*Warning: There will be Spoilers here*
Now that Prometheus has been out for a few weeks, much has been said about it. Some good, some bad, mostly indifferent. In a way this is a film that was almost as doomed from the start then the crew of the titular ship. The ‘Alien’ franchise has 2 great movies, 1 decent one, and 3 more steaming piles. However, the greatness of those first two really still carry a lot of weight. Although Ridley Scott went as far out of his way as possible to break people’s expectations with the ties to those films, make no mistake about it, this is within the same breath. That serves to the film’s success but also to its downfalls.
Once again, huge spoiler warning. If you haven’t seen it yet, best to come back afterward!
‘Prometheus’ starts on a barren landscape with rolling hills and desolate tundra. A giant shadow looms overhead until we reach a massive waterfall. Standing on the edge we see a large, almost luminescent humanoid take and drink from a strange vial. This liquid rapidly dissolves his DNA as he drops into the water, where new genetic connections are made. This scene is followed by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) finding a cave painting in Scotland that has connections to the exact paintings of other civilizations gapped by centuries. And from there we are off into deep space where discoveries are made, answers are revealed, and things go badly for the crew of the Prometheus.
Once on this new planet, the team discovers the long dead bodies of the Engineers (or Space Jockeys as we have been accustomed to calling them). We see more of the black ooze that killed the Engineer at the beginning of the film. This ooze has the power to end life and create it; making hybrid copies of the things that it touches (wonder how that will come into play later on?). Soon the crew finds themselves beset by alien creatures, contamination, and all sorts of space drama peril, as a message starts unfolding as to who and what we really are comes to the forefront.
The first half of ‘Prometheus’ was by far my favorite part of the movie. From David the android (played wonderfully by Michael Fassbender) navigates the ship while the rest of the crew is in hyper-sleep. These scenes wonderfully construct this world and bring so much depth and reality to what Scott is composing. Once at LV-223 (the moon sustaining life), the movie really pulls off the feeling of discovery. Everything feels like wide-eyed wonder and magical. The set design based off of H.R. Giger’s work in particular, really brings so much weight and life to the film. This is a film I would have been happy with just sitting back and watching some sort of archeological dig for 2 and a half hours.
That is not what you get in the second half of this film. As much as I can understand that stories, and ones in this universe, follow a structure and need a conflict. That’s not to say this movie doesn’t pull that off, it does have some great creatures and some wonderful moments in it. But it did leave me wishing for more. Once the creatures are awoken, we are left with hypothesis, not answers. While that is all well and good, it makes ‘Prometheus’ feel exactly like what it is aiming for; which is; its own series of films. We learn the Engineers want to kill us off for some reason and that something (we are never told what) stopped them at first. After the black goo hits the fan, and the crew is reduced to a human and an android on a mission to go to yet another planet to ask those higher than the Engineers ‘why are we here, what does it all mean’, I was left wanting more than what I got. I would love to see the continuing series if that is what happens, because there are a lot of questions posed by the film and I’d love to see what route they take.
With that being said: should they continue with this story line, there are some things I would like for those films to NOT do.
I don’t want each film to turn into a hostile alien chase film. Those are fun movies and entertaining, but I’ve seen that before and done better than it is in this film (by the same director). I’d love to see the ‘Prometheus’ series go more in the direction of ‘2001’. This is a film that carries lofty ideas and has some wonderful places it could go, it just needs to not be afraid to go there. I think fans of this series would love to see something more like that than just a retread of what they’ve seen before. Science Fiction is a wonderful genre to highlight and speculate about ourselves and the universe around us, and it’s better when it’s serious and not just survival-horror.
Now, I’ve come down a bit on this movie on what it isn’t; that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I thought it was great. I had a blast sitting in the movie theater watching it unfold and a really want to return to it when it is released on DVD. There is a lot of wonder in this film, a lot of great performances, so good thrills, and more than once did I sit there with a smile plastered on my face. Like I said earlier, this is a wonderfully constructed world where the story feels important and familiar. This is a film definitely worth your time and money. It reaches higher than most films of its genre, but it’s wings do end up a little burned. But what it does have is possibility. If this is the beginning, then it’s a journey I can’t wait to go on.
And yes, there is a Xenomorph in this movie. It is born from a woman, born from a giant face hugger, out of the chest of a Space Jockey. I liked it but it didn’t need to be in the film.
The Good: A visually impressive film that builds and expands the universe of its foundation. There are great sights and lots of heavy ideas and themes. If you are fan of sci-fi, this is a must see film. Definitely see this one on the big screen. Wonderful direction and set design.
The Bad: It does not quite reach the levels it was aiming for. Turns too much into a cat and mouse film toward the end. My only other real complaint is the score. It was not for me at all. Anytime the music and main theme was repeated I noticed it and it took me out of the film. I wanted something a little more from it and I don’t know what
Worth to See: Yes. Regardless of my complaints, this is a film that is full of a lot of greatness.