Make no mistake about it: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a prequel to Alien. There were some denials issued before the film’s theatrical release, but rest assured that H.R. Giger’s beloved monster is alive and well and living somewhere within the bowels of this entertaining but only sporadically exciting sci-fi chiller. The characters are the major bone of contention here, and Scott’s direction of the earlier sections of the film make things more muddled than they need to be. Still, for his return to the sci-fi genre after so long an absence, Prometheus is a welcome sight.
Prometheus 3D (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 124 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, others
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Danish, others
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Review Date: October 8, 2012
After scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) make a discovery that they think might lead them to discovering the origins of the human race, an expedition financed by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) brings a team of scientists to the edge of the universe exploring a seemingly barren planet with many secrets to share under its surface. What they find puts matters about the origins of humanity on hold as alien presences on the planet begin to have horrifying effects on several of the crew members.
The Jon Spaihts-Damon Lindelof screenplay earns points for craftily weaving some familiar elements from the various manifestations of the creature from Alien into their story, but they lose points for creating some of the most disagreeable characters in sci-fi history. There’s little camaraderie here, and most everyone treats one another with contempt, not the best way to generate audience sympathy when various people begin to fall victim to the planet’s many terrors. The scenarists have wisely carried over the notion of an android assistant, this time one called David played by Michael Fassbender who’s in the midst of an obsession with Lawrence of Arabia. Like Ian Holm’s android from the earlier film, David plays a key role in the progression of alien life infiltrating the ship, but Fassbinder’s pleasant demeanor and willing helpfulness to all makes it hard to hold his childlike curiosity in the unusual specimens against him. With the story morphing into a cat and mouse exercise about halfway through and the writers’ and director’s inability to shock us with the same out-of-nowhere surprises that Alien first generated, one is left admiring the magnificent production design and a mesmerizing sequence when David sits in a chair and pulls up a kind of intergalactic planetarium that is just breathtaking. One other excruciatingly effective sequence involves a cesarean section involving a crew member that blends future technology with genuine horror that is the film’s best sequence.
A terrific cast has been assembled, but apart from the aforementioned Michael Fassbender, only Noomi Rapace as the scientist whose interest in creation isn’t daunted by the horrific events she undergoes and Charlize Theron as a no nonsense corporate overseer (with a surprise revelation late in the movie) give really interesting performances. Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, and Rafe Spall play scientists with despicable chips on their shoulders making it hard to feel sympathy for their inevitable fates, and Idris Elba is likewise one note as the captain of the Prometheus. The excellent Guy Pearce is buried under so much make-up that his acting as the entrepreneur who bankrolled the expedition is almost beside the point.
3D implementation – 3/5
The film’s theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio has been faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The blacks of space and the interiors of the planet are well used and well represented on the transfer with excellent levels of depth. Sharpness is first-rate and consistently maintained as is contrast throughout. Color is somewhat desaturated except in the hologram sequences where bright blues and reds predominate. Flesh tones are consistently represented. The film has been divided into 36 chapters.
The 3D doesn’t add a great deal of depth to the image that can’t be found in the 2D transfer, certainly not considering the vastness of the planet and the “caverns” where much of the movie takes place. There are no outward projections at all, and the most exhilarating sequences – the intergalactic planetarium which we get two glimpses of and some interaction with some holograms – make the most effective use of 3D on the disc. There is no crosstalk at all in the imagery.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is tremendously effective with those back surround channels used very intelligently in giving the entire soundscape a three dimensional flair with many examples of split effects enhancing the viewing/listening experience. Bass is very deep on occasion offering the subwoofer a great workout, and Marc Streitenfeld’s music gets a most effective spread through the entire soundstage. Dialogue is always intelligible and has been placed in the center channel.
The 3D disc contains no extras, not even a trailer. However, a 3D version of the trailer is offered on disc three.
Disc two contains the following bonuses along with the 2D version of the movie’s theatrical cut. Everything in the bonuses on both discs is presented in 1080p:
There are two audio commentaries on the 2D disc. Ridley Scott helms the first one solo offering inside information on the film from conception to release. The other combines separate commentary tracks from writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof making for a very full commentary. Truth be told, however, the making of documentary on disc three is so comprehensive that it could easily substitute for these commentary tracks.
There are fourteen deleted/extended scenes including alternate openings and endings and which offer optional commentary tracks from either editor Pietro Scalia or special effects coordinator Richard Stammers. Together they run 36 ¾ minutes.
“The Peter Weyland Files” includes four featurettes which can be viewed separately or together in a 19-minute bunch. They involve a Shaw communication, an interview with David, a Prometheus transmission, and a TED conference in 2023 allowing actor Guy Pearce to play relatively his real-life age as Peter Weyland.
The disc is Second Screen ready for those who wish to synch the movie to their i-devices.
The disc is BD-Live capable, but the only two offerings for Prometheus are already present in this package.
The third disc in the set houses these additional bonus features:
“The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus” is an interactive 221-minute documentary feature on the making of the film covering every aspect of its production from Jon Spaihts’ original pitch of his script though featurettes on production ideas and concepts, casting and costume design, the use of massive real sets on the Pinewood soundstages, using green screen CGI for the planet, the designs of the monsters, the stunts, the special effects, and the post production work and eventual release. There are also 23 enhancement vignettes running from 1-4 minutes in length that branch off from the main feature selectable by the viewer. These enhancement pods are also available for viewing from a separate menu if you don’t want the documentary interrupted by the branching back and forth.
The Weyland Corporation Archive houses the pre-production artwork and computer pre-visualizations (which run 23 ¾ minutes), production screen tests of star Noomi Rapace (10 minutes), and costume and hair tests for several of the stars including Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Sean Harris, and Rafe Spall (11 ½ minutes). There is a post production marketing gallery, a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer which can be shown in 2D or 3D, and 25 TV spots. There are also 9 brief promo featurettes which can be viewed separately (about 2 minutes each) or in one 18 ¾-minute bunch.
The fourth disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.
4/5 (not an average)
As a sci-fi adventure thriller, Prometheus isn’t in the same class as Alien, but on its own terms, there is fun to be had with the movie and some interesting concepts on the nature of man’s origin that offer plenty of sequel opportunities if Ridley Scott chooses to go there. While the 3D here isn’t the most effective use of the platform, the bonus material offered in this package is a tremendous compensation, and fans of the film are going to enjoy this material and spend many hours with it. Recommended!