Prometheus * * *

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Director: Ridley Scott.
Screenplay: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof.
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Benedict Wong, Emun Elliott, Patrick Wilson.

It has been over three decades since director Ridley Scott made “Alien” in 1979. When news broke of his intention to revisit the genre of science fiction, the anticipation was huge. Originally, this was intended to be a prequel to his earlier film but on second thought, Scott decided to make it into an original film in it’s own right. For one, there’s no doubt that this IS a prequel and I can’t see why he’d proclaim it to be otherwise. For another, he should have decided on a different project altogether, as this doesn’t quite muster the thrills or atmosphere that viewers will, no doubt, expect.

In the Isle of Skye, Scotland, in the year 2089, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover an ancient star-chart. It points to the possibility of other life forms in the universe. A crew is assembled aboard the ship ‘Prometheus’ and land upon LV-223, to further investigate. There is optimism amongst the crew that they will find the answers to the origins of humankind but what they get in return, is not entirely what they expected.

I tried to go into this avoiding the hype, the trailers and most critical opinions. I also tried to avoid comparing it to “Alien“. I didn’t want my expectations raised too high and for the most part, they weren’t. But whether, your expectations are high or not, there’s still no avoiding a lazy and abysmally written script.
As expected, Ridley Scott has crafted a fantastically visual spectacle. The opening scene alone, of sweeping landscapes and crashing waterfalls is one of wonderment and draws you right in. Scott sets his stall up well and with a patient hand, he introduces us to his not too distant future. As we know from another of Scott’s classic science fiction films, “Blade Runner“, he’s no stranger to exploring existential themes. He does so again here but only just touches upon them. He seems more in favour of delivering eye-candy than inviting us to ponder and it soon becomes apparent that this film is all about the look.
There is an eclectic mix of characters and upon their introduction, shades of the franchise are apparent – It’s basically the same formula all over again. The performances are good though and Noomi Rapace, in her first leading role, is commanding. The always reliable Michael Fassbender, once again, immerses himself and probably stands out as the highlight of the movie. Theron, however, is criminally underused and given very little to work with. As much as the actors deliver what they can with the material at their disposal, the characters are hollow and there isn’t really a particular one that takes centre stage or one that you’re able to identify with. Most of them, are actually just fodder for forthcoming mayhem. The major problem with them though, is that some of their motives are unexplained, leaving an obscurity to the film that I don’t think was intentional. On the surface, this has it all but it’s what’s underneath that counts and Scott has ultimately decided on a script that is far from satisfactory. Plot strands are lazily passed off, in favour of moving the story along to the next B-movie moment. There are some shocks and jumps but the lack of intelligence only grows stronger as the film heads towards it’s inevitable climax. As I sat with my other half in the darkened auditorium and the end credits began to role, she said one word that could strongly reflect most people’s opinions… “Bullshit”.

I find it hard to be as overly critical, as it’s visually ambitious and it’s conception is brilliantly realised but there’s no escaping the hollowness of it all. I’d love to rate this film higher but for anyone who appreciates my opinion, I’d be doing you a disservice. This is a classic casualty of it’s own hype.

Mark Walker

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46 Responses to “Prometheus * * *”

  1. It’s quite probable that I’ll be seeing this on Saturday the 9th. So excited, especially since it is a prequel to Alien, one of my favorite films ever, after all. Great review.

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  2. Aw, I thought we’d get to see your “underwhelmed-face”!

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  3. Man.. I was hoping this was going to be excellent. The best of the year even. So I am really disappointed. I will still see it of course. Great review none the less.

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    • Thanks Alec. Don’t be too disheartened. There is stuff to be enjoyed and at one point I was swept along with it but on reflection, it didn’t achieve what I wanted from it.

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  4. It’s an excellent review and I agree that it has plenty of flaws… and yet I end up disagreeing with you. I just loved it more, but then I’m really a sci-fi fan. I could overlook the glitches and clunky lines because it looked and was so spectacular in other ways. It’s not a classic of course. But it might very well become my favorite sci-fi film of the year. My review is up soon. I invite you to disagree with me! 🙂

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    • Disagreement is common and welcome amongst us film reviewers Jessica. 😉 I can take many positives from this but they would mainly be down to a visual level. There was no denying that it was a feast for the eyes but I found the plot unforgivable and essentially, it was a modern take on Scott’s original. Except a lesser version. Fassbender was the highlight for me. (as he tends to be, in most of his film’s these days)

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  5. Your review is spot-on, Mark. I’m not a sci-fi geek, but I appreciate a well-made film when I see one. Prometheus looks good but the use of special effects seemed to be a diversion away from the screenplay. This is essentially an updated version of Alien, but has many plus points nonetheless.

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    • Cheers Andy. There were plus points indeed and I thought if rating it slightly higher (maybe another 1/2 star) but I couldn’t bring myself to do so, because of the sheer disappointment I left it with. I was hoping, at the very least, to walk out the cinema feeling good at what I’d just witnessed and I did in some ways. That feeling just didn’t come from the material though. Let’s face it, we all know Ridley Scott can provide the visuals but he (on reflection) rarely provides the depth required.

