When a magician starts to put together a new magic trick he’s got to spend a lot of effort making sure all the tells are hidden, and that’s what it feels like Ridley Scott has done in the anticipation building run up to the release of Prometheus. The teasers and trailers that were released made the film look like it was going to be epic and while this is true for more than a few scenes, the movie itself is a bit of an anticlimax.
While you can’t necessarily see any wires or trap doors in the film, you can see the shockingly bad make-up job done on Guy Pearce who plays Peter Wayland, the ageing owner of the Wayland Corporation that bankrolls the Prometheus mission. Honestly, why they didn’t just get an old dude to play the role instead of dressing up Pearce, we’re not too sure. Surely there’s a few older actors in Tinsel Town that could have saved them the blushes of the bad face job.
However, the first disappointment comes in the special effects in the opening sequence and as soon as you see them you realise that the film is not going to live up to the expectations that the trailers created.
The story of Prometheus follows the ship of the same name in a search for the origins of man on an alien moon that could harbour life, but as this is fundamentally a prelude to the events of Ridley Scott’s Alien, they inevitably find more than they bargained for. While there are lots of redeeming features in the movie, like the better special effects, the presence of Charlize Theron (Mad Max 4) and the performance of Noomi Repace as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw, they are undone by the more disappointing elements of the film.
The characterisation of Shaw is a bit too close to the Ripley bone in parts, Peter Wayland is terrible and the untrustworthy programming of Michael Fassbender’s cyborg, David, has got shades of Ash that counteracts Fassbener’s strong performance with a sense of a unoriginality. There’s also a disappointing sub cast of characters that make a bit of a mockery of the possibility that the Prometheus mission is a “trillion dollar operation”. If that’s all the professional crew you can afford with a trillion dollars, you’re probably better off staying at home. This is added to by a huge slice of cheese from Idris Elba’s Captain Janek and co-pilots towards the end of the film.
Despite the fact that Scott had forewarned fans that Prometheus would evolve and adapt the Alien storytelling, the way that this is applied is slightly annoying, especially in the climax of the film, which sort of undoes the opening might of Alien. In all fairness, the release of sequel, Alien: Covenant, does a lot to validate the end of the film to some extent, but it doesn’t take away all of the criticism for the film.
All that said, Prometheus was still worth watching. There are some very cool scenes and on the whole the CGI and special effects are really solid, despite the poor opening sequence. Just make sure you don’t turn up expecting every shot to be as cool as the trailers would have you believe and you won’t be disappointed.
Prometheus is a decent sci-fi flick, but overall it lacks the weighty sense of foreboding that Scott was able to weave together for the Alien trilogy. However, the end of the film leaves you with the question, what happens next, and from the look of things it could be a lot better than the opening gambit. Read our Alien: Covenant review for more details on the sequel.
Prometheus review: 3/5