I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to see Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012) at a special midnight screening on Thursday. As a movie fan whose two favourite films of all time remain Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and James Cameron's Aliens (1986), Scott's return to the series was long awaited, particularly after the sorrow of Alien 3 (1992), AvP (2004) and the other assorted Alien themed crap. Like most fans I was expecting and hoping Prometheus (odd title aside) would lead nicely into Alien (1979) and tie up all the loose ends that had been hanging around for thirty three years. Where did the aliens come from, what was the space jockey and the large figure that sat in it, what happened to the "U" shaped ship on LV-426?
Unusually for a Scott film, the trailers gave alot away and fans thought they had the story cracked. Space archeologists looking for the source of humanity discover the "Engineers" (the tall guy in the Space Jockey) but also discover the infectious gloop that transforms men into the aliens and end up having to crash into the "U" shaped ship to save the day. The aliens were us all along (albeit mutated versions) and a couple of hundred years later Ripley and co discover the wreckage of the "U". Sounded good. But we were only half right.
To start with Prometheus' crashed "U" shaped ship can't be the one from Alien. If it was, why didn't Ripley also find the wreck of Prometheus? And the Engineer that was meant to be found with an exploded chest in the Space Jockey got out of it to chase after Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth. The film's coda showed an early form of the alien, but it clearly still has some evolving to do before it reaches its full toothy, drool-ridden zenith. We still don't know where the alien "infection/weapon" came from, or the Engineers, or why the latter wanted to use the former to wipe out humanity.
On the even more critical side the movie lacked the frights of Alien despite repeating its plot points almost like for like. The script also threw up some terrible clunkers in the character and dialogue departments, half the lines delivered to signpost the audience from one scene to the next. Then there are the bizarre pacing problems, at times lurching between set pieces with little set up and no care for character motivation. So all told, was it any good?
Well, we got to see Charlize Theron in her underwear with a nipple on, which was a good start. Michael Fassbender as android David was superb, Rapace finally gave us a reasonable replacement to Weaver's Ripley, the stomach churning goo matched John Hurt's bout of indigestion, and the 3D and film design was stunning. And Scott wisely left it wide open for another instalment. Lets hope next time he brings the scares and the answers as well.