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Prometheus (2012)

Josh Reviews Prometheus

Sigh. I guess I’m just never going to see another good Alien movie, am I?

Who’d have thought it would be so hard? Ridley Scott’s 1979 original seemed ripe for further exploration, not one of those movies that would be impossible to ever sequelize.  And let’s not forget, A GREAT ALIEN SEQUEL HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE!  I’m speaking, of course, of the very first sequel to Alien: James Cameron’s magnificent Aliens. That film happens to be one of the very best sequels ever made, and it’s so good that to this day people debate which is better: Alien or Aliens.

But since then, it’s been strike-out after strike-out. (One of the very first posts I wrote for this site contained my lamentations at the way the Alien franchise had gone off the rails.)  I had high hopes for Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe, Prometheus. (And make no mistake, despite all the perplexing statements in the press by Ridley Scott, writer Damon Lindeloff, and other members of their team in which they claim that Prometheus is NOT an Alien prequel, from the film’s very first trailer it was obvious that it was.)  I mean, surely Ridley Scott, one of the finest filmmakers of our time, and the man who directed the original Alien back in 1979, could finally craft another worthy follow-up to that film?

Sorry, my friends, such is not the case.

Prometheus is jaw droppingly gorgeous. The film is a real work of art, the stunning product of a brilliant director who has the visual effects tools to create anything he can imagine, and the complete mastery of how to use those tools to greatest effect. Plenty of other directors with budgets far larger than that of Prometheus have used CGI effects in garish and ugly ways, but Prometheus is staggeringly beautiful.  The other space effects, the look of the Prometheus itself, the realization of the Engineer’s lair that Dr. Shaw and her teammates discover, image after gorgeous image unfold, each more mysterious and beautiful than the next.

Too bad, then, that the story of the film is so maddeningly incomprehensible.

OK, SPOILERS AHEAD so please beware.

I repeat: SPOILERS.

The original Alien has a simplicity that is impressive.  In the first half of the film, the crew of the Nostromo answer a beacon and investigate the extra-terrestrial space-ship they discover.  In the second half, they are mercilessly hunted by the Alien creature they unwittingly unleash, and try to survive.  That’s it, that’s the film.  And for all that the Alien is, let’s face it, made-up sci-fi hogwash, there’s still a simplicity to the life-cycle of the creature that is elegant and easily understood … [continued]