Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Film Review: Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba

Ridley Scott’s much anticipated return to science fiction may be the most infuriating result of marketing campaigns since the internet begun. The more I think about Prometheus, the more annoyed I get about the impact social media is having on film making and the marketing of films; the countdown and hype for trailers on every movie blog, the simultaneous advert on Channel 4 and the #areyouseeingthis campaign on Twitter urging people to write their thoughts to then be shown on another ad break, the Facebook promotions... It appears to me that all 20th Century Fox cared about was the number of ‘Likes’, ‘Retweets’, and You Tube hits and the quality of the film and final output will take care of itself.

Despite all this, the hype and interest surrounding Prometheus was all about one thing and one thing only, and this is the main issue I have with the film and everything I was told to expect from trailers, tweets, and interviews:


There is no denying that Prometheus was promoted as an Alien prequel and there is no denying this was the main reason for the interest surrounding it; how Ridley Scott would connect his original 1979 sci-fi masterpiece to this new story and warrant the return 33 years later.

So then what was the first 120 minutes of Prometheus for when all we wanted to see was a solid return to the Alien franchise? Why were we presented with this story about the creation of man and eternal life and meeting our maker, when the final shot of the film is all anyone really wanted to see? Or, why link this film to the Alien series at all? Does Ridley Scott and Fox no longer have faith in their ability to make a good piece of science fiction without having to depend on the success from over two decades ago? The film is a very uneasy mix of an original story and the need to shoehorn in the Alien storyline at the same time, but the two stories and themes never blend together and it is us, the paying audience who are left with the disappointment of both. The first two acts are promising as the story paces itself well and the promise of something draws nearer, but as the film moves into its final act and the need for answers and some excitement and a final payoff come calling, Prometheus bounces all over the place from horror to action to the terrible Alien prequel final scene which looks as it were shot for one another Alien v Predator franchise, and stuck on the end of this film because, quite frankly, the Prometheus story does not have an ending, and I wonder if it ever did. There are so many unanswered plot holes, character motivations, and story arcs in this film that I simply lost interest before the final acts ruins everything anyway.

The lack of a conclusion is yet another maddening aspect to this film. There is nothing in the Prometheus story that calls for another chapter; the only thing keeping that dream alive is the Alien tie-in, but this only comes at the very end which begs the question; is this just a set-up for yet another series of films for Fox to release every 2 or 3 years? If so, then we’ve all been taken for fools. The same fools who thought Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood would deliver a full story in one film, but look what happened to that. Moreover, if Prometheus is not the financial success that it is hoped to be, will it suffer the same fate as Robin Hood and be just another pointless origins story that failed to do the basic rule of any cinema experience and entertain its audience? After all, the first Alien film was not left open for a sequel to be made straight after; it took seven years and the genius of James Cameron to make that happen. Can you imagine Fox waiting seven years to follow up Prometheus? No, we’ll probably be seeing teaser posters and Twitter hashtags as soon as the film makes profit. No one wanted anything more than a one-off prequel to Alien from the man who created the original, but what we’re left with is a threat of something like a Star Wars prequel-trilogy as Scott stated in an interview there are two films between where Prometheus ends and Alien begins.

The version released in cinemas does not even look like a final cut, and I’m sure there will be the now-expected Director’s Cut from Ridley Scott and a two minute intro telling us why “this is the real version”. The problem is, in an interview for BBC Radio Five Live, Scott has already said there was plenty more he wanted to include and it raises the question; why even see this version at all? Yet, despite these claims, Scott shot the film in 3D, so doesn’t he want us to get the full experience the first time around, in cinemas, wearing the stupid 3D glasses which decrease 30% of the light and add a whopping 0% to the cinema going experience? The whole film stinks of being directed by Scott but actually made by Fox and the marketing team with their ‘hashtags’ and ‘Likes’.

The positives of Prometheus are purely aesthetic; it is stunning to look at and uses special effects in the way they are supposed to be used; seamlessly integrated with actual people and sets. The CGI is undoubtedly a landmark in the field and will surely be the most visually pleasing film of 2012. But, as I’m getting tired of saying in reviews, it takes more than just visuals to make a film worth the ticket price, or even the audience’s time to watch it. What good are stunning visuals if the characters, story, script are full of holes and unanswered questions, and the bastardisation of another franchise happens as a result?

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: If this were not a Ridley Scott film, and if it were not set in the Alien universe, and if it were not promoted as being a direct prequel to the first Alien film, and all we had was an interesting story with great visuals and no conclusion, then this would just be another disappointing film. But we came to expect so much and Prometheus set itself out to be so many things, and ended up delivering nothing but an artificial need for another film rendering this as instantly disposable when the credits roll.


  1. I was not planning on seeing this because I was never a big Alien fan. Then my husband said he wants to see it, so I thought hmmm, maybe. Your review is making me think I should save my money.

  2. Good review, very well written and you back up your opinion well. I still liked Prometheus, but it does have issues and it feels like it needs another 30 minutes to develop properly.

  3. The promotion for this film made it look freakin’ awesome but also, a lot like Alien and I think that’s the big problem with the film. It’s pretty much the same formula used over again and even though Scott tries his hardest to get our heads past that, it’s too obvious, too quick. Good review.