Having seen all the Alien movies from the imaginative horror of the first and the genre-defining action of the second, through to the sci-fi pulp of the later movies, I was looking forward to Ridley Scott’s return to the franchise, and a step away from the overused Alien tropes that had become a crutch for the series. I had also read a promising interview with the screenwriter, who appeared to have significant concept-based sci-fi cred and a fluent grasp of the main themes of the franchise.
Unfortunately the result was mixed: there were interesting concepts, imaginative design, surprising nuance to ultimately shallow characters, far too many disconnected threats and unanswered questions. Despite showing considerable early promise, the movie ends before it explains anything interesting, and throws in too many interesting but underused elements – for example the excellently acted David, Vickers who has a reveal that goes nowhere, and Weylan, played by a thoroughly squandered Guy Pierce.
Prometheus starts like a concept movie with mind-spinning ideas amazing vistas, but rushes too quickly into the Alien lore and monster-survival genre, with a bunch of scientists doing utterly idiotic things and being snuffed by random nasties. It’s up to the audience to pull together a coherent storyline from the pointless ambiguities. Why not tell us what David says? Why not state clearly that this isn’t the planet from Alien, rather than forcing the audience to wonder and then check afterwards? This could have been a clever movie, but there are merely clever pieces scattered here and there.
Visually the movie is great, and there are some fantastic scenes – especially the one in the medical unit that made my jaw drop. So if you go into Prometheus with the right expectations – one cut above pulp sci-fi with wasted concepts – you’ll enjoy it.
I hope Ridley Scott can get his act together for a sequel, but he seems to promise more than he can deliver.