler End)

Even with some pacing issues and questionable creative choices (such as the quasi-zombie guy shown in the trailer) Prometheus in an iconic sci-fi spectacle that will forever be remembered as a pseudo-classic. But to be more than clear: don’t expect to see an Alien film. We celebrated when James Cameron, instead of rehashing Alien, told his own story with Aliens; expect more of the same with Scott’s new vision. Prometheus should be accepted as a standalone sci-fi thriller that has the DNA of Alien — and will proudly push AVP and AVP:R off your video shelf for good.

 

Official Score

  • CountOrlok

    The idea that we were created by aliens is not original at all, in fact there is a whole religious sect who believes in it. I suppose to a layman who has been living under a rock, they might be blown away by the idea, but it has been a standard sci-fi trope for awhile now. There’s also little scientific basis for it. The idea that life can form from non-life is much more fascinating IMO.

  • Accident-with-power-tools

    This film rocked- it is original, oh course life from Aliens isn’t an original idea CountOrlok but the execution of this film is… it dosn’t play like a modern film, but like a grand epic ala 2001 Space Oddity. It is beautifully shot, spectacularly acted and the 3D is probably the best yet- no motion blur at all. The only negative is what is said i the review, it’s not particularly scary, the C-section scene is great, but nothing else cones close to that for shock and fear… but this isn’t really a horror its pure sci-fi and the finest in many a moon

  • Spike0037

    PROMETHEUS takes place in the year 2093. ALIEN takes place in the year 2122. And on two different planets PROMETHEUS being LV-426 and ALIEN being LV-223. So the only way a sequel can be made is between those years and connecting the planets

  • Lopan

    SPOILERS DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW…

    1: The film starts showing some pictures on wall followed by “They want us to find them”. How ? Why? No reason at all other then they created us.
    2: Next scene millions of miles from earth and we are there and it just so happens as soon as the ship enters the atmosphere they find the dome which could have been anywhere on the planet “Land there that is it”. Come on man.
    3: Enter the dome. “Take off your masks we can breath oxygen”. Why ? No reason at all. Just add it in the movie for the sake of it.
    4: Soon as the team arrive back at the ship the captain asks where there other two team members are. Why? He has a massive hologram map on the ship which tells him exactly where they are with cameras on there suits?
    5: Same thing again. They go searching for the two members when clearly the whole movie shows they are on camera and it would have been recorded and there location shown so why act dumb?
    6: David discovers the space jockey and awakes it right? As soon as this happens he goes nuts and takes off to go to planet earth. Why would he just be sleeping there and decide to wake up after all those years? Just no reason at all.
    7: During the making of the movie it was said this was taking place on the same planet which has since changed. I am saying this for the sake of it so not a valid point but still bothers me. If this ends up being the same space jockey from the first Alien (Which perhaps it is not). It is clearly wrong as he leaves the chair and is killed somewhere else.
    8: Poor directing. The end shows the captain and two other crew members crashing into the alien ship. We are supposed to feel sorry for them as that is the climax right? Check the movie again as it is the only time you see these same crew members even talk to each other for the most part. How can you feel sorry for people when you do not even know them or there names? Made no sense.
    9: The birth scene. It was just put there for the sake of gruesome. We all knew at the start “Oh yeh that machine is getting used”.
    10: Why did David put the liquid in the guys drink? How would he know he would get the girl pregnant ? If that was his plan to get an alien specimen then why tell her she is pregnant after as its obvious she would try get rid of it? No reason again just for the sake of it.
    11: The old man Wayland turns up on the ship. Nobody on the entire crew even said a thing. Why you here? Nothing. Just “Oh hi your here lets change the story and do something else now.
    12: The first expedition a dude says “Im security etc with a flamethrower”. To which the girl says “No weapons allowed when we go out’. This is a just stupid. Nobody on earth would go to another planet and decide to investigate with no protection knowing full well there are aliens present. Stupid

    The list is totally endless and i feel this is a shambles of a movie. I am 33 years old and went with a very open mind as to what this would be. I was not expecting just another alien movie perhaps something a little different. In my mind it seems Scott started this as a prequel as we know and it changed during the making. It seemed a very rushed movie like nobody really knew what was going on. Props to M.B aka David as he seemed to be the only one in the entire movie to take his part seriously.

    Why would the captain just laugh at the two crew members trapped outside when they was on cam ? Just seemed so so silly at times.

    If anyone has answers to any of this with facts please let me know cos im lost as to what i just paid to see. Maybe i am wrong on some parts but this is not a valid effort for the alien universe franchise. I am dreading the sequel further more a prequel to Blade Runner. Scott was one a hero of mine and with one swift blow has made me lose all faith in his film making.

    Sorry but it was awful

  • Lopan

    Last thing….

    Alien 3 got slagged off. That was an oscar worthy movie compared to Prometheus.

