My feelings about Prometheus are very mixed. As a grown-up sci-fi blockbuster movie, it was excellent, albeit a little cumbersome at times, but as a prequel to Alien it really didn't seem to know what it was doing. The pre-movie marketing included a lot of extra information on the extended universe -- a timeline of Weyland Industries' technological developments; background on Michael Fassbender's android character David; an in-character TED lecture from the fictional billionaire Peter Weyland -- but the film itself included very little of that worldbuilding, and not in the sparsely-written, isolated sense of Alien. Compared to the fast-paced thriller tone of the film as a whole, the reoccuring themes of religious belief and creationism seemed clumsy and out-of-place.
I feel like Prometheus must be a very different film to people who have no previous experience of the Alien franchise. Aside from the handful of lines that were objectively clunky, my main problem with this film lies in the way it relates to the Alien franchise, particularly Alien itself. Each of the Alien movies is different: The first is a slow-build horror movie, the second is a military adventure story, the third (in addition to being a total mess) is an action thriller set in a prison, and Alien Resurrection is a sci-fi blockbuster. The one theme that all four of these movies share is that shadowy, distant corporations control the characters' lives without them knowing it, and are happy to kill the worker ants in the name of profit. They tried to include this theme in Prometheus, but in terms of internal consistency within the premise of the mission (to explore an alien moon for signs of life) it didn't make a hell of a lot of sense.
There were several aspects of the film that failed to live up to the marketing, but Peter Weyland's casting was, to me, the most confusing. Guy Pearce performed the TED Talk used in the film's viral marketing campaign, and his name was in the credits of the movie, so many viewers would be aware before the film even started that Guy Pearce would be appearing at some point. This meant that his old man prosthetics were extremely distracting, because all the way through I knew that Guy Pearce was lurking underneath, and why the hell would they hire a young actor to play an old man? I spent the entire time waiting for him to be magically de-aged by some alien technology. Did they cast Guy Pearce just so he could do the viral marketing campaign?? Wouldn't it have been more effective to hire an unknown actor to play the young Peter Weyland, and someone like Peter O'Toole to play the older version in the film itself? To make matters more confusing, another Weyland video was released after the film came out.
|screencap from here.|
While I do believe that Prometheus failed as a prequel to the Alien franchise (and, more simply, that God should stay out of sci-fi unless you go for the full-on cheesy Chariots Of The Gods schtick, as seen in Stargate), there were some Alien quadrilogy nods that I did enjoy. David playing basketball was a fun reference to Alien Resurrection, and the production design (which I'll tackle in a separate post) was full of little details that harked back to the aesthetic of the other Alien movies. And, criticism aside, it was nailbiting thriller. The action scenes were frightening and avoided the kind of obviously unrealistically cliches one often sees in movies of this size, and the moments of visceral horror were incredibly well-executed.
My previous posts on the Alien franchise.
Prometheus Unbound: What The Movie Was Actually About. This review focuses on the religious aspects of the film, including Ridley Scott's original (horrible) idea to include a Jesus-like figure among the Engineers.
Featurette on the visual effects of Prometheus.
Five ways to improve Prometheus.
Reddit: The Secrets of Prometheus: Explained.