Ghoul's rating: 3/5
PROMETHEUS is pretty far from what it could and should have been, and from what we had the right to expect from Ridley Scott and his premise. However, despite all its problems, it still represents a very rare, almost unique breed of filmmaking which definitely deserves to be enjoyed in the cinema theater, not at home. That which is undoubtedly great - pompous scenery, spectacular space ships, alien landscapes, special effects and the like - can be experienced only on the big screen. If you should see one movie in the cinema in the coming days / weeks, it's definitely PROMETHEUS. But do not forget to enter the cinema with reduced expectations. Try not to be influenced by the hype machine and, if possible, to forget the heights achieved by ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER some 30-35 years ago. PROMETHEUS is a decent, intriguing, somewhat exciting film, but it's far from a masterpiece.
It is good enough that it shouldn't be spoilt for you, and I certainly don't want to do that. This is the reason why, instead of a thorough analysis, at this point I offer only the listing of the film's major qualities and faults, without arguments, examples and spoiler material which would be inevitable if I were to illustrate my points with examples from the film.
So, these are the best elements of the film:
+ A good concept, intriguing ideas, more (sporadic) intelligence displayed than in the average recent American blockbuster.
+ Excellent visual component, especially in areas based on the designs by H. R. Giger.
+ Exceptional visual effects, excellent make-up efx and creatures.
+ Intriguing character of David (the android) and wonderful acting by Michael Fassbender portraying him.
+ At least one "mystery" from ALIEN is now clarified: the nature and purpose of the "Space Jockey", and indirectly, those of alien xenomorphs themselves.
+ Good pacing, no boredom; a fluent and entertaining film.
On the other hand, these are the film's main problems:
- Viewed as a prequel to ALIEN (which it definitely is), PROMETHEUS is unsatisfactory both in terms of ideas and overall effect.
- The plot is designed as if this were a pilot episode for a series, not a separate film; too many crucial issues at the core of the plot remain vague, underdeveloped and unsatisfying.
- A number of illogical situations and unmotivated behavior, inadequate to the context, including an amazingly chaotic disregard for basic procedures appropriate for such an expedition (security, weapons, quarantine, the principle of subordination, command line, etc).
- Blatantly unfounded and unconvincing motivation for the trillionaire Weyland to jumpstart the entire long, complicated and expensive expedition, which motivation remains unchallenged even when the hostile nature of the planet's environment and the Engineers themselves become more than apparent.
- Ambivalent, vague motivation for the android.
- Too much freedom in the departments of physics and physiology of both human and nonhuman organisms; credibility and physical probability are dramatically stretched almost to the realm of miracles and fairy tales.
- Lack of clear and firm rules regarding the "anything goes" liquid in the alien vessels; haphazard modes of reproduction and life cycles of different creatures resulting from contact with it.
- The conclusion is too rushed, with plenty of action, sound and fury, but with progressively less and less sense, tension and emotional involvement towards the end.
- A terribly bad ending (the last five minutes).
- Not enough Giger: they re-used his old, well-known designs for ALIEN, but they did not hire him to produce anything really new and unseen. The non-Giger visuals are okay, but far from memorable and unique like Giger's.
To conclude: it is fine to see a film brave enough to be playful with big questions and occasional nihilism and blasphemy, but it's a pity that nothing much is really done with those, probably leaving a lot for the sequel which may or may not happen. The film's main problem is trying to merge an ALIEN-like horror film with a concept which would've been better off without the forced links to ALIEN mythology. The result is neither a gripping, suspenseful horror nor is it a very clever Sci-Fi film of big ideas: PROMETHEUS is middling in both departments. Still, it is not entirely a failure, there is some courage and cleverness amid the silly clichés and forced scenes, and PROMETHEUS deserves to be seen – but, like I said, with lowered expectations.