Prometheus – film and OST review

Prometheus: Movie (Ridley Scott)
OST by Marc Streitenfeld
UK released 31 May 2012
US released 8 June 2012

Alien fan boys (and girls) have had the internet in a frenzy over the highly anticipated release of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Colin McCracken gives us his view on whether it lives up to the hype (and kindly does it without any spoilers for those of us still to give the film a viewing).

At last it is upon us. With the arguable exception of The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus has been the most highly anticipated movie of the year. Now the dust has settled and the majority of UK audiences have been given ample opportunity to experience it. The most prominent question on the lips of most is ”ËœDoes it live up to the hype?’

I was very fortunate as I managed to avoid every teaser, every trailer and every internet spoilsport who seemed eager to highlight all the vital scenes before I had a chance to make my mind up for myself. I am so happy that I did this.

Aside from knowing that it was in some way connected to the Alien saga (which I am very well acquainted) and that Ridley Scott was placing himself firmly in the director’s chair once more, I was blissfully unaware of any synopsis, basic plot structure or anything else associated with the movie. There is so much that can be gained from entering a film without any preconceptions.

The movie opens with a pan of sweeping majestic landscapes, all flawlessly assisted by Marc Streitenfeld’s fabulous introductory score. An Adonis like creature stands atop a waterfall. After ingesting a toxic looking black liquid he begins to change form, becoming a cellular attribute in everything which surrounds him, the credits appear and the saga truly begins.

Prometheus is the tale of a group of pioneering scientists who follow clues which they have uncovered in ancient carvings, texts and wall painting, all of which lead them to a small section of another solar system, one which almost mirrors our own. They have come to discover the answer to the ultimate question.’ Who are we and why are we here?’

In terms of a summary, that’s all you’re getting as I don’t feel that analysing this feature scene by scene would be beneficial in any way. This is a movie which goes far beyond the narrative structure which it is built around. It is an audio-visual journey which we are taken on, a spectacle which transcends the drudgery that is usually witnessed in a summer blockbuster.

It is an absolute joy to see the HR Giger influenced designs on the big screen and the set design team do a superb job of making them look every bit as visceral and tangible as Scott’s original crew did back in ’79. The Gothic atmosphere of the alien planet allows the feel of the movie to take on an altogether darker pitch.

Prometheus – film and OST review

Whereas ”ËœAlien’ took place predominantly in a very industrial, manufactured and claustrophobic environment, Prometheus creates stunning juxtaposition in balancing a sterile, neon living space alongside a new world which seems to pulsate with foreboding and dangerous life.

The performances are all noteworthy, Noomi Rapace continues to develop her international appeal with a simply exhilarating turn as Elizabeth Shaw, exuding both weakness and strength in an altogether natural and believably way. Her accent is impeccable and there are some truly shocking moments in which she excels. Michael Fassbender gives his best performance to date as the patronising and embittered artificial life form David and Charlize Theron is callous beyond belief as Meredith Vickers. Sean Harris (who played Ian Curtis in 24 Hour Party People) also surprises and excites as rogue geologist Fifield.

Whilst the outline may suggest that this is a science fiction feature, the horror elements are undeniable. The tension builds to genuinely heart racing paces, once again assisted by the wonderful score. There are some scenes of graphic terror and revulsion, all of which I am going to leave you gleefully unprepared for.

I can’t recommend Prometheus enough. I realise that it has divided opinion greatly, that it has had ”ËœAlien’ purists foaming at the mouths in their feverish diatribes. The best advice I can offer is to treat this as a standalone film. Don’t go in expecting Alien 5 or Alien: Episode 1 The Phantom Chestburster. This will only mar your expectations and may cause unnecessary comparisons.

Taken on face value and its standalone merits, Prometheus is one of the finest Blockbusters in recent memory and I for one will be returning to see it again in a few days.

As a postscript, I can’t sing the praises of Marc Streitenfeld high enough. It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about the work he did on (the Ridley Scott produced survivalist movie) ”ËœThe Grey‘ and he really ups the ante with the Prometheus OST. It maintains his minimalistic approach to soundtracks, knowing exactly when to back away, but always maintaining as much presence as any of the actors involved. I am in great anticipation of what he will produce next as his releases are scant so far.

I saw the 2D version, which I would implore you all to do as 3D acts as nothing but a hindrance to most movies and there has been too much work put into the aesthetics of Prometheus to have it dulled and blurred by a gimmick.

All words by Colin McCracken. He also posts regularly at his website and you can also follow him on Twitter.

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Colin McCracken is an Irish writer and cinematic obsessive who writes extensively about movies on a daily basis for his website He is equally passionate about vinyl (he used to run an independent record store), literature, live music and film soundtracks. He can also be found regularly on twitter as @zombiehamster.


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