Ridley Scott's latest sci-fi thriller is back, filled with an all-star cast including Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender. But does it live upto the expectations?
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Charlize Theron, Benedict Wong, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace
Plot Synopsis: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Although Prometheus doesn't seem to live upto the expectations from the director of Alien, critics unanimously seem to think the film holds its own. Here's what they think:
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Ridley Scott has counter-evolved his 1979 classic Alien into something more grandiose, more elaborate – but less interesting. In place of scariness there is wonderment; in place of tension there is hugely ambitious design; in place of unforgettable shocks there are reminders of the original's unforgettable shocks.
Prometheus is part prequel, part variation on a theme: the object is ostensibly to explain the presence in Alien of a strange humanoid-corpse with a hole blasted open in his stomach.
It is a muddled, intricate, spectacular film, but more or less in control of all its craziness and is very watchable. It lacks the central killer punch of Alien: it doesn't have its satirical brilliance and its tough, rationalist attack on human agency and guilt. But there's a driving narrative impulse, and, however silly, a kind of idealism, a sense that it's exciting to make contact with whatever's out there.
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
It (Prometheus) exists simply because Scott got up one morning and thought the cinematic landscape would be much improved by the addition of a slime-splattered, blood-spurting science-fiction adventure that offered scares as well as spectacle; and who, in good conscience, can argue with that?
Prometheus certainly feels nowhere near as important as either Alien or Blade Runner, Scott’s two previous forays into the genre, although it shares those films’ willingness to play with ideas and concepts that studios would not usually touch with a ten-foot pole. It is set in the same universe as the Alien films although requires no prior knowledge of the franchise, and begins in 2089, when two archaeologists, Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover a series of ancient cave paintings that pinpoint a far-off constellation.
...Prometheus is a pick’n’mix bag of religious and mythological titbits, and it’s an undeniably muddled project. Yet while it lacks Alien’s ferocious simplicity and focus, Scott’s determination to see his often loopy ideas through gives his film a single-minded vigour rarely found in pictures of this scale.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Part philosophical treatise, part pulp fiction, part pure horror show, Ridley Scott's Prometheus ends up with less to say than it thinks it does. Though more involving than much of this year's summer blockbuster competition, by the standards set by its wizardly director it's something of a disappointment.
Anyone who is unfamiliar with Alien need not worry — Prometheus stands on its own. But those with vivid memories of what happened to Ellen Ripley aboard the Nostromo 33 years ago will find several points of reference in common with this latest iteration.
Making up for the expected nature of some of the film's plot twists is Arthur Max's spooky, HR Giger-influenced production design, Dariusz Wolski's fluid cinematography, as well as Scott's moment-to-moment storytelling skill. Though the thrills here are less visceral than Alien and the world imagined less mind-altering than Blade Runner, those gifts continue to impress in any galaxy you care to mention.
AO Scott, The New York Times
In his new film, Prometheus, Scott, returning to science fiction after a 30-year post-Blade Runner absence, entwines the visceral, creatural dread of Alien with some of the quasi-mythic grandiosity of Chariots of the Gods. Once again a vessel lumbers through the galactic void, and a diverse crew must contend with menacing weirdness outside the ship and growing paranoia within it. The Giger alien may still be out there. Something wicked lurks in subterranean tunnels, their walls etched in freaky runes. And hovering over all the scary stuff are some big, metaphysical questions about the origin and ultimate fate of humanity.
You might also call them science-fiction clichés, but the amazing thing is that, at least for a while, they don’t feel that way. The visual scheme is sufficiently captivating, and most of the performances are subtle enough that whatever skepticism you may arrive with quickly turns into happy disorientation. The 3-D is unusually graceful — your gaze is absorbed rather than assaulted — and you are pulled into a world of lovely and disconcerting strangeness with plenty of time to puzzle over the behavior of its inhabitants.
Christy Lemire, Associated Press
Strikingly beautiful, expertly paced, vividly detailed and scary as hell, it holds you in its grip for its entirety and doesn't let go. You'll squeal, you'll squirm — at one point, I was curled up in a little ball in my seat in a packed screening room — and you'll probably continue feeling a lingering sense of anxiety afterward. That's how effective it is in creating and sustaining an intensely suspenseful mood.
But the further you get away from outer-space journey, the more you may begin to notice some problems with the plot — both specific, nagging holes and a general narrative fuzziness. Describing some of them would give too much away, and we wouldn't dream of doing that. We'll just say that Scott and writers Damon Lindelof (executive producer of Lost) and Jon Spaihts vaguely touch on the notions of belief vs. science and creation vs. Darwinism, philosophical debates that never feel fully developed.
Still, the performances are excellent, especially from Michael Fassbender as a robot with the looks and impeccable manners of an adult but the innocence and troublemaking instincts of a child. His character, the genteel, fair-haired David, serves as a homage to Scott's own work as he calls to mind Ian Holm's android Ash from the original Alien. His eerily calm, precise demeanor also is reminiscent of the HAL 9000 computer program in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the pop-culture influences that shape David's habits and speech are a clever celebration of the power of classic cinema in general. (Prometheus probably will not go on to be considered one of Scott's classics in the same category as Alien and Blade Runner, but you've got to admire its ambition.)
Daniel Pinto, DNA
Prometheus heralds the return of Scott to the universe he created in 1979’s Alien. While the film, like its spiritual predecessor, has a strong female lead and its fair share of bloodcurdling moments, it uses the genre to accommodate an expanded mythos, one where the protagonist hopes to answer probing questions about existence itself.
For a film whose central theme is humanity’s encounter with forces of a larger-than-life scale, Prometheus begins on the right note. The cryptic opening sequence which depicts the solitary plight of humankind’s supposed forerunner on the prehistoric planet is in some ways comparable to jaw-dropping beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In spite of the writing that spawns holes which your mind can’t help but keep picking at, Prometheus, which while not coming close to meeting every expectation of this reviewer, somehow works.
While Prometheus is entertaining enough, for all its promise and lofty themes, the film proves to be a triumph of style over substance with a story as perforated as the floor of an acid-bleeding Xenomorph's lair.
Allen O’ Brien, The Times of India
The special effects are rather cutting edge. There are great sets, good shots, state-of-the art tech and gadgets, battle of the galactic space ships and some jaw-dropping, larger-than-life special effects. Case in point, the automated Cesarean operation where a little alien is pulled out from the human body, while the later is immediately stapled to perfection. Clap!
So all you sci-fi fans (and more importantly, fans of the original Alien movie), Prometheus is an intellectual scientific adventure of epic grandeur. In fact, make sure you indulge in a more-than-one-time-viewing of the movie to get the idea bang on.
The film however does get bogged down a bit by its meandering scenes which tend to distract, followed by the oh-so-many important questions ever asked by mankind... that are never really answered. Not done, since the one actually posing it here is the creator of cult classics like Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator...