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Prometheus

2012-06-07 08:22
 
Prometheus is a visually breathtaking, sharply directed and ideas-driven science fiction film that hasn't a chance in hell of living up to its ridiculous levels of hype.
Prometheus
What it's about:

The discovery of incredible ancient wall paintings on various sites throughout earth prompt a couple of scientists to enlist the help of the starship to Prometheus to travel towards a distant planet where they hope to uncover the true – and extra terrestrial - origins of humanity.

What we thought:

While, for some of us, 2012 is all about its big superhero films, other genre fans have undoubtedly placed most of their "summer blockbuster" hopes in the semi-resurrection of a beloved science fiction franchise: Ridley Scott's Prometheus.

Scott's 1979 game-changer Alien is rightly held up as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, but in the decades since, his original vision has been sullied by countless sequels and spinoffs, of which only James Cameron's Aliens ranks as a truly worthy follow-up. Prometheus may not be a direct Alien prequel (thank goodness for that) but it does have Scott returning to expand on the universe he created all those years ago.

Expectations then, really couldn't be much higher. Not only are the franchise faithful promised a new look at an old favourite, Ridley Scott fans have their undeniably worthy filmmaking god returning to the genre that he helped to shape, a genre that in turn shaped his entire career.

It's hard to imagine where science fiction cinema would without Alien and Blade Runner and, by the same token, it's equally impossible to imagine Scott's long and varied career without these same two films – genre classics that remain to this day, three decades later, his calling cards.

As if this wasn't enough to build expectations to the Alien equivalent of pre-Phantom Menace levels of Star Wars hysteria, the whole production has been shrouded in the kind of secrecy you simply don't see much of these days outside of Christopher Nolan's Batman films. Still not enough? Not only does it already have fans of its genre, its franchise and its director in its pocket, Prometheus also makes a grab at those millions of die-hard Lost fans (who presumably still haven't learned their lesson) by having the screenplay co-written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. 

With all of this in mind, it's hardly surprising that Prometheus can't hope to live up to its promise but, regardless of the film's actual quality, by the way it plays out, it becomes all too clear that Prometheus will almost undoubtedly, in one way or another, disappoint anyone who sees it.

Well, OK, probably not those who have remained faithful to the Alien franchise no matter how low it's sunk but, to be fair, winning that particular audience over is hardly cause for celebration. Release anything that doesn't actively suck and you have effectively rewarded them with their best film since Aliens in the early 1980s.

For everyone else though, Prometheus can't help but frustrate. Fans of the more horrific side of science fiction will be let down by the film's slow pace and many talky scenes, while aficionados of so-called "smart science fiction" will find the film's themes and ideas just a bit too familiar for comfort.

Those looking to have their minds blown by the year's most enigmatic film will almost undoubtedly leave wondering what all the fuss was about. As for those who hold Blade Runner and Alien up as two of their favourite films, they will undoubtedly find Prometheus to be nowhere near those film's levels of ingenuity and originality.

When you get right down to it, Prometheus' biggest failing is that it offers little new to anyone even remotely familiar with science fiction cinema since the early 80s. Alien and Blade Runner are obvious parts of its DNA but so are A.I., Contact, The Thing, lots and lots of Star Trek and a whole lot more. Even its clunky dialogue, shallow characterisation, odd pacing and occasionally under-developed storytelling can't obscure the fact that the worst thing about Prometheus is just how un-special it ends up being.             
      
All that said though, Prometheus is still required viewing, preferably on the big screen and, though its far from the worst offender in the pointless 3D stakes, preferably in 2D. For a start, though its themes of finding out what it means to be human by looking towards the skies, has been done to death, it's fairly well handled here. More importantly, it's simply always good to see a science fiction film that understands metaphor and knows that the secret behind great science fiction is awesome, literally awesome, ideas.

It's also a film that more than showcases some of Ridley Scott's greatest skills as a director. Say what you want about the script – and there is plenty to say – Scott has still managed to create a film that is a wonder to behold, with awe-inspiring cinematography and magnificent art-design making for one one of the most visually breathtaking films of the year. And pacing aside, Scott certainly knows how to deliver on those horror/thriller set pieces.

The acting is top notch too, as Noomi Rapace (following hot on the heels of Sigourney Weaver as a typically great, ass-kicking, Ridley Scott sci-fi heroine), Charlize Theron (back on form after the misstep of Snow White and the Huntsman), Idris Elba (playing against type as the film's light relief as the Prometheus' cocky, laid-back captain) and, best of all, Michael Fassbender (in another scene stealing turn, this time as a morally and emotionally ambiguous android) make the absolute best of their underdeveloped roles.

