The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Prometheus | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Prometheus

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Kate Dickie, Benedict Wong

An exploratory team sets off into space in 2093 to investigate Rapace's theory that mankind was created by an alien race.

At one point in this film the android played by Fassbender asks scientist Marshall-Green why humans created robots. "Because we could" is the reply. If you asked the producers of "Prometheus" why they decided to make a prequel to "Alien" I suspect their answer would be the same. There's little evidence the movie was made out of any passion. If Scott had a story he desperately wanted to tell would he really have hired the writers of "Cowboys & Aliens" and "The Darkest Hour"?
The script for this mess of a movie should have been jettisoned out the airlock, it really is woefully bad. You can't help feel it went through about twenty rewrites in a futile attempt to find a story. Where "Alien" had realistic characters who spoke like off duty truckers, this has stereotypes who speak like they're in the world's most pretentious cartoon serial. Despite being highly intelligent scientists they really are dumb. John Carpenter's "The Thing" and even it's fifties precursor had intelligent characters who acted intelligently yet still found themselves in trouble. Here everyone seems to be asking for trouble, whether it's wandering off on their own through spooky caverns, taking their helmets off, or messing with a scary alien creature as if it was a stray kitten. These characters belong in a bad slasher movie, not a piece of sci-fi with supposedly intelligent ideas.
Some of the dialogue is painful to sit through, and there's so much of it! You could listen to your next door neighbour watching this on their TV and still follow most of the story. Theron's character seems to have been inserted purely to explain the plot to viewers. It's the old trick of bad science fiction where a scientist explains something only for a grunt to retort "speak English damnit!". In one particularly crass moment Theron is viewing a video feed relayed by Fassbender. When he cuts the feed Theron snarls "He cut me off!". Yes, we got that, we're not as bloody dumb as you people in Hollywood think we are. The three big summer movies so far (this, "The Avengers", "Men In Black 3") have all suffered from overly verbose and exposition laden scripts. I can't help think this is Hollywood's way of pandering to those cretins who spend the whole movie texting on their phones and rarely bother looking at the screen. These philistines are being catered for while us lovers of cinema are having our beloved format turned into expensive soap operas.
Last year we had a rare example of contemporary Hollywood getting it right with the excellent "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes", a movie which worked both as a prequel to the original and as the start of it's own franchise. It's ending dovetails neatly into the sixties original but that's not the case here. This movie only dovetails into it's own sequel, leaving too many unanswered questions to sit neatly with "Alien". 
It's not just the script which suffers from sloppiness, visually there are massive continuity gaffes. There's a set-piece involving a massive sandstorm with rocks and stones being hurled around yet afterwards the characters look pristine, nary a scratch on their visors.
In terms of continuity with "Alien" there's an unanswered question raised of how the technology on display in this film is so vastly superior to that of the film which is set after it. The "Star Wars" prequels had the excuse of a war in between so it was akin to London before and after the blitz. We knew this from the opening of "Star Wars: A New Hope" but we have no such knowledge with this movie, it's left up in the air, an elephant in a zero gravity room.
Considering the grand ideas the movie unsuccessfully explores, it seems to have been aimed at the lowest common denominator, the Christian Right. A hologram of Earth before the dawn of man shows the planet looking exactly as it does now. It's a denial of one of the most basic scientific facts, continental drift, and it's not only dumb, but insulting and dangerous. Was the Scopes trial for nothing? 
In "Alien", Sigourney Weaver risks her life to save a cat, here Rapace saves a crucifix. She's constantly babbling about faith and comes out with some horrible lines like "It's because I don't know that I believe". There's a cringetastic flashback scene where as a child, her father explains the idea of heaven to her.
Kudos has to go to Fassbender for essaying a fantastic performance as the "Laurence Of Arabia" obsessed android David. He really has become a great actor and I wish Hammer films would sign him up to be their new Peter Cushing. The rest of the cast try their best but are hindered both by bad dialogue and, in the case of Rapace and Elba, dodgy accents. I fail to see why Rapace and Elba couldn't have just played a Swede and a Brit. I never did figure out whether Rapace was meant to be American, Scottish or English. She's a very good actress, why hinder her so?
This is a movie which can't decide what story it wants to tell or who to tell it to. Too cerebral for mainstream audiences, too dumb for serious sci-fi fans, "Prometheus" is a compromise that will suit few.