Thirty three years on from the sci-fi tension and claustrophobic confines of Alien Ridley Scott returns with a prequel that tries to embody that film’s suspense and it’s gung ho action packed follow up, the James Cameron directed, Aliens. If it is wholly successful is highly debatable but this does not prevent Prometheus from being a successful-if sometimes convoluted- film in its own right. It attempts to channel some of the originals intensity and puts Giger’s impressive set designs which gave that film a timeless identity to great use but despite all the great effects and use of 3D effects it still falls someway short of maintaining the longevity required in ensuring its place as a classic.
A strong cast including Charlize Theron Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace and an unrecognisable Guy Pearce all contribute strong performance but it is Michael Fassbender as a clipped, effete android David who turns in a chilling performance almost as creepy as the alien itself. His performance is all camp mannerisms, haughty disdain and an Aryan chilling froideur- all learnt from watching old movies whilst the crew are in hibernation mode- which is as creepy as it is unsettling.
The plot revolves around a group of scientists who believe that humans were created by aliens millions of years ago and after discoveries in geological sites-notably Skye in 2089- are recruited by a billionaire who close to death believes such a discovery will lead him towards eternal life. This part of the film is a little too James Bond to sit too comfortably but thankfully it takes up little screen time. Instead the action concentrates on arriving on some unnamed planet which has obviously been inhabited by beings that turn out to have a perfect match to human DNA. Discovered on this planet are spaceships- the wonderful creations of H.R. Giger- which seem to double up as tombs of some sort. It is at this juncture that things take a more sinister turn and as to be expected there are lots of coiling aliens literally worming their way into human intestines eventually creating some strange hybrid which anyone familiar with the earlier films will be familiar with.
This is perhaps the problem with most prequels in that there is usually a certain level of prior knowledge therefore any shocking moment will never have the initial impact of that first encounter from the 1979 original. It is not too much of a problem with this film however although it never quite matches that first film’s heights. There is too much outdoors-the first films catchphrase of ‘In space no-one can hear you scream’ is rendered void here with such a loud,constantly swelling soundtrack replacing that films eerie silence- and the claustrophobia Scott created was perhaps the films most chilling device as he wisely kept the creature obscured from view virtually throughout therefore ratcheting up the fear within the audience’s collective minds. It is still a great film however and artistically is sure to best many of the other blockbusters this summer hands down.