A Good Enough Doomed Mission - 'Prometheus' Review
A Lot of Legacy To Live Up To
The return of Ridley Scott to the Alien universe will forever be branded by the debate on whether a tangential prequel was the right way or a disappointing creative decision. I will not go into how this ties into the later Alien: Covenant, which makes things even more problematic.
Because no matter how much it was reported or reaffirmed in the marketing that the story would build its own mythology, Prometheus was doomed to generate different level reactions of disappointment by denying us Ripley and the emblematic Xenomorphs.
Prometheus happens about 30 years before the events depicted in Alien. Someone with a twisted sense of humor put the name "Prometheus" (the Titan who defied the gods, gave mankind fire and was eternally punished for that) on the ship/mission. Entrusted with following a stellar map--obtained in different artifacts of several ancient Earth cultures--that allegedly is an invitation to meet the "engineers," creators of humanity.
All this financed by the Weyland Corporation, which of course from the get-go makes us understand that there will be a hidden agenda.
Aboard the ship, stands out the presence of archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), Weyland Corporation representative Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), Captain Janek (Idris Elba) and the Android David (Michael Fassbender).
The tensions of power, plus the mismanagement of vital evidence found on the moon LV-223 make it evident that the mission is headed for a catastrophic failure.
Expectations Not Being Met
My main problem with Prometheus is not its unstable rhythm or its elaborate script designed more to spread "easter eggs" instead of building a more satisfying story. My main problem is one that seems to have gone somewhat unnoticed, but which in my opinion not only shows some critical script errors in the character development but is also an insult to one of the most important spirits of the saga: survival.
Because if there is something that Ripley taught us in this saga is its tenacity and love for life for god's sake. Here, Ridley Scott shows us a gallery of characters who, asides Weyland (Guy Pearce), seemed to hate breathing. On the face of any small adversity they automatically gave up on life.
Some ask to be burned alive (and others don't destroy the person who burned alive her loved one after denying him entrance to the medical service). Others, perhaps the worst example of this, immediately decide (three people at the same time, in a matter of seconds, without an ounce of resistance) to immolate themselves because, well, "She said that we have to in order to save the planet". It's no surprise that the audience didn't connect with their human fictional counterparts.
But let’s see the other side of the coin. If we ignore those flaws, Prometheus has many solid points in its favor. If we do the mental exercise of imagining it as a film without association with the Alien saga (or even imagining it like the first of them), suddenly this film written by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts doesn't look so bad.
What's Your Rating For Prometheus?
Performances and Cinematography
The casting, by itself, saves Prometheus. And although Rapace, Elba, Pearce, and Theron are proven talents, the one that steals the thunder is the lethally stoic Michael Fassbender. His android David not only unites the whole saga thematically with a memorable AI, but his character is the one who perhaps performs the deepest and more interesting philosophical musings and moves the plot forward.
I'll go even further. Scott's direction, even with a script that is far from perfect, is a certificate of quality, as well as the design of the new alien species and Dariusz Wolski's cinematography.
Prometheus will never be at the level of the first two entries of this cinematic universe but did enough to revive the franchise and keep old and new viewers looking forward to new stories.
Considering the legacy, that's not small achievement.
Release Year: 2012
Director(s): Ridley Scott
Actors: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards