The wait is over. The most anticipated film of 2012 and that does not contain a superhero or a Hobbit hits theatres this week-end in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
Carefully marketed as an original film that takes place in the same universe and references Alien (1979) but not a promoted Alien prequel, Prometheus stars Michael Fassbenders, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce.
The film opens in the year 2089 where Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and boyfriend Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) find cave drawings in the Scotland Highlands that they interpret as a star map and invitation to another planet that may lead to the origins of mankind.
We quickly flash forward to the year 2093 aboard the spacecraft Prometheus where android and product of the Weyland Corporation David (Michael Fassbender) is quietly going about his work while 16 other crew members rest in hyper-sleep.
Upon their awakening, the crew land on the distant planet and begin exploring a complex structure containing various alien beings and creatures (both dead and active). With different members of the crew working with different objectives, the team splits up and survey’s the alien structure only to discover that they find themselves in a terrifying battle to save mankind and earth itself.
Prometheus comes to theatres with incredible geek and horror historian expectations. Ridley Scott’s Alien is widely considered one of the best horror and science fiction films in the history of film. And having master Ridley Scott back behind the camera for a science fiction film for the first time since in 30 years to revisit the movie that launched his career was a feat that came with high expectations from his fan base.
The pressure to provide audiences with just the right amount of everything may have been Ridley’s, and subsequently Prometheus’, downfall. To use the phrase that ‘everything was thrown at you but the kitchen sink’ in reference to this effort would be an understatement and the film bends to the heavy pressure of the deep and convoluted plot from writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.
The origins of mankind can be a heavy and controversial conversation piece on the best of days, but throw in aliens and creatures that look like they crawled out of the space garbage compactor in Star Wars and you end up with a mishmash of a film that goes in as many directions as a compass arrow when confronted with multiple magnets.
The plot is only the beginning of the many disappoints in Prometheus. Whereas the characters aboard the Nostromo in Alien all seemed real and intelligent beings, this future doesn’t offer the same hope. The 17 crew members about the Prometheus seem as if placed there by the same geniuses that screen thousands of applications before agreeing to send 18 castaways to an island on television’s Survivor. Their personalities are wildly confrontational in interactions and it would be hard to believe that a trillion dollar science expedition would be left to some unstable critters as presented here.
As Prometheus is at its core an Alien prequel (the final scene more or less confirms all), comparisons to the style and pacing of Ridley’s 1979 masterpiece is inevitable. But where the Sigourney Weaver classic was meticulously calculated and used the claustrophobic elements of the Nostromo to help create mood and atmosphere, Prometheus does neither. The scenes inside the alien structure seemed grand in design and were more of a set designers attempt at an Academy Award as it was a terrifying configuration of caverns and layers.
Anyone expecting the Alien as presented in Ridley Scott’s original film or any of the subsequent sequels can check their disappointment at the door. Even though there are alien creatures that grow inside human hosts, they are a far cry from the H.R. Giger influenced creatures we have grown to root both for and against. And the ‘Egg Room’ that was the downfall of John Hurt’s character in Alien has been replaced by a Cylinder Room filled with an oil-like substance that eventually plays its part in one of the sub-plots.
Not all is bad with Prometheus. The aforementioned set and ship design were both incredible creations. And many of the special effects, which would include Ridley’s view of our future, were equally stunning. Michael Fassbender is again reliable as the artificial humanoid and Charlize Theron proves in two consecutive weeks at the box office (following last week’s release of Snow White and the Huntsman) that when she is evil, she can be bitchy-she-devil evil.
But one cannot distance oneself from the Alien prequel hype. And as a lead-in to the popular film that coined the tagline ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’, Prometheus fails to connect. So much so that we would suggest that if Prometheus was made first that Alien might never have been given a green-light. And now, my most anticipated film of the summer has left me feeling still empty and without the adrenaline rush that I craved in my horror junkie state.