With the highly anticipated Alien Covenant being released in just over a weeks’ time, I thought it would be fitting to revisit the first instalment in the Alien prequel franchise, Prometheus. My thoughts on the entirety of the Alien franchise thus far has been that the first two were incredible, the third one was disappointingly average, and Alien Resurrection is just a disservice to the series as a whole. In my opinion, Prometheus, a film that admittedly doesn’t tie into Alien as explicitly as one may assume, fits somewhere in between. There are elements of brilliance, yet Ridley Scott’s return to his masterpiece creation, the Alien franchise, is mixed.
The film follows the crew aboard the ship Prometheus, who are searching for the creators of Mankind, following the discovery of intriguing clues on Earth. The team find themselves on LV-223, whereby the expedition leads our protagonists on a journey of discovery, beauty and danger. With terror lurking around every corner, the film highlights the questions about man’s immeasurable desire for knowledge, and how it may lead to our downfall.
One of the major positives of Prometheus is its stunning aesthetics. The film is a visual masterpiece, with a breath-taking atmosphere located throughout. The beauty of LV-223 is perfectly captured from the film’s opening scene, with gorgeous cinematography to engage us into a magnificent world of pure elegance. It is this initial radiance that draws audiences in, only to surprise us with the true horrors and terrors of the planet that lurk below. The dramatic contrast of the initial peace to the steadily increasing sense of dread throughout the narrative aids the eerie tone of the film, demonstrating the parallels of empathy that not only the characters feel, but we feel. So yes, the production design, setting and special effects of the film are flawless.
Concerning the characters and their respective performances, this is where the film begins to become a mixed bag. There are truly memorable performances in Prometheus, most notably Michael Fassbender as the android David, who is more complex than any of his human counterparts. There is an element of intense curiosity that fills David, learning about the human condition, which has some dire consequences in the films second half. However, despite the mistakes that David makes, Fassbender’s amazing performance sparks sympathy from audiences, making him the film’s standout character. Noomi Rapace is another welcome addition to the franchise as the film’s lead Elizabeth Shaw, delivering the sense of adventure and excitement of discovering the planet that parallels our reactions. Rapace also conveys a sense of true fear that is layered with a harrowing personality in the film’s best scene involving an emergency medical operation. Idris Elba, Charleze Theron and Guy Pearce all turn in serviceable performances, yet they or their character aren’t particularly special. On the other hand, Shaw’s love interest Holloway, played by Logan Marshall-Green is an incredibly bland and boring character, which can be said for pretty much a majority of the side characters. It all equates to an average ensemble, which is disappointing, compared to the original Alien, in which each crew member was unique and had distinguishable personalities.
Furthermore, some of the character’s actions within the narrative are incredibly stupid, and are just an excuse to progress the plot further. If you were in a dark and creepy cave, surrounded by a sense of fear, followed by the arrival of a disgusting looking snake, would you reach out your hand to it to try and pet it? No you wouldn’t, because it’s incredibly obvious what is going to happen. There lies another flaw with Prometheus, in that it’s plot and overall structure is disheartingly predictable. I could tell exactly which characters would survive and which wouldn’t, which is a shame considering the unpredictability of the original Alien. That’s not to say that the plot is bad. In fact, the idea of mankind searching for the creator is fascinating, raising some relevant topics for discussion.
So from this, you can understand that there is a dilemma in stating whether Prometheus is a good film. It’s definitely a divisive film among fans of Alien and sci-fi fans in general. For everything it does spectacularly, it does something else that is unfortunately a let-down. That being said, there are some brilliant ties into the Alien universe, yet we are still waiting in my opinion for a triumphant return to the series from Scott. Let’s hope that comes with Alien Covenant, which is released in the UK on 12th May.
I give Prometheus 6.5 out of 10