Now it’s 2012 and Ridley has climbed back in his director’s chair to bring us Prometheus. This film has links to Alien in the fact that it is set in the same universe, however this is a new story. I and a lot of other people are going to see this because it is a ‘kinda’ prequel to Alien, one of the best sci-fi horror movies ever made. It isn’t a spoiler for me to tell you right now, Prometheus is not one of the best sci-fi horrors movies ever made. It doesn’t have the action to project it into the gun wielding league of Aliens either.
Prometheus is named after the Greek Myth, in which Prometheus the titan is punished by Zeus for giving mankind the gift of fire. A prosthetically be-wrinkled Guy Pearce who plays Peter Weyland, the big old dead boss man informs us of the ship's namesake. The crew are there in search of alien life, because Doctors Elizabeth Shaw (oh hi new Ripley) and Charlie Holloway have unearthed some cave drawings that have led them to this very planet they have all just landed on. Shaw has a theory that humans were created by aliens, so that crucifix necklace around her neck is nothing to do with God, but neither is it simple accessorising…it’s about some deep rooted loss issues which opens us up to the first of many pointless back stories and subplots you don’t really get to the bottom of or care about.
What this prequel has allowed Scott to do is remind us of the great characters from previous alien outings such as Ian Holm’s fantastic evil android Ash from Alien. Before everyone has actually woken up on the ship we meet the android David. The old conceit of robots being like emotionless humans and vulnerable to corruption is always interesting and I was very fond of how David mimics Lawrence from Lawrence of Arabia, hence his fabulous hair. This android is a little on the evil side too and emotionless as he is, he seems to enjoy messing with the humans. He drives a lot of the plot along in a kind of interfering and malicious way, he’s taking back control people! Flee!
Michael Fassbender gives a great performance as David. Although I seriously have no idea why Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is on the ship, she’s not the captain, she’s just this repressed control freak who shouts at everyone but does nothing (evidently she’s never heard of the saying ‘if you want something done well, do it yourself’). I think she may just be there to hold a flamethrower in one particularly odd scene. Her back story is, like a lot of the characters, insubstantial and pointless, there is a Star Wars like reveal for Vickers but it was so obvious from the first twitch of her face that when she does blurt it out the audience almost audibly thought: “Yep. Moving on.”
There are splashes of sci-fi genius in Prometheus. The equipment that maps out the layout of the tunnels they are exploring on the planet is rather nifty but the geologist in charge of said equipment is just another lame comedy character with no other purpose but to add to the death toll. His glasses wearing partner in crime is no better but their scene with the first alien life form discovered (aka. Testicles-on-long-upside-down-penis) was great. It is a shame there were not more scenes like this. Any action that did occur was so fast you missed it. They had the element of surprise but it was all too brief, “Oh! I missed that, can we have some more?” but no, no you can’t. What you can have more of is people earnestly discussing aliens being the parents of everything and more people plodding around the ship not seeming to know quite what they are supposed to be doing and hoping nobody has noticed. Add to this the blandest dialogue in the universe and you’re just screaming out for everyone to be killed by parasitic alien squid thingies.
Kate Dickie who plays Ford is a fantastic actor so why was every line she delivered, be it joke or serious observation, said like she was reading the shipping forecast? I have come to conclusion that she hated her character’s haircut that much she decided she just wouldn’t bother. I wish the film-makers hadn’t bothered with so many of the characters, there were just too many littering the film up. Fewer characters could have meant more in-depth storylines that I actually cared about.
Speaking of not caring, I haven’t really mentioned Shaw, our protagonist, at all. Yes she runs about, yes there’s a fun gory bit but after that you wonder why she’s not dead or at the very least in agonising pain. She may have had the determination but I am sorry you just don’t believe she has the ability to succeed. Ripley in Alien? She’s intelligent and ready fight for her survival. Sorry Shaw, you’re just a bore.
Going backwards has only allowed Ridley Scott to echo aspects of Alien instead of bettering it. Prometheus as a stand alone film was only ok when it could have been outstanding. Alien lovers, make sure you stick it out until the very last scene; it pleased the geek inside of me.