Directed by Ridley Scott
Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.
“Big things have small beginnings”. This line can be seen as a strong analogy for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s first non-Russell Crowe movie in six years. More important to some is that this film has a strong connection to what many consider to be Scott’s greatest work. Combine this with an all-star cast and a plot that has remained largely a mystery and you are looking at one of the most anticipated non-superhero films of 2012.
On the subject of the cast, the team assembled for the film is fairly impressive. Whenever you gather talents such as Theron, Elba, Pearce and Fassbender, you know the film will not have many problems in terms of performance. Without a doubt, Michael Fassbender owns the film as the android David, relying heavily on subtle facial twitches and body language to put his performance over the top. Every line of dialogue and every action feels cool, calculated and methodical, just like an android should be, while also having undertones of brutal humanity. Additionally, Idris Elba has a small but satisfying role as the ship’s Captain, Javek. He brings a lot of the comic relief and by far has one of the better lines of the film, making himself one of the more memorable members of the Prometheus crew. Finally, Guy Pearce absolutely destroys it in his small yet crucial role as Peter Weyland, the owner of the corporation funding the mission. While it is not the largest role Pearce has ever had, it plays a huge role in the film’s third act, and he steals the show in each of the scenes.
Unfortunately, the two weakest links should have been the strongest: Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron. Rapace’s Dr. Shaw is borderline obnoxious throughout most of the film, with her arrogance undermining the majority of her likability. Even though as the film progresses it becomes easier to warm up to her, but I found myself liking and relating more to David throughout. Luckily for Rapace, a lot of her character’s flaws can be blamed more on writing instead of performance, which cannot be said about Theron’s Vickers. She suffers from the lack of development early on like Rapace, but Theron is essentially given nothing to do but scowl and be the stereotypical bad-ass women stock character (i.e., a bitch). This is a lame character type that has been over-used and never been that great to begin with, and in all honesty the character of Vickers is unnecessary, so it is a waste of Theron’s fantastic talent. There are moments where there may be more to her character but we do not see enough to actually make us care. It may have been more convenient and beneficial to the film if the character was simply removed entirely.
Another area the film struggles with several times is in pacing, especially in the first act. We start off intense and fast, but then after we are introduced to the Prometheus crew the film begins to lag for about twenty minutes. Some can argue that this span of time is used to develop the characters, but there are just so many of them that it seems to ruin the overall flow of the film. Removing a few minutes of watching our protagonists wander aimlessly in the pyramid would have helped keep up the intense pacing of the opening and parlay that into the film becoming a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish. Thankfully, once the action gets going in the second act, the film refuses to let up. From there on out the audience is treated to a frantic and suspenseful race to the end. Without going into too much detail, the surgery scene near the tail end of the second act is one of the most suspenseful scenes I have seen in any film in a long time.
From a technical standpoint, this film is absolutely gorgeous. Arthur Max‘s production design and Sonja Klaus‘ sets are absolutely beautiful and engross the viewer into the film’s world, making them believe they are right there on the planet. And perhaps even more amazing than the look of the sets is the look of the film itself, as Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski has done an extraordinary job in terms of lighting and shots. The scenes that truly shine are the ones in the pyramid, ironically, as the shadows and darkness harken back to work that Derek Vanlit used way back in 1979. If you love well-constructed sets and beautiful shots, you will love the technical wizardry featured in Prometheus.
Lastly, and what could be considered most important to some, is Prometheus‘ connection to Alien. While the film can be loosely considered a prequel and answers some big questions about the franchise that many fans may have, it also does a great job of being a standalone film. It ever manages to raise more questions about the series as a whole, in a good way. Fans of the franchise should be happy with Scott’s return while newcomers should find it accessible.
Even though there are some fairly prominent flaws, particularly in the pacing and performances, Prometheus is still a fantastic film that is worth taking a look at. Going back to the basics of the Alien franchise and relying more on suspense with moments of brutality is by far one of the smartest things that could have been done–giving hope to fans who have longed for more. But more importantly, Prometheus works even better as a standalone film, providing audiences with a film that gives genuine action and suspense while not sacrificing too much on story or characters. It lives up to most of its hype and should be a must-see at least once, perhaps even twice to fully appreciate its overall epic scale.
Prometheus Theatrical Trailer #2