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Prometheus | movie review

Looking for gods in all the wrong places.


Movie summary: Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone. (IMDb)

I honestly believe that I don't think I'd seen Prometheus since its first release in cinemas in 2012. I think my memory of it had been warped a little by how much some people disliked it and kept going on about how much they disliked it to the point that 'Prometheus = bad' became the default view in my head of this movie. Watching it again for this review made me think very much otherwise.

That's not to say that I loved this movie at all, but it really, really isn't as poor as its reputation would otherwise suggest. First off, it looks flat-out incredible, which is pretty much what you'd expect from Ridley Scott, with sound design and a fantastic score to match. Add in the production design and costuming, and you've got a very well-made movie indeed.

The biggest problem I have with Prometheus, which does threaten to completely cripple the movie at certain points, is how utterly stupid some of the characters are - the key word being 'some'. You have this wonderfully-crafted movie filled with some great performers and an epic tale about the origins of humanity almost completely undone by some fucking bizarre choices for some of the supporting cast.

It's especially galling because the stupidest pair - Fifield and Millburn, played by Sean Harris and Rafe Spall - aren't even crucial to the plot or story. Hell, you could cut their characters, what happens to them and the deaths their choices result in - including the other, borderline extras who are killed off - and you wouldn't be missing anything of any note, plus you'd remove the majority of the idiocy from the film.

I get that the Alien movies are all about unsuspecting or arrogant people making mistakes and causing everything to go downhill faster than an out of control rollercoaster, but those two take the cake. Their characters are just idiots who, in reality, would never be allowed near an important mission like uncovering humanity's true creators - there's not even a malicious reason to bring them along as expendable assets either, which is probably why the would be there at all if they'd been in the earlier movies.

Fifield and Millburn don't get to keep all the stupid for themselves though, but the other moments feel at least a little tolerable because they never quite as bad as those two. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you can kind of forget they exist as much as you can, you'll probably end up enjoying the actually good parts of the movie even more.

And there is a lot of good too, with Scott taking full advantage of the advances in VFX to make everything really feel futuristic even if it is set well before the events of Alien take place. It can feel a little incongruous with the production design of that movie at times because everything here feels very sleek, but it's justified by the ship, the titular Prometheus, being extremely advance and Alien's Nostromo being a simple freighter.

While the ship may be the titular Prometheus, it's Michael Fassbender's mesmerising David who is the thematic representation of the figure from Ancient Greek mythology, although the 'gods' he steals from and the 'gifts' he grants humanity aren't benevolent in the slightest - about what you'd expect from an Alien film though. Fassbender is so, so good in what might just be my favourite performance of his.

A close runner-up is Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw, who essentially fills the Ripley role in this particular story, although Shaw and Ripley have very little in common outside of being women trying desperately to stay alive while monsters try to kill them. Shaw is desperate to prove her theory about humanity being made by extra-terrestrials, but she's written well enough that she sensibly changes her mind and regrets some of her choices when everything starts going to shit.

The rest of the cast are a bit of a mixed bag, with so many of them clamouring for screen time that you don't really get to know them beyond surface level impressions, if that. There'll be some you like, some you don't, and a fair few that are so thinly-sketched that you won't even notice enough to remember they existed at all by the time the credits have finished rolling.

I really did like Prometheus and was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it and the world-building it added to the Alien universe. Yes, the idiotic moments can't really be ignored and they will absolutely alienate some people, but there's a really good science-fiction movie here, with a couple of terrific performances from Fassbender and Rapace if you can ignore the stupid and enjoy everything else the movie has to offer.

Prometheus isn't quite the disaster that some people make out, although the sheer idiocy of some of the characters is still awful and prevents me from thinking too highly of it. As you'd expect from a Ridley Scott movie, it looks and sounds incredible, plus - idiotic moments aside - the cast are all pretty good, even if there are a few too many of them. Add in some nice backstory for the world Scott created with Alien and I definitely had a good time with this movie.

[7/10 - Good]



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