Relatively speaking, I’m a newcomer to Ridley Scott’s epic sci-fi masterpiece, having only seen Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection for the first time last year about 18 months ago. Since Alien was released over 30 years ago, it has taken me a long time to get round to watching it. The reason why I’m telling you this is because while I did enjoy and appreciate the films, my Alien knowledge isn’t very deep, and for this reason, rightly or wrongly, I went into Prometheus viewing it more as a standalone sci-fi film than a direct relation to Alien.
With that out the way, here’s what I thought of Scott’s latest offering to the sci-fi genre. Featuring a supremely talented cast made up of the likes of Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace, Scott had assembled a dream team to accompany his audience into space. Though Rapace takes the lead as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw, Fassbender stole every scene as the android David. In some respects, I was expecting this would happen. Fassbender has a charismatic screen presence and, when he’s also putting on such an intriguing, eerily calm accent, it’s hard not to be captivated by him.
That isn’t to say that Rapace falls flat, though. The Swedish adaption of the Millennium trilogy where Rapace took the lead of Lisbeth Salander is on my to-watch list so the only film I have seen Rapace in is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which I have to say I was disappointed by. In my opinion, it didn’t match its predecessor in any respect: Holmes and Watson’s relationship wasn’t as enjoyable and I couldn’t engage with Rapace’s gypsy, Simza.
This wasn’t the case in Prometheus. Rapace’s Shaw is very likeable and far from fragile. She’s a determined woman with strong beliefs. Comparisons with Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley are inevitable and, happily, Rapace doesn’t let the trend for strong, resourceful women fall. She is far from a carbon copy, though.
Looking at the supporting cast, Theron remains ice cool as Weyland Corporation employee Meredith Vickers, Idris Elba is likeable as captain Janek and Logan Marshall-Green is suitably passionate as Shaw’s fellow archaeologist and love interest, Charlie Holloway.
From a technical perspective, Prometheus wows in all the right ways. It is an undeniably beautiful film, which opens with panoramic views of a fertile, new world – reported as a fledgling Earth by some reviewers. These shots, I understand, were taken in Iceland, no CGI necessary. Trying to keep this review spoiler free, I will say that what is discovered on this exploration is also equally impressive. Scott certainly has a way of creating something that is beautiful yet terrifying, and these Engineers certainly command the screen.
The action shots were suitably epic with Shaw and co having to head back to the Prometheus very quickly on more than one occasion. During one memorable scene Fassbender’s David calmly and coolly rescues Shaw and Holloway from outside the Prometheus after the duo become trapped outside during a storm. David takes it all in his stride, carefully clipping Shaw and Holloway’s harnesses to his own while the storm rages on.
Again, trying to remain spoiler free, I will say that I found the story captivating. I wouldn’t say it was easy to follow – when is a sci-fi film ever? – but I did have a grip on what was happening for the majority of the time. Certain aspects of the plot I guessed a few scenes in advance, though speaking to other people that was the case with them too. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable watching what I preempted unfold. Yes, there was a lot of sequel bait but, once again, that was something I did preempt.
As I explained earlier, by coming at Prometheus from a somewhat novice approach may have enhanced my viewing. I wasn’t expecting certain things to happen and, rightly or wrongly, was able to appreciate it as a standalone film.
Nice review. Also saw this this past week and really loved it. Fassbender was stunning and sets looked amazing. It’s been a while since I saw a good science fiction movie. I still have not seen the third and fourth Alien movies. I heard they weren’t so good, but still want to check those out.
Fassbender is such a naughty scene stealer! 😛
I think Prometheus is a very good addition to the Alien universe though you’re right, the same can’t really be said about Aliens 3 and Alien: Resurrection!
Game of Shadows really blew; you really really must see the Millennium Trilogy though, Rapace is fantastic. Coming at this from a huge Alien fan, still really enjoyed it; I’ll put my review up soon.
Yep, it’s on my LOVEFiLM list so hopefully I’ll see the Millennium trilogy soon. Based on Game of Shadows I wasn’t sure if I’d want to watch them but I do now after seeing Rapace in Prometheus.
I’ll check out your review when it’s up 🙂
I think that fresh perspective works wonders. I was too hampered by baggage coming from my love of Alien and Aliens. But I’m sure Prometheus will become even more effective on second viewing when the initial flaws are less troublesome and I can enjoy it for what it is, rather than what I wanted it to be.
Perhaps Aliens director James Cameron should have a go at one of these origins stories. Indeed, it would be interesting given that Cameron and Scott do disagree on some of the background relating to the “alien” creatures. For one, Scott never envisaged an alien Queen birthing the eggs, rather he wanted the aliens to cocoon their victims and from the cocoons came more aliens.
Great to see you back writing on the blog Claire!
That’s interesting about Jim Cameron. Perhaps he should take the helm of the next one. If there is one, that is. I wonder whether Predator will also be revived…
You and I are gonna disagree, Claire. I thought Prometheus had too many flaws to make it worth the grade you’ve given it. I’ve linked to this review, so you can read my thoughts, but I was disappointed with the film generally.
Wow, Rodney, I’ve looked at your review but I’m going to have to come back to it later when I’ve got more time!
You’ve got to give it to Prometheus, it’s caused a huge amount of discussion!
I just saw this yesterday and I came out of the theater wondering why so many people seem to dislike the film or be totally nonplussed by it. I thought it was a great sci-fi movie even if the tie-ins to the Alien universe weren’t very strong.
I’m with you there, Andy. As a standalone sci-fi film it’s fantastic, and a great addition to the genre. Ridley Scott certainly hasn’t lost his touch, in my opinion.