by Coop Cooper
I’m very angry. Ridley Scott took the blockbuster franchise he started with the movie “Alien” and completely threw it under the bus to negate his career-defining success in such a way, it’s almost as if he willingly intended to sabotage it. I was well-prepared for this installment, kept away from early reviews and was aware/resigned to the warning that there would be NO recognizable aliens in this film, but I was not prepared for the level of incompetence displayed by the veteran filmmakers involved. Let me elaborate…
Set in the same universe as the “Alien” franchise, the story opens on 2090-something Earth as a cheerful scientist Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her generic lover/partner (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a 35,000 year-old cave glyph. The star configuration on this glyph matches several others over different cultures/time periods and is an identical match to a star system only detectable by future astronomers. The scientists take it as an invitation to visit. Fast forward a few years later when Shaw and her partner travel to the star system on board the ship Prometheus, which is a cushy luxury yacht compared to the ore freighter Nostromo of the first “Alien” film. When they locate the planet indicated by the glyphs, they find a hidden extraterrestrial vessel containing several secrets best left hidden. Added to the mix are a cold-blooded company exec (Charlize Theron) who has her own agenda and a curious android (Michael Fassbender) who has an even freakier agenda.
It started off fine, had some great moments, but I could write a book on how this movie got the story completely wrong. Intended as a prequel to the first “Alien” movie, “Prometheus” took an established classic and treated it as if it were an inconsequential side effect to something bigger which it never competently explains or elaborates on. Characters on the verge of development suddenly become ciphers to a contrived plot that desperately tries to expand upon the mythology of the original franchise, but to no avail. I’m going to give this film the most damning criticism anyone can give it… there is no payoff. Not for the fans, not even for non-fans coming in expecting a decent sci-fi thriller. The film didn’t even try to explain itself to anyone. It tossed in a bunch of arbitrary scenes, added a few recognizable visuals and elements from the franchise and hoped it all would make sense. It didn’t. The music didn’t fit, nearly all of the characters were lame, the pacing was way off, the plot didn’t make sense… etc.
It’s tragic how “Prometheus” rips off “Species” and “Galaxy of Terror” which are two cheesy horror films that actually ripped off the original “Alien.” Regardless of those bizarre transgressions, I was completely mortified at how Scott and the writers decided it would be a good idea to hardly reveal any information to the audience to help: 1. New viewers figure things out 2. Competently connect the continuity of this film to the original. “Prometheus” did neither. It failed to tie up very sloppy loose ends and left the story open for an unnecessary and uncalled for sequel that may never come. The plot holes in this film are shamefully large. I’ve seen weaker filmmakers do far more with far less.
Despite the fact that important characters were treated as inconsequential, fatal accident-fodder, two performances stood out. Noomi Rapace finally sheds her bad girl “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Swedish version) persona to give a more open and ranged performance. Her amazing scene in the ‘automated surgery machine’ was one of the most harrowing and shocking moments I can remember in the history of film. Huge kudos to Michael Fassbender as the creepy android David who easily had the most complex character and the choicest sequences in the story.
I am a devout scholar of this franchise. The “Alien” sequel “Aliens” (by Director James Cameron) is possibly my favorite movie of all time. I was open-minded and prepared for something different from what I was expecting. I was not prepared for incompetent storytelling. When the comic books and heavily criticized sequels do a better job at conveying a good story than the master who tries to capture lightning in a bottle for a second time over 30 years later, then truly the emperor wears no clothes.
After this, I wish they would reboot the “Aliens vs. Predator” franchise. I give the first one of those a much better rating than than “Prometheus.”
Rating: 2 out of 5