Prometheus DVD Review
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by John Spaihts, Damon Lindelof, Dan O' Bannon, Ronald Shusett
2012, Region 2 (PAL), 118 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 8th October 2012
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender as David
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers
Idris Elba as Janek
Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland
Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway
Given the myth from which its name is taken, calling your exploratory spaceship 'Prometheus' is a pretty bad idea. It's like flying to the sun in a ship called 'Icarus' or going iceberg spotting in a boat called 'Titanic'. The people of the future might be very smart, but someone really should have told them that it's not a good idea to go around tempting fate in such a manner.
Scientists and their robot butler take a trip to the skies in the hope of answering some very old questions – namely, the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Years later, Prometheus sets down on the distant moon LV-223, where man hopes to meet his maker. Among the scientists is girl with the dragon tattoo Noomi Rapace (she must have had it lasered off), posh android Michael Fassbender, Timothy Spall's son, an achingly cool Idris Elba and a chilly Charlize Theron. Digging around on a downed alien spaceship, the space explorers begin to find the answers they're looking for. You know that old adage about curiosity and cats? Those chestbursters can be a bitch.
Not that you'll see many Aliens in this Alien prequel. At least, not the aliens you'd expect to find. Marketed as an Alien prequel, except only sort-of, Prometheus is set in the same universe as the Alien films but explores a different aspect of the mythos. It's by far the most cerebral of the Alien films; even more so than Ridley Scott's already quite classy original piece. It's a very far cry from the atrocious cartoon silliness of Alien vs Predator or the goofy Alien: Resurrection (underrated, but still fairly bad) working more as a stand-alone sci-fi horror blend than just another entry in a franchise that should have ended in 1992.
The new direction revitalises the series, sending the story spinning in a new direction and putting a fresh spin on some old monsters. It feels a tad pretentious at times, but that's fine – we're talking about big ideas here, after all. The impressive cast handle the lofty subject matter well, with Fassbender on particularly fine form. Neurotic, strange, creepy and brilliant, Fassbender's is the most accomplished performance but that's not to take away from any of the others. Noomi Rapace does well in a role that many will be comparing to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley. Let's just hope that future instalments can resist the urge to give her acidic blood, superpowers and giant xenomorph babies, eh? Meanwhile, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron aren't in the film nearly enough. The weakest link is Guy Pearce, buried beneath crusty old man make-up and given a strange cameo role that rightfully should have gone to Lance Henriksen.
Prometheus is an intelligent, thoughtful and mildly creepy reinvention of a franchise which really needed the boot up the arse. As a prequel, it's revelatory. As a stand-alone feature, it more than holds its own. It may be slow and pretentious at times (and its central mystery perhaps isn't as absorbing as Scott thinks it is) but the lovely imagery completely makes up for that. It's like Avatar, except there's an attempt to back up the visuals with something substantial too. As the nature of the threat becomes evident, I was reminded of the Michael Crichton adaptation Sphere, with the characters and themes afforded greater importance than the actual aliens. Although a sequel already exists (hello, Alien) the film ends hinting at further Promethean events to come. If the first lot of Alien films taught us anything, it's that you can have too much of a good thing. It's all fine and well, stealing a bit of fire from the gods, but there's no need to get greedy and go back for the whole bonfire.
Video and Audio:
Landscapes, interiors, aliens and humans alike all look wondrous, in a dreamlike sort of way. Prometheus is the most beautiful film of the year.
A handful of deleted and alternate scenes are included on the DVD release. Guy Pearce gets a little more to do, but the scenes are all very disposable. The Blu-Ray and steelbook editions are apparently more enlightening (including an alleged tie-in to Scott's Blade Runner) but are inevitably more expensive. Forbidden knowledge comes at a price, you know (about £5 - £10 more), just ask that Prometheus chap.