Director: Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott directed the very first Alien film way back in 1979. Thirty-three years on, the franchise really needed him back. After six installments, each slightly but noticeably worse than the last, most fans probably expected the seventh to be Alien vs. Dead Horse. What we get is more like 2001: A Freudian Nightmare.
The setup is fairly generic sci-fi fare. A geriatric squillionaire hires a collection of stock characters to follow some sort of star map that some archaeologists found in a cave. For some reason, the geriatric squillionaire is Guy Pierce, in prosthetics. I have no idea why or how that happened (“Okay, we have to cast the role of Really Really Old Guy, any thoughts?” “Um...Guy Pierce in prosthetics?”) Slightly more predictably, a large proportion of this expensively assembled team is very stupid and lacking in basic survival instincts.
It is worth pointing out that Prometheus is nothing like Alien. Instead, Prometheus shares a great many themes with 2001: A Space Odyssey (creation, religion, a morally suspect robot). The direct homage to 2001 starts at the film’s very first shot. Furthermore, part of what made Alien such an effective horror film was the unsettling sexual imagery, which was subtle enough to work at a mostly subconscious level. Prometheus, though, shoves it right in your face, from womb-ships to penis-monsters and giant, tentacled vaginas. One scene in particular – you’ll know it when you see it – was one of the most squirm-inducing things I’ve seen on film.
Don’t get me wrong: Prometheus is a good sci-fi flick, with great special effects, occasionally witty dialogue, and two excellent lead performances from Michael Fassbender (the aforementioned morally suspect robot) and Noomi Rapace. But given the film’s ambition, this is damning with faint praise. Unfortunately, it’s just nowhere near as good as it tries to be.