Prometheus (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Prometheus (2012)

Director Ridley Scott returns to his “Alien” roots with Prometheus, a lavish prequel, well done in its visuals and aesthetics, yet somewhat soulless as a whole. And while the plot brings the story of rogue — almost invincible — entities wiping out various interstellar crews full circle, one wonders what the point of the entire enterprise was and who was clamoring for such an effort in the first place.

Also, one cannot help but compare the two films, and although 33 years apart, the 1979 original appears even more favorably when one realizes that today’s vast technical film industry leaps were not available then. The special effects and seamless amazing visuals of Prometheus only serve to highlight just how skilled those artists were in producing “Alien,” one of the best-looking, terrifying, FX-filled movies of that era.

Then there is the story of a spaceship landing on an unknown planet (in this case a moon orbiting an unknown planet), the crew exploring the surface only to meet strange and often violent life forms. This film, however, takes place years before the Nostromo set down and discovered pods, eggs, suspicious androids and finally, vicious, deadly monstrosities. Here, it’s 2092, and a pair of scientists, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, “Brooklyn’s Finest”), discover a series of artifacts from different areas that seem to point to man’s worship of a supreme being (what, there are no Bibles, Torahs or Korans in the future?!).

Getting a bead on a heretofore undiscovered solar system, a corporation headed by ancient Peter Weyland (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce, “L.A. Confidential”), finances the journey with Captain Janek (Idris Elba, “Thor“) in charge and overseen by stoic ice queen Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron, much less animated than her role in “Snow White and the Huntsman“). An attempt is made at some character development with these, as well as gruff geologist Fifield (Sean Harris, “A Lonely Place to Die”) and another ambiguous automaton, David (Michael Fassbender, “Shame“).

Movie review of Prometheus (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Big head spells danger.

It’s David’s actions which really confuse, though, as in one scene he tries to infect Dr. Holloway and then in another saves the life of Dr. Shaw. Meanwhile, as the group explores the bowels of a cave and tunnel system, they happen upon a relic craft left 2,000 years before, complete with ghostly hologram recordings of the long-dead humanoid crew. Are these the creatures who created Man? Shaw and Holloway seem to think so, yet Shaw has doubts and fears that can only be cured by a good dose of sex (hey, who can disagree with that?). This leads, unfortunately, to one of the picture’s most graphic and gruesome sequences that will — literally — have many viewers turning away from the screen.

When the “makers” turn out to be not as benevolent as hoped, though, the various cast members are served up interplanetary style and the graphics department goes into overtime with bubbling viscous, grotesque mutants and huge craft from the past and future battling it out on this barren, forlorn wastescape. And though interesting to a point, this plot pales in comparison to Scott’s first thriller (and it was just that, where one did not even see the full alien until the end). The characters in that film (Ripley, Ash, Dallas, Lambert, Brett, Kane, Parker) were as fully developed as any could be in a film like this. Here, we get a tiny glimpse into these individuals, but there are people on the screen that seem to come and go, and are beaten and crushed with nary a feeling of care or empathy from the audience.

Scott has definitely mastered the creepy, futuristic, forlorn, atmospheric art direction, set design and costumes (credit Marc Homes, Sonia Klaus and Janty Yates, among others) to a tee. Fans of the franchise (the first two movies, the rest do not count) will also point in recollection and no doubt admire the amazing visuals and expansive viewpoints, and even the plausible (as well as far-fetched) scientific advancements.

But with a confusing, slow-moving story that tries to mirror the original “Alien” — down to the most remote detail (blame writers Jon Spaihts and “Lost” creator Damon Lindelof for removing the terror and tension, however) — and little, if any memorable characters, Prometheus ends up just being wonderful to look at, and should not be taken very seriously.

In space, it’s said, no one can hear you scream. In the theater listen closely to the sighs of disappointment for what Prometheus could have been. They’ll be deafening.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Prometheus (2012)' have 15 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 6, 2012 @ 4:09 pm Grandeur Alien

    Your review doesn’t give me much hope. :(

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 6, 2012 @ 5:09 pm Paul Slew

    You make it sound like a complete failure for Ridley Scott. I can’t imagine it is that bad.. I suppose I’ll find out for myself on Friday.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 6, 2012 @ 7:01 pm Rosario

    This isn’t the first review I’ve read laying out the shortcomings of Prometheus. I’m almost tempted to skip it!

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 7, 2012 @ 8:46 am KC

    What the fuck? This had better be better than your letting on /

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 7, 2012 @ 10:37 am Sal

    Sadly Greg is right. I saw a screening of Prometheus last week and other than the impressive effects, it is weak on character development, full of plot holes and lacks substance.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 8, 2012 @ 1:22 pm Brendan

    I’m in disbelief. Prometheus does the Alien franchise a giant disservice. The pacing is off, I didn’t care whether any of the scientists were killed off, and as a whole it doesn’t make alot of sense. This is clearly a movie where the hype greatly outweighed what was delivered.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 8, 2012 @ 1:45 pm Coronary

    Biggest movie disappointment in recent memory.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 8, 2012 @ 5:26 pm Alabammer

    This was a prequel to ALien wasn’t it? I don’t get how the two fit together………

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 8, 2012 @ 6:13 pm Margie

    I thought the f/x were top notch. I wasn’t impressed with much else tho.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 9, 2012 @ 12:25 am Gildan

    The review you’ve written sums it up nicely. Prometheus should have been 100x better than it was.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 9, 2012 @ 1:07 pm funkflex

    I thought Fassbender and Rapace were amazing. Idris Elba wasn’t bad either. The others were very one-dimensional (sorry Charlize). There were definitely plot holes a cargo ship could steam through but overall its an immersive experience (especially in IMAX).

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 9, 2012 @ 4:40 pm Prince

    Light on horror (at best a scare or two), heavy on sci-fi (Engineers were cool enough, wanted more Xenomorphs). It was entertaining enough but really didn’t live up to the expectations I had for it.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 9, 2012 @ 11:11 pm Pitfall Gary

    I’m guessing there is a sequel to follow-this left too many unanswered questions and doesn’t line up with Alien.

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 10, 2012 @ 4:28 pm Ron

    I can’t argue that there are a few inconcistencies with how it unfolds. It didn’t take away from my enjoying the movie in anyway though.

  15. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 11, 2012 @ 3:23 am Holding Pattern

    Saw it twice. There is a lot of nuances missed with only one viewing. I’d suggest a subsequent visit the theater to tie up some of loose ends and answer some of the lingering questions. You’ll find new appreciation for the film if you do.

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