“Prometheus” — A Slice of SciFi Movie Review

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Charlize Theron, Idris Elba (Prometheus)

Prometheus, the non-prequel-but-sort-of-prequelish-Alien-movie from Ridley Scott… what can I say about this? Well, first, let me tell you want I am not going to say about this. You aren’t going to get a spoiler-rific review from me, ever. If you wanted to get plot outlines, there’s plenty of other websites that will give that to you. And, as a movie review reader, I hate when I read other writers’ reviews that go over the plot for me, thereby giving me little reason to go blow my meager-yet-undeserved paycheck on the movie just reviewed. If you were looking for that, you may want to stop reading now… unless you really like my witty writing style.

Overall, if you are fan of the Alien universe, you won’t be disappointed. The movie is a much better entry into the franchise than Alien: Resurrection could ever hope to be. And, if you liked Alien: Resurrection, well, sorry to offend you, but I didn’t. Hence, you fans of that pile of hooey may want to stop reading now…unless you really reaaaally like my witty writing style.

But, this isn’t about Alien: Resurrection (which I just quasi-reviewed anyway by calling it “hooey”).

This is about Prometheus, the next foray into the Alien universe, an as-advertised-non-prequel to Alien that does a really great job of fleshing out more of that universe while, wisely, complete ignoring anything Alien vs Predator.

It’s hard to make a movie that goes over of some well-worn ground and Ridley Scott wisely doesn’t try to see what he can do with the mess that was made of his franchise after his 1979 creation, Alien, or 1986′s Aliens by the I-used-to-have-talent-now-I-am-just-rich James Cameron. So, Scott went the other route, he made a prequel-ish movie; and, he did a mostly-great job. You won’t leave that movie thinking “the sequel to this must be Alien” but you will walk away with a better understanding of what leads to Alien. There are some points to get nitpicky over and, well, because it’s my review, I am gonna get nitpicky over them later.

But, first, let me say this: no matter how nitpicky I am going to get, this is still a movie you should go see. Visually amazing. Mostly logical. Consistent in the Alien universe. Good expansion on the original source material. Well acted. This, folks, is a movie worth watching.

The pacing of the movie was mostly spot-on. The times that you aren’t on the edge of the seat, you are sitting back comfortably, engaged and absorbing what is happening because what is happening is actually interesting and relevant. The parts that keep you on the edge of the seat will remind you that there are other options than the MegaMassiveSuperSize Drinks at the concession stand. [Note to self: send apology to theatre for mess.] I thought that the movie seemed to drag on a smidge at the end but I could be a little OVERLY picky here.

The acting was all first rate in this movie. Everyone does a great job with their character. Charlize Theron, who I recently reviewed in Snow White and the Huntsman, has again nailed her role. Noomi Rapace, whom I had never heard of because most of her previous work isn’t in my native tongue, did a ridiculously good job in this movie. Michael Fassbender was incredible as the robot, David… a bit like Hal from 2001, a bit like Ash from the original Alien. No one’s acting bugged me, and that’s always a good sign.

Visually, the movie was amazing. Great cinematography right from the opening scene. I would like to go rewatch it on IMAX and without the 3D that I couldn’t avoid watching at the press screening (although, being fair, the 3D wasn’t too distracting for me).

Now, the things that bugged me are some inconsistent behaviors the writers decided to dollop on some of the characters. For example, scientists generally are pretty smart in their approach to things and when you see a smart scientist do something stupid, you can’t help but say, “that wasn’t consistent”. When someone is scared out of their mind and wanting to go back someplace that makes them warm-and-fuzzy, and then they encounter something that is not warm-and-fuzzy, they should still be scared out of their minds and behave consistently. There were a couple of throwaway plot points in there, too… things that made me think they should have been left on the cutting room floor or slightly re-written.

So, what did we learn? You should go see this movie. Unless you thought Alien: Resurrection was awesome. Actually, see it anyway. Overall, it’s worth the time and money.

Ugh. I just realized that Alien: Resurrection was written by none-other-than Mr. Joss Whedon, whom I virtually called a god-amongst-men in my review of The Avengers. Well, they all can’t be home runs, Joss, otherwise home runs wouldn’t be special. But, I digress…

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Comments

  1. Dan Vzare says:

    I liked Alien: Resurrection, seriously, there’s a lot of films out there that are much worser than Alien: Resurrection and if you watch them, you’d know what a bad film was. But then again, maybe I just have strange tastes in films.

