Thematically “Prometheus” is about creation and destruction. As a piece of entertainment goes, however, I’m not sure Ridley Scott’s new space opera will create lasting memories. It won’t destroy the goodwill of the first couple of “Alien” films, but I don’t think it will add much to the legacy either. For me there is very little big bang in a movie that is reportedly about the most significant discovery in the history of mankind.
The basic storyline of “Alien” is in place in “Prometheus,” just don’t this movie a sequel or a prequel lest you annoy Sir. Ridley. A group of hapless space travellers go head to head with some intergalactic nasties who give hugging a bad name. But these face huggers aren’t the movie’s main draw. Led by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, the expedition into the farthest corners of the universe aims to prove a connection between ancient human civilizations and extraterrestrials. They discover a link to creation and religion that is more Book of Revelation than Genesis, however.
“Prometheus” doesn’t degrade the legacy of Scott or his beloved “Alien” but it doesn’t add much to the franchise either. It’s an expertly made, but clinical study of dread and wonder which, despite the two-and-a-half-year spaceship journey, never takes flight.
It’s a slow build. Scott allows the intensity to build throughout the two hour running time, leading up to a climax that is best described in
(mild spoiler) four words: Do it yourself caesarean! It’s a memorable scene, well orchestrated by Scott, but the movie peaks there, despite the half-hour that follows.
It’s a mix of heady ideas—which are revealed in the film’s first half—the odd action sequence and dialogue that sounds left over from a bad late seventies sci film. I expected a higher level of writing from a movie that is more about ideas than action.
Having said that, I loved Michael Fassbender’s automaton space butler David 8. He’s got many of the film’s best lines and if they ever need someone to play the lead in The Peter O’Toole Story, he’s the guy.
I know it is wrong to compare movies in the same way it’s a bad idea to compare your kids to one another, but Scott has made a movie that feels like something he’s done before, just not as well. I expected more. Perhaps “Alien” set the bar too high for the director to leap over.