Saturday, 9 June 2012

Film Review: Prometheus

For all the fan boy negativity surrounding Ridley Scott's new film you would think he had made a child porn cash-in starring Jimmy Saville and called it Alien 5: Hide The Kids.

Such is the esteem held for Scott's back catalogue with classics such as the original Alien, Gladiator and Bladerunner it is inevitable that some people have ended up disappointed.

Whilst Prometheus does have delusions of grandeur tackling as it does the weighty concerns of mankind's very existence, which it ultimately fails to satisfactorily live up to, Scott creates a visually grandiose universe and a movie that delivers on most fronts. Yes, it lacks the creeping claustrophobia of Alien or the emotional impact of Bladerunner but the criticism is misplaced. Its like describing Mount Kilimanjaro as a hill because Everest is taller.

The fact that Prometheus is not a sequel, rather a quasi-prequel, to Alien has also riled a lot of net nerds. It does inhabit the same universe of cold hearted cyborgs (Michael Fassbender succeeds with his best Rutger Hauer/Ian Holm/Peter O'Toole impersonation), cryo-pods and critters bursting out of orifices but attempts to build an alternate mythology from some familiar strands.

 Scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) find ancient cave drawings that they believe have been left by our creators "the Engineers" that may shed light on the origins of humanity. They get elderly billionaire Peter Weyland (an unrecognisable Guy Pearce) to fund a scientific expedition to a distant moon to get some answers. On arrival let's just say they get a close and personal welcome.

Much of the criticism of film as centred on the rather haphazard script by Lost writer Damon Lindelof which veers up a few logic cul-de-sacs. As scientists, most of the crew are dumber than a remedial class of toddlers with learning difficulties. Even before they leave the ship they decide the security expert they have brought along is surplus to requirements as this is "a scientific expedition" and weapons would somehow be a hindrance. They all promptly opt to take off their helmets and walk around dark, unchartered underground passages like lambs to the slaughter. Worst of all the brain box of a botanist (Rafe Spall) thinks nothing of pissing about with an obviously dangerous space cobra like he were petting a puppy. He gets what's coming to him.

 As characters go only Fassbender's cool calculating cyborg David is a match for the Ripleys, Vazquezes and Bishops that came before. His economy of movement and his creepy calm are perfectly pitched to his ulterior motives in the movie. The rest of the cast are a mixed bag, neither funny nor appealing enough for you to really root for them. Idris Elba is competent enough as the ship's captain, Charlize Theron's ice maiden looks nice enough in a catsuit but Noomi Rapace is a bit too wide eyed to be any competition for Sigourney Weaver. To be fair to the actors they don't have quite the same quality of zingers to work with.

Despite the inevitable comparisons the two hours flew by without a single check of the watch (as good a test as any) and included a good number of scares, a visceral finale and and open ended denouement that leaves ample room for a sequel and the possibility of filling in a few of the blanks critics have highlighted.

 One thing is for sure.  It ain't fucking game over man!


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