Prometheus review

A team of explorers travel to a distant galaxy in search of the origins of mankind but find “there is only death there”. An eye-popping big-screen spectacle with fine performances, Ridley Scott’s first sci-fi foray in 30 years nonetheless confirms that there was good reason to be cautious.

The story, both through the script and in its execution by Scott, is convoluted - it tries to do too much and trips over its own tangled mess. Plenty of questions are left unanswered (“where are these ‘aliens’ from?”, “why are they doing this?”, “so, that mural… you knew about these other alien things earlier?”) and this adds intrigue - one of the film’s strengths - but it also glosses over some monumental plot holes, requiring massive low-gravity leaps of faith. One of these leaps of faith, absolutely key to the story, is that the explorers do find what they were looking for - the origins of the human race - yet there isn’t actually any evidence that they have done. And how, exactly, can the “alien” DNA they find, which exactly matches our own - stupid in its own right - “pre-date” our genetic make-up? There’s more - so much more - that is rather daft, especially in a central theme of biology and, somewhat conveniently, the biologist is bumped off before he has the chance to ask a plethora of awkward questions. Although the film is firmly painted against a backdrop of science the film simply doesn’t exist within the realms of what we know to be true and false; “What ifs” are commonplace in science fiction but Prometheus postulates something akin to “what if 2 + 2 = blueberry bubblegum?”

While the plot may be rather silly, the story’s characters are nicely rounded and distinctive and their attitudes and behaviour are reminiscent of those of the “space truckers” of Scott’s 1979 classic Alien. Michael Fassbender and his robot character David steal the film, which, although engaging by itself, creates a problem - this isn’t his story. While Noomi Rapace, as protagonist Elizabeth Shaw, delivers a fine performance, especially impressive on a physical level, the development of her character isn’t as powerful as it should be - once more like Alien, the scene is set for a relatively unassuming character to transform into a hardened bad-ass through immense trials and tribulations but this isn’t exploited especially well. It would be a mistake to expect another Ripley (and Scott has done well in making a film very different to its predecessor whilst including several nods to it) but Shaw’s journey simply isn’t as compelling.

Prometheus is a good film but it is unfortunately underwhelming. It doesn’t live up to its marketing hype, failing to explore any psychological or sociological avenues and rather unsuccessfully tackling theological and scientific questions. A visual feast with a good cast and a muddled, over-reaching story from which admirable traits can actually still be plucked, with all of its faults Prometheus maintains a potential to stand the test of time much better than most other recent sci-fi blockbusters.

3 out of 5

4th Jun 2012 | Official site | On IMDb

Comments

Prometheus: 8/10
sci-fi epic with a mystical edge. door wide open for the inevitable sequels. Well worth watching.

matt, 26th Jun 2012