Movie Review: Prometheus (2012)
Alien: Covenant is almost here so it was time to re-watch Prometheus. The film, directed by Ridley Scott with his first return to the Alien franchise, stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Guy Pearce, who is almost unrecognizable in his, kind of bad, old man make-up. Scott went out of his way to proclaim this film as not a part of the Alien universe hoping to surprise us with the reveal of a Xenomorph. While the talk of Prometheus is often full of negativity, it’s just about average.
Prometheus isn’t great, but it’s also not horrible
The opening of the film moves rather quickly through some exposition. After we see a ripped version of Powder eat his breakfast only to be ripped apart by it at the molecular level and fall into a waterfall, the film moves to an archeological expedition. Here, Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) uncover a cave painting with six orbs that they say is the oldest they’ve uncovered. This leads to the crew of the Prometheus in cyro-sleep and the introduction to David (Fassbender).
David is the first flaw in Scott’s attempt to hide the connection of this movie and the others in Alien. It’s clear early on in this film that David is different from everyone else. Fassbender plays him pretty perfectly, but an odd connection to Lawrence of Arabia was a little unsettling at times. David is seen watching the film early on quotes directly from it two or three times randomly throughout the film. His hair is even styled to mimic Lawrence, and it seems that David thinks himself in a similar situation. Lawrence is tasked with bringing the tribes of Arabia together to help fight the Turks during World War I. David hopes, or is designed, to be the liaison between the humans from Earth and what Shaw and Holloway call the Engineers.
Where the movie takes the most unbelievable and slightly weak exposition stance is during the initial wake up sequence. All of the formerly sleeping humans meet and a hologram of Peter Weyland (Pearce), another indication that this is in the Alien universe, informs them all of their purpose. So, why did all these people sign up for this crazy space expedition? Why had many of them never met before this moment? Yeah, that’s the issue with the writing here. It attempts to recreate a scene and some of the tension from Alien, but fakes almost no sense in the way it’s set up.
Writing is a weakness
The writing is probably where a lot of the issues in this film falls. It would be near impossible to point out other mistakes without spoiling plot details, so be warned! SPOILERS COMING! The “map” that led Shaw and Holloway to this planet system, which turns out to not be the home of the Engineers but a weapon’s depot, makes almost no sense. Why did the Engineers lead the humans to this planet? It’s a huge plot hole that is never really explored. Even if you argue that they never lead them in the first place, but still why did they show the ancient civilizations? Did they feel the need to cover their tracks? Were they like, “Hey, see these planets up here, don’t screw up or we’ll come down and kill you all!”
The other big issue with the writing are unbelievable character motivations and reactions. All these people who signed up for a job without apparently knowing what that job is are sure mad about it. It seems likely, if you’re willing to sign up for something where you’ll be asleep for two years and not know what you’re doing you won’t be so upset to find out. The religious symbolism, the parent issues, pregnancy problems, and “plot twist” that is telegraphed pretty clearly early on just add the puzzling choices this film presents.
Despite the issues with the writing, the film still is fairly easy to watch. It’s not super fun or anything, but it still offers enough intrigue to keep you going till the end. It’s not the most satisfying ending either, but at least it gets there. Prometheus earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.