Expectations were probably the biggest thing that Prometheus had going against it. When it was eluded that the film would be much more than an Alien prequel, people started to wonder about what this film could be. I never wanted Prometheus to be anything more than just an Alien prequel. I wanted to see the cosmos again, I wanted to be scared of slimy things and isolation again, and I wanted to find out what on earth happened to that poor Space Jockey. Even with that said Prometheus never wanted to be just an “Alien” prequel. Ridley Scott was shooting for the stars with this one and if you go in with as much ambition as Ridley had while making it, you’ll be disappointed. So I can understand why there are people out there that won’t like this film. It doesn’t contain revolutionary ideas nor does it ever escape its own confinements but for me it worked. It works as an intense and exciting welcome back party to the universe of Alien.
Ridley Scott lives and dies by the script that is given to him. What I mean by that is that he is an extraordinary director but not an extraordinary storyteller. So any qualms that you have with the movie will most likely have to go to the man who wrote the script and that would be (mostly) Damon Lindelof. Lindelof’s script is very good yet still about 2/3s as good as it could have been. The first problem is with the ideas that the plot tries to spark. None of them are really new and each critical plot element is sort of just reworked theories from other movies and from Alien itself. Although it may be ambitious, the script never transcends it’s own human condition. The “aliens” are interesting but they don’t ever come out of our own image. I wish that a film would come out that would dare to make an alien that was “out of the box” but I wonder if that is possible. I figure whatever is out there will be beyond our compensation and I was sorting of hoping that Prometheus would dare to go there. It may be too harsh to hope for something more “complex” and “different” than what we humans are used too but the physical beings aren’t anything to be impressed by. Lindelof may have taken a fouls shot at the beyond but what does end up on screen is interesting enough to propel the move forward in a creative way. The script also never settlings into it’s surroundings. I wish it had taken more time to look at things we could never imagine while also enjoying the view. Space is sort of thrown away for the chance to combine so many story elements and I think Lindelof missed an opportunity to expand further from LV-223. I loved most of the movie and the “conflicts” introduced but a more singular focus could have helped the movie to become a more polished version of itself.
The greatest strength of the script is its tie-ins to Alien. The blanks that are filled in from Alien are actually very clever and I enjoyed some of the new twists for the series. They won’t change the way you look at Alien or Aliens but they will make you feel like you have seen more of the full picture. In my opinion, Prometheus answers all that you need to know about Alien except for very specific details. Yea I know what you are going to say about how there are no Xenomorphs and how cheesy that last shot is (I agree) but Prometheus has that attitude of “been there and done that”. The movie subtly throws hints at things that we are familiar with while also being more concerned with the things we aren’t. You may not get the Xenomorphs that stole your heart 33 years ago but there are enough critters introduced to garner your attention. But the aliens aren’t at the forefront here as our human characters are given the burden of advancing the plot. The cast improves upon the story and ideas that Lindelof is trying convey. Rapace, Theron, and Elba are all solid as their characters help to move the plot along while also giving the viewer personalities to relate too. The real stand out though is Fassbender who is exceptional as David. His performance is just further proof that he is becoming an elite talent. Did I say becoming?
Prometheus is one of Ridley Scotts best works as a director. The action, the set pieces, and the world of LV-223 are fully realized. I can’t complain about Scott because he is a true visionary. Yea he may not be able to write or find a brilliant story but he can damn well present one. The presentation is the strength of Prometheus. The ideas on screen could have even been silly if it wasn’t for the way that Scott presents them to the viewer. The feel and look of Prometheus is top-notch filmmaking. I never saw an effect that I didn’t like or a performance that wasn’t finely tuned. Like I said before, Scott is a visionary and if there is any genre that visionaries belong to it is science fiction. This is a welcome return for Ridley to a type of film that he knows very well and a type of film that he can make very well. Scott was always more fitted for stories that could tease the mind while also captivating the eyes and I’m glad he is back playing to his strengths. Alien, Blade Runner, and Prometheus is where Ridley Scott belongs.
When Prometheus was just weeks away, I thought of making a list of the greatest science fiction films of all time. I never got to that list because of laziness but the number one film on the list was going to be 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2001 was a masterpiece and the perfect science fiction film. It explores the big question while also not indulging in it. Space is too big for complete answers and so was 2001. But there are answers in that film and they lie between the frames. The ideas that spark in the minds of the viewer is where 2001 lives today and not in a Blu-Ray disc. Prometheus’s ambition is as big as 2001 and it conjures up some of the same ideas that 2001 did but where it fails is in the in-between. The lasting images aren’t as strong as some of its science fiction counterparts and the answers given don’t have much weight to them but ambition isn’t Prometheus true game. No matter what the filmmakers intended, Prometheus works as an Alien prequel. It is a movie that tries to answer and question the mysterious of Scott’s 1979 masterpiece and it works for that. Sometimes little is better and Prometheus does shine lights on things it should never have but it is worth it. Because as far as science fiction films go, Prometheus is a triumph of the genre and to the things that may lurk beyond our own being.
P.S. Prometheus was very good but the best part of the night was leaving the theater and listening to a group of people trying to connect it to Alien vs. Predator. Classic