15 February 2013


Film franchises are not obliged to run chronologically forwards. This was pointed out elaborately but, in artistic terms, entirely unsuccessfully by George Lucas with his Star Wars prequels, not one but three. Ridley Scott has taken an altogether more serious and potentially more exciting approach.

The Alien trilogy is well known to science fiction aficionados for its merciful avoidance of slapstick characters in favour of gritty realism. (Jaja Binks relegated what remained of a tidy story to a cartoon. In my opinion.) It’s over thirty years since Alien and twenty since the second sequel. A lot has happened in the field of computer generated imagery and the public’s expectations are higher than ever.

Prometheus is not precisely a prequel but, after elaborating on some of Alien’s themes, actually appears to be heading further back in time, rather than catching up. Ridley Scott might have stumbled on a money-spinning notion whereby each of his creations delves further back in time to seek its own creator. And so On. Funded by a wealthy philanthropist, an unlikely assemblage of travellers (of whom more later) head to the outer reaches of the known universe where they believe they will find the Engineers who created life on Earth. What they find turns out to be a space ship loaded with Engineers who had died before being able to escape the dreadful biological life forms we now know as the ‘Aliens’.

The special effects are simply astonishing, the other-worldly scenes gigantic and entirely convincing, and the technological wizardry on board the spaceship Prometheus is mind-blowing. This is a real feast for the eyes and the imagination. That said, there are the usual and inevitable scientific loopholes although casual observers will easily overlook these. The intrepid crew consists of a couple of crazies whom no right-minded organiser of a trillion-dollar voyage would take along, members of several ethnic groups and of course a smidgen of female eye-candy. The earlier films gave us the memorable scene where a slithering parasitic creature burst from the belly of its host. It's fair to say there is no lack of such excitement in the latest instalment.
Prometheus is a current clear winner in this genre thanks to a number of genuinely tense protracted scenes and the very credible Alien life forms. There are chase sequences and titanic struggles of mind and body which are riveting. The face-clamping organism from the original films is there in a larger and quite frightening form, resembling a large squid with horrific tentacles. Its struggle with a reanimated ‘Engineer’ is masterful. Also of particular note is a scene where a female crew member, pregnant by a contaminated partner, arranges her own surgical termination with the aid of an automated operating room. Not for the squeamish.
Beneath the gloss and the excitement there are serious undercurrents of deeper meaning. Many scenes are based on eternal themes like beginning and end, death and resurrection, sorcery, narcissism, sacrifice and redemption. Without doubt this is a film which will reward subsequent viewings. 7/10


Russell Duffy said...

On the 'Alien' films. First was great, a classic. Not so the others. Nuff said.

Russell Duffy said...

PS. Alien is 34 years old this year.

Perfect Virgo said...

I'm a fan of all three. By the way which of my reviews did you believe?

Russell Duffy said...

I haven't seen the film so have no perspective. I would probably go with the first though as the second seems a little as though you are playing devils advocate.
What did you think of Alien vs Predator?

Perfect Virgo said...

Yes slightly develish, however there's truth in both views.

I haven't seen Alien v. Predator but it sounds like a version of Frankenstein meets Dracula!