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Director Ridley Scott‘s name instantly inspires awe and wonder in many filmgoers’ minds. I had the amazing experience of meeting the man and watching him direct an episode of his hit TV Show Numbers. With that said, I think I must have been the only one who wasn’t particularly excited when he announced that he was returning to the world that he made his bones on – Aliens. Maybe its because, I know its blasphemous to admit it, but I have never been a big fan of the Alien franchise.
Sure as a franchise there are some truly great and unforgettable moments. Technically they are brilliantly made films (at least the first two). But I just never liked the world he created, I felt them to be very cold, analytical, and sort of pretentious. But then that is the whole point of the dystopian view of the future. I’m just not a fan of dark, bleak, sci-fi stories.
Now we have Prometheus a movie that is set in the Aliens universe, but not really. There are a lot of similarities in terms of look, feel, tone, but the connection that fans may be looking for really don’t seem like its there. You can watch this movie without knowing anything about the Aliens world. It has been awhile since I watched my Aliens Blu-ray collection, so I walked into this sort of “cold.”
While intensely watchable and at times actually engrossing about halfway through this exercise the sinking feeling of pointlessness sets in. The movie asks “big” questions, or at least claim to be, but it is more shallow pop psychology. “What would you do if you could meet god and ask him why he created you?” Ok. Yeah, and? The movie just poses the question, but there really is no debate about what would be asked or how it would impact the person asking.
There are a lot of plot points that are brought up and things done to add tension. We get numerous scenes of things going bump in the night but the Scott and former Lost writer Damon Lindelof do not feel a need to explain or show what anything is. Eventually it felt like I was watching one big, overlong tease. There are long stretches where nothing seems to be happening, just people walking around a colorless cave or ship.
In terms of Alien tropes, we do have the standard birthing scene, this time the Alien bursts out of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace. She is Elizabeth Shaw one of the Drs. that dreamed up this crazy idea that an Alien race. Her performance is fine, but she didn’t have the same gravitas, nor the intensity, Sigourney Weaver had.
Michael Fassbender was really good at the Dave the Robot. I loved some of his reactions to being called emotionless; it was a fine nuanced performance. However I couldn’t get passed the fact that he looks just like my favorite actor – Ewan McGregor.
Idris Elba and Charlize Theron (who I generally don’t like) are ok in this but the movie does not give them much to do. The rest of the crew felt like they were tacked on and meant to be canon fodder to Aliens that never really materializes. There is a ridiculous moment when two crew members – one of the guys looked strangely like the WWE Wrestler Shamus, see something that scares them. Instead of sticking with the rest of the team and investigate, they do the smart thing get the heck out of there. Only problem is, they get lost. Are you kidding me, with all the tech in their space suits, they get lost? The entire sequence felt contrived.
The 3D for a change does not hurt the movie. I still do not buy into the B.S. that 3D is only good for “depth.” I want my 3D to pop out at me and be over the top like Piranha 3D or the Final Destination movies, I don’t want pointless “depth.” The opening sequence, which is incredibly stupid and actually pointless, is beautifully filmed in 3D. The first time we get a full shot of the Prometheus is awe inducing, but these nice 3D moments are few and far between.
As someone who isn’t a fan of the Alien franchise, Prometheus feels like a competent, but pale imitation of those far superior films.