With Ridley Scott back in the Captain’s seat and Sigourney Weaver looking a lot like Noomi Rapace, fans can finally sink their rabid teeth into what may be the truest prequel/sequel/sidequel in the Alien franchise to date. Of course though, as my Uncle Ben once told me*: with great expectation comes great disappointment.
For those of you that never caught any of the eight hundred spoilerific trailers and posters, Prometheus sends a misfit group of scientists to a distant solar system on the dime of a God-complexed Guy Pearce to discover the origins of both the Alien franchise and the human race. Of course, this being a film in the Alien canon, events take an awry turn and things get pretty tense and icky for the naive explorers.
The disappointing thing about Prometheus was its marketing (as alluring as it was). Prometheus is by no means a perfect film to begin with but the trailers and posters gave away almost every major plot point and impressive reveal there was to be seen. Your experience of the film is then tarnished by nagging thoughts such as: “I’ve already seen all of this, why do I have to pay to watch the trailer last over two hours?!” and “Grrrrr.” If I’ve not explained that very well, imagine how you might have felt if Star Wars Episode V’s trailer revealed the pivotal Vader/Luke “No, I am your father” moment**. That is essentially what happened with Prometheus and its alluded to Alien mythos.
As dissatisfied as the words above come off as, once you get over the fact that the entire film had been spoiled by the film studio itself, Prometheus is an enjoyable – if at times oddly paced and occasionally confusing – film.
It doesn’t really answer or deliver on what it sets out to do in plot or idea as a prequel, but – as co-writer Damon Lindelof would often say to calm Lost fanatics – the journey itself is the exciting part. For every vague and unanswered question there are numerous phallic, gooey creatures that creep you out. For every unforgivable bit of prosthetic on Guy Pearce’s head there are countless enchanting landscapes and stunning set-pieces to gape at. For every moment you miss Ellen Ripley and Xenomorphs, Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw is there to kick the arse of both of their memories with an extremely cool performance (even if she and the rest of the characters are, on the whole, a little two dimensional). And finally, I would be remiss to not mention just how subtly amazing Michael Fassbender’s token android David is.
I am itching to detail more of the film’s particularly great moments (of which there are some corkers), but to even allude to them may spoil the little left that is unknown.
The amount of flack that Prometheus is taking is understandable. It is hardly the most stunning or exciting film of 2012 but as far as Ridley Scott films go – and I write this as someone who doesn’t place much stock in Blade Runner – this is one of his best, and it easily equals Alien in style, character and idea development. It isn’t the easiest film to love but please, just hold back on angrily throwing face huggers at Scott et al until you’ve had a good and lengthy cryostasis sleep to think about the film properly. You might find that actually, you kind of liked it too.
*This might not have been what he really said … or even been my Uncle.
**If I’ve just ruined that then I really have no words for you except for how old are you?!