When I was 8-years-old, my parents were having a party and they sent me to bed. I snuck out and watched TV and Alien was on. I watched the whole thing from the beginning and couldn't peel my eyes off the screen. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen up to that moment of my life and ever since then, I was really curious about the unanswered questions that movie posed. Fast Forward 23 years and Prometheus was advertised as the prequel to Alien and I started drooling. I wish I wouldn't have because this is not what I was hoping for.
Director Ridley Scott has returned to the genre that made him famous and territory that will seem eeirly familiar. Promethues is not a true prequel in the sense that it has the same characters or plot points, but it is a film that explains what happens in 1979's Alien. That being said, it's almost nothing like Alien and that disapointed me. I was hopeing that Prometheus would capture the same claustraphobic, gritty, terror that made the first the subject of legend. It's far from that. Prometheus is a thinking man's sci-fi. The horror that was in the Alien series has been stripped away and reduced down to only a few scenes. That's fine but the tension and fear of more blood that was expected in between the scenes of carnage wasn't there. Instead this is a film that is bold in its scope, impressively risky in its plot and utterly confusing in its execution.
Noomi Rapace (original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes 2) stars as an almost anti-Ripley character who is one of two scientists have that discovered that (brace yourself) there is no God. As it turns out, we were created by an alien race and we've discovered a map to go visit them and that's just what we set out to do. But once we get there, it's not as we hoped and things go horribly wrong. The fact that it's a movie that deals with faith from such an unpopular opinion is impressive for a major studio to do. The lack of protests amuse me since I assume it's because the plot is too intelligent for those that would protest to understand.
Joing Rapace in the cast is Idris Elba (Thor, NBC's The Office) and Charlize Theron, who is great but her role is completely pointless and feels like a studio note that got shoehorned in. The scene-stealing star of Prometheus though is Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Inglorius Bastards). He plays an android named David who is far from the horror of Ash from Alien or the heroic Bishop from Aliens. David is the most human of them all in that he longs to be human but has all the creepy, disconnected ambiguity of hero or villain that makes him so much fun to watch. This will go down as one of Fassbender's best roles in a list that seems to be constantly trumping itself.
I wonder if I went into Prometheus with zero expectations I would have enjoyed it more. I think it's a no-brainer to say that I would. But the target audience for the film is not one that enjoys no-brainers. This is one of the smartest and most challenging sci-fi movies ever made and for that it might be regarded highly as time goes on. However, it seemed to fail to deliever on a level of expectations of horror and fright in a series that has yet to disapoint in either.
The studio told us critics to not write a review for this film until the weekend it came out despite seeing it weeks ago. I'm glad they told us that becaue I needed that time to digest on how I felt about it. If I watched this again, I probably would enjoy it more since I know what to expect. But after a single viewing, I left disapointed and confused by a lot of scenes. There are moments of brilliance and balls but then there are moments that feel like they were put into the film only because some moron from the studio thought it needed some sex or more violence. But those pointless scenes just lead to loose ends in plot points that drag the whole message of the film down with it.
Prometheus (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B