Prometheus has been on every sci-fi fan’s lips since 2009 when Fox first announced that a potential prequel to Alien was in the works.
Once Ridley Scott agreed to helm the project excitement gathered at a frantic pace. As the film developed, Scott warned the film would be a ‘nod’ in places to his original Alien but would ultimately be a stand-alone concept. On Sunday night I entered my local cinema feeling nervous, apprehensive and excited about seeing Prometheus. A friend asked me to text him a numbered rating. As the lights came up I texted 8.5. An hour later I changed my mind to 7.5. Before finally falling asleep I texted it back up to 8… And there is the challenge of Prometheus – it’s a film that makes you change your mind the more you think about it.
Like all potential classics it will need repeated viewings to make a final judgement on if it’s truly a masterpiece or an over-blown disappointment. Here my reasons for and against:
5 Reasons Why Prometheus is Great
1. The Questions Asked
With a script co-written by ‘Lost’ stalwart Damon Lindelof should we have expected anything other than more questions asked than actually answered? But this is perhaps the film’s strongest point. Prometheus really does challenge the audience into asking questions about our existence, our religious beliefs and the essence of the human soul. Are we created / manufactured? Is there is a higher being?
That these questions are debated but not necessarily answered (as yet) isn’t a problem. Any film that is brave enough to open such a universal debate and make us think for ourselves for potential answers should be applauded.
2. Ridley Scott’s Direction
We all know a Ridley Scott directed film is going to look stunning within the frame. He understands the grandeur of mise-en-scene and how in sci-fi genre it can become like an opera. With Dariusz Wolski at his side as cinematographer there are some truly stunning visual moments captured in the shots, lighting and production design, the claustrophobic enclosed feel of the Prometheus ship. The discovery of the structure (engineers spaceship). The cylinders. The ‘god like’ giant head and the Engineers themselves. My favourite moment is the twist on the ‘gut busting’ scene when Shaw removes the ‘fetus’ from her stomach. Such a clever moment to give a nod to the original but totally turn it on its head whilst being even more brutal.
3. The Performances
Noomi Rapace’s smart turn as Elizabeth Shaw allows the audience to sympathise with her emotional plight and ask the questions with her. We feel her joy of discovery, emotional pain and finally the horrific truth behind the Engineers mission. Her performance is nicely understated and leaves us thinking ‘be careful what you wish for’.
Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway – the skeptic doomed scientist, Idris Elba as Janek – the wise cracking but ultimately intelligent ships captain, and Charlize Theron (how good does she look in that outfit?) as the cold, calculating, soulless Meredith Vickers, all bring great portrayals that leave any star persona’s at the door. But the real scene stealer star of the piece is Michael Fassbender as David whom manages to be both sinister and thought provoking. He wants to be free and to feel human but while he is a loyal servant he can’t. Fassbender’s performance allows us not to hate David but sympathise with his fate.
4. The First ‘Alien’
We get to see the first created ‘Alien’ in essence. I love how it’s a hybrid of the Engineers, Humans and the living eternity that was their biological weapon. It’s also good that Scott stays away from having an ‘alien’ throughout the entire film but knows that it is a question that needs to be answered by the very end.
5. Both a Stand Alone Film and a Prequel
This argument seems to be the most furious amongst fans and reviewers – some disappointed that it’s not Alien, others pleased that Scott has created something new. I personally think one of the strongest elements of Prometheus is that I felt satisfied on both accounts.
Read on for part 2 to read my counter-opinion;