IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 127 mins
REVEIWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
In the distant past, a spacecraft lands on Earth and an alien consumes a dark liquid, causing its body to disintegrate and fall into a nearby waterfall – seeding Earth with the building blocks of life. In 2089, archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map among the remnants of several otherwise unconnected ancient cultures, all of whom seem to depict alien visitors. Four years later, they find themselves on the scientific visitor Prometheus, part of an expedition funded by Peter Weyland, the elderly founder of the Weyland Corporation, to follow the map to the distant moon LV-223. They hope to find the aliens, called’Engineers’, beingswho may well have created us…….
I had a bad feeling about Prometheus ever since it was announced. Ridley Scott hasn’t made a good film since Kingdom Of Heaven, nor a very good film since Thelma And Louise [no, I don’t rate his The Fall Of The Roman Empire for dummies Gladiator amongst the very good]. I couldn’t stop thinking of when a certain George Lucas decided to revisit the universe he created. Coupled with the fact that one of its writers was responsible for the shoddy The Darkest Hour, I just wasn’t excited, though of late I couldn’t help but be caught up in the hype somewhat, about a film which seemed to be not only thrilling but science fiction of the ambitious and speculative kind, my favourite kind of science fiction. Sadly though, I was right all along. Prometheus is a complete and utter mess of a film that doesn’t seem to have a clue where it’s going and neither does it seem to have a clue what’s it doing!
The first thing I need to say is that frankly they needn’t have bothered shooting it in 3D at all. The format is hardly used at all; there’s not even much depth of field. For cinemas to charge extra for what is basically a big con, is frankly criminal. I seems like Scott didn’t care. Now Prometheus does, overall, look fairly good. Some of the design work is bland, uninteresting and overly derivative but there are a few spectacular sights to see and Scott has thankfully started to shoot action properly again. Some of the performances in the film are very good. I haven’t understood the fuss about Michael Fassbender up to now, but he is brilliantly nuanced as the android David. He seems to be acting in a different film, a far better one, to Prometheus. Sadly Noomi Rapace neither succeeds in mustering a convincing English action nor rising up the atrocious material she is saddled with and Charlize Theron fails to convince that her character needed to be in the film at all!
Yes, it’s the script that more than else lets things down. Now I’m the kind of person who is more willing than most to forgive poor writing if the film in question is visually interesting, exciting etc, but Prometheus’s script is so awful, so wretched, that it dominates everything else and drags the whole film down with it. The first hour or so really is not bad and seems to promise great things. Then….well, bearing in mind I spent an hour or so last night on the booze to try and forget, for a few hours at least, what I had just seen….it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly when things go totally wrong. Maybe it’s when Guy Pearce, in the worst old age make-up in decades, shows up again just when his motives become clear. Maybe it’s when the ‘Engineers’ reveal themselves to be escapees from I Am Legend, unconvincing CGI humanoids as dull looking as you could imagine. Maybe…..well, I’m not exactly, but the film just suddenly goes to pot and never recovers as it does little more than raise a bunch of half-baked questions and then refuse to answer them. Now of course there’s nothing wrong with not explaining everything but Prometheus gives the impression of either a movie entirely lacking in the self-confidence to stand on its own two feet, or little more than a cynical set-up for a trilogy while also half-heartedly linking to Alien.
So the second half of the film is basically loads of random stuff going on and ideas being thrown at us, with none of it explained, interspersed with endless unsuspenseful wondering around tunnels that makes this film feel like one of the numerous cheapie Alien imitations for much of the time. Why does David know much about the aliens? How does David know for sure two particular people will have sex? Why does another character go mad? Why are the humans turned attacked by….o never mind, I can’t be bothered to spend an hour listing all the questions, nor all the terribly’ convenient’ plot devices. I cannot believe Scott read this script and thought “yep, that’ll do”, a script that, the more I think about it, borrows more from the weak Alien Vs Predator films than anything else. Then again, Prometheus has more than a heavy whiff of studio interference about it. It’s not clever; it’s just stupid, and not even fun in a stupid way as some poor films can be, because as usual Scott takes it all oh-so-seriously despite how idiotic things get.
Now despite what you may have heard there is some horror in it, with a few gruesome deaths, some gloopy monster stuff and one particular scene what could have been truly horrifying if it wasn’t so laughable. Elizabeth enters a surgery pod [which is for men only but is able to do exactly what she needs], cuts herself open, removes something from inside her, staples herself up, then runs around with just the odd whelp as if she’s just bashed her shoulder or something. It seems that they wanted to top the birth scene in Alien and just shoehorned this scene in with no rhyme or reason. Then again, almost as funny is a death at the end where someone is trying to run from a falling spaceship…..but runs totally in a straight line with no attempt at ducking and diving. So many scenes are badly executed, even a brief monster battle where it seems like the special effects folk just ran out of money, but the film is never fun enough for one to forgive this. Scott thinks he’s making another science-fiction classic. He’s not.
Yes, I disliked Prometheus intensely and even hated it at times, even if I admit that elements of it are well done and I have already seen worse this year, hence the 4/10 score. Mark Streitenfeld’s score is a case in point; it’s not that bad, it’s just boringly generic and, except for one nice theme which seems absurdly out of place, it sounds like every other bloody film score does these days. At one point, you briefly here a bit of Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Alien behind one scene, and this sums up the whole movie – half-heartedly trying to justify its own existence but rarely succeeding. Now please Ridley, don’t piss on your legacy even more and do a sequel or this new Blade Runner film…..