PROMETHEUS Monday 04 June, 2012

Seemingly everybody had high expectations of the geordie cigar smoker’s long awaited Alien prequel. I didn’t. So who was disappointed and who was stupid?

Let’s start by saying that I’m not a fan of Ridley Scott films. In much the same way as Tim Burton, Ridley Scott seems to expend a lot of energy on the look of his films. Unfortunately it seems that that leaves him with little time or energy for anything else.

When I think of Ridley Scott films I think of grand spectacle films that will be thrilling in the cinema but will not be as rewarding at home or upon repeat viewings. He is the master of style over substance.

With all that in mind I tempered my excitement about Prometheus. Judging by the anguished howls of derision and disappointment on twitter I was one of the few who expected little. I’m afraid to say that if you expected so much from this film then you only have yourself to blame for your disappointment.

In retrospect I was wrong to so heavily weight my expectations in toward rubbish. A large part of the success of a science fiction film is the suspension of disbelief. This suspension is achieved by showing a believable world. How convincing that world is depends largely upon the look of the film. So this is exactly the kind of film that makes its home deep within Scott’s skill set.

Prometheus made me realise that the films of Ridley Scott that I do enjoy are science fiction or fantasy. Blade Runner, Alien and Legend all look wonderful. They may not be the most deep of films but as vehicles to transport you to another plane of reality they are hugely successful. When he decides to focus on more mundane subject matter his flaws as a filmmaker become thrust into the foreground for all to see.

So what of Prometheus? It seems that many were expecting to see a film that had the same impact as the original Alien film. I don’t think that that was even remotely possible. I just wanted to see something about the space jockey. I wasn’t upset by what I saw.

I avoided all the trailers except for the fake Peter Weyland TED Talk and I’m glad I did. I hadn’t seen anything of the film before I watched it and that allowed it to seem fresh.

I won’t talk about specific plot points but I can say that Prometheus deals with ideas and concepts that are far removed from what studio films will normally allow. This deserves huge praise. It’s as close to proper science fiction as we will get from the studio system. Normally major science fiction films are nothing more than genre films on a spaceship. Prometheus asks questions though and that is what real science fiction does. Don’t get me wrong though. This is still a sci-fi horror but it’s also a bit more than that.

I’ve seen people complaining that Noomi Rapace is not as good as Sigourney Weaver. She is not Ripley though and to her credit she doesn’t try to be. It’s a different character and as such that comparison is unfair.

Yes. The film does have some rather gaping plot holes and yes some of it is cliche but it looks amazing. There are some wonderful inventions and a palpable sense that we have travelled far from earth. In the same way that Event Horizon plunges you into a vast and lonely universe so does Prometheus.

The character design is top notch and the set design is of similar quality. It’s also so pleasing to see that this is not a green screen film. These are real sets and props and CGI is only used when necessary. That makes a big difference when you compare it to George Lucas’ computer-diaorrhea Star Wars prequels. In the battle of the sci-fi prequels Ridley Scott is winning after Lucas suffered three knock downs in the same round. All the naysayers should remember just how bad those Star Wars films are. Prometheus is a far superior film to all of those.

On the whole though this is a film that allows you to feel the wide eyed wonder of being transported far away from home. I can’t wait for the prequel sequel. Remember how you felt when you watched a film as a child? That.

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  • Chris says:

    Aye, both me and Kristina had Prometheus infused dreams for the next 2 nights, a good indicator of absorption! I really enjoyed the design and the sense of removal to a foreign world. Loved the ‘Engineers’ too.

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