Prometheus is going to be a very tough film to review. Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction has major flaws but it is a film that will stay in my mind for a long time. It raises some very interesting questions, and for the first two acts it handles these questions well. However, things seem to fall apart in the final fifteen minutes of the film, but that does not erase what came before.
Much of the hype surrounding Prometheusbefore it was released has been over its connection to the Alien franchise. No matter how many times Ridley Scott, Damon Lindelof or (for some odd reason) some critics tell you that this film is its own entity, make no mistake that this is a prequel to Alien. You’ve got your typical Alien film space crew. You’ve got your android (or should I say androids?). You’ve got your major gross out moment, and, of course, you’ve got a bunch of explanation of the Alien mythology. The film itself follows the crew of the Prometheus as they search for mankind’s maker.
Ridley Scott directs the film from a script by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. The more Ridley Scott directs films the more it seems that he caught lightning in a bottle with his earlier works. It’s been a while since Scott has directed something interesting (or even shown proficient skills as a director). While his direction here is nothing to go crazy over, it is his best work since Gladiator. He seems at home with the science fiction and horror elements of the film and many of the sequences are very well staged. His one major problem with the direction is that he lets something else (whether that be studio figureheads or the script or both) guide the film a little too often. Some portions of the film seem like they have too much in it (for instance a random action scene in the middle of the film that comes about illogically or another scene where the film beats the audience over the head with the reveal of a relationship between two characters) while other portions of the film seem like they are missing something (like when the captain of the ship drops a bunch of exposition while leaving the audience with no idea where he got that information from).
Besides some poor dialogue and illogical actions from characters, the much-maligned script really isn’t a problem until the last fifteen minutes or so of the film. Critics have complained about the lack of answers to the questions the film asks. For the most part, however, the film gives you enough information to make an educated guess at the answers. However, when the film starts asking “Who created our creators?” and other questions in the last fifteen minutes of the film with no intent of answering those questions, that is a problem.
Even at its worst the film is grounded by a strong cast. Noomi Rapace is only doing a repeat of a Sigourney Weaver performance but she does it well. Charlize Theron continues her streak of playing ice-cold characters with what might be her strongest performance of the last year. She plays it with enough ambiguity to arise some interesting questions about her character from viewers. Idris Elba provides a great source of comic relief and all around awesomeness while Guy Pearce is great in a nearly unrecognizable role. Even the film’s newbie, Logan Marshall-Green, handles himself well. However, it is Michael Fassbender that steals the film. The androids have always provided some of the better performances in Alien films, but Fassbender’s performance as David might be the best yet. The portrayal of David might be one of the most ambitious components in this film (he is pretty much a bipedal version of HAL 9000), and Fassbender nails it.
Ultimately, Prometheus is an ambitious film that just doesn’t know how to finish. However, it can still be considered a worthy addition to the Alien franchise.