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Prometheus (2012,USA)

02/06/2012

Director: Ridley Scott            Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pierce, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green

The journey to the release of Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel has been a fraught one for me. My desire to avoid anything even remotely resembling a spoiler for the film combined with a paranoia about the state of the modern film trailer (you know, the way a lot of film makers like to make them a summary for the entire plot of the film) has left me at almost militant odds with the marketing campaign for the film. If I really had to look at the positives of this situation, it’s honed my reflexes as I’ve had to move quickly to avoid exposure to trailers during ad breaks or when they’ve cropped up on the web, much to my girlfriend’s amusement as I (on more than one occasion) bundled myself into the foetal position, hands over ears, eyes tightly shut and chanting “la, la, la I can’t hear you” at the errant trailer as it was faster than attempting to change the channel*. Somehow, I even defied the odds and avoided any details slipping past my defences on that fertile ground of spoilers Twitter, where people tend to splurge information without much regard for the fact that other people might not want to know it (doubtlessly deliberate in the case of some people eager to feel significant in the cyber-ether) and so somehow managed to find myself in a cinema last night completely free from any details of what I was about to see barring it was an Alien prequel that had Theron, Rapace and Fassbender in it.

It’s in that spirit that I have taken pains to implement spoiler controls on this review. I think it’s only fair to give you the chance to see the movie with as clear a mind as I did although I have provided the option to delve a little deeper if you have either seen the film or are one of those people who likes spoilers (to each their own, although I think you’re mad!). To this end, this part of the review will contain no spoilers whatsoever and will serve as a general overview of the film. For slightly more detailed coverage of the film (which contains some inherent spoilers) feel free to click the link below, although I would personally advise against it if you have yet to see the film.

On balance, I have to say I rather enjoyed Prometheus. As far as prequels go, I think it serves as a lesson to something like the 2011 version of The Thing (a pointless exercise in CGI repetition) by adding to the universe it is a part of, even if it doesn’t neatly dovetail with the established narrative of the original Alien movies. In many ways, it raises as many questions as it answers about the mysteries of that 1979 classic that spawned one of the greatest trilogies of all time (I could never accept the fourth film, the only abject failure of the series in my opinion) and for this I’m glad. I think I would have hated an I dotting, T crossing tidying up of all the loose ends.

My obvious worries? Well, firstly that it would simply rehash the existing movies in an effort to give franchise fans more of the same which, thankfully, was resisted. There was also that persistent fear that by using, in the main, CGI to execute the effects (the list of digital artists in the end credits is of biblical proportions) it would be reduced to mere digital pudding although I am pleased to say that the special effects have been tastefully executed for the most part and definitely represent the best current technology has to offer. I still don’t think that computer generated spacecraft will ever be a match for good model work or digital beasties will ever be as satisfying as a good animatronic design but the effects designers have done a good job with Prometheus.

The cast is also great, not just the leads (Fassbender is particularly good) but the supporting actors too, a motley crew of British talent including stalwart movie nutter Sean Harris, 15 Storeys High star Benedict Wong and Scottish TV veteran (she was in Game Of Thrones Dontchyaknow) Kate Dickie, some of whom even get to use their real accents rather than generic mid-atlantic drones, giving the Prometheus crew a wonderfully international feel.

It’s far from perfect but its flaws aren’t critical and certainly weren’t enough to prevent me from enjoying this above average sci-fi adventure. I think I would have enjoyed it less had my expectations been raised by the marketing and a working knowledge of the existing Alien films is probably advisable to get the most out of it but I would say Prometheus is definitely worth your time.

*This really happened. Twice.

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