In Greek Mythology, Prometheus is a Titan who steals fire from Zeus and gives it to man. As a result, the angered Zeus chains the Titan to a mountain, where an eagle picks out his liver, only to have the body part regenerate, so that perpetually, Prometheus’ liver is painfully picked from his body once a day, every day. In 2012, the titular Prometheus is an impressive, futuristic space vessel, crewed by seventeen, and set on discovering the beings that supposedly created man. While visually stunning and overall impressive in its imagery, for me the story falls flat and some of the cast failed to impress me.
The movie opens with jarringly beautiful shots of a planet seemingly in the early stages of either destruction or rebirth, and then takes us to a mountain side and the grim sight of a pale-skinned humanoid ingesting a fatal toxin and falling to his disintegrating death. Years later, in the winter of 2093 we are told, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her life and science partner Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) – after discovering several common themes in cave drawings – are aboard the spaceship Prometheus, leading a crew that hopes to make contact with the alien beings that initiated life on Earth. Also aboard the Prometheus are a uninspired, matter-o-fact captain (Idris Elba); a hardnosed, corporate type (Charlize Theron) who challenges Shaw and Holloway’s authority at every step (holding tightly to the investment aspect of her role); and, most intriguingly, David (Michael Fassbender), a super-intelligent android who harbours perilously childlike curiosity and more “soul” perhaps that his human shipmates.
From the onset, once we are onboard the ship, I became annoyed by the predictability of the story and director Ridley Scott’s (who has wowed me with several of his other films) seeming inability to grasp subtly and connectivity in storytelling with Prometheus. Some characters might as well be wearing placards stating “I am doomed to die,” while others behave exactly as expected. Rapace, Theron and Fassbender excel in their characterizations, but Theron is wasted for the most part. She fills her scenes wonderfully, but does little more than that. Fassbender steals ever scene he inhabits and Rapace proves again she is a talent to watch. The other characters could have easily been played by any other actor on the planet, perhaps with more appeal and talent. Forty-seven-year-old Guy Pierce (with minimal at best screen time) is relegated to playing a nearly dead aged man, who could have been played by an older actor. I question the casting here.
My friend, her twenty-one daughter and her guest (our intern critic) and many others in the screening seemed to really like the movie, or at the very least, like it far better than I. I found the unearthly beings and settings impressive, and visually, as noted, the film is utterly stunning to look at, but frankly, I felt bored several times with the predictability of things. I found some scenes gross to watch and others tedious. I realize, I am probably not the target audience, but I did like the first two Aliens movies, so I expected more. One friend, also a critic, said before the movie started, that he expected to see one of the best movies of the summer, so my expectations piqued. I forgot to ask him if the R-rated Prometheus met his expectations, but I know it did not meet mine.
No, I did not hate the film, but I could have done without it. I walked away pretty unsatisfied, even with the cool final scene (I won’t spoil it), strong leads and the creative CGI images. It has a few oomph moments, but not enough to warrant more than a C+ from me. I find the story of the original Prometheus far more interesting.