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  6. It’s a little sad that this film turned out to be not so good, considering its immense potential. Every review I’ve read so far says it’s a disappointment. At least my expectations will be lowered when I finally do see this, which might actually turn out to be a good thing.

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    • It might work for you Fernando but I also managed to keep my expectations relatively low, yet i still came out disappointed. It’s not a bad film though. It just doesn’t live up to the hype. A 3 star rating is still decent. It just doesn’t auger well for his supposed return to Blade Runner now.

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  7. off to watch this today, so haven’t read your review in full yet mark, i trust its spoiler free, but I certainly will when i have watched it. its had mixed reviews so far, quite a legacy to live up to (if you discount resurrection and AVP’s) so was always probably going to be on a hiding to nothing!

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    • It’s decent mate. Just nowhere near the classic it was expected to be. As it turns out, I actually quite liked Alien Ressurection. The ending was shit but otherwise a good flick. I rate Ressurection higher than this.

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      • I shall be off to see it in the next half hour. I didn’t dislike Resurrection just wasn’t great I guess. I am sure I will be revisiting them soon anyhow. I really like Alien 3 though, underrated in my view.

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      • I’d have to revisit the third one. I’m a big fan of Fincher but can you imagine what it could have been without studio interference?

        I hope you enjoy Prometheus. I’ll look out for your review.

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      • Disappointing. Franchise re-launcher rather than another Scott classic. Felt like a bit of a sell out.

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      • That was my feelings also. He seemed more interested in opening it all up, rather than concentrating on the job at hand.

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      • after writing my review which i have now published, with much pondering i thought it was good. could have been so much better still but it is being automatically put up against Alien so i have tempered that a little. gave it an eight in the end as thought it was better just than a seven (dont like doing halves) again I think our scores reflect closely. i’m not a big Alien fanboy to be honest some people have been up in arms, i do like them but not precious and i dont think prometheus has done the legacy any harm.

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      • I can understand why you’d rate with an eight. My original rating was 3 1/2. I then pondered further and couldn’t shake off the feeling of it’s emptiness. Visually it’s astounding and we’ll be hard pushed to find a better opening scene all year. As far as Alien goes, I think that’s slightly overrated also. For that reason, I wasn’t really comparing it. It’s the hype and secrecy involved before it’s release that’s went against it I think. I think a 3 star rating is still reasonably good, as you know. Decent just not great!

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      • spot on Mark. I like Alien but it is regarded as a classic but i think there are better Sci-fi. i can understand tempering your score against all the hype, it is clearly a franchise relaunch for me (well done) which is no bad thing, would have been nice of them to be honest about it, but as i have written in my review, it does try not to be I guess.

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      • I was certain it was a prequel to Alien but apparently Scott claims it’s not. If that’s the case, then why did he delve into all the unexplained things that Alien had? Supposedly, there will be more to come that will tie in with Alien but there’s no doubt that this plays a part in the build up.
        I’ll pop over and have a look at your review.

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      • clearly, agreed. It’s a prequel and there will be sequels to the prequel!

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  8. Solid review. Unfortunately I can’t see this until this Friday.

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  9. sanclementejedi Says:

    Really want to read your review but must hold off till it gets released here next week 😦

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  10. filmfellahenry Says:

    Good review man, totally agree with you. Still reeling from what a disappointment it was – should have seen it with a lack of expectation really. For me, this marks an end to Ridley Scott’s increasingly underwhelming career.

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    • Cheers Henry. I’m also feeling a bit deflated. In all honesty, my expectations weren’t that high. I done my best to avoid the hype, yet still came out disappointed. I’m agree though, Scott just isn’t cutting it these days for me either.

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  11. The promotion for this film made it look freakin’ awesome but also, a lot like Alien and I think that’s the big problem with the film. It’s pretty much the same formula used over again and even though Scott tries his hardest to get our heads past that, it’s too obvious, too quick. Good review Mark.

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    • Cheers Dan. Yeah, what was the point in all the secrecy and hype before it’s release? Was it too hide the fact that it was basically a poor retread? This could and should have been so much better.

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  12. MrMcBam Says:

    Your last paragraph pretty much sums it up. Here’s hoping Brave and The Dark Knight Rises won’t be a disappointment.

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  13. I have heard good things. Either way I look forward to seeing this one. Yes, I still haven’t seen it!

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  14. Terrific review, and I agree with every word. It was visually stunning, but it seriously lacked in script quality and character development. I didn’t care for any of the characters, many of them just annoyed me with their comments (has anyone counted the number of times they unnecessarily remind the robot that he’s not a human) and illogical decisions. And then that “big” plot twist, that the old guy is alive and hiding on the ship, even though he had no reason to fake his death in the first place. And why use a young guy in that god-awful make up (Back to the future 2 anyone?), why not just use a senior actor? Makes me think they had other plans with the script, but they just winged it in the different direction.

    All in all- visual effects are great, but besides that, the movie has no other redeeming qualities.

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    • Thanks man! Yeah, this was hugely disappointing film. It was the illogical actions of the characters that really annoyed me most. Ultimately, the film was lazy and really dulled down for the masses. Sometimes I really wonder if Ridley Scott deserves a good reputation. Blade Runner is one of my all time favourites but I often question whether Scott actually just flukes a good film. He’s made more bad than good.

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