Well, I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to see Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus”, but I finally got round to watching it and I thought that I’d share some of my thoughts about it.
As such, I should probably warn you that this review may contain some SPOILERS.
“Prometheus” is a prequel, of sorts, to Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien” movies. The film begins with a scene showing a muscular humanoid alien of some kind drinking poison and jumping into a waterfall, before the film cuts to the Isle Of Skye in the year 2089.
On the Isle Of Sky, a team of archaeologists, led by Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (played by Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered prehistoric cave paintings that contain a drawing of a large man and a star chart of some kind. The large man is pointing at the star system and it doesn’t take long for Elizabeth to realise that the painting is an invitation of some kind.
Four years later, the Weyland Corporation (yes, that Weyland – of Weyland-Yutani fame, for all you “Alien” fans) spaceship Prometheus reaches the star system in question and the crew (including Elizabeth and Charlie) are awakened from hypersleep by the ship’s android…..
One of the first things that I will say about this film is that it both is and isn’t an “Alien” movie. In terms of the visual and emotional tone of the film, it’s surprisingly close to the first “Alien” movie in many ways – but, it’s also it’s own thing too.
The story in this film is, quite simply, brilliant. It’s fascinating, it’s thrilling, it’s suspenseful, it’s intelligent, it’s philosophical and it’s scary. However, there are a few small flaws in the film’s otherwise excellent story. The first is that a couple of the film’s plot twists are at least slightly predictable (although a couple will still catch you by surprise) and the second is that the film leaves slightly too many unanswered questions in my opinion.
Anyway, one of the things that apparently made the first “Alien” movie so frightening when it was first released in the late 1970s was the fact that no-one knew what to expect from it. This film manages to recapture that feeling by, amongst many other things, mostly including significantly different creatures. Although that’s not to say that you might not see at least one or two things that you’ll recognise from the old films…..
Whilst this film isn’t quite “jump out of your seat” frightening, it was certainly a lot creepier than I expected. Whether it’s seeing a lot more of the mysteriously creepy H.R.Giger-style locations that were only glimpsed briefly in the first “Alien” movie, or whether it’s one genuinely grimace-inducing scene that almost rivals the chestburster scene from the first “Alien” movie, this is definitely a horror movie.
However, unlike some of the later “Alien” films, it doesn’t just rely on gruesome deaths in order to scare the audience. Like the first “Alien” film, this film relies a lot on the fear of the unknown in order to build suspense and tension. Likewise, a lot of the horror in this film actually comes from the acting, the story itself and some of the characters too. In other words, this is sci-fi horror done right.
Seriously, this is what I loved about this film. Many modern sci-fi films and TV shows don’t really have a sense of curiosity and wonder to them. In most sci-fi films, space travel and alien creatures are just an ordinary fact of life. In, “Prometheus” on the other hand, they’re something new and unexpected that provokes both curiosity and fear. Don’t ask me how Ridley Scott managed to pull this off over three decades after “Alien” was released, but he did!
“Prometheus” is also an astonishingly good sci-fi movie too. Seriously, as both a fan of “Alien” and “Blade Runner”, it’s always great to see Ridley Scott’s distinctive take on the sci-fi genre. Like The Nostromo in the original film, the Prometheus itself actually looks like a place where people live and work. It’s reminiscient of the spaceships from the original “Alien” movies, whilst also having a slightly “Blade Runner”-style look to it too. Seriously, I love it when Ridley Scott makes sci-fi movies 🙂
Not only that, all of the futuristic technology used in the film isn’t just there for show. In other words, if you see a cool-looking gadget in the film, then someone is probably actually going to use it for something useful. This lack of obvious showing off for the sake of showing off really adds a lot to the suspenseful and “realistic” tone of the film.
Although there are a lot of CGI special effects in this film, they’re backed up by great writing and acting to the point where – unlike many modern blockbuster movies – you barely think of the special effects as “special effects”. They’re just part of the film. This is how to do special effects right.
Talking of the acting in this film, it is – for the most part- astonishingly good. Noomi Rapace does an excellent job in this film and she rivals Sigourney Weaver’s performance in the first “Alien”. Seriously, there are a lot of parallells between the two characters in some ways, and yet they are also totally and completely different characters at the same time.
The only problem with the acting in this film is perhaps the accents. It might just be me, but it felt a bit wierd to hear Idris Elba speaking with an American accent. Don’t get me wrong, he does this very well, but I don’t see why he couldn’t have just used his normal accent.
Likewise, Noomi Rapace’s English accent is a little bit wonky in some parts of the film (eg: it sounds slightly too formal in some scenes and it varies occasionally). The andrioid’s accent, on the other hand, is stunningly creepy – since he kind of effects the sort of received pronunciation accent that hasn’t been seen in films since the 1970s.
All in all, I went into this film with slightly low expectations. I expected it to be a watered-down substitute for a “proper” Alien movie. But, in terms of writing, acting, set design, characterisation, horror, sci-fi etc… It’s pretty much as good as the first “Alien” film was.
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least five.