By Todd Matthy
Thirty-three years ago a man named Ridley Scott redefined horror by directing a little movie called Alien. The alien creature is one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time due thanks its creepy design and being a relentless machine that either kills or cocoons and impregnates victims. Despite all this, nobody really knows anything about the alien. We know it was discovered in a derelict spaceship along with a giant being known called the space jockey, and just who or what was that space jockey guy? Thirty-three years later, Ridley Scott decided to answer not only that question but also the question of “where did we come from?” It is those mysteries that drive Prometheus. The question that concerns us is “is it any good?” Click below to find out, but beware of SPOILERS.
Prometheus picks up two years after Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Charles Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover an ancient pictogram on the Isle of Skye. The pictogram corresponds to a series of stars which Shaw interprets as an invitation left by a group of ancient aliens called the Engineers to visit their home world. After two years, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus wakes from hyper-sleep, arriving at their destination. Dr.’s Shaw and Holloway are joined the android David (Michael Fassbinder) and Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and a few others. The team explores a large artificial structure containing hundreds of stone cylinders, a head shaped monolith, and the dead bodies of the Engineers. David steals one of the cylinders while the others start leaking a mysterious black liquid. A storm brews and the crew evacuates but accidentally leaves behind two members who are attacked by snake-like alien creatures. On board the Prometheus, David infects Holloway with the black liquid causing him to slowly deteriorate but not before impregnating a sterile Shaw. Meanwhile, David and Vickers start pursuing their own agenda and discover that one of the Engineer’s is alive in a life support pod somewhere in the structure and he doesn’t have pleasant plans for Earth.
If you’re hoping for a movie about the alien you will be disappointed. Prometheus is a side story set in the same universe as Alien but it is not about that creature. The alien does appear and the circumstances that led to its creation are revealed but it is an after thought and treated like the ending of a fifties horror movie. Prometheus is much more in the spirit of Blade Runner. On the surface Prometheus is a science-fiction/horror movie and follows the structure of those films but beneath the surface it leaves clues to its underlying theme. Who made us? Why did they make us? Was our creation planned or a mistake? These are the questions that drive Prometheus and not all of them are answered, but when you leave the theater and talk about it with your friends you’ll start piecing together the clues. It’s definitely a movie that demands re-watching.
Once again, Ridley Scott knocks it out of the park. He creates a fully immersive film through two distinctly different settings. The first setting is the star ship Prometheus. It is a futuristic exploration vessel that is both sterile but oddly cozy. The living quarters, the recreation rooms, the cockpit, all of them are futuristic but not so much that they are unfamiliar to us. Vicker’s quarters are especially amazing. I really like how she has fake windows that display landscapes from around the world. The second setting is of course, the Engineer’s ship. The Engineer’s ship is H.R. Giger’s designs from the original Alien. Dark, visceral, and all out strange atmospheres that is structured like body parts and so alien it’s incomprehensible. The 3D is the best since Avatar creating an immersive atmosphere by creating a sense of depth. The best sequences are the landing of the Prometheus, any scene with a holographic map, and the storm.
Acting wise, the stars of the show are Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbinder. Noomi’s Elizabeth Shaw goes from being a wide-eyed, innocent, scientist looking for answers turned horrified woman whose dreams have been shattered and yet has retained her strength and integrity. On top of that Shaw is willing to do anything it takes to survive. She has a very gristly scene that’s reminiscent of Alien. I’ll say no more on that subject. Michael Fassbinder as the basketball playing, Lawrence of Arabia loving, android, David is amazing. He is fully aware that he is an artificial being but at times forgets it because he wants to be human. Fassbinder combines a monotonous, quiet, voice with subtle emotional expressions because he was programmed to reason. David’s character in many ways embodies the movie’s themes. As for Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers, she is a corporate ice queen that is some ways less human than David. Theron plays her with authority and little emotion. But, that’s the character so there’s not much else to say.
Prometheus is not Alien, it’s not even in the same league but it is certainly one of the better movies released this year. It will fuel debate amongst you and your friends while dazzling your eyes.