As I'm aware that Ridley Scott's latest sci-fi blockbuster isn't yet out in the US, I'll try to keep this review spoiler-free so the coast is clear.
During my review of Scott's Robin Hood, I ranted the following:
"Some directors are great at one thing in particular. Some are very versatile. Scott thinks he belongs to the latter category when really he's part of the former. Ever since his sci-fi/fantasy days (Alien, Blade Runner, Legend) he has avoided those genres like the plague focusing instead on Russell Crowe-led bore-fests like A Good Year or, indeed, Robin Hood"
And here we are, several years later with Ridley Scott's sci-fi comeback which finally comes following some truly masterful marketing and several kickass, mouth-watering trailers. Big budget, big cast, big story: surely this is the comeback I was waiting for!
Well, yes and no.
On the one hand Prometheus is exactly what I wanted: Scott doing what he does best, finding his unique vision once again, creating a smart, stylish, occasionally gooey, sophisticated B movie in the vein of one of his best works (Alien) and providing me with the first film of his I've managed to truly enjoy since... Legend? Ok, fine, Gladiator and Thelma & Louise were somewhat entertaining and Matchstick Men had Nic Cage blinking a lot so it wasn't all bad since then but Prometheus, for me, is certainly a step in the right direction for Scott if not a definitive piece or the crowning achievement of his career (see Blade Runner).
Alien this is not.
Quality-wise or otherwise: Prometheus is far from being quite as genuinely unnerving as the 1979 horror/thriller. Is it a prequel? Kind of. More like a modern step brother reboot, really. All the ingredients required for a class A Alien movie are there: clinical, perfect futuristic setting? Check. Dark H. R. Giger alien world? Check. Disposable crew? Check. Drool and body horror? Check. Sigourney Weaver?... busy. Making a non Alien film that's actually an Alien film, but not really was always going to confuse the masses. We were all kinda hopin' Scott's secretive approach to the film's links with the classic franchise was just a way to hide some sort of big Nolan-esque secret which would eventually be revealed through the film itself. As it turns out, the big secret is that this is one confused concept. You either make an Alien movie or you make something else. This should have been clearer from the get go and it means that fans of Ripley and co. will be let down as will viewers looking for something more than a space slasher done better years prior.
However you look at it: Prometheus is inherently disappointing.
The reviews so far have certainly underlined that.
And yet there I was enjoying every (granted) predictable attack, every Fassbenderisms, every bit of Scott's familiar but stunning new universe. Visually, Prometheus is incredible, think Moon with a budget. Whether you're outdoors or indoors, there is eye candy: the ship is a masterpiece of futuristic perfection, the planet we're set on has a grand, spacious yet toxic vibe and the underground levels are a Giger wet dream. For the first time in a long time, a Ridley Scott flick feels mysterious, has a sense of wonder and most importantly doesn't star Russell bloody Crowe. It's all very slow-burning, impending doom type of thing with the occasional kick in the balls so if that's what you're looking for then enjoy.
That said, Prometheus does have its share of flaws. Can't deny that as much as I want to.
For one thing, "The Engineer" looks ass. His design and involvement in the plot just feels awkward and a bit of a waste. Then there's the crew which is admittedly a bit hit-and-miss: Michael Fassbender's David is spot-on and effortlessly steals the show, Idris Elba makes a likeable captain, Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth is quite a bit more vulnerable and fragile than Ripley but as stubborn and annoying as she can be, seeing her in real danger is both worrying (her being the glue that holds the expedition together) and sadistically fun. Charlize Theron is something of a non-event and seems to just be there to contradict everyone, her character remaining an enigma till the very end. Had they gone the epic route, I would have also liked to see more of this world instead of being limited to a handful of locations. After all, this is a big movie about big stuff... then again it's also about how big stuff can come from small stuff so... I'm lost. My point is lost. Damn you David!
The film restricts itself by keeping to the classic Alien rules which would work if this was an Alien movie, but it really isn't leaving us slightly underwhelmed. Turns out the trailers really did show everything, all good stuff, don't get me wrong, but that should have been the tip of the iceberg not the whole thing. If you're gonna go big: go BIG.
Try to link it to Alien and you'll go mad with plot-holes fever, try to match it to your expectations of an impressive Avatar-style epic and prepare for a let-down (it's better than Avatar, mind). Look at it on its own, forget about the build-up, the hype hammered into your head for the past few months and what you've got is one hell of a cult sci-fi flick: a visual spectacle with enough intrigue and sharp bursts of slimy horror to keep you hooked and leave you wanting more. I, for one, demand more Ridley Scott sci-fi, only... maybe not Blade Runner 2... something new. Exactly what Prometheus should have been: something new. Entirely new.
Disappointing? Maybe. Bad? Surely you jest.
Have you SEEN AVP?