    • ALIEN: Resurrection was “warmed-over” GARBAGE! Whomever “green-lighted” that project @ 20yh century Fox should’ve been FIRED! I know no one ever turely dies in sci-fi, but bring Ripley back was one of the MOST stupid ideas in movie history. A good ALIEN script could’ve been written without Ripely, but in true “Hollywood” fashion, “let’s beat a dead horse to death”. I’ve would’ve have liked to have seen new characters carry the story/ franchise forward. Instead we got the “same ole, same ole :-(

      • Ripley did not come back to life. That character was a Ripley/Xenomorph hybrid clone. I agree Resurrection was a bit formulaic, but it was better than 3 in that it tried new things and had more compelling characters and great action sequences.

  2. I found myself wishing this movie was just a series of scenes without explanations. If you know anything about microbiology it’s best if you can turn off that part of your brain while watching this. The plot was missing a few whys and there was one thing that should have happened in the end but didn’t. I think I still want to own a copy but maybe I’ll watch it with the sound off and listen to some Peter Gabriel music and enjoy it more.

  3. Baldrik says:

    Well I seen the movie – it has its weaker points but generally the pace is good, visually great without being overblown with tech, and left you with questions to ponder.

    I have a feeling that since it doesn’t leave the plot line all tied up nicely in a bow, it probably won’t go down well with the bulk of US audiences.

    In short, great – could have been better. Keen to see it again when the DVD/BluRay comes out. Maybe the directors cut (?) will polish things.

    Hope Mr Scott takes less time than he did with the Blade Runner reissue.

    B

  4. Valentine says:

    I really enjoyed it too!! The CGI, scenery, sets – makes me think they really built a life sized Prometheus :) Plus, it’s nice to have a smart sci-fi movie for a change, nothing spoon-fed to the audience – you really have think and watch. :)

  5. Lee King says:

    I pretty much enjoyed all the Alien films. Though I must confess to liking Alien 3 the least. I enjoyed Prometheus very much. I have heard griping regarding this or that, but the movie was great. As the reviewer said I was engaged from start to end. I hope Mr. Scott does a follow up involving the Engineers and the Doctor’s quest to find them and answers. On a personal note I like Sci-Fi when it shows the technical advances of mankind and advanced civilizations. I am so sick of Sci-Fi depicting dystopian societies where the world is torn apart by some man made disaster and everyone is ragged, dirty, and desparate, and the world looks a giant rat hole. Lets hear it for Advanced Civilizations!!

  6. Shane Dopson says:

    Prometheus
    OK, finally saw this.
    First let me say it looked great! The sets, the wardrobe, environment, cast, everything looked great! The general story was great, the whole idea was just cool!
    The character writing on the other hand was put together by teen-agers. The decisions they made, the dialogue, not to mention the minuscule amount of reasoning and planning these characters did was just plain stupid. These were not scientists; they were high-school students stumbling around in a place they had no business being in. These characters did not belong in this movie, they belonged in the next slasher film, getting drunk, having sex and then getting slaughtered in gruesome and hilarious ways. If I’d known that was what this was, OK, great, but don’t sell me a smart sci-fi movie and then dump a “teen-agers in trouble” flick!
    I didn’t care about anyone in this movie. They were all so stupid they deserved to die. Please indulge me in a short list of their stupidity:

    1. Just to start off, an “expert team of scientists” is brought together and all say, Sure, I’ll go on a 2-year journey into random space without knowing where, or for what reason.
    Comment: This is already hard to believe. It seems to be a trend in these movies that none of the characters know why they are going somewhere and then wait to tell them WHY they are going, only when they get there. Imagine some guy offered you a job in Togo, Africa. He tells you the transportation will be paid for as well as your food and lodging, but then says I’m not going to tell you why, or what you will be doing until you are in Togo. What would your answer be?

    2. They start talking about the star-map and say, “they found the system, and it has a sun”.
    Comment: Of course it has a sun! It’s a SOLAR-system. Annoying, but let’s move on.

    3. They are going there because they think the star-map is an invitation. One of the other “scientists” says something like, “How do you know that?” She replies, “Because it’s what I choose to believe.”
    Comment: This is just plain stupid. Scientists don’t choose to believe things. They hypothesize, test and observe. All the other “scientists” are OK with this. They have just put their lives in danger (because let’s face it folks, space is just plain dangerous), because some chick “believes” in something. This is were they really started losing me… and it’s only 15min in!

    4. One of the “scientists” takes his helmet off. Then the rest of them do it to because he’s obviously the cool one.
    Comment: Even if you were some back-water, living in the sticks your whole life, moron, you would not take your helmet off. This is where I realize, “Ah, this is a stupid people movie.” and all my hopes for it are dashed.

