<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce.
To those who aren’t Alien fans this film will simply be a strange sci-fi movie that is visually nice to look at. To most Alien fans Prometheus will represent a sort of disappointment and will reaffirm the fact that they don’t make them like they used to.
Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and several other good films make up the list of films by the 75 year-old acclaimed director Ridley Scott. Alien with Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt is considered a landmark in science fiction and horror films. In space no one can hear you scream, but that movie certainly made audiences scream in the theatres. It was a brilliantly art directed, slow paced but taut film with intense performances and chilling music. Of course, it also introduced award-winning (for Alien) set designer/sculptor HR Giger’s ‘aliens’ to the world making them the most recognisable evil aliens in the science fiction universe. No one has ever replicated the aliens’ menace and sheer frightfulness again.
Alien Resurrection was the fourth film in the saga back in 1997, which was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and written by today’s horror and sci-fi maven Joss Whedon. It was better than the third film and a fitting finale to the saga. After that of course we were subjected to the Aliens Vs Predator movies that really were just less-fun video games about two sci-fi characters fighting each other and humans being collateral damage.
Okay, enough backstory. So in the golden years of his life original Alien director Ridley Scott wants to examine the meaning of life and instil in the whole ‘aliens’ franchise a deeper meaning about who created us (and the aliens) and finding our makers. To that purpose, in the future, two lovers and archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) stumble upon yet another cave painting of mysterious men from another star system. “They want us to find them,” says Dr Shaw, obviously not realising what the audience probably does: that this is where their folly begins. Off they go on apparently dead industrialist Peter Weyland’s (Guy Pearce) ship Prometheus with a motley crew of relatively boring geologists etc to find this planet.
The first half of the film tries to and achieves a nice visual set piece. The strange, well-muscled alien that kills himself in the very first scene on the very pretty but grey planet is intriguing. The scene with the synthetic humanoid robot David (Michael Fassbender) as he prances around the Prometheus while the rest of the crew sleeps soundly in cryo-stasus tubes almost has a melodious quality. But once he lets them all out of the sleep chambers, the film and characters soon become cliché and predictable. Almost the entire first half is just about them landing on the planet and exploring a cave and trying to establish over 10 characters and their quirks. Charlize Theron is Weyland’s rep onboard and in what seems to be an extension of her wicked step-mother character from the excellent Snow White & The Huntsman, her Miss Vickers is icy cold, scowling and frustrated. But to be honest, Theron and Fassbender are the only things that make this movie watchable. They’re so goddamn beautiful (as actors and people)!
Noomi Rapace is the girl from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Didn’t recognise her. Hated her in this one as the wannabe Sigourney Weaver, all strong and sexily bandaged up. She’s irritating – what’s with the accent – and her character is not likeable in the least.
This film was supposed to go deeper in to the why’s and where’s of the origin of humans and aliens. But it fails to answer the questions it so loftily sets out to discover. It’s as if Ridley and his writers set out to invest the film with meaning and metaphor. Doesn’t show! The actual alien appears in one of the final scenes, doesn’t look like the aliens we have seen (because it’s CGI and not a sculpted figure like the originals) and there’s no reasoning as to why they were created. Even the demi-god like white muscled men that are supposed to be our ‘creators’ are just maniacal beings who look a lot nicer than the aliens. And what was the ridiculously large squid-like creature? Messy. None of the supporting characters have any charisma or mystery. They’re all basically expendables.
If they meant this to be a spin-off then I’m sorry, they failed on that count too. It’s not a bad movie, but if it weren’t Ridley Scott most would call this average sci-fi fare.