Ridley Scott makes a bold return to the sci-fi genre – a genre that fundamentally defined him as a pioneer with the likes of Blade Runner and Alien - and his first directorial outing since 2010′s Robin Hood.
The hype surrounding his latest epic Prometheus, has certainly elevated in 2012. Whilst it hasn’t reached the obsessive levels of Dark Knight Rises fever, Scott’s hiatus from the genre has only heightened expectation, as well as reignite speculation surrounding him bursting back on the scene with a Blade Runner sequel.
Unavoidable comparisons and intrinsic links to Alien will be made, and with just cause; if you’re familiar with Alien, similarities are there, yet remain slightly ambiguous in the sense that it’s not an overt prequel, but more of a potential precursor to the face-hugger classic.
The set-up feels familiar; when a series of ancient artefacts point towards the chance to discover who mankind’s makers are, a team of scientists are assembled to journey to the outer reaches of space to discover, and hopefully answer, the biggest questions humanity have: why are we here?
The two significant aspects here are the film’s aesthetic and story. From the opening shot of breathtaking landscapes, down to the detailed space craft interior, it’s safe to affirm Scott’s visual mastery. From architecture to technology, every scene maintains an extraordinary quality that’s simply gorgeous to look at. But while Prometheus is an visual marvel, it is the loose nature of the narrative that stutters proceedings. For the main part, there are some fascinating elements and some tantalising reveals, but these aren’t always expressed coherently enough. Other moments suffer as a result and there’s a distinct lack of the terror and suspense that Scott’s prior work possessed in abundance.
Inevitably, the hype was always going to drown the movie, no matter how good it is, but such expectations can indeed prove dangerous. The film by no means fails, but buying into the ridiculous expectations set, you may feel let down. Admittedly it doesn’t possess that spark (at least, not initially) to suggests it will become a modern classic, but is a feature that perhaps warrants a second look.
Fans of Alien and Ridley Scott’s work in general will be more than drawn into his immersive world; one he creates superbly. He knows how to construct a living, breathing existence, even if the script isn’t quite up to the same high standard. Those unfamiliar will also find themselves enchanted by the film’s beauty and its ability to entertain as a blockbuster.
Prometheus plays out predominantly as science fiction rather than juxtaposing itself with horror, but in terms of the former, it works wonderfully and certainly looks and feels the part. It can’t help but come across as a precursor to Scott’s 1979 classic, which by no means is a bad thing. However, plot-wise it remains sketchy and the acting isn’t as accomplished as it could be, but Michael Fassbender makes up for this with an intriguing role.
Whereas Alien is sci-fi and horror that transcends a deeper meaning with more naturalistic acting and a believable plot, Prometheus seems to cater more towards modern audience expectation, opting for high concept accessibility rather than high concept intelligence.