Prometheus – the second most keenly anticipated follow-up film to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, Alien – the first being of course that other Ridley Scott classic, Blade Runner.
The reason Alien worked is because it’s a horror that happens to be set in space – it’s not a sci-fi film first and foremost.
It worked because we didn’t know who would survive or in what order the humans would die.
It worked because as each human died, a vital part of the space crew skill set vanished presenting an increasingly greater challenge to final escape and survival.
It worked because HR Giger is a genius artist.
It worked because we got some scary clues about the Alien’s talents and powers long before we got to meet her.
It worked because the theme of motherhood has never been so brutally and intellectually explored in a fusion of genres outside of a straight up drama.
It worked because without being an obvious sexy babe, when Ripley was in the Escape Pod and stripping down to knickers and a cut-off t-shirt – then she kept going – losing the t-shirt – there was a sneaky singlet underneath. It was a perfect tease and kept her being the sharp, focused captain of not only her immediate safety but her own destiny. She was desired and respected for wearing so many underthings.
After Alien, James Cameron got his mits on the sequel, Aliens (1986) and turned it from a horror into an action movie. Sure it has its merits – but it was a distinct departure from the tone, style and success of the first film.
It’s pointless talking about any subsequent Alien films because the rest were shit.
Now we have Prometheus with Ridley Scott back in charge. So what do we get?
Homage after homage to the first film which was all good as I know the first film intimately and I picked up probably all of them – including the almost frame accurate shot composition of some. (EG there’s a scene with Fassbender that is virtually the same as a scene with Ian Holme. That’s all I need to say about that.)
If Alien had a motherhood theme then Prometheus has a birth theme. It takes one step back in the process of life and explores it in really good 3D. I did notice one of the bubby aliens looked a lot like an angry, toothy vagina – and some other bubby aliens looked a lot like chubbed up, fisty penises. (Yep – they are the most accurate descriptions I could muster.)
It’s also intriguing to see people still like to smoke in 2093, scarves are still in fashion, people still wear spex and sport tatts, vodka is still a cool drink, thongs are still the indoor footwear of choice and space uniforms are a mash-up of Gattaca costuming meets Mao Tse Tung.
Prometheus also gives us a glimpse into the future of surgery. And I like it!
Charlize Theron plays the prickly Vickers [yawn].
Noomi Rapace plays the moral compass.
Fassbender plays the robot with some soul software.
The rest of the cast put in solid performances and form a great supportive ensemble around those three stand-out characters.
Overall, Prometheus is a satisfying couple of hours of big screen high quality entertainment.
There’s a major decision made by three characters near the climax that comes so out of the blue, it appears to be a script fault. An earlier set up or bridging scene – maybe two – is needed to make sense of how they could arrive at that decision in a split second.
It also made me wonder – if preserving life on Earth is so freaking important, why is life in space so worthless?
I give Prometheus 7/10.
Here’s the trailer: