It’s a decent enough movie – when removed from the Alien universe – but overall disappointing. I left the theater feeling rather unfulfilled. The cinematography and visual effects are beautiful… but the storyline felt hollow. I’m not sure what you should expect from the lead writer of Lost… and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the incoherent feeling of something unfinished.
*** POTENTIAL FOR SPOILERS AHEAD***
What It Had Going For It:
It bridged the gap (visually) between this new set of films and the old. There is a distinct “clean” quality to the ship – which makes sense as Vickers says, they did spend a trillion dollars getting there – and it speaks to what I think Human society sees as that best possible future. Clean, crisp and orderly. And as they venture further into the complex, from the rough hewn rock to the engineers’ ship, we start to see more of the classic H. R. Giger inspired architecture. Things aren’t crisp white, they aren’t smooth… they’re organic looking and yet, they’re so far beyond our scope of technology.
The first “alien” on screen was pleasantly creepy, and I’d hoped that the progression would continue on in an escalating manner until we hit the big payoff of the iconic Alien (In the next section, you’ll see I was disappointed.)
Set conceptualization was glorious and would have leant itself to an immense amount of tension building (had it not been for the score). There is something to be said for creating a setting that is massive… and yet claustrophobic all at the same time.
Michael Fassbender as David. There’s something incredibly beautiful about the childlike portrayal of David. He’s curious – often doing what he’s told not to for no other apparent reason than scientific exploration. He seems to seek acceptance, dying his hair to look more emulate his favorite character, Peter O’toole, in Lawrence of Arabia. He is retaliatory, seemingly punishing a character for being mean to him – though he does ask for permission first. All the while he does this without displaying emotion… or in the case of the latter, remorse. He is eerily human and not human all at the same time.
Smart people making horror-movie decisions. (That’s all I’m going to say about that for now.)
The beginning and end. I feel like the middle of this movie was pretty awesome. But it was dragged down by the bookends. The movie has two pointless beginning scenes including an engineer dying (I guess to create life on Earth? maybe) and an archaeological dig – the gist of which is adequately explained ten minutes later during the mission briefing. It feels almost as though there are three endings: a sacrifice, a vendetta, and an Alien. And I feel that they could have had one shot after Janek and the two other crew sacrifice themselves, to ground the film and ended on a much more poignant note (and still kept the story line open for the sequel they’ve obviously tried to make apparent).
There was no tension. A lot of this was the heavy handed orchestral score. The original movies were very quiet… and the moments of silence served to amp up the tension, where the soundtrack for Prometheus, while stunningly beautiful, doused any chance for push-you-into-your-seat-back tension. Part of the reason there was so little tension is also resultant of my next point.
The “aliens” weren’t scary. When you go back to the original xenomorphs from Alien… you have a super-scary antagonist. If I came across one of those in the middle of a corridor (no matter how well lit), I’d be scared to widdling. The progression to the xenomorph in Prometheus… is alien after alien that would eat me, but not before I’d laughed at it. And that was disappointing. And the “Engineers”… well, they make me think someone from a Tool music Video got lost, wound up on set and the production team rolled with it.
Outside of stylistic choices, the surviving character isn’t going to make it to her destination before she dies of sepsis or internal bleeding. There is a portion of the story where Noomie Rapace’s character gives herself what basically amounts to an emergency cesarean, and while, the surgery itself is believable, and was a decent way to deal with the problem… she goinks the umbilical cord out and the machine doing the surgery does nothing to seal that up before it’s stapling her stomach shut again. She then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie running about, giving herself one pain stim (or at least I assume). While she does exhibit random “ouch, that was painful” faces, nothing else seems to be a problem. And let’s face it: running away from an alien launch pad is bound to knock something loose.
I actually have quite a few more things to say about this film… but the post was getting long, so this is where I’m going to leave you.