Prometheus Review

What a big fat disappointment. While a perfectly decent sci-fi action film, Prometheus sits firmly in the ‘could do better’ category and reeks of unfulfilled promise. It could be considered unfair that for this particular film, the four and five star ratings were always going to be more difficult to come by, such is the weight of expectation. But then there is good reason for fans and cinema avids to have been straining at the leash to get to see it. A returning king, Ridley Scott, responsible for the seminal sci-fi horror Alien is returning to the film that shot him to success and garnered him acclaim, there are so few things in life to get excited for but this must certainly be one of them. More crushing is the disillusionment after the feverous anticipation, despite producing a good film, Ridley Scott is off my Christmas card list.

To put the Prometheus experience into a little bit of context it was originally conceived in early 2000 as Scott and James Cameron plotted a sequel to Scott’s film Alien, unfortunately the film became sidelined in 2003 when the Alien vs. Predator franchise was unveiled. In 2009 Scott had Jon Spaihts write a script for a prequel but then in 2010 decided on a different direction for the film, bringing on Damon Lindelhof to help rewrite Spaiht’s script to create a separate strand of story that was based in the Alien universe. Fans have been waiting 3 years from the first script until now, 3 long years…

The exploration vessel Prometheus is on course to planet LV-223, whether this is nearby LV-426 that appears in Alien and Aliens is never made clear, after an archaeological discovery by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). The couple, whose performances are on opposite ends of the talent spectrum with Rapace emulating Sigourney Weaver’s heroine extraordinaire, discover cave paintings around the world and from different times that indicate that there were alien visitors whom the civilisations worshipped and their murals direct them to the planet LV-223.

The ship is captained by the gruff but morally sound Idris Elba’s Janek, one of the few performers to come out of this with dignity and possibly an enhanced reputation, the Brit can produce an American accent that is more credible than most US residents. On board is bland Weyland Corporation representative Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), biologist Milburn (Rafe Spall), geologist Fifield (Sean Harris) and, a new android for the Alien universe, David (Michael Fassbender). This motley crew and some of Weylands hired guns attempt to help Shaw and Holloway unearth the secrets to human life, to meet our creators, but then the public are well aware of this from the trailers. There are just a few more aspects of the story to unfold and they are jaw-dropping, but your jaw will only drop to let out a sigh or to yawn.

Now of course it would be preposterous not to mention that the visuals are stunning and the production values blah blah blah. There is no point. It cost a lot of money, of course it looks great, but it doesn’t really LOOK great. The analysis of tiny detail and the intricacies of situations is lost and replaced by a bombastic computer generated aesthetic. The sticky unclean feel of Alien is gone, the tense building of anticipation is forfeit and worst of all there is no chance for most of the characters to develop and sustain a presence within the movie. Director and writers, hang your heads in shame, Scott said this film was darker than Alien, only if you close your eyes.

The saving grace of this grand theft Alien is Michael Fassbender. He invokes the spirit of Ash before him, he is the link to the original that proves there must be some of the old gift left in Scott, why he chooses to ignore it for the most part is the reason this film is unremarkable. Fassbender is remarkable however, as David, the latest android to appear in the Alien universe. Fassbender may well trump them all with his cool and calculated take on every situation, his unflinching gaze and subtlety is refreshing in the cacophony of banal that is the rest of the film. His eeriness is transfixing and he uses the experience of the previous androids to achieve a sinister serenity. Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba perform admirably but not any more than is expected from the roles, it is Fassbender who exceeds expectations while the rest sit in a Scott made comfort zone wherein nothing different is expected, this film was not made to challenge, merely to exist.

Yes there are 3 stars at the top of this review, yes it does not read like a three star review but it is. The film is fine, even good because it does everything you expect from sci-fi action. There are cool spaceships and scary aliens and fire. But it is the lack of everything aforementioned that leaves it nothing but tattered remains of a dream of something exceptional. Such overwhelming disenchantment is not easy to forgive, where is the mastermind behind one of the greatest films of all time? This is not quite RIP Ridley Scott but it does call into question his ability to achieve the same quality. If Alien is perfection, Prometheus is flawed. Scott wanted Prometheus to begin a different strand of the Alien universe, I would prefer it if he kept it away from Alien altogether. This leaves the idea of a Blade Runner sequel/prequel with its work cut out.

