“Prometheus,” the much-anticipated prequel to the “Alien” motion picture series, features the return of the original “Alien” helmer Ridley Scott to the legendary franchise. It supplies enough audio-visual flair for the thrill-seeking audience with its combination of varying genre elements including science-fiction, horror, drama, action, and adventure. For a top-tier release, this 3D sci-fi blockbuster is partially a success. However, those with very high expectations would probably be disappointed with what transpires midway through the film.
The story expands a groundbreaking mythology. This begins with the space exploration that aims to find the source of human life, then the narrative spawns into the alien species that came from this journey, which in turn, results to the menacing tale of the 1979 film “Alien.”
In this origin tale, the explorers from the Earth must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
The beginning of “Prometheus” is truly epic. It successfully brings solid paranoia on screen. The first one-third of the film looks magnificent in IMAX 3D. Here, Scott’s well-composed visuals are clearly crafted for the 3D format. From the impeccable choice of shots and sound design to the impressive acting, editing, and special effects, everything gels together with such an incredible sense of thrill and awe. However, midway through the film, its storytelling DNA starts crumbling down as a series of clichés and disappointing twists and turns start plaguing the picture. Except for the awesome holographic sequences shown on its latter part, the 3D aspect of the movie becomes almost forgettable as its ambitious second half loses solid direction. As the story progresses, the film abandons an atmospherically dazzling and emotionally rich execution in favor of formulaic elements.
At its strongest, the film offers a provocative speculation about the origin of the human race. Its seriocomic tragedy actually works, thanks to the intriguing ideas embedded early on in the story. This is another interesting facet about this cinematic offering, which can actually spark debates and conversations about the alien mythos. As a dramatic piece, it has a couple of shining moments in between the superficial attempts to justify some plot points that seem forced into the story.
The visual delight this film provides allows it to exude a signature brand of visceral filmmaking for Scott and his team. All the seamless effects create a wild cinematic ride for the viewers. Sets, props, costumes, and makeup are always stunning. The thrilling and haunting atmosphere is worthy of praise. The parts that are gritty, dirty, and grimy are almost palpable. Experiencing the movie’s sound in a top-notch audio system makes it even more immersive.
Although technically brilliant, the film’s second half looks quite rushed into production. The anticlimactic material becomes terribly uneven as it struggles toward the end. Its commercial aspirations infect its supposedly magnificent degree of sinister wonder to the point that the characters already lose their most believable motivations.
What gets in the way of the central story are the unlikely attempts to tie together different mainstream requirements, which include the need for an open end to the film for its possible sequel. These lead to a half-baked framework with a dose of poor gimmickry in its big-budget cat-and-mouse game. Falling short in its philosophical ambitions, things end up not looking very cohesive and a handful of major plot holes seriously affect the pulse of the storytelling.
There a few instances that “Prometheus” turns out relatively laughable with some slasher flick and wild and goofy moments dominating certain scenes. These defy the intellectual and aesthetic grandeur already established in the beginning of the film. This is not to say that it is as poorly made as other genre flicks, but given both the hype and the very high standards people assume in this cinematic release, the frustration can be overwhelming, especially to the most passionate viewers.
This catalog release has a couple of precious dramatic and suspense-filled scenes courtesy of its talented major cast members, particularly Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace. Fassbender’s David and Rapace’s Dr. Elizabeth Shaw aptly drive this tale about the existence of aliens and the humans’ unending thirst to find answers to all their questions. However, some of the major characters seem undercooked in the presentation, as if their shoddy roles were simply placed there to add to the body count of those lost in the journey. Unfortunately, some even suffer from woefully forced dialogue.
Amidst its ambitious aim to be a type of cosmic phenomenon, “Prometheus” is unable to go beyond the Earth’s atmosphere when it comes to its overall storytelling quality. It lacks the ferocious simplicity and focus of the original film that started it all. It is certainly not a bad movie, but it is also not a classic in the level of Scott’s “Alien” and “Blade Runner.” Nevertheless, it is still a better-than-average sci-fi thriller that stands on its own. It carries enough quality ingredients to appeal to the general audience amidst its major flaws.