If you read my Men In Black 3 review, and if you didn’t I’m frankly crushed, you’ll know that I see the last-minute press screening as something of a danger sign.
Well here we are again. Prometheus is out tomorrow.
And you should see it. It’s a bold, beautiful, magnificently watchable movie. And there’s a quote from Lawrence Of Arabia. And a namecheck for Steven Stills. Both of which are as cool as you like in my book. And the 3D is astounding. Seeing it in IMAX, as I did, will leave you wondering what is film and what is reality.
Let’s be honest, you were going to see it no matter what I said weren’t you? It’s Ridley Scott’s prequel to Alien, for goodness’ sake. And Alien was one of the top two Sci-fi movies of all time.
(If you’re keeping score at home, the other one is Aliens.)
And therein lies my problem. Prometheus is no Alien, and that’s what we were all hoping for.
Scott has returned to the world he created in 1979’s seminal space-slasher and added bells, whistles and frills and fancies beyond imagining. That’s all you need to know before you walk into the cinema. How much tolerance you have for knowing what happens in films determines how much further you should read.
But if you plan to stop now, bear in mind that at some point I’m going to bring up The Addams Family. And you’re going to miss that.
Ridley has, just as he did for Alien, posited a world where people are amazingly casual about biohazards.
Ridley has, just as he did for Alien, assembled a killer cast. Noomi Rapace discharges the Sigourney Weaver function perfectly. Her character is a little early Ripley mixed with a judicious amount of the Sigourney we saw in James Cameron’s Avatar.
Michael Fassbender is a delight as synthetic factotum David, hogging all the movie’s funniest one-liners.
Charlize Theron is lovely and mysterious. You’ll want to see more of her. And I don’t just mean the naked exercise scene.
Idris Elba is absolutely brilliant in this film. The rest of the movie may be a prequel to Alien but Idris goes a long way to convincing us that it’s a sequel to Serenity. There’s a distinct flavour of Mal Reynolds in there.
But back to Ridley Scott. He’s the guy that makes this movie special.
Ridley has, Just as in Alien, given us a gloriously believable spacecraft. The hubristically-named Prometheus is a glittering spacebug straight out of Chris Foss’s wildest dreams.
Ridley has, just as in Alien, managed to get some icky goo smeared over every available surface. And if you’re looking for more links to Alien, don’t worry, you’ll see them. For example the post-credits scene where Samuel L Jackson shows up to recruit the Xenomorph for a project called…no…wait…that’s another movie.
The heritage is clear. Where Prometheus suffers by comparison with its illustrious predecessor is in the pacing. In Alien, we felt the death of every character on a personal level. We knew these people. They were individually murdered.
Here, Scott gets a way into the movie, realises that everyone’s still alive and whacks a whole lot of characters at once. Logan Marshall Green, for one, doesn’t get half enough time to prowl around the wonderful sets looking like Tom Hardy cosplaying that guy from Mass Effect.
Charlize Theron gets a cheap shot exit that will have the guys over at TV Tropes up in arms. It’s a waste. And there was actually no point at all hiring Guy Pearce or Rafe Spall. They are excellent actors and they have nothing to do whatsoever.
Generally, Scott is too entranced by his admittedly luscious visuals to pay enough attention to the fiction. And in a science fiction movie, that’s half the story.
The other half is the science. To get picky about the science in space travel flicks is just silly. We know everything is a long way away from everything else and if we’ve got any sense we’re willing to accept a certain amount of gloss over things like faster-than-light travel and aliens that look a bit like Lurch from The Addams Family.
But Prometheus is a film that’s trying to ask some big questions. So I think we’re entitled to ask a few big questions back. Such as: What’s with all this panspermia idea? Did the aliens create all life on Earth or just us? And if it’s all life, as seems apparent, how come the dinosaurs lasted so long before we came along? And how long ago did all this stuff happen? Because the aliens’ map of Earth has a very familiar layout of continents.
This is a film that will play big with the Chariots Of The Gods crowd, annoy the Religious Right like crazy, and do I don’t know what to the anti-abortion lobby.
It’s brilliant, it’s annoying, it’s a must-see. Because, for all my nitpicking, Ridley knows his stuff. You were going to see it anyway, weren’t you?