Sean K. Cureton

A Semi-Prequel and a Semi-Success

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on June 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Theatrical Poster

Directed by Ridley Scott
2 1/2 out of 4 stars

Prometheus may be the most hyped and anticipated film in Ridley Scott’s career, and with good reason. After 33 years, Scott has finally returned to the science-fiction universe that he created in 1979’s Alien, possibly the most loved mainstream sci-fi film of all time, next to the Star Wars Trilogy. It’s funny to think that after Scott retires he will be remembered primarily as a science-fiction director, even though he has made only three films within that genre, including this one. Even though Scott has certainly directed other films of note outside of the science-fiction genre, most notably such films as Gladiator in 2000 and Thelma and Louise in 1991, Scott’s visionary creations found in Alien and Blade Runner are just so immensely impressive that they are the films that one immediately thinks of whenever Ridley Scott’s name is mentioned.

Following that legacy, Scott’s new film, which is and is not a prequel to Alien, delivers the same awe-inspiring sci-fi epic that fans of Alien and Blade Runner will be sure to love. Prometheus is beautiful, frightening, and awesome in every way. The way in which Scott sets up his shots allows the viewer to become completely immersed in the world he has created, which is both familiar and uniquely different from 1979’s Alien. Like Alien, Prometheus follows the exploits of one female heroin in particular, in this film a scientist named Elizabeth Shaw(played by Noomi Rapace) who is searching for what she calls “engineers,” an ancient species in space who may have created mankind. Ultimately, her search takes her to a place that she could never have imagined, and the answers she finds only lead to bigger questions and a body count that leaves her as the soul survivor of the film, much like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley being the lone survivor at the end of Alien.

Scott’s new film works well primarily because of the actors that have been attached to the project. Noomi Rapace, who was in the original Swedish film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is wonderful as scientist Shaw, whose innocence and child-like wonder at the creation of man gives the film its since of wonder and awe. In addition, Michael Fassbender is flawless in his portrayal of David, the AI of the film, whose cold, in-human detachment is both menacing and disarmingly calming at times, placing Fassbender’s portrayal of an android on par with Ian Holm’s. Watching Fassbender in this film is a joy, and it is most definitely his performance that carries a large part of the film. British actor Idris Elba, from The Wire, is also particularly great in his role as the captain of the ship named Janek, whose self-assured manner and suave persona allow the audience to breathe a little in the more intense moments of the film.

There is simply no way to explain the joy that can be found at certain moments when watching this film. Scott has delivered a great addition to his cinematic oeuvre with this film, and has further established himself as one of the greatest directors of science fiction of all time. However, Prometheus does have one major flaw which holds it back from being something more than good, which is its frustratingly ambiguous script co-written by screenwriter Damon Lindelof. Over the course of the film, Lindelof’s script constantly fails to provide enough of a tie to the mythology set up in Alien, and gets tripped up in the kinds of fantastic and mysterious plot points that Lindelof failed at exploring on the television show Lost and continues to fail exploring with this film. It’s ok that the film doesn’t tell us the meaning of our earthly existence, it doesn’t have to, but the fact that much of the film’s more basic plot points are left unexplained or needlessly ambiguous is completely inexcusable, leaving the viewer deeply disappointed and quiet angry in this reviewer’s case.

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a lot of fun. After all, who hasn’t been longing for another sci-fi epic from the director who last visited this genre of storytelling with 1982’s classic and seminal film Blade Runner. It’s just horribly unfortunate that Scott decided to hand a large amount of control of the film’s narrative over to Damon Lindelof, whose script is dreadfully ambiguous and completely devoid of any answers to the aforementioned ambiguity, let alone any overall meaning of the film as a whole. I tried really hard to love this film for a solid week after seeing it, but like Lindelof’s Lost, Prometheus is just too shallow a film for me to truly find myself caring about for very long, even if Ridley Scott’s vision still shines through in the darkness.


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