‘…it’s hard not to be intrigued by what it promises…’
When hype surrounding a film reaches the levels that PROMETHEUS reached, it’s incredibly difficult to render an opinion that doesn’t acknowledge it. The long-awaited return of Ridley Scott to a genre he shaped and defined, the possible reignition of a franchise that’s lain dormant for almost fifteen years – it’s hard not to be a little intrigued by what it promises. So – how does PROMETHEUS fare?
Be under no illusion – this is an ALIEN prequel. From the opening credits to the final image, every aspect of this film screams back to the 1979 classic. The horror elements are here and the film is genuinely disturbing in parts. The story is set in the somewhat distant future. The spacecraft ‘Prometheus’ is en route to an uncharted planet, carrying a motley crew of scientists and pilots. Chief among them are Doctors Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). They’re archaeologists who have discovered pictograms from ancient civilisations pointing towards aliens who, they believe, created life on Earth. Naturally, as they begin to explore the planet, it becomes apparent that there is something sinister at work – both in the ruins of the planet and on-board the ship itself. The film follows a straightforward plot and there are no true surprises throughout. Indeed, the simplicity of the plot works in its favour, however the dialogue is what drags PROMETHEUS down. There are far too many scenes that require little or no dialogue and it’s crowbarred in for the sake of exposition. As well as this, the dialogue itself is horribly wooden and does become distracting at points.
It’s to the credit of the cast assembled that they’re not deterred by this. Noomi Rapace plays her role with the tough-yet-feminine grace that she’s known and credited for. Michael Fassbender, playing the android David, continues to prove why he is The Greatest Living Irish Actor™ with his scene-stealing performances. The chemistry that Fassbender generates, both with Rapace and Theron, is electric and deeply unsettling. Charlize Theron, who plays a corporate officer with an agenda of her own, radiates with an ice-cold aura that she’s yet to match with previous roles. The film boils down and rests on Rapace’s performance, which she nails down perfectly. This is easily her break-out role and could solidify her as a leading actress. Fassbender, as mentioned before, further proves why he’s one of the best actors working today. Imbuing the character with qualities that are both easily recognisable and chillingly inhuman, Fassbender’s performance is incredibly understated – yet completely unmissable.
Ridley Scott’s eye for design and art hasn’t diminished over the years. The ship’s corridors and lighting harken back to ALIEN’s sterile-white interiors and function-over-form designs. His decision to use 3D for PROMETHEUS was a strange one. The film could easily be enjoyed in 2D without loss of enjoyment in any form. There are only a few scenes that make genuine use of the format – nothing particularly new or intriguing, but they do work within the context of the film. This doesn’t detract from the film – it’s just that the 3D feels unnecessary. The film’s central flaw is in the dialogue and the script itself. PROMETHEUS went through several drafts before arriving at what’s presented now. Jon Spaihts, who wrote the disgraceful DARKEST HOUR, was undoubtedly responsible for the clunky dialogue that permeates the first half of the film. The second half, which we can assume was written by Damon Lindelof, is far more honed and focused. The dialogue, unfortunately, does becoming overbearing very quickly. The characters they’ve created are well-written and the plot is sound, it’s just unfortunate they didn’t take a less-is-more approach with the script.
PROMETHEUS is a solid sci-fi horror film and marks the return of a great director to a genre he built. There are inconsistencies, both in plot and script, but the film’s cast and the stunning visuals mean that these can be, hopefully, overlooked.
DROP-D RATING: 8 / 10