Even if there’s no Alien in the title, does Ridley Scott’s sci-fi movie do the quadrilogy justice or is it something completely different?
(USA 2012, director: Ridley Scott)
The spaceship Prometheus and its crew find a planet where alien creators of humanity might come from and are soon confronted with something much more sinister to kill them.
Telling prequel stories comes with its problems, as one expects things to make sense for what follows and what one already knows. While Prometheus does a good job of creating a mysterious sci-fi atmosphere with an epic soundtrack and impressive cinematography, it loses itself in philosophical and religious discussions that have never been part of the Alien mythology, as it doesn’t need them. Characters one doesn’t care about and who do some truly stupid and unintentionally funny things don’t make matters any better, either. The biggest issue is that Scott tries to explain how the alien race of which only remnants were discovered in the first Alien movie have a bigger purpose for humanity without providing satisfying answers. The lore still remains as cryptic as before with the alien lifeform the series is known for only partly shown at the end, but in a different version. So despite a 2 hour run-time, the movie builds up to a climax that is only the beginning of something that isn’t resolved and that doesn’t quite fit with what Scott did in the first place. Then again it seems that the director’s intention to make a prequel ended up to be a reboot of the series, which is obviously a nice way of saying he can do whatever he wants without thinking about narrative consistency… or logic.
However, what Ridley Scott achieves is to give the audience a sense of classic sci-fi exploration and body horror that had been lost in the fourth installment. Even if the main actress is a poor Ripley replacement, as she’s just too whiny and uninteresting, the ordeals she’s put through come close to the original vision of fighting for survival. A surprising amount of gore and well-done action set-pieces after an unspectacular and dialogue-heavy beginning save this from becoming a forgettable experience. It might not be a good Alien movie, but it’s certainly entertaining enough, even if it isn’t nearly as clever and deep as the director makes it out to be.
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