STS goes to the movies: Prometheus
SPOILER WARNING! DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU FEAR EXPOSURE TO REVIEWS/COMMENTARY MIGHT SPOIL YOUR ENJOYMENT OF THE FILM. I FOR ONE WAS GLAD THAT I AVOIDED MUCH OF THE ONLINE COMMENTARY PRIOR TO SEEING THE FILM
Some of you may question why STS is branching out into films, rather than sticking to our founding mantra of ‘a love of all that is metal’. Well, Prometheus is pretty damn metal. For once, H.R. Giger’s visionary genius is all over the film, much as was to be expected, and Giger’s links to Celtic Frost and other notable metal luminaries need no retelling.
Secondly, metal at its best is a probing, explorative genre, asking deep, searching questions, questions like the ones Prometheus asks.
Thirdly, sci/fi and horror are both cinematographic genres with tight links to metal culture, sci-fi in thrash and death like Voivod and Nocturnus, horror in damn near every decent death metal band.
Fourthly, metal is oftentimes cinematic, for better or for worse. It ranges from the glory of Emperor and Neurosis to the schmaltz and dreck of Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar.
Finally, and above all else, its a fucking Ridley Scott film about aliens and the origin of mankind – how much more metal can you get?!?
To warm you up, have a look at the following viral promo videos that emerged prior to the release of the feature
There is also the ‘Weyland Industries‘ interactive website, that I haven’t explored myself yet, so I shall pass no comment upon it other than that it looks rather intriguing. Other relevant material can be found at the bottom of the review. It is nice to see Scott and his team putting real effort into the promotion and the ‘back story’, as it were – material that can’t be found in the film is available elsewhere, for those who seek it.
Moving on to the film, the first thing to say is that it is incredibly beautiful. From the opening moonscapes, to the Black Cuillin of Skye (methinks that’s a Ridley favourite), to the sci-fi Prometheus itself, on to the Giger-gasm of the planet and temple itself – it is a visual treat, it truly is. The CGI isn’t over the top and is tastefully delivered, and the visuals meld well with the audio. As a work of cinematic art it very much holds its own and earns its place in the Alien canon.
The script does leave a little to be desired, alas. There are a few gaping cliffhangers, most of which will no doubt be cleared up in the second film (should it emerge), but even so there are some elements that just stick out like a sore thumb, like some comments in the tomb-chamber, the purpose of the first space-jockey, etc. The whole ‘earth being seeded’ theory is pretty bunkum, and I would personally have liked them to explore the earth-based mythology a little more before plunging into the film as a whole. It just cuts from terran discovery to 2001 to standard exploration-goes-horribly wrong.
When the acting is good – as with Fassbender as David and Theron as Vickers – both masters of coldness and the downright sinister, it is great. David in particular is a damn brilliant character, truly disturbing, but I will let you discover that for yourself. Ebla is solid as the captain, Marshall-Green perfunctory as Shaw’s love interest, but the rest of the cast thankfully meet messy ends before their one-dimensional natures become all too clear. The geologist and the biologist who are lost within the temple become utterly forgettable, and the same is true of much of the rest of the cast. There is no John Hurt, no Ian Holm, and definitely no Sigourney Weaver. The attempt to mash a Ripley persona onto Rapace’s character is utterly ham-fisted – you just do not feel it at all, the psychology is a mess and as for the physiological feats…pah.
Despite the shortcomings of the script, casting and acting, however, the film has some superb moments. Again, I shall avoid spoiling them, but their potency is up there with anything found elsewhere in the Alien canon. The first contact with a space jockey is especially powerful, as is the scene where he suits up. There is some cracking gore and one astonishingly powerful, psychologically traumatizing scene involving a medichamber and an abhorrent birth.
The philosophy of the film stands up rather well – warnings about the perils of meddling with nature, seeking answers to the unanswerable, the mystery of birth, the inevitability of death, all elements it shares with the Alien canon. I just wish it had been more coherent, sharper.
I leave you with this. For all the advances in technology and Ridley’s maturation as a film-maker, nothing, NOTHING in Prometheus can hold a candle to the scene I cite below:
Prometheus is a fine film, despite its flaws, both alone and as part of the canon to which it rightly belongs. Bring on part 2!
7/10 [This would have been an 8 if some of the acting/scripting didn't make me want to punch the screen]