“‘The search for our beginning, could lead to our end’ is the tagline for Prometheus. How unfortunate, It should have read: ‘The search for an Alien prequel would lead to our disappointment’.”
By Simon Jago
‘The search for our beginning, could lead to our end’ is the tagline for Prometheus. How unfortunate, It should have read: ‘The search for an Alien prequel would lead to our disappointment’. Ever since I watched the original ‘Alien’ I fell in love with the nicknamed ‘Space Jockey’ sat deceased in the cockpit of the derelict spaceship. I wanted to know who he was, where he came from and why he had the alien cargo. Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi genre promised to be a prequel to the franchise focusing on the race of ‘Space Jockeys’, or in this case the ‘Engineers’. The Engineers of what?
Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her scientist boyfriend Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient artefacts from around the world that all suggest a map to an alien planet that could lead to the origins of life on earth. Years later and billions of dollars invested by The Weyland Corporation we join an interstellar deep space expedition on spaceship ‘Prometheus’ heading to the planet to meet our makers.
Once arriving on the planet LV-223, the team do not receive the warm welcome they were expecting as some horrible fate has befallen the race of ‘Engineers’ and it appears at first any chance to ask our creators the big questions of life will go un-answered. In fact one sci-fi spectacle later all of the questions still remain unanswered.
Is it a prequel or isn’t it? The committee couldn’t resolve this one, so did a bit of both. We have a ‘Space Jockey’, we have an alien spaceship, a synthetic person with dodgy motives and the ever greedy corporation in the shape of Weyland Industries. However, we’re on a different planet and its not the same ship they find in ‘Alien’ despite being the same type. So any attempts at connecting the dots fall woefully short, apart from setting up a sequel to the prequel, so a pre-sequel?
In addition the film decides to take on the philosophical ideas of ‘Where did we come from?’ and introduce elements of faith, the nature of creation and the ingredients of life, but these concepts end up being unexplored froth on top of a very unsatisfying pint of weak (but very golden) generic blockbuster lager. Let’s not forget that ‘Alien’ (One of the my favourite films incidently) is really nothing more than ‘Friday the 13th’ in space. It had no lofty ambitions apart from taking us on a believable and terrifying journey. The irony is that Alien’s B-movie characters are so much more developed and engaging than anyone in Prometheus with the exception of Michael Fassbender’s disturbing David the synthetic. The rest of the cast struggle with a weak script and insufficient screen time. There is too much focus on Elizabeth Shaw an annoying dreamy heroine and not enough time focused on the more exciting characters such as Idris Elba’s Captain Janek and Charlize Theron’s company woman Meredith Vickers.
Watching this film has left me with a sad conclusion, the day of the mature adult blockbuster is over. During the seventies, two massive films although both marketed (but not produced) as blockbusters both received massive audiences; certified 18 and were aimed squarely at an adult audience. The first is ‘The Exorcist’ and the second is ‘Alien’. Films these days seem to be toned down in order to make a certificate 15 rating to achieve higher box office sales. What I want to know is what on earth happened to Scott’s original vision of Prometheus in order to slot into a 15 certificate and achieve 21st century blockbuster status?
I really, really wanted to like this movie, in fact it is probably a film I have been looking forward to for years. However, I actually felt frustrated and almost offended that I had been promised the ‘Alien’ prequel or at least a connection to the discovery made in the first ‘Alien’ movie and instead was delivered a very beautiful but bad tasting masala mix of ‘The Tree of Life’ and ’2001′ with sprinklings of ‘Alien’ and ‘Aliens’ thrown in for publicity. This film is probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever had to face and (SPOILER ALERT) the terrible new CGI alien design thrown in at the end was almost like Ridley Scott gobbing in my face.