 

Thanks to the Cameo Picturehouse Edinburgh for press access 

About The Author

Jonathan went back to university to study Film Journalism in Glasgow in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. Writing for the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival, The Birmingham Review, The Electrolyte Magazine as well as Front Row Reviews he enjoys working across media and if not lambasting folk about politics it's film on his agenda. Working in The Electric Cinema in Birmingham has allowed him to come closer to the medium he loves, his favourite filmmaker is Wong Kar-Wai.

18 Responses

  1. Shaun Sayers

    I have to agree with most of this review. I was determined to enjoy it and, given the awesome feel of the trailer and the inconceivability that Ridley Scott would/could mess up, I put the reviews to one side and assumed I could safely ignore them. However, how wrong I was. The Cinematography was impressive, as you’d expect and, on reflection, I don’t even think there was a problem in the general plot …. but the script … Oh dear ….

    Quite why anyone would crew up the most important and expensive space exploration in human history with such a bunch of ill disciplined lunatics … well, it’s improbable. I tried to push past it, but couldn’t. As soon as they awoke from their 2 year space slumbers we got nothing but “fuck you,fuck yeah” macho/cheesey lines that would make Vin Diesel blush. Predictably they got themselves into difficulties more or less as soon as they landed and you found yourself actually wanting the aliens to knock some sense into them. What was the point of this? Was there some sort of need to dumb it down? Was there a fear that the story could be too complicated or conceptual if the crew were not a bunch of macho grunts? I lay the blame fairly and squarely on the sledgehammer script. Completely unnecessary and avoidable ruination of the film. I hope the scriptwriter never works again.

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  2. Sabby

    This review is spot on. Great job Jonathan Glen.

    This could have been something alot better, in terms on story and plot, characters.

    I feel film makers do this a lot, where it feels they have rushed the story or sometimes not bothered to really make a effort.

    There are major plot holes in this film… and events that just dont have a real meaning. Although Michael Fassbender played his role well, i dont agree with him coming across vindictive. Thats what i came across in the scenes where he is being mocked for just being a robot, and why does he do what he does in the film….. its so very unclear…

    I really got the feeling that Ridley Scott just did messed up a good opportunity to make a great sci fi action film. I think he just did a “Lost” in terms of the plot….which is basically a cop out for not making an effort to write a intelligent story.

    The film did look great though…. when the prometheous ship Lands, it looks amazing in 3D.

    I guess i will have to wait for Dark knight rises to feel satisfied with a good story.

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  3. Onidi

    I really cannot fault Jonathan Glen’s review, in fact: “my sentiments exactly” – would be the most apt comment under the circumstances. Fassbender’s character is the only interesting construct. Zero effort being made to explain the preliminary sequence or the reason why the ‘only’ (Later obviously ‘not’ the only) surviving goliath, when confronted by the aged ‘Weyland’ character (searching for eternal life) chooses to rip the head of Fassbender’s android, rather than make an attempt at polite conversation. So much for the idea of the ‘Intelligent life form’… My best guess being that the writer has it in mind that we the audience are to assume that goliath’s passing on of his DNA was an accident and that his race do not wish to face a threat from their DNA namesakes in the distant future. Hence the arsenal of Bio weaponry in goliath’s space ship. Noomi Rapace proceeds to recover from a Caesarian section within minutes and proceeds to ‘leap tall buildings in a single bound’ (a la Superman) as she outruns the collapsing planet (pre lift-off of the Alien ship). And as to why the android chooses to infect Marshall-Green’s character (doctor Holloway) is anyone’s guess? Fassbender’s stated aim being first and foremost to ‘destroy his parents’? Perhaps it was all the taunts at the billiard table that swung it (and the bioweapon was intended for his dad).
    Scott maybe a visual wizard, he may be the ‘man with his eye on all things on set’ – an adept multi tasking virtuoso – but many of his recent films show scant regard for any plot depth.

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  4. Mark Longhurst

    Certainly not Ridley Scott’s best movie, would have to say this is, in my humble opinion, his worst. I think this review is too kind! Totally disappointed!

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  5. Richie Russ

    I am an avid Science Fiction fan and this movie was a massive disappointment and Scott is finished at the top directors table. Why would somebody spend $1T building the space ship only to fill it with a bunch of idiots that make more mistakes than a bunch of convicts. The script left you with more questions than answers. Apart from the Android the characters were awful and they all seemed to dislike each other. The all made so many basic mistakes they really deserved to die… This is awful!