    Visuals 10/10
    Story 0/10

  • Vengeful-Pinata

    I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I hoped I would. Still, it was a pretty good movie, and I liked it quite a bit. The last third was the big problem where the writing and editing seemed to really fail. So much crazy shit happens, yet everyone seems to have the attention span of a goldfish. Big Event A happens, then everyone forgets about it as soon as Big Event B happens, which is then forgotten and glanced over as soon as Big Event C happens. Just rather sloppy, and makes me hope the director’s cut comes out with a bit more to flesh some of this stuff out.

    As for some of your questions Lopan,

    3. They used that as a means of mentioning terraforming, draw a bit more connection to the biological similarities to humans and the Engineers, and because studio execs don’t like when a character’s face is constantly covered or voice always screwed up (bad example, but see “Judge Dred”. Guy never removes his helmet, yet in the film, he only has it on for about 15 minutes of screen time”). Still, I don’t care, you’re on an alien planet, just because you can breathe the air doesn’t mean it’s safe. Has no one seen/read “War of the Worlds”?

    4 and 5, the Captain constantly makes comments about how the storm is screwing with their signal. Maybe just another case of bad script to make it all convenient.

    6. I agree, that was rather dumb.

    7. The birthing scene also helped establish the fact that Wayland was onboard, seeing as how it was calibrated for males only. Why would the female in charge of the mission have a device in her room configured to only work on men? Because it wasn’t for her. But they already gave that surprise away, so why bother? This was another one of those cases where “Hey, I just pulled an alien creature out of me and left it in the other room, but I can see you’re all busy with something else, so I’ll come back later.”

    10. David put the liquid in the guy’s drink because Wayland told him to. It was an experiment to see what the shit would do to a human. I’m guessing the “pregnancy” was completely unpredicted and just a bonus for David’s little test.

    11. I just assumed everyone on the Wayland payroll knew he was onboard the shit, hence their utter lack of surprise. He seemed to need a LOT of medical attention, I doubt they’d just spring that on the other medical staff. Besides, someone had to prep him for the trip, I just assumed they did.

    12. Agreed, that was pretty dumb. I can see where an archaeologist would think this, though. They’re hoping to make first contact with an alien species, and probably feel showing up with weapons would be a sign of aggression. She believed that they’d be a benevolent race and had no fear that things would go tits up. As she says, “They were so wrong”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabbi.cordero Gabbi Cordero

    i wanted 2 watch the movie b4 i read any reviews 4 fear of spoilers. i can’t overemphasize how big of a disappointment this is. sum ppl will complain “well u wanted it 2 b like alien” or “u expected a perfect movie”… the plot holes in this movie are so big u can bury this film in one of them. this film raises questions, answers NONE. they had 2 scary scenes in 2 hours. y did these Space Jockeys create us? y did they create the aliens? if they’re afraid of the aliens, y do they want to seed Earth w/ them and make more? y is it called prometheus if the sum total of this theme is to make weyland immortal? that’s it? u want 2 steal the fire from the gods cuz ur old?

  • alienfan

    I am 55 and I have studied the “Alien” franchise for 30yrs. I am also very studied in H R Giger’s work. Prometheus was connected specifically to ‘Alien’ and many of the story points of the entire Alien Franchise by hundreds of threads.Even single screen shots and character personalities in Prometheus echoed Alien DNA.Some of the questions raised here are due to lack of understanding of sci-fi in general, as well as some viewers being overwhelmed at the concepts being thrown at them rapid fire. There were deliberate items in the movie that related to the mythology of Prometheus, and at the same time were chained to Alien. If you missed each of the connections, sorry for you. Ridley and the story writers planted so much Alien [the movie] DNA, for me it was like firecrackers in my ear every few minutes.It made 100% sense to me.Plot line faults have showed up in every Sci-fi series worth its salt. I jump over the tiny cracks to climb the mountain.to each their own. this movie was for me.

    • Orlando

      Pish-posh. The movie was a mess. I had high hopes and was taken in by the protagonist yearning for the big meaning, I was impressed with the Engineers and the sense of wonder of being in space. Fassbender’s performance was amazing.

      And then smarty-pants scientist pull off horror movie cliche#78, they wander off and get lost. And then Mr. Bright-guy biologist decides to get all Gandhi with the menacing killer tapeworm. Mrs. Shaw decides to put up a big fight for a little self-surgery, and no one bothers to look for her in the most obvious place-even better, they totally forget and DGAF because Mr. Burns is on-board.
      You can talk about the lofty ideas and the secret meanings of that Brain Salad Surgery album art, but if a movie is a mess, it’s a mess. Prometheus should’ve been called Icarus, it thinks it can fly high, and just ends up crashing down.

  • woodchuck

    The cave was in Scotland, not Ireland

  • gorehunter

    I got it and it lead me to believe that this is a prequel to Aliens but I think that it better enjoyed by the die hard fans of Aliens and Prometheus.They better understand the stories better than the rest of us that just chase after gore like me.

  • Chachi

    This movie was a big beautiful disappointment.