It appeared Hollywood was no longer willing to invest serious money into 18/R-rated movies, in favour of the 12A/PG-13 factor (even Die Hard 4.0 made 12A) and then, just as we thought we might never see an adult action film again, THIS trailer comes out.
I mean look at it!! 20th Century Fox has clearly relished hyping Prometheus to bursting level, with social media excitement to match. Aside from the fact it’s directed by Ridley Scott who made two of the most cherished sci-fi movies of all time, Alien and Blade Runner, it’s been hinted for some time that this would be some sort of prequel. The Alien franchise has long been dismissed due to declining quality in films, so it’s easy to see why this would be a welcome addition.
Alas no. The film finally launched last week and, to the dismay of many, was greeted by mediocre reviews. But how could this be when it seemed to have everything?
To those unfamiliar with Alien, the story is simple but effective: mining space ship picks up distress signal from nearby planet, forced to investigate a crew member gets attacked by an indigenous creature that reforms itself inside him and grows into a much larger, smarter alien that takes out the crew one by one. It’s a tale of terror and survival, and some 33 years on, still has to ability to scare.
Now Prometheus, while having many direct links to the Alien universe, is a vastly different film. A couple of archaeologists – Elizibeth Shaw (Noomi Repace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) – discover new evidence that humans were created by another race. Shaw and Holloway convince a team of scientists to venture out on the ship ‘Prometheus’ to meet their makers on a moon that they believe has been mapped out for them. When they get there, they realise they’re not exactly welcome.
It’s easy to explain why Prometheus might be considered a good film – it has some stunning effects, superb performances (Noomi Repace and Michael Fassbender in particular), a decent concept and is packed full of action. And yet, it’s not a good film.
To explain why would spoil the plot for those who still want to see it, but what I will say is this: Alien wasn’t exactly complex but they worked with that to the best advantage. Prometheus attempts to add layers of complexity, rarely allowing for any suspense or terror, and fails as a result.
Granted we’re treated to a lot more horror than Hollywood has dared touch in recent years, but there’s never a sense of desolation or surviving on the barest human instinct that we came to love when watching Alien and Aliens. Perhaps if Prometheus had attempted to move away from the Alien universe it may have been forgiven on several aspects. But it didn’t.
Even Charlize Theron (notice it has taken until the penultimate sentence to mention her) doesn’t really add anything aside from the obligatory eye-candy.
Prometheus ends up leaving you with the same feeling as a dirty McDonald’s: everything about it is wrong, but ultimately it’s an enjoyable guilty pleasure.