Ridley Scott is someone who helped build the science fiction genre. 1979’s ‘Alien’ is more than a horror classic; its a cult movie and it defined the atmospheric horror genre. I have been a die hard fan since I saw Alien. The Xenomorph, a classic Sci-fi/horror icon by now, had been etched in my mind since then. ‘Alien’ was a work of genius, it marked the milestone for sci-fi/horror movies where as its sequel, Aliens, helmed by James Cameron proved to be an action classic and shot the lead protagonist ‘Ripley’ (played Sigourney Weaver) to the top of the list of Female Action Heroes.
There were rumors from its nascence that Prometheus was a prequel to the ‘Alien’ saga and for those of who are familiar with H R Giger’s works it was evident from the previews itself that the rumors were indeed true. The previews were ridden with epitomizations of Alien, the most prominent being the ‘Space Jockey’. And NO that’s no spoiler. Prometheus raked up anticipation in me and it was no doubt in good hands. I mean who else to direct a prequel to Alien than its own daddy? Or so I thought!
The story is set years before the events of ‘Alien’. A crew of 17 is set in motion to LV 223 in a ship entitled ‘Prometheus’ financed by the Weyland corporation to find out about our forerunners known only as the ‘Engineers’. The Engineers according to the 2 archaeologists onboard could be our our makers and they are off to find the secrets of the unknown. They arrive on LV 223 and find pyramids which they go on to explore. If you have any idea about the game ‘Halo Reach’ its pretty much the same and there you go…you have the first flaw. You’d know well by the second act that its not gonna end well for the 17 crew members.
Prometheus’ first half had more of that ‘Alien’ atmospheric vibe to it and I enjoyed it immensely. It never had monsters closets or audio cues to startle me yet it kept me in a suspended state of fear, an anticipation of events to come. It kept me heaving but never scared me. The second half though, did nothing more than provide action sequences and set piece moments through till the end which I am never dissapointed of. It entertained me, yes, but still the pace that it kept alive in the first half was nowhere to be found.
Prometheus has a who’s who of a cast. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce to name a few. Noomi Rapace tries hard to be this gen Ripley and yes she succeeds to a extend but never enough to topple ‘Ripley’. Its not her fault though. Most of the characters are underwritten making them no more than one dimensional. There are no backstories provided for the characters except for some which was explained a bit via the viral campaign hence its hard for us to sympathise for the crew members. Then again the characters from Alien didn’t have any backstories either, yet Kane (for obvious reasons), Ash, Parker, Dallas, Lambert and the whole lot managed to cling on to your mind…now that was ingenious writing. Though there’s one true standout performance is of Michael Fassbender’s as David. Its unlikely that you are gonna forget ‘David’ anytime soon. His intentions (if he had any) were unpredictable from start to end.
Prometheus is a visual spectacle. LV 223 is something to behold. And the art direction is remarkable as well. Taking it in 3D just accentuated it all. Its one of those movies that begs to be seen in 3D. Its eyecandy at its best.
Audio Design is yet another thing that stood out. It has a great ambience but its nothing compared to Alien. The score by Marc Streitenfeld does its best to engross you. The track ‘Life’ had that old school effect on me. It somehow put me in an experience reminding me of Ridley Scott’s other classics.
The plot leaves us with quite alot of questions and unlike Nolan’s movies its not trying to be ambiguous. It was plain unanswered. The scope for a really smart storyline was there but I suppose it was lost amidst all the astounding visuals. If Prometheus was regarded as a standalone movie, comparisons with Alien aside, its a winner. But we are constantly reminded of the gem that was Alien; be it the pods inside the pyramid or the space jockey or the first site of a facehugger prototype…its hard not to consider Prometheus as a prequel. For all its worth, I was content with the visuals and early phases of the Xenomorphs’ evolution.