Prometheus marks Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction after nearly thirty years. With Alien and Blade Runner among the top science fiction films of all time, the expectations have obviously been very high. While Prometheus is not without its flaws, Ridley Scott delivers a beautiful looking film that opens up the Alien mythology in new and exciting ways.
Make no mistake about it, Prometheus is set within the Alien universe. It’s not a prequel in the sense that we’ll see a young Ripley, but Ridley Scott has already said it takes place in the same universe before the events in Alien, so all of this prequel/no prequel talk is a technicality.
Your enjoyment of this film will really come down to your expectations going in. Although fans may be expecting something similar to Alien, these are two very different films. There are parallels between the two movies, but it is apparent that Ridley Scott wants Prometheus to stand on its own. The movie trades in the dark and claustrophobic setting of Alien for bigger landscapes and a cleaner futuristic look with a more colorful palette. Prometheus is also light on horror elements, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t scenes in this movie that will make you squirm or smile in delight.
Everything about Prometheus is done on a bigger scale, and the sets and cinematography are amazing. From the interior of the Prometheus to the Giger-inspired alien architecture, the movie does a fantastic job of immersing you in a realistic-looking future setting. Ridley Scott also makes a great use of 3D in this film, to the point where this is one of the few films I’d suggest seeing in 3D over 2D.
The crew of the Prometheus is made up of a variety of different character types, with some of them being more fleshed out than others. Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba steal the show from female leads Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron. Both women do a great job in their roles, but you’ll be instantly drawn to Fassbender’s performance as David, and you’ll warm up to Idris Elba’s portrayal of the ship’s captain. Other characters are a bit confusing and under-developed, leaving you wonder why Rafe Spall and Sean Harris are playing scientist roles given their dialogue.
The first half of the film is near-perfect in its execution and build-up. We get a solid introduction to the crew and their individual motives, and their initial encounter on the alien planet will have you looking around every corner trying to catch a glimpse of something hidden in the shadows. Unfortunately, the story begins to unravel later in the film and the third act feels rushed and sloppily connected. Scenes that could have been terrifying and built-up were not, and there are some definite logic and timing gaps that you’ll have to fill in for yourself. It doesn’t feel like it was done to make it a thinking person’s movie and appears to be missing scenes that were left on the cutting room floor. Although this is said to be Ridley Scott’s cut of the film, I hope we see an extended version in the future that fills in some of these missing pieces.
It’s hard to judge Prometheus as a complete product, because it feels like I watched the first half of a 4-hour movie or a television pilot. Ridley Scott and Fox have designed this film with sequels in mind, so you’re left with questions and a lack of closure. In some cases I think that’s part of the fun with this movie, with repeat viewing and fan discussion helping to solve some of these mysteries. In other cases, how we look back at Prometheus years from now may depend on what happens in a sequel.
Ridley Scott has delivered a beautiful looking film and expanded the Alien mythology in new and exciting ways to the point where I wish we could see a sequel right away. As a standalone film, the final act is too rushed and leaves too many questions. However, if you look at this as a companion piece to Alien and a start of a new series of films, we’ve been given an expanded look at this universe that opens up the possibilities for a franchise that ran out of steam more than 20 years ago.
Film Score: 3.5/5