Prometheus Review

I have never been as confused by a film as I was after seeing the midnight showing of Prometheus. At first glance, Prometheus seems to be a beautiful film that was ultimately dragged down by a script riddled with plot holes. However, as time wore on (it’s been almost a week since that midnight show), it began to grow on me. After a second viewing in IMAX today, I’m happy to say that my opinion of Prometheus has changed, and that this will be a largely positive review. 

First of all, this is a film linked directly to the Alien franchise both in marketing materials (“Before there was Alien, there was Prometheus“) and creative staff (Director Ridley Scott from Alien and set/creature designer H. R. Giger, whose design for the titular alien may be one of the most recognizable pieces of filmic iconography ever created). As such, the standard Alien-style plot is both expected and granted: a ship full of people plunge into a “research mission” that quickly goes bad, eventually resulting in a lot of deaths and an epic face-off between the monster and the protagonist.

In the case of Prometheus, this plot is used to interrogate the notion of a creator or god as the crew of the eponymous ship travels to a moon with similar traits to our own Earth inhabited by a group of aliens known as “the engineers,” whom one particularly zealous scientist — played by the Swedish Dragon Tattoo‘s Noomi Rapace — believes fashioned us in their own image. Though this may sound contrived and ridiculous, it actually seems to serve quite effectively throughout the film as Rapace’s character finds her faith and personal strength tested.

The visuals in Prometheus are staggering. Though Ridley Scott is known for being a particularly flashy director, he always seems to balance this within good taste, and Prometheus is no different. From the lush blue and green landscapes, falling waterfalls, and dissolving flesh of the opening sequence to the incredibly disturbing scene of emergency surgery (If you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about), no visual in Prometheus ever feels out of place, and most frames were so beautifully composed and colored that I would be willing to hang them on a wall as art. Even the 3D, which I usually despise, was so restrained and tasteful that I actually found myself enjoying it and — dare I say it? — becoming excited by the potential advantages that this technology could offer in the future. This has never happened to me in a 3D movie before and is a true testament to Scott’s taste, restraint, and skill. 

The audio work is equally well placed. Headlined by the absolutely phenomenal score by relative newcomer Marc Streitenfeld, no second of sound feels out of place or even generic. Prometheus both looks and sounds
like a more grandiose and sweeping version of Alien, which turns out to be a very appealing package.

The acting is also largely appealing, although some of it is just too good. As is true with almost every film that includes Michael Fassbender (who plays the android David here), there is just no way for the other actors to even come close to matching his performance. Even in this film, playing a character whom Old Man Weyland (Guy Pearce in heavy makeup) describes as soul-less, Fassbender shows more tenderness and internal motivation with his every gesture and statement than most of the actors do in this entire film. Rapace does a fantastic Sigourney Weaver impression that eventually forms into a formidable character and Pearce does a good job of hobbling like an old man in his incredibly brief stint on the screen, but then there’s Charlize Theron. While Fassbender, Pearce, and Rapace are largely authentic and natural in their characters, Theron — who plays the representative of Weyland Corporation — never seems comfortable in her role, hamming up important lines and constantly returning to the same pose like a high school drama student. Putting Theron on the set alongside real actors was a huge mistake.

The other thing that struck me as bothersome the first time I watched Prometheus was the script. Though the dialog was strong and the plot largely seemed to fall in place, there were areas when I didn’t understand a character’s motivations or why their actions resulted in a certain phenomenon. However, these didn’t seem to be a problem the second time through. Perhaps having the knowledge of all the twists and turns that were coming in the film gave me greater perspective in the characters’ individual narratives. Unfortunately, most people will only view the film once, and — unlike a David Lynch or Richard Kelly film — Prometheus didn’t appear to be trying to be confusing, it just was. This is a real problem and I hope it can be fixed in a future director’s cut or extended edition.

Ultimately, the script problems and Theron’s acting just can’t bring this film down. This is a great film that any fan of Science Fiction or Horror should go out and see right away.

I give Prometheus a 4.5/5.


About Nathan Lawrence

Technology journalist, film critic, and student. My dream is to write and direct serious independent film.

Posted on June 8, 2012, in Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This movie was actually one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I see where your confusion may have set in as this movie demands a certain knowledge of cinematic history (although he references it pretty blatantly), greek mythology, as well as some prior knowledge of Freudian Psychoanalysis. This Movie is actually Scott's Psychoanalysis of existence itself.However, before I move on to what the plot of this movie was, I would like to touch base about Charlize Theron, who is an incredible actress. I completely disagree, I believe every actor did an exceptional job. The only reason you felt that Theron was out of place is because that is simply what her character was meant to be (as explained during her first encounter with her father (Pearce)). As she was a character who was meant to feel off and out of place, I believe she played her part exceptionally.Now, onto the movie itself. In this movie what actually happens is irrelevant. This is because you are supposed to follow the thought process of Shaw and David. It's not so much what happens in this movie, but why. The only reason the humans are going to this moon is because of the idea of speaking to and understanding your creator, for in the mind of the creations, there must be grandeur or greatness behind their existence. They seek nothing, but the affection and acceptance of the makers. This is the biggest part of the plot of prometheus. Now David (Fassbender), the android created by man is the key to understanding this movie. Almost every single line that comes out of this characters mouth is chalk full of wisdom and is canon to the rest of the film.At the beginning, where david is introduced, the only point to have a scene so full of beauty and understanding is so we fully understand the beautiful and complex nature of David's existence. And it's just enough to make us feel disappointed and hurt for David when he is belittled by the humans. He may not have emotions or a soul, which are essential components of being human, but the real question is: Even though he may not have emotions or a soul and isn't considered human, does he deserve any less compassion? Most would say, yes for he isn't human. However if that holds true, the same would between the humans and the engineers. The humans deserve no such compassion from their gods, who would be justified in destroying their creations. Halfway through the movie, we learn that the creators intended to destroy us. And that being the plot twist, the plot then becomes, "Why do they want to kill us?". Also the sub-plot being "Why is David trying to kill the humans?" And hence this turns into the Oedipus Complex. The creators wanting to destroy the humans for what we can assume is self-preservation from the humans advancing enough to follow the trap they left on earth. And David attempting to "murder his father" destroy his creators. This is confirmed when they are going to meet the last surviving engineer and David tells Shaw that "We all want to kill our fathers". Toward the end of this movie you realize that the answer to the humans question is answered exactly by how they treat David. To the humans David is insignificant, he is nothing as he is not human. This is the answer to the humans question, they are insignificant, they are nothing because they are not engineers. When David brings his father to the engineer, one can only assume by his expression that he knew the inevitable and he tells his father, "See? Nothing." in response to the begged question. However this movie is called Prometheus. Prometheus is the miracle in which this cycle comes to a halt. He was the God that stole fire from the Gods and gave it to humans. A creator who showed compassion to its creation. Prometheus is the anomaly at the beginning and end of this movie. At the beginning when an engineer looks up at the giant ship carrying all the warships meant to destroy man and releases the weapon upon them. And at the end when Shaw shows the first act of compassion to David in the entire movie by apologizing to him, to which he responds "It's quite alright". This Movie was a Psychoanalysis on existence, done to utter perfection. At first this movie is about how the creations will always strive to be accepted by their creators, who deem them insignificant, which leads to the hatred of creations. However, it ends with how the act of Prometheus can be salvation.

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