    5. The guy with the map gets lost!!!
    Comment: OK this is out of sequence, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. He’s a “geologist” with (really cool) radar, map-making, ball-thingys that are still mapping out the whole cave complex, and he apparently forgets all about them and gets so lost he has to spend the night there, along with stupid dope #2, the biologist.

    6. So they find the body of one of the “Engineers”. It’s looong dead, but the “geologist” (who hasn’t looked at one rock yet) gets freaked-out and says he is going back to the ship. The “BIOLOGIST” is also nervous and decides to go with him…
    Comment: The “BIOLOGIST” gets freaked-out about a DEAD ALIEN BODY!!! Isn’t this the whole reason he is here!!! Now he is leaving it to be studied by the “archaeologists”. Is it because he feels it has been dead too long?! This guy is just as useless as the geologist -why is he here?

    7. Later the biologist and the geologist are in the “egg room” with the big head statue and encounter a big worm alien. The geologist is scared, but the biologist thinks it’s cute and tries to touch it.
    Comment: Where do I even start… This guy runs away from a dead alien, but now finds a live one and treats it like a puppy!! This is a snake-sized, live, unknown, alien life form, that is 500 times-over-dangerous, and he tries to pet it!!!!!!! AAAAAARRRRGGH!!

    8. The male archaeologist discovers he is infected. He doesn’t tell his girlfriend, that he just had sex with.
    Comment: This guy is not only stupid, he is scum and deserves to die, because he doesn’t care about himself (he’s also the one that took his helmet off first), or anyone else on the crew, never mind his girlfriend. This also leads to #9…

    9. There is no quarantine protocol in place while they are looking for the alien life.
    Comment: the whole reason they are there, is because they think alien life is there. Alien life that they believe spawned life on Earth -their home planet. Over the course of man-recorded history, there have been about a million different kinds of plant and animals(including viruses) that have killed people. This is on our HOME planet where we all evolved together!! Now, they are on an alien planet -sure, it may be to find a common ancestor, but they are millions of years removed form life on Earth by now and they have to even just guess that some of it will be slightly-incompatible with modern humans. Right?!… RIGHT?!!! Note: This goes back to the dork that took his helmet off.

    10. The girl is now pregnant with an alien baby and tries to get it removed with the Automated-Surgery machine.
    Comment: It’s a Larry Niven -Autodoc!!! -Yay!!! (I’ve always wanted to see one of these in a movie!) Yes, it is kind of prototype Autodoc, but there it is! Trouble is in the execution of it’s functioning. All they had to do was make-up some futuristic operating tools and they could have sold the idea, but no. They go too far trying to make it look like modern surgical tools that it gets wasted. She gets closed up with staples. -Dumb. All they needed to do was have some kind of foam spray that magically closes wounds and I’d have bought it.

    OK, I feel a bit better. Will I watch it again? -Of course. But I’m not giving them money for this badly written slop. I’ll get a copy and watch it without sound and make up the dialogue in my head to make them all seem smarter than they are.

    Cheers,
    Shane

    • Don’t hold back, Shane… tell us how you REALLY feel! :)

      Seriously, whenever human behavior in any type of film seems to be counter to common sense or survival instincts, and inevitably someone asks “why did they do that?”, a handful of friends of mine and I simply sigh and respond, “it was in the script”.

      The scarier thing is that someday, that may not be a big enough excuse. There’s an entire generation who has no clue that Titanic and Apollo 13 were real world events long before they were feature films. It was bad enough when they didn’t know who Tesla or H.G Wells were… but not knowing Titanic was a real event? Even after Cameron’s done 218 dive specials on it? Sheesh, I learned about that shipwreck in jr high.

      • Shane Dopson says:

        Hi Summer,
        Those were only the thoughts I couldn’t hold in ;)

        What bugs me is that movies like this keep getting made. They look like intellegent consepts, but then the writting just falls flat. I think it has to do with what producers think of the movie-going public. It probably has to do with the fact that they audiance test-preview during daytime weekdays. The only people that can go to these are either homeless, unemployed or retired plople with nothing better to do durring the day. This is what producers think is a good sample of their audiance? This works for television shows as well.

        Sorry, starting to go off again.
        Really enjoy the show!!

        Cheers

  7. I’ve realized that Prometheus works better when you discard the assumption that there will be smart people in the future. I think these are all the people from the Idiocracy future who got their degrees at Costco.

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