Prometheus is the anti-Men In Black III as the low expectations of the latter gave way to pleasant surprise (for me at least and, if just about every other reaction on the planet is anything to go by, only me), while the sky-high expectations of the former can only give way to disappoint.

See it by all means, but do try and go in with reasonable expectations. Believe me, you'll thank me later.  

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2014-04-04 08:30

Add Your Review

(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
Touch 6/7/2012 12:16 PM
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I think this reviewer just wanted to be different why would this moving get much better rating internationally?
Renee 6/7/2012 12:27 PM
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Well there's no way I'm missing this - in both 3D and 2D. No one can touch Scott when it comes to scifi.
Norma 6/7/2012 2:20 PM
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Ridley Scott is the best, period.
Francois 6/7/2012 2:51 PM
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Wow what an insightful review from a guy that liked men in black III...(face palm) Probably the same guy that loves Rocky 9.....thousand!!! Mr Scott hasn't made a miss in my opinion.
Chris 6/7/2012 4:01 PM
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Saw the film last night in IMAX 3D. It was okay... Not great, but the special effects made up for the storyline. I would say go see it but don't expect too much otherwise you might be a bit disappointed. 7/10
Bonginkosi Khofane 6/7/2012 7:24 PM
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Im in.
Mr B 6/8/2012 8:40 AM
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Good thing I'm able to form my own opinions and am willing to do it, because if I listened to every movie critic out there, I wouldn't watch any movies whatsoever... IMHO these critics are overrated and pretty boring... they churn out similar reviews over and over again...
Louw 6/10/2012 8:35 AM
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Watched it and I really enjoyed it sorry the guy who reviewed the movie should rather stick to reviewing will smith movies because clearly he ain't no scifi fan.
Jo Blow 6/10/2012 2:30 PM
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This movie sucked &&&&! I hated the shallow plot. people go to a remote planet, thinks go bump...the end. wish i had waited and just downloaded!
Leon 6/10/2012 8:16 PM
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Nothing about the movie. Just a lot of mumbo jumbo about how he/she thinks the movie should ne. Obviously not a SF fan. I still don't know what the movie is about. Did he/she sleep through the movie?
BalancedView 6/11/2012 9:42 AM
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The acting was superb. The special effects (barring one very weak scene) were excellent. The script (as the writer says) was weak, with too many cliche's. But my biggest criticism was that the plot "skipped" - i.e. there was not smooth transition from one scene to another, with massive questions as to what/how/why/where/when this/that happened. Too much left on the cutting room floor of the editing department I think. Major events in one scene go completely forgotten and unmentioned for the rest of the movie, leaving you with lot's of disconnected ideas. Also, the movie wasn't tense/scary in the least, with only one highly predictable "jump" scene. Overall, quite disappointing.
Kaz Pret 6/14/2012 8:28 AM
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Prometheus was a brilliant movie. I'm sure hardcore fans of the Alien movies would apreciate it the most - those who dislike the movie or don't understand the plot should stick to rom-coms or dramas. Or if you're expecting more gore and killing, go watch scream 4 instead. I agree with Louw - the reviewer should be reviewing something more up his ally, he doesn't seem to get sci-fi at all.
Andrew 6/14/2012 3:37 PM
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I am firstly a huge sci-fi fan and secondly a massive Ridely Scott fan. Blade Runner is to me the greatest film ever made. I felt that Prometheus was disapointing ( i will wait for the directors cut on Blu-ray). The special effects were poor in 3D. the plot was predictable and I was left feeling the film borrowed too much from other stories. But maybe last night i was in the wrong mood.
Neo 6/18/2012 11:34 PM
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Seriously! I thrill for Sci-Fi but this movie was just downright k@k! The only thing a person can appreciate form this movie was the whole cgi thing and Charlize in that leotard. The Story was hollow, 3D effects was almost to none, Charlize died for no reason and just outright nonsense. The head has absolutely nothing to do with the story. The lead male character sooma dies halfway in.....WHY?! What sense is there to this. Im seriously not going to waste my money on the sequel. overall rating 5/10. Watchable but only at home not in the movies.
wiledog 7/13/2012 10:28 AM
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agree completely with the reviewer. i'm a long standing Scott fan - the man is a genius, but I was seriously let down by Prometheus. good review, i agree on all your points. Charlize was, even in her small role, outstanding as was Fassbender. I think Scott made the narrative unneccesarliy complicated, with too many red herrings... Certainly I expected something much more dark and horrific (like Pandorum or The Mist). Hope Scott makes a sequel that will answer some of the myriad of questions he leaves hanging... or at least does so on the Director's cut....
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