Movie Review : Prometheus

, in Films, Science Fiction

Sometime hence, a scientific team in Scotland finds evidence that mankind was created by extraterrestrials who left clues to their location. So they do the only logical thing: mount an apparently secret expedition funded by a dying billionaire to a remote moon in another solar system, hoping to literally meet their makers. Of course it all ends in tears - in retrospect Prometheus was a stupid name for a spaceship.

Prometheus PosterPrometheus (the film) has had a very cunning marketing campaign that made the film look stylish and mysterious without giving away much of the plot, but I am going to spoil some of its secrets in this review, starting with the biggest feature right now : nothing in this film makes a goddamn lick of sense!

The characters act in totally mysterious ways - nobody seems very impressed that they have found the remains of an alien building. Personally I would be overjoyed to find anything alien, even if it appears to be dead, but they treat it like it is no big deal. Is the film's universe filled with alien artifacts that everyone has become blasé? Who knows, the film never explains it. Several times character experience weird or frightening things yet never think to mention it to the others. Even when people start dying nobody seems very concerned or motivated to do anything about it.

Sequels and prequels often steal little plot points from previous films in the series, and Prometheus is no exception, but some of them are eye-rollingly unsubtle and inappropriately shoe-horned in. I was particularly annoyed by the antagonistic class distinctions among the crew. In Alien and Aliens this made sense, since the characters were either military grunts or basically blue collar workers during a tedious job. But this was a hand picked crew hired for this specific mission, you'd think HR would have screened out those with obvious personality defects. They don't even seem to be good at their jobs.

While watching I found myself wondering if there is going to be a much longer directors cut of this film. There are lots of little scenes that seem to exist to establish a particular prop or plot point but the payoff never eventuates. For instance, the camera lingers at one point over some armoured spacesuits stowed in the ship. These are never used even though they would have come in really handy. Other plot points are carefully introduced with tedious exposition but really could have been cut - what was the point of the self-contained life capsule? Everything that occurred there could have happened on the main ship. And why was a 90 year old man played by Guy Pearce in bad, bad makeup? You never see that character as a younger man, so why not cast an old guy to begin with? So many odd choices...

Are there any good points? Well, other than the plot and the characters, Prometheus is well made. The acting is OK I guess, but nobody really stands out. The special effects and sets look pretty cool. The costumes were nice, the film was in focus, and the cinema was at a comfortable temperature. I don't really know what to say here, all the little touches that made Alien and Aliens so great are missing. I wouldn't even rate it against Aliens vs Predator.

Perplexing and a disappointment. Not really recommended.