Ridley Scott Time Travels to 1979 in Prometheus
Ridley Scott, best know for directing Gladiator, Alien, and Blade Runner, takes to space once more with his latest film, Prometheus. Unfortunately, Scott returns to the space genre in more ways than one.
In Prometheus, a corporation sends a small vessel to explore a distant planet to discover the possible origins of humanity. And shockingly, things go wrong. Who would have thought that sending humans to a distant planet no one has mapped would lead to tragedy? And exploring an abandoned mansion in a country with people with funny accents might also lead to trouble. On board the Prometheus are scientists, an android, crew, captain, a mid-level corporate hack, and some amazing surprises! And in case we didn't know that things might go haywire, remember, Prometheus was the Titan (god-like being) that gave humanity fire leading to bad times. You see, clues are everywhere in this movie; even if you aren't paying attention you notice them.
While the movie captures our attention at the start of the film, Prometheus has too few surprises in it and too much of the plot is reminiscent of Alien. Without giving much away, the “surprises” in Prometheus aren’t really surprising if you saw and remember Alien.
In Prometheus, even the movement of the spaceships are reminiscent of Scott’s earlier work in Blade Runner. I wonder if Scott lost a lot of money investing in Greek bonds and needed to make the film to remain solvent. Thus, he produced “Alien, the prequel”, without directly calling it that. Scott could have remade Porky’s II and been more original.
While Prometheus looks fabulous and gives the space genre a lovely sheen, one wonders if Scott and the writers did anything more than put the plot elements from Alien into a blender and mixed them up for Prometheus. It has been 33 years since Alien came out, so some people may not have seen the original plot of Prometheus. I am sure Scott paid himself well to direct the movie and is making money on his cut of the profits. But for filmgoers, what’s the point? Even if you didn’t see Alien (1979), there’s little new here to recommend Prometheus.
The acting was not terrible, though it was hard to believe Stringer Bell, I mean Idris Elba of the Wire, as a space captain. If this movie pays Mr. Elba enough so he can be in more shows like the Wire, it was all worth it. In the tradition of other sci-fi movies such as Terminator, Michael Fassbender gets top billing playing the android, “David”. However, unlike the Replicants of Blade Runner, David never loses his human programming. David is more like the other android from that other space film Scott directed about a corporate funded space venture gone awry. Was it too hard for the writers to think of another metaphor for a heartless profit hungry corporation than an android? Charlize Theron plays the corporate powerbroker, and we learn something “shocking” about her through stilted dialogue later on in the film. That and other cringe-worthy dialogue is scattered throughout the script.
Many in the crew meet with tragedy, but unlike in Alien, it is mostly of the crews own doing. It’s hard to care about characters that when seeing trouble, step into it. It’s not like the crew faced danger, did their best, and still met a terrible end. No. The crew acted like stupid teens in a horror flick who meet a terrible end when they walk into the basement where they know the monster is hiding. In Prometheus, the characters actions were not only idiotic, but they were against any human instincts for survival or rules of space conduct. Instead of cringing at the tragedy the crew meets, we think, “serves you right.”
By the time the movie arrives at its revelation near the end, I wasn’t surprised and just didn’t care. It was like discovering that Ricky Martin was gay and somehow being surprised, or finding out that drone strikes don’t only kill militants. Learning the obvious didn’t make the movie more entertaining.
Rent Alien, Blade Runner (Directors Cut), L.A. Confidential or Psycho for that matter, and be surprised. Otherwise, add Prometheus to your Netflix queue when you can’t think of anything else to watch.
Ratings System, best to worst
5. Pay full price, see it twice
4. Full Price
1. See it only if they pay you