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  6. Crayonhussy

    I have only ever seen one film where i have left the cinema, salivating at the mouth, matrix. This film ticked every box and more.

    The film is without a doubt branching away from aliens. The concept of the previous films in this franchise have been blown out of the water as just a subcategory of what may prove to be some incredible new areas. So of course it doesn’t have the old feel of the alien films. If it did, i would certainly not feel like an entire new world of amazement had been opened up. If it did have the same old feel, i certainly would be yawning.

    I think this review strikes me as someone who grew up with the alien films and is after a bit of nostalgia. This is probably the darkest film i have ever seen, the only comparison in this area could possibly be the first 2 terminator films, the darkness of which, the other films never came close to reaching. For this fact alone i have to commend Mr Scott.

    So many questions answered, and so many new questions.

    Scott has intricately woven in real life questions in to a science fiction film. References to old Greek mythology, even in the appearance of the new aliens presented, visually looking like antique sculptures of Greek gods.

    I think this a first class film and in my books, has gone down as an all-time favourite for myself.

    The most irritating part of this film is that i am left with so many more questions and with the hope that he will soon be making more films in the areas he has opened.

    5 stars!!!! Go and watch the film.

    Ps. I never write reviews but i had to write one on this website, being that it was the first review that popped up, just to add my contrasting view!

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  7. nick

    While I hated the retarded scientific crew apart from the woman,I thought the film was as good as could be expected with todays movies made for 5 year old adults.

    I thought the bioengineering take on the alien was great,every part fit perfectly I guarantee people who disliked this now will look back on this the same way they looked back on blade runner.This was a very clever movie which most people don’t have the intelligence to see first hand.

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  8. Stdyeddy

    Jonathan, I don’t imagine Ridley Scott will notice if you fail to send him a Christmas card. Unfortunately I can’t help noticing how badly written this review is. Please ask someone who can write to tell you the difference between a full-stop and a comma. Use full-stops! As for the rest, well let’s start with:
    1. ‘…garnered him with acclaim…’ Garnered means gathered. You garner acclaim. ‘Garnered him with..’ doesn’t make sense.
    2. The word ‘that’ is missing from the next sentence.
    3. ‘…into a little bit of context…’ Stop mincing. What’s wrong with ‘in context’?
    4. Numbers smaller than 11 are usually written as words rather than figures when grown-ups write.
    5. ‘…on opposite sides of the talent spectrum…’ You mean opposite ends!
    6. ‘…but then the public are well aware of this …’ Whad’ya mean ‘the public’? Are you not one of us anymore? A grown-up would write, ‘…we’re all aware of this…’
    7. ‘…but you’re jaw… ‘ You mean ‘your jaw’. ‘You’re’ means ‘you are’. Just so you know.
    8. ‘…this film is so unremarkable…’ You mean ‘this film is unremarkable’. It’s not ‘so unremarkable’. Either it’s unremarkable or it isn’t
    9. ‘But it is the lack of everything aforementioned that leaves it nothing but tattered remains of a dream of something exceptional.’ Aforementioned?! Well lah di dah! There are some words missing from your sentence by the way. Your aforementioned writing is pants.
    10. ‘This is not quiet RIP Ridley Scott…’ ‘Quite’ not ‘quiet’.
    11. The last three sentences are semi-literate AND self-obsessed. You might prefer that he ‘kept it away from Alien altogether’ but it’s RIDLEY SCOTT’S FILM, NOT YOURS you nincompoop.

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  9. Oh boy, it's another Cowboys vs Aliens ...

    The problem is Lindehof. He can’t write original and his character’s banter is textbook fill in the dead space with whatever. Just like in Lost you have characters doing sequences of weird shit. He just clones and and cribs dialogue from other movies. A fanboy posing as a writer.

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  10. Jonathan Glen

    I’m glad to see this attracts opinion from the opposite ENDS (Thanks for that one Stdyeddy) of the spectrum. It was inevitable that it would disappoint some and please others.

