Asking the big questions about the meaning of life and existence, Prometheus is the story of Gods and monsters with a large dose of religiosity. The true believers have been waiting 30 years for Ridley Scott’s anticipated return to sci-fi, but based on his latest film, Alien prequel Prometheus, many will have lost their faith.

British director Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic Alien was genre changing and spawned three more Alien movies and set the blueprint for countless monster movies. Prometheus writers Damon Lindelof (Cowboys and Aliens) and Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour) have chosen to borrow heavily from the original too.

The movie begins with what appears to be a magnificent alien landscape, but the beautifully filmed vistas are much closer to home, give or take a few millennia. Transported to the near future, we meet scientists Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and our latter day Ripley, Elizabeth Shaw played by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace, as they stumble on a discovery that challenges both religious and scientific beliefs.

Elizabeth and Charlie join a specialised team on the space craft Prometheus, named after the Greek Titan who created mankind. Here we meet the seventeen strong and disappointingly (stereo) typical crew. Among them Charlize Theron (Hancock, Monster) as the Prometheus’ hard ass commander, alongside a large British contingent of talent including Idris Elba (Luther, The Wire) playing the ship’s maverick captain Janek. Timothy Spall’s son Rafe (Anonymous, The Shadow Line) and Sean Harris take on the comedy double act role as the expendable Milburn and Fifield (Harry Brown, Red Riding), and Kate Dickie (Games of Thrones, Outcast) plays Ford, the obligatory annoying crew mate.

The film is atmospheric and effects are stunning. Scott adds his trade mark vision to the alien landscapes and has added clever camera work and technologies to help build the tension and sense of disorientation. Unfortunately the film’s not helped by much of the dialogue, which is clumsy and patronising.

Guy Pearce (The Kings Speech, The Hurt Locker) is wasted as the prosthetic Peter Weyland, head of the infamous Weyland Industries, the mega-corporation first introduced to us in the original Alien movie. The excellent Michael Fassbender (Shame, A Dangerous Method) adds an unpredictable dimension to the film as Weyland’s surrogate son David, an android with a hidden agenda and an acute survival instinct, not unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey’s computer HAL.

Despite its great parentage, Prometheus is a convoluted facsimile of its predecessor Alien. Scott’s status as the legendary director behind two sci-fi masterpieces including Blade Runner is secure, so let’s hope he won’t be remembered for his third.

On general release

Ed’s note: Go for the 2D version, save some cash. The print is far superior to the 3D (which is, by and large, a waste of time)

  • http://terrylennaine.com Terry Lennaine

    Well, we all enjoyed the film, but agree with you 100% about the 3D – If you go to the new cinema in New Brighton (The Light) it is very good value and great seating – free parking too which beats Liverpool 1’s charges by miles.

  • http://ramseycampbell.com Ramsey Campbell

    If we’re mentioning the Light, could I take the chance to plug their Studio season? This month it includes Casablanca, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Magnet.

    As for Prometheus, I felt very much the same about it as I did about Alien in the first place – stylish and suspenseful but derivative.

  • http://ramseycampbell.com Ramsey Campbell

    Whoops! I meant to make clear that The Magnet is the Ealing film shot in New Brighton and Liverpool.