Main cast: Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw), Michael Fassbender (David), Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers), Idris Elba (Janek), Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland), Logan Marshall-Green (Charlie Holloway), Sean Harris (Fifield), and Rafe Spall (Millburn)
Director: Ridley Scott
I actually watched Prometheus back when it came out, and forgot to review it. That shows you how memorable I found it, heh. Still, with a new Alien movie just around the corner, I thought it might be time to watch this one again, as the new movie will be a sequel to this one.
As you may know, this movie is supposed to be another Alien movie, but because the last few movies in this franchise didn’t meet both critical and box office expectations, everyone decided to distance this one from those movies. Oh, it shares “similar DNA” with those movies, but this one will have its own mythology, the director Ridley Scott repeatedly insisted in various interviews. Here’s the thing: no matter how dumb those previous movies were, they delivered no-nonsense fun and gore. In trying to seem smarter, more intelligent, more respectable, Prometheus ends up just delivering a pile of turd devoid of any hint of fun.
That’s a shame, really, as this one manages to stir up some pretty good Lovecraft-gone-wild atmosphere comparable to Aliens. It starts out most promisingly. An alien, clad only in loincloth and making me hate myself because I find myself thinking that it looks kinda hot, willingly ingests what seems like some creepy, oily substance. This causes its body to disintegrate, and its remains mingle with the waters as it falls down a waterfall. Hot alien dude apparently committed suicide in this way just to contaminate the waters, most likely to infect the rest of the living things on the planet, ooh.
And then the humans show up, sigh. Anyway, we have the ship Prometheus, which is on its way to a moon called LV-223, where archeologists Elizabeth Shaw and her boyfriend Charlie are convinced that the Engineers – a race of humanoids that may have been worshipped as gods by civilizations in the distant past, who may even have created humans on Earth – are waiting to make contact. You see, Elizabeth and Charlie discovered the clues which suggest that the Engineers want to meet the humans, and now, they are on their way, thanks to the generous funding of Weyland Corporation. Yes, that’s a name you will recognize if you are familiar with the lore – it’s the big corporation behind everything bad in the setting.
Alas, what they and the crew find on that moon are not welcoming hot aliens in loincloth, but something far more sinister…
Prometheus shows an interesting continuum shift that started in the tie-in materials – books, etc – prior to it: instead of settling on being merely some campy space survival horror fest, the franchise wants to be something more… sci-fi like. There is more canon, more tie-ins with various entertainment media, and more dramatic plot elements aside from just “Aliens kill, hoo-hoo ha-ha!”. Unfortunately, the heart and soul of the first two movies – joyous carnage and in-your-face heroics – are sacrificed to make way for tired, overused variations of “A robot am I… or something more?” synthetic blues drama as well as a focus on very, very stupid people running around doing more damage on themselves than the aliens ever could. Also, the xenomorphs are now biological weapons rather than a race of parasitic aliens, and they somehow seem far less threatening and primal as a result. I mean, instead of a tale about the violence of the natural world, we have yet another tired take on the whole “Violence is bad, genetic engineering is bad, biological weapon is bad… okay?” shlock that permeates everything sci-fi these days.
Visually, this is an amazing movie, and Michael Fassbender plays the role of a synthetic who seems to have a fascination with life in a most intriguing manner. But his character feels oddly out of place in a movie like this, one where there is hardly any character development once the bodies start piling up. Indeed, David’s motivations end up being vague and even contradictory at times, making him seem more like a plot device than anything else.
As for the rest, the stupidity just piles on. Taking off one’s helmet while exploring a strange moon, taking off one’s protective face mask while dissecting a body of an alien, having sex with a man exposed to contaminants on that moon, the crew being generally incompetent and inefficient in the roles they are hired for… goodness. There are also bewildering plot holes, such as why the Engineers will want humans to know about the moon when they are planning to use that moon as a base to build biological weapons meant to wipe out humans. The characters are all one-dimensional stereotypes minus any fun trait to make them memorable. Remember the crew in Aliens? They were stereotypes too, but they had traits that make them stand out. Even the crew in Alien: Resurrection have their moments. Here, it’s just cardboard all around.
And the xenomorphs are not the central bad guys here. I don’t know what the movie is about, actually. The origin of this reboot version of the xenomorphs? Getting the characters to demonstrate so much stupidity to make me realize why the Engineers want to rid the galaxy of them?
Making things worse is the lack of suspension, build up or even a climactic denouement. Things just happen here, and the characters like to spell things out to the audience via dialogues full of exposition.
In the end, Prometheus is just a Syfy-quality script given very expensive varnish.