(2012, R) Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw), Michael Fassbender (David), Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers), Idris Elba (Janek), Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland), Logan Marshall-Green (Charlie Holloway), Sean Harris (Fifield), Rafe Spall (Milburn), Emun Elliott (Chance). Music: Mark Streuitenfeld. Screenplay: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Director: Ridley Scott. 123 minutes.
Tags: Sci-Fi, Prequel, Big-Budget Waste
Notable: Someone spent a small country’s GNP to make this horrifyingly bad pile of poo
Adapted from the Wikipedia description: In the late 21st century, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus follows a star map discovered among the artifacts of several ancient Earth cultures. Seeking the origins of humanity, the crew arrives on a distant world and discovers a threat that could cause the extinction of the human species.
With the exception of Charlize Theron (The Devil’s Advocate) and Guy Pearce (Memento), and director Ridley Scott, I didn’t recognize a single name associated with this film. This tells me more about myself than about them; I am now officially part of a bygone era of cinephiles, and I’m going to have to start looking to memorize new actors’ names and carry them to various other works in future. However, I will hope never to associate any of them with this abomination of attempted movie-making, as very few people in the world deserve such ignominy.
According to Wikipedia, Ridley Scott was actively involved in this attempt to rekindle the exceptional flame of his original Alien film; the project was shelved for a number of years as took precedence. In terms of rekindling that original flame, he failed miserably. With too much money, anyone can seek out the flash-bang and forget the real meat of a plot. Set designs, cinematic development, and camera tricks were stolen from 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, and a few others, all in an attempt to make us think yes, we’re watching a prequel that is itself a sequel to better films. Obvious references to the original Alien are everywhere, yet none of them actually circle back to give us some idea of what’s supposed to be going on. In fact, if you’ve not seen the original, this film will make even less sense than it would otherwise. Again, according to Wikipedia (which does not cite a reference for this claim), Scott wished this film to “explore its own mythology and ideas.” Sadly, it has neither of those things.
We begin on Earth, discovering yet more evidence that our planet may have been “seeded” by alien intervention (David Brin’s idea of “uplift” is borrowed here), so up goes the trillion-dollar space ship to find the source. On board, a crew of sleepers, an android predecessor to those in future Alien films (this one with a fetish for the film Lawrence of Arabia, allowing Fassbender to ape Peter O’Toole in looks and mannerisms), and a mysterious hibernation tank that holds someone we don’t know about… although we figure it out fast enough. Spoiler Alert: We’ve seen all these characters before, in so many other films, but particularly in the Alien series. By itself, that’s not a bad thing… but when added to the fact that recognizing them is more than half of the suspense of the film, you begin to get the feeling that the entire film is banking on what in legal terms would be “relying upon material not in evidence.” The film doesn’t hold up as a separate entity, and in truth doesn’t even hold up when taking the original quadrilogy into account.
If you really want to put yourself through this gratuitously self-indulgent and ultimately pointless monstrosity of a movie, I won’t give you any specific spoilers. All the clichés are here, including the obligatory possibly-evil android, the exploration of gargantuan caverns that may not be “all natural,” the divide-and-conquer when a couple of the scientists get split away from the others, the oozing canisters of Mysterious Something, the stupid-human-plays-with-alien-and-gets-eaten trick, and the ever-popular self-sacrifice for the good of the planet meme. Add to this that two who are attacked by the mysterious alien-thing are completely forgotten about (despite that one of them likely to be a host, like the original Alien film), the self-sacrifice to prevent yet more contamination (of what, we aren’t sure, because it’s not like the chest-bursting beasts of before), and the we-thought-it-was-dead cliché, and you’ve got a mess of a film even before trying to describe the plot.
Oh, yes. The plot. Of course, calling it a “plot” is a stretch so far beyond the tensile strength of language as to render meaning impossible. Quite apart from its sheer impossibility, there are so many gaps and discontinuities that even the comparative storytelling of an ODTAA (“One Damned Thing After Another”) would provide greater cohesion and deeper meanings. Just as Arthur C. Clarke had to pen the novel of 2001 in order to explain Kubrick’s wretched film, so must there be a novel, or another film, to explain what the hell this film was about… and even then, one would have to come up with a plot (for either) in the first place. This is one of those films where one leaves with more questions than one has at the beginning, and the first of those questions is why one wasted so much money on the admission price.
I didn’t expect Rotten Tomatoes to rank it as “72% fresh,” but most critics are bamboozled by special effects these days, so I don’t know why I’m surprised. With alleged professionals crying that the movie is “a mesmerising [sic] collision of theological angst, going further than Alien in beating on HP Lovecraft’s tentacle doorknocker” (James Hoare, SciFiNow, a UK publication), I hold out little hope for future generations. Listen to your Uncle Black Wolf: Save your bitcoins for something worthwhile. This ain’t it.