Film: Prometheus (2012)

Anthony G Williams

Apr 18, 2007
I eventually got around to watching all of the Alien series of films for which Prometheus was advertised as a prequel, so it was natural for me to see this one too. I have to say that I watched it with some trepidation as I have reservations about the earlier films; while the first one is a classic and they are all very atmospheric, in general they dwell too strongly on the yuck/horror aspects for my taste.

A brief plot summary, with some spoilers: almost a century into the future, two researchers (played by Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) believe that they have discovered pointers to a distant star system in prehistoric cave paintings and manage to persuade a billionaire to fund an expedition to the system. On arrival they discover a vast structure which is gradually revealed as a base for the Engineers, effectively the creators of mankind. Then things start to go horribly wrong in the usual - and depressingly predictable - fashion. You just know that when two members of the team exploring the structure get lost they are going to die horrible deaths; that the mysterious containers which start to leak black fluid are going to have horrible consequences for humans; and that when Rapace's character becomes impossibly pregnant she will be carrying something horrible rather than a human being; and all these duly come to pass.

There are some good aspects to the movie: Michael Fassbender plays a creepy android, Charlize Theron an android-like human, and Rapace is worth watching. There are some strong and atmospheric scenes, and I found the Engineers fascinating: I would very much like to have seen a lot more of them, including more exploration of why they created humanity and why they apparently turned against us, but presumably these developments have been saved for the sequel(s), should they eventually emerge. Instead, what we get is a gross-out yuck/horror gore-fest in the latter part of the film. The frustrating thing is that the potential was there: it has some of the elements of a great SF film but it ended up as yet another horror movie with an SF background and with nothing much new to say. Disappointing.


I also started to watch another recent SF film, Chronicle. However, after a quarter of an hour or so it seemed to be going nowhere of interest so I stopped.

(An extract from my SFF blog:
I agree with you in that this movie didn't live up to its potential. Sadly, I think that David the android was the only character that got any decent development whatsoever. The rest were predictably boring cardboard cutouts.

Quite frankly I can't see what all the fuss about Rapace is about either, but it left me feeling like Shaw's character was badly miscast. In all honesty it's hard to say whether my dislike is based purely on her performance: Shaw was either scared to death - understandable in the circumstances - or weepy in a way that Ripley, a much stronger character, never was in the Alien movies, or if the uneven writing is to blame.

I highly suspect that the movie would be even more confusing to viewers who haven't seen the Alien films, as there were lots of nods to the original, including a creepy thing in one character's stomach and a beheaded android, as well as only one survivor at the end.

All the gore aside, the one thing that truly frightened me about the movie, was the android's casual confession about watching Shaw's dreams while she was in stasis. This really paints horrible vistas in my mind of a society where true privacy is a thing of the past.
All the gore aside, the one thing that truly frightened me about the movie, was the android's casual confession about watching Shaw's dreams while she was in stasis. This really paints horrible vistas in my mind of a society where true privacy is a thing of the past.

That's interesting - I don't particularly recall that!
That bit made me think, about the only part of Prometheus that did. All the other stuff was just gore. I'm quite good at tuning out gore, even if I don't watch horror movies like Saw and its ilk, but psychological tension is worse and harder to avoid. That's why I think the original Alien is the most scary of the lot, even if it's probably the least gory.
I agree the film didn't live up to its potential. It's almost as if they wrote a story and got told to make a trilogy out of it. The two characters getting lost seemed like an obvious cliché. And I thought quite early on that the old guy was on-board. Interesting premise, but the film itself felt formulaic.
Just recently seen this and I liked it. It's not perfect, and I've never been fond of the aliens-in-human-prehistory premise, but there are some very good performances, some great special effects that are never too garish, and it's visually awesome as one might expect from Ridley Scott.

I don't quite understand where the comments about gore are coming from - there was only really one gorey scene in the film and by most standards it was by no means over the top. Visceral (literally), but not excessive. Maybe that's just me.

Most heavy criticisms of the film seem to focus on a lack of character developement, but nobody ever points at Alien and says "great film but lousy characters", yet what do we know about the crew of the Nostromo? Basically nothing.

I guess it irks me all the more because something like the stunningly braindead Avatar seems to have garnered universal praise. :)

Hope the sequels do get made.
Great film, I loved it. :D

Great visuals, eerie soundtrack (nice tribute to the original score), mutations galore, ancient alien connection, good characters and a cool 1950's pulp-styled look to the film (thanks Ridley Scott). The flow of the movie was very familar to many old classic movies I've seen and marvelous sci-fi stories I've read in the past, which gave this movie a cool quality to it.

With Ridley Scott as the director, I expected good intensity and dramatic darkness to the movie, I was not disappointed.

No One, I thought the film Avatar was a hunk of junk. ;)

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