‘Prometheus’ Movie Review – Prequel or Not?
People who know my movie taste should know that I absolutely hate the term “summer blockbuster.” The vendetta started years ago, but it resonates today. Therefore, you will never see me refer to this movie (or any other) as a “summer blockbuster.” Unfortunately, others surely will.
Prometheus is the newest Alien film in the storied franchise. If you’d like to argue with me on this, comment below. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi action movie comes with massive anticipation and has a decent payoff. However, the payoff is of the make-you-think variety, which ultimately propels this movie above lower sci-fi standards. In the context of the rest of the Alien movies, it doesn’t quite reach some of the better ones (including Scott’s original).
The attempt is respectable, though.
Set primarily from 2089-2093, Prometheus exists, according to the Scott, in the same universe as Alien. Originally made as a prequel, the idea morphed into a separate standalone movie. There were “strands of Alien’s DNA” in the film though, which actually comes up almost literally in the movie’s intro.
Character-wise, Prometheus deals with an all new cast. Archaeologist lovers Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover similar paintings/engravings between unconnected civilizations. After plenty of research, they find a similar formation deep in space. They conclude that it’s an invitation from their Engineers. Some choose to believe these Engineers created human life, while others choose to believe something else. Either way, the scientists dedicate years of stasis to traveling and studying the far away planet.
Onboard with Shaw and Holloway are the commanders, Captain Janek (Idris Elba) and Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), as well as an android named David (Michael Fassbender). They all have varying motives, some intersecting with the decrepit king (Guy Pearce).
Prometheus bites off a lot – some would argue too much. We aren’t just dealing with exploration, we are delving into existentialism and creationism. Luckily, the ambiguity makes it a little less annoying. The message is heavy-handed at times, but I’d prefer too much ambition over not enough. Really, that’s one of my main counters to any claims of over ambition.
Fans of the Alien franchise may have mixed reactions, too. Personally, I found some of the consistent Alien-isms to be fun. A few of them include some gnarly creature-inside-me moments, plenty of stupid people acting dumb, and the use of androids.
I commend Prometheus for its MPAA rating. Too many films nowadays (my absolute favorite movie is guilty of this, too) are scared of an R-rating. It means less audience, less money, and less “success.” However, Scott wasn’t afraid to be intense, graphic, and terrifying. It was made exactly how it should be. And, there is one scene that surely was the moment MPAA raters made their decision.
As for the “dumb people acting stupid,” part, I can’t criticize them too much. Sometimes, it’s essential for characters to have palm-to-face moments to pick up the action and suspense. Here, at least it doesn’t rely too heavily on it. And yes, all of the previous movies used this trick.
As for the android, Fassbender takes on the almost iconic role. He’s the heartless, emotionless robot that is supposed to counter human nature. While I felt like the cast did a great job, Fassbender is far-and-away the one with the best performance. Not only does he move mechanically, but his personality, speech, and demeanor is perfectly robotic.
In all, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus delivers a solid story. It can be interpreted as a standalone film or as part of the Alien franchise (I obviously prefer the latter). It’s truly amazing that it works both ways, meaning you don’t have to be familiar with previous works to enjoy this movie. Michael Fassbender leads the formidable cast with one of the best performances of the year. The conclusion may not be good enough for most, but I think the overall experience will be. It’s almost impossible to recreate the previous success, but at least they tried to be ambitious right? Take a second to think about the opposite end of the spectrum.
Yes, Prometheus is worth it.