First the good news: This movie erases the lovely movie going experience I had with Alien^3, Alien Resurrection and Aliens VS. Predator.
So, where do we begin?
We begin in 2004 where I bitched about AvP not adhering to any of the established mythos for cheap thrills. Now eight years later, Twenty Century Fox attempts to get the franchise back on track with the man who directed the first movie.
The word prequel has been bounced around a lot and while the filmmakers have poo pooed that word, this is a prequel to Alien. Straight up. Space Jockies. Xenomorphs. Fourth Act endings. Weyland Corp. Building Better Worlds
And, the movie is better for it since it fills in details that were left up in the air just beware of plot holes.
Prometheus takes place across several hundred thousand years, in the beginning it starts off at the birth of the human race by way of interested third party, we’ll call them: The Engineers. The birth of the human race echoes an on going theme in the movie: In order to create life first you must destroy it. It jumps ahead to 2089 where two scientists, one a believer played by Noomi Rapace and one a non-believer played by Logan Marshal Green. Their digging in the dirt has led to several different sites across the Earth where each show early human pictograms involving higher beings, the Engineers, pointing the way to a star system that is looooooooooong away from Earth.
Enter Weyland Corporation and it’s dying CEO Peter Weyland played by Guy Pierce under a few layers of latex. Mister Weyland decides to fund this little expedition for a cool one trillion dollars and several years later the ship Prometheus arrives at a moon named LV-226.
While the crew sleeps, David the Android, played Michael Fassbender keeps himself busy around the ship until the ship arrives in orbit and the crew is awakened. There are several downsides to all of this so far: Fassbender basically steals the show from start to finish and his motives are kept murky until the end. The rest of the 17+ crew members are glossed over with the exception of Captain Janek played by Idris Elba and the two navigators that I guess you could say are Statler and Waldorf. Granted, the Marines in Aliens were roughly in the double digits but at least most of them had more lines than some of the support cast members in Prometheus.
The set design and CGI is quality from start to finish. I’m happy I ordered the Prometheus Art Book since the sets and space suit designs looked amazing. And, probably will become a drinking game with the amount of times the characters pulled on and off their helmets.
The landing of Prometheus on LV-226 was both fun and a small let down since one or two shots were a little too far away, I know what they were going for: small spec of ship flying across this alien landscape. But part of me was like: get us closer to the ship, I like a close ups to show off the models/CGI. I won’t be seeing a VTOL spaceship for a while, let’s play it up some more shall we?
Several reviewers have covered the ineptness of these professional archeologists when they find a hollow hill and decide to venture inside without any sort of pre-lim recon of the area. Instead of letting those glowing, floating, balls that scan everything work while they sit all comfy in their expensive ship, they decide to poke around. And in doing so find several chambers full of objects. Any of the actions inside these chamber are enough to make the CDC just face palm. And, to that I have to say this: The geologist wanting to get the hell out made complete sense even if he was portrayed as the asshole of the group, the asshole knew when to get the hell out. The scenes of him finding the load of bodies that look like the Space Jockey from Alien piled in a heap was perfect.
There are several call backs to certain scenes that made Alien memorable. The face hugger scene can never be replicated, again. But, that’s the interesting thing about this movie they expand the universe with the words: Weapons of Mass Destruction. Those weapons manage to snuff out the asshole geologist and his friend but since their backstories are light, their deaths aren’t mourned until later when one resurfaces and the face palming can begin again in earnest.
The Dark Horse Comic Book series back in the 90’s touched on this mass destruction theme during the AVP series where the Predators seed worlds with Aliens so their young can hunt and become men. This adds backstory to that idea: just where did the Predators get their indentured Aliens? From crashed Space Jockey ships!
The ineptness isn’t as on the nose as one might think in the beginning. David nudges things along. His actions through out are not as evil as Ash and not as good as Bishop but somewhere in between and that’s what makes this movie interesting even if you have to connect several of the dots yourself as the movie threatens to jump the tracks.
The movie suffers from the fact someone is pulling everyone’s strings. There is no clear villain except the writers that can’t connect the main plot back to David’s plot to endanger the crew for the sake of his puppet master.
I can understand why one of infected crew members had to die but I don’t understand why the narrative loses steam. The point of view changes and we don’t see the results of the crew member’s death like the scene of Kane’s funeral. Unfortunately, the movie accelerates when the plucky heroes find their missing crew members to be infected and several deaths red shirts occur. The problem is there is no meeting or confab to explain what the heck is going on and that’s what hurts the movie. Maybe because there were confabs in Alien and they wished to stay away from repeating themselves. I wouldn’t have minded some repetition if it meant getting everyone on the same page.
I mentioned Space Jockey before, their origins and why they chose this moon in the middle of nowhere are spelled out well enough. That’s what saves this movie for me because Weyland Corp stuffed suit, Meredith Vickers played by Charlize Theron is not given nearly enough screen time to establish herself as the villain. I found myself wishing she and Noomi’s Elizabeth had more time to sniff each other out. At least in Alien, Ash was given enough dialogue and action to show he was throwing everyone under the bus to get this xenomorph back to the faceless Company.
On a side note, if someone spends a trillion dollars on this expedition, couldn’t Weyland Corp arm their vessels with defensive weapons? If so that would have been a great end of a third act and lead nicely into a sequel.
Overall, it was a good flick, sure there are plot holes but nothing so big to derail.
I did not see it in 3D so I cannot attest to how good or bad it is. Nevertheless, the movie is worth sitting in the theater.