Prometheus is 2 parts magnificent, 1 part disastrous.
For a film widely anticipated throughout this year, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi ‘prequel’ delivers in style but stumbles in the final 20 minutes.
It isn’t officially a prequel, and a subsequent viewing of ‘Alien’ after seeing this film, indiciates that Scott has borrowed much from his now lauded 1979 sci-fi in both shots and script.
Prometheus doesn’t offer anything new in terms of characters. A robotic manservant, a strong heroine, and a multicultural crew are pretty stock standard in a sci-fi canon.
But the visual effects, as has been the case on other Scott films, are the real engines of this film. And set pieces that are physically real (as apposed to CGI), helped build the tension and improve the interaction between the cast members.
Although Charlize Theron’s character is deliberately vapid, forcing some of her motivations to be a bit unbelievable.
As the film approached the halfway point, I was finding myself taking serious consideration to nominating it as one of the best of the year. The story was paced perfectly, and the set pieces and special effects held up brilliantly well.
But then it started to fall apart for Scott. Unnecessary plot points were introduced, and what clearly was meant to be a profound and moving epilogue, illicited laughter from myself and the audience. It had broken the illusion. Which was so strange, because despite the monsters, the bad character choices (‘no don’t go down there’) and an absolute visually horrific scene that forced me to look away, I was in the film, accepting all the faults of the characters, all the hopes and failures of the ship.
Perhaps the Prometheus crew need to take a leaf out of the cinema staff manual ‘How to host a premiere screening in Melbourne’. Cloaking of your phone, a metal detector, and a security guard seated in the dark corner near the exit were some of the steps undertaken to ensure we weren’t attack by a monster.
But Scott needed to hold his course. If only the film’s climatic scenes did not divert for a popcorn-pleasing crowd, but rather replicate the smart, mysterious opening acts, we would have a gem on our hands.
So I’m left with a film that underwhelmed me. That perhaps will feel more complete once any future ‘sequels’ are produced. Yet it won the battle over anticipation. Despite being coupled with the other ‘Alien’ franchise films, it can rightfully stand alone as a film full of possibilities and failure.
Rating: 3 stars / 5
– Rhett Bartlett