    Stdyeddy, thanks for pointing out a couple of errors that were in there, I am an amateur writer who does this in between a full time job and a post grad so I don’t always have time for rigorous self-editing. That being said there were a couple of glaring errors so thanks for pointing those out, there is no excuse. I can see we don’t agree on the film and this is just my opinion. I think that once art is shown to the public it gives them a certain degree of ownership so I don’t think its just Ridley Scott’s film anymore and I was stating my preference not to consider it alongside Alien. I don’t think it is a bad film at all, I was simply disappointed by it. I’m sorry if you don’t like my writing, I do my best and hope to continue to get better.

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  11. Stdyeddy

    Bless your ‘eart Jonathan for taking this on the chin. I wondered if you might take the easy way out and not publish my observations.

    With regards to the film, I’m sorry to say I do agree with you. (It’s your poor writing that I object to.) It’s startling to see how much more Scott was able to accomplish so long ago, with so much less. Whilst he won’t notice the blazingly vacant spot on his mantlepiece where your Christmas card should be, he will, I’m sure, notice the chorus of disappointment that will echo around our little globe and punch him in his poor 74-year-old ears. I can’t imagine it won’t hurt a little. Alien is such a precious cinematic jewel, and given Mr. Scott’s age and this film’s heritage, he surely must’ve hoped this might be a crowning achievement.
    How do these things go wrong? It makes you wonder whether great film-making is more luck than art or science. How does commonsense get ejected from the script-writing air-lock when the man in the street can tell you that people who go on pioneering space missions are the best that humanity can find and are likely to always be so? Especially when that mission is the personal project of a multi-squillionaire playing his last throw of the dice. Alien’s Nostromo was a mining freighter with a skeleton crew. Workaday grunts are believable in that context. There surely was no place in Prometheus for the writer’s choice of dysfunctional geologist.
    And as for the oversights in continuity and logic that pepper the story, they became a distraction even while in the cinema. When someone has only 30 seconds of air remaining, how come they’re able to skip outside and carry on their adventures without a refill? How can a spaceship suffer a mid-air collision, crash to the ground on its side after falling a couple of thousand feet at what appears to be Earth’s level of gravity, and yet a disembodied head remains exactly where placed on a flat platform in the stricken craft?
    Would a scientist (remember, this is someone who is evidently clever), realising that he’s become infected with something unearthly then suit up and carry on with another sortie outside away from help or would he mention to the ship’s clinician that he needs some urgent help – for his sake and everyone else’s? And wouldn’t he warn his crewmates?
    The science in the opening scenes is just plain absurd; DNA? To create humans? Are we talking about the ‘engineers’ causing the Cambrian Explosion (the conjectured quantum leap in DNA complexity which occurred prior to the dinosaur era)? And if so, how does that bring about humankind? Is Ridley and his team asking us to imagine that a little bit of the secret ingredient would work its way through aquatic life forms, create land-dwelling reptiles, followed by the smallest shrew-like mammals (the mammal line’s contemporary ancestors with dinosaurs) and inevitably create hominids? In the same image? What about chickens? Did they expect those?
    There’s just too much that doesn’t fit with this story. I bet Steven Spielberg would’ve had good people iron out the inconsistencies. Alien is essentially a small and simple story with powerful atmosphere despite being largely set in outerspace. Prometheus has a grand story that doesn’t get told, a grand but ultimately pointless backdrop and paradoxically no atmosphere despite the stormy weather. Where were the memorable lines? What do writers get paid for nowadays? I feel sorry for Ripley Scott, even though I imagine he lives better than I do. I might send him a Christmas card to make up for Jonathan’s.

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  12. Jonathan Glen

    Stdyeddy,

    I hope you don’t actually think Ridley Scott was on my Christmas card list. I don’t actually have a Christmas card list, it is a figure of speech.

    I’m glad to see you can accept the film for what it is, vacuous. I hope you at least agree with the sentiment of the review, It isn’t always easy to catch the little typos as I’m sure you know.

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  13. Stdyeddy

    I know Jonathan. I know. I was being wry. I don’t have a Christmas card list either. Although if I ever start one, Ridley Scott will be on it. I’m not saying he’ll be at the top, but he’ll certainly be on it somewhere, probably some way below my dear friends Barack Obama, Kofi Annan, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise (am sure we can get him back from Scientology if everyone sends him a Christmas card) Scarlet Johannson, Kate Winslett, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama and my neighbour Sue.

