I feel like there are two angles that I need to broach in reviewing this – firstly how does it square up to / sit alongside the Alien franchise and secondly is it any good in it’s own right.
(This review is very, very mildly spoilerific btw but no major plot details or anything..)
Let me get the big Alien question out of the way first.
Aesthetically and visually it feels akin to the first two to me but with a glossier, slicker edge. It’s by no means sanatised when it comes to grooey bits and unpleasant deaths but it doesn’t have the run-down, grimey quality of the original film. Contextually in terms of the actual space ship etc this makes sense because of the reasons they are there but it’s present in the direction and cinematography too. The characters are thankfully fairly close in spirit to the best moments of the Alien films in that I found them mostly believable and uniformly well acted.
The clue is in the title of course but philosophically it felt like quite a departure from the original series. For all that the Alien films spun on the axis of gestation, birth and survival it was in a unilaterally darwinistic way. Rape as the most effective form of impregnation, survival of the fittest, and above all the devastating strength of mother-love. So despite all the procreation the creationist dilema of Prometheus still came as little bit of a surprise to me. It sits (albeit inconclusively) to the side of theology I’m personally comfortable with but this is absolutely a film about looking for God in our ancestral trail. I perhaps found it slightly disappointing that the theology had to be framed within the recognisable symbolism of the crucifix but I can understand why it works as as a shorthand for the audience. I do think it’s interesting that the cesarian scene is written as a cesarian and not an abortion, but I am possibly reading too much into that.
If the Alien films are Mother then Prometheus is Father. This is born out both by the fathers and their children (both metaphoric and literal) that pepper the plot as well as the design of the huge, muscular, Fusili-like Engineers and the general masculine heft and might of the film itself.
On the whole it feels like a film that exists within the same universe as the Alien films but very much has it’s own rhythm and agenda.
So on to the second question – is t any good?
This is much easier for me to answer because yes, as a standalone piece I found it very enjoyable. It looks magnificent and it has a solid mixture of nastiness, action and dialogue. The cast are excellent particularly Michael Fassbender and Charize Theron who between them stole the film for me. Noomi Rapace has some strong moments in the film but for some reason never really felt like the lead to me although technically she is. Fassbender’s Bishop by way of Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth is without doubt the best thing on screen at any point in the film – he is absolutely spellbinding.
If I am being critical the pace sags a little in places, particularly in the first third, but it still tops out as a well above average sci-fi / action movie.
And for anyone who has seen it – I leave you with these: