Film hype on the internet is one of the most fascinating things to witness; never before has there been such an open world for fans to rave and review their favourite films. However, sometimes it’s easy to forget that your opinion on a film can fall somewhere in the middle. For every popular film that comes out, be it a comic book movie, a franchise reboot, or an Oscar contender, there will always be those who love it like no film before, and those who will swear it’s a stain on filmmaking. You don’t have to love it or hate it, you can like it just fine, or maybe it’s not for you, but often times it can feel weird to not have an opinion that goes to one extreme or the other. That’s how I felt a few weeks ago when I finally saw Prometheus for the first time. This Sci-Fi prequel to the 1979 masterpiece Alien was met with both praise and disdain, and truthfully, I don’t understand either side.
To be honest, it’s crazy that I haven’t seen it already; it came out almost five years ago, and at the time, it was all anyone could talk about. Ridley Scott’s return to the franchise saw a team of explorers, lead by Noomi Rapace, on an expedition to discover where we came from, only to be met with a mythology they weren’t prepared for. While it was divisive, it’s fair to say that there was perhaps a little bit more hate than love, as many were convinced it was a cinematic disaster. Seeing it for myself, the film is actually quite good; it’s a consistently interesting entry to the franchise that doesn’t give in to temptations that modern franchise filmmaking allows.
Let’s start with the performances; Noomi Rapace gives a great leading performance, but ultimately she is overshadowed by her many talented co-stars. Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba in particular steal the show, but just about everyone is great. The visuals are outstanding too; I’m so glad I got the chance to see this in the cinema because it was an absolute treat to see these beautiful sights on screen. It made the film far more engaging and awe-inspiring beyond its content. The horror aspects of the film in particular are extremely well done; there’s a handful of body horror moments that are exceedingly tense and sometimes terrifying, making perfect use of editing and music.
Prometheus has got a lot of philosophy to it, which perhaps doesn’t work for everyone but it’s very ambitious, and it feeds into the main reason why this film is so good; while it’s set before the original Alien, and pays homage to that film in very charming and respectful ways, it doesn’t rely on the franchise for quality assurance. The film explores its own ideas, its own characters, brings forward new ideas and has no need for cheap references or cameos to justify its existence as part of the Alien franchise. That may have been another reason for the very adverse reaction, the fact that there aren’t many franchise staples to marvel at. It’s understandable, but the film deserves a lot of credit for not shoehorning in useless references in a time where that’s the sure-fire way to make money off an old franchise, and it deserves credit for being able to stand up on its own.
It’s not a masterpiece, and is certainly weaker than the other entries in the franchise (bar Resurrection, of course), but Prometheus is an admirably ambitious and exciting film that truly doesn’t deserve the hate that it’s been burdened with.