Expectations. Sometimes expectations has much to do with how we feel about a film. And Prometheus, oh, how we have been given expectations about you. But if that were all that troubled us, one could perhaps wrestle our way past it. But to be given such a visually beautiful film, one that asks grand questions, one with all the elements needed for brilliance, and still come out with that empty feeling? Well, there’s more going on here than mere expectation.
A team of explorers seek answers to the origin of humankind. Their search leads them into the deepest reaches of the universe. But their discoveries have them fighting for the survival of our species rather than rejoicing.
Prometheus is in so many ways a classic Ridley Scott film. It is visually striking. Truly beautiful. And it has an air of grand epic. It FEELS like it’s going to be amazing. And all of the media talk of it being a kind of prequel to Alien, oh wait, no, they assure us it’s not directly related, it’s only set in the same universe, or whatever; this all has one’s head full of expectations. In the end, it’s pretty much as Ridley Scott described, as he seemed to not want to connect it too closely to Alien. The focus is on something other than that, but it ‘s definitely a kind of prequel, for sure.
Technically, this film is superlative. The level of CG and practical effects are precisely what you would expect from Ridley Scott. It isn’t about eye-popping, it’s about creating things realistically in three dimensional space. And they make it happen across the board. It’s pure science fiction beauty.
This is a superb cast. Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron, Michel Fassbender, Guy Pearce; everyone is excellent. And early on in the film, I am given such hope that results in chills: Michael Fassbender as David, the humanoid robot that watches over the crew of the Prometheus while they make their long journey, fashions himself after the great Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Combing his blonde hair in mimicry, even quoting the character, watching the film in the empty hours in space. I found this to be a particularly cool and interesting character development. But despite how good everyone else is here, the script never really delves much deeper than; the geologist with an attitude, the curious and over zealous biologist, the co-pilot. Only a few characters are shown more depth.
And speaking of depth, the primary element that’s missing in Prometheus is that with all the grand questions of “where did we as a species come from?”, “who are we?”, and “how did we get here?”, there are remarkably few answers given. So much of the film seems to be just on the surface, but not much underneath. It’s like the original Alien in a way, like they were making a horror/thriller, but here they gave us the impression that there would be a much more cerebral element that never really comes to fruition. If Prometheus was perhaps a part one of a two-part story, then I could understand the way I feel about it . And surely, yet another film could be made as a companion to this. Frankly, I hope that happens, if only to quell my current disappointment.
But let’s not dimiss it – Prometheus is not a bad film, for sure. But it is missing something. Ultimately, it’s a lot of magnificence on the outside, but lacking the emotional element it needed to really have an impact. There was a moment near the end that made me swell up inside, like “oh, here’s that exclamation point I was waiting for, this will be it”. But it never came. And the last scene of the film was something kinda cool, but not really a surprise.
Yeah, expectations. So much build up over Ridley Scott returning to the science fiction genre, to material that he himself cultivated for so many others to play with, screw up, and yet leave a kind of cinematic legacy. Is Prometheus at least the best since he started directing in his Alien universe? Yes, Cameron’s Aliens not with-standing. Let’s face it, that was an action film through and through. But for all it’s good qualities, Prometheus lacks that sense of awe, that feeling that you get when you see something you know is special. I wanted that “Wow…” moment, and I didn’t get it.
Prometheus is still a strong three and a half kittenhands, but it should have been an easy four.
~ Neil T.Weakley, your average movie-goer, dissapointed in what I hoped would be one of this summer’s brightest spots.