    Typos – typographical errors made through ‘fat finger syndrome’. That’s one thing. And then there’s basic adherence to conventions in grammar, sentence construction (syntax), spelling and punctuation. And then there’s style. Well just as Ridley Scott has a responsibility to his art, to his investors and to his many fans, as an arbiter of public taste (a critic) so do you, though admittedly a far, far smaller responsibility, even if it’s just to avoid idiots like me lambasting you for your bad prose.

    I sincerely advise you to write your copy on MS Word and then copy and paste it into whatever program you use for your uploaded copy. That’ll take care of the vast majority of errors.

    I did say I agreed with your views on the film – nothing wrong with your thinking.

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  14. Jonathan Glen

    I’m on board with your attempt to draw poor Mr Cruise away from his deluded sect. Most of the things on your extensive list were typos but I do also admit that the review is far from my best work. Unfortunately I’d had a fairly bad day leading up to the writing and the gathering of coherent thoughts proved difficult due to my disappointment. I hope you will read more of my writing before deciding I’m a bad writer, even the best have an off day from time to time; just ask Peter Bradshaw.

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  15. blackopsxx

    can the same reviewers with their trashy and totally unrealistic reviews please stop; the film is very enjoyable to say the least and walter hill and david giler were part of the production team, the same who wrote the final script to alien. First of all why are these reviewers blasting the characters, Naomi rapace’ s character was excellent as the heroine who was the determined survivor yet still maintained her femininity, fassbender was awaesome as the dark humored and in fact villainous android, I actually liked cheron’s portrayal as the female corporate fiend her character was cold and wicked as you’d expect; the acting was not laughable if you thought it was then you need to watch alien vs predator and requiem then you will see acting that will really make you cringe, those arer films you really walked out od i walked out of requiem that was so dire; but really this film was tense and it was a thriller, the script flowed flawlessly, the adventure begins quickly in space and the film has more intellectual discussion than alien but when the horror starts it really hits you and is unrelenting; the caesarean section scene was more startling than even the chest burster scene in alien; this was not a film about xenomorphs, so expecting to have an alien run around and take the crew out one by one was not going to happen, and i think that is where all the dissapointment came for some, but dont know why becuase ridley scott made it perfectly clear that there were no xenomorphs in the movie, the creature that namoi gave birth to was the mother of all face huggers, man that creature which took out the last engineer was gruesome, if you wernt warped out by that scene then you are talking out of your arse!! sorry. The cinematography was great and you had the same feel in the ship as in the original alien, and why oh why are people so concerned about namoi’s agility after her casearean section, are you all so dull that you care about that detail wasnt the scene horryfying enough, maybe her adrenaline rush was so much after that she didnt feel all the pain, the nick picking by some of the reviewers here is quite nauseating, and all this crap about character devbelopment, in the original alien the only characters that develop are Ripley and the android and thats it, what other character devolopment was there??? reallY!! this film at the moment is not a cult classic but in time it will be and the cash in on this film will bne very large, all the scenes in this film are epic and jaw dropping and not from boredom but just amazing to watch especially the scene when the space jockey gets into his seat to take off in his craft, totally amazing and Gilers art work creates a convincingly spooky alien caves and the use of the hologram images was creepy enough as well!! and the aliens also looked very organic as well which is very important, realy good cgi, no one talks about that. This film is a must see in 3D and try it in imax as well, and I feel sorry for the dullards who didnt want to see anything positive in this movie, I will see it muliplte times while the rest of you can moan about crap, its so unfortunate that there are people these days that moan about everything, well done Ridley loved watching this movie you made my summer!!

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  16. blackopsxx

    @crayonhussy, i agree totally with your review, i think that those that have written poor reviews about prometheus were expectign an alien movie, and this is a movie with alien DNA so to speak only, it is its own movie, and it is very dark and thrilling, there is more intellectual discussion than the original alien and the film flows flawlessly, the fact that some people have compared alien Vs predator to this movie proves that alien nostalgia is present so fo course they were dissapointed, but that is no excuse to blast this movie, it is a classic as fas as im concerned, there are a lot of questions because how the hell can you explain the origins of life in the universe in one movie, as least you get to know that these engineers were involved in creating man, btu why were they creating these alien life forms on this moon and harvesting them in their thousands in those jars…… needs to be answered and why was earth a target for annihalation., sequels coming up im sure!! but seriously it is a great movie 4.5 star easy,

    Reply

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