Directed by Ridley Scott, Prometheus follows the naive crew of trillionaire Peter Weyland, as they are put to sleep and set abound a portentous voyage to discover the beginnings of mankind. It is the wealth and curiosity of Weyland that builds the aptly named ship, titled after the mythological Titan, and it provides them with vessel to a distant planet of our supposed creator. As a prequel to the Alien franchise, the film divides focus between explaining the existence of its xenomorph and pursuing the universal question of mankind’s creation. No small task.
Fortunately the map to the most ambitious journey of mankind’s history… is free. It’s found painted in caves. What they don’t find, however, are paintings to script the rest of the movie, which is a shame; the paintings were accurate, and they lead to mankind’s maker. The writing, however, despite having direction, is absent of quality and ultimately plots an underwhelming story for what is a clichéd but interesting concept, and leads only to disappointment.
The start suggests differently, introducing characters and story well enough and enticing with the attractive premise of the unresolved where did we come fromquestion in us all. And Michael Fassbender opens brilliantly as David, a robot commissioned to take care of the crew on board the ship, monitoring their dreams and taking care of them as they lie inert in their hibernation chambers. We watch him indulge his robotic routine in solitude, learning language and scoring hoops like the NBA doesn’t exist in the future. Then they arrive, and he awakens Charlize Theron, who is a little like a robot herself, before reviving our female protagonist and her husband believer, the finger painting cave experts, and finally then all manner of underdeveloped characters not really of any use, except maybe the pilot. It’s a nice opening, but besides a forced cesarean later on, the intrigue of what’s to come is never quite the same afterwards. The film is essentially downhill from here.
This is partly due to the ambition of the big question waning in favour of an Alien rehash – the direction is less about a grand meeting with the creator and more about finding out how the Alien came to be, and dying in the process. But there lies the problem, as it’s not that interesting to see, and by the final third of the movie you begin to realise the story is being hopelessly stretched to accommodate an uninspiring and unoriginal script, driven by an overwhelming amount of human stupidity. The plot essentially unravels like toilet paper, desperate to wipe the incohesive turd on-screen, and characters begin to reveal details and remark on actions taken through the film as if you have vested interest – but you don’t, because the structure of the film is so poor and the supporting characters so underwritten that their significance towards the end (as more important characters inevitably begin to die) is too meagre to create such a feeling. It’s a shame.
Speaking of shame, one character that creates a lasting impression against all odds is the robot David. With him, Fassbender demonstrates once again how capable he is of encompassing a character in all their aspect, producing a display that is deserving of all forthcoming and continuing praise he receives regarding his acting. He is a remarkable talent, and it is an irony that David, perceived to have no soul, is by far the most interesting character throughout, and watching his own story unfold is largely the most entertaining produce of the 2 hour run time.
It was hard not to get swept up by the expectation for Prometheus, but despite a fantastic performance from Michael Fassbender, expectations are scarcely satisfied. There are memorable moments, particularly in the beginning where it seems beyond some blatant but forgivable plot devices, the film is paced to deliver something special – but this doesn’t happen. Instead, it kicks with the impact of a diseased mule, hopelessly languid and drugged on expectation, and then only to fall over and die in your memory upon leaving. A disappointment it will be for many, it won’t be long before the Prometheus cinema release runs its course, and soon forgotten, will take its place in the skeleton wastes of insipid blockbuster science fiction. Until then, it’s probably best to wait for DVD.