film review: Prometheus (2012)

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film review: Prometheus (2012)

When is an Alien movie not an Alien movie? When it’s a sci-fi movie, it seems.

In preparation for Prometheus I watched Alien, Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection during the week*. Truth is, I was never massively into the first two Alien films. I don’t have a problem with them per se, my hazily remembered impressions were positive… I just don’t care about them. I’d never seen the last two so now seemed as good a time as any to “get around to it”.

Prometheus 2012 poster, alien, ridley scottWhat I learned over those 6 hours or so, is that the Alien quadrilogy is a horror franchise. They may be set in space but they ain’t no sci-fi films. I’m probably going to get in trouble for this but as far as I can see, they have none of the… “big ideas” that you’d usually associate with sci-fi. Or at least that I would associate with sci-fi. Little green men does not a sci-fi movie make.

I was curious to see how this was going to fit into Prometheus. After all, all the clips and trailers had made it very clear that this was about “big ideas”. The birth of mankind no less. Would the makers of Prometheus have the guts to stray away from the claustrophobic horror thiller and into the great wide open of sci-fi?

The answer is… kind of.

On balance, I think I really enjoyed Prometheus, but that’s mainly because I chose to discount all the parts (except one or two) where they tried to be a bit more Alien.

It’s not really an Alien prequel (I guess we should have listened to them when they kept saying it) and it’s not entirely the big sci-fi epic I was hoping for, but there are enough of a concept there to keep it interesting. Will it please everybody? No, not at all. That said, I don’t think anyone will be entirely raging about it. Disappointed perhaps, but I wouldn’t think angry.

So what’s to like? Obviously I’m keeping to my no-spoilers ethos here but, as I mentioned earlier, I like the concept. The secrets behind the creation of mankind and all that. It’s interesting stuff. Not new but it’s nice to see a film use it so overtly and it not to be a joke. Outside the fact that’s it sci-fi, there are a couple of good horror scenes in the usual Alien vein.

As you’d expect, Michael Fassbender is excellent as David, the android. Bishop is still my favourite of the series, but David is a bit more of a rounded character I think.

What’s to dislike? Well, it’s a bit of a hodge podge in some ways. In trying to keep it in line with the style of the other films some of the actions taken by characters feel a little artificial. Ok, a lot artificial. Down right crazy you might say. In fact they’re not really characters, they’re more caricatures.

The plot as well leaves something to be desired. I don’t particularly need answers, but why raise so many questions? I don’t mean why raise so many questions without answers, just why raise so many questions at all? It didn’t need them all and sniffed of confusion as to where Ridley Scott wanted this “not an Alien prequel to go. I’m all for exploring the idea of what came before, but you explore it first, then put it on screen. Don’t put it all on-screen.

And the ending. I had serious problems with the ending. Or rather endings. I counted at least five. Pick one and stick with it. If you want to get it all in, work out some way to put it all together. I don’t like still realising there’s 15 minutes left when I thought we’d just seen a good ending. It’s just not good storytelling.

For all it’s obvious flaws though. I still thought it was a good film. I just wish it was more structured. I have to admit though, a lot of me just enjoyed it because it’s great to see a big budget sci-fi film for once. I, for one, would welcome a sequel… I’m just not sure everyone else would be so forgiving.


* = I saw Aliens on the big screen last year so I had a fairly good memory of it.

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