Movie magician Ridley Scott made the long-awaited return to the Alien franchise after decades of sub-par sequels to bring us, naturally, a prequel titled Prometheus.
Once the general public figured out this was an Alien-related film made by the originator, buzz started building about what we would see. What was this film about? What would we recognize?
The film is set in the late 21st century where two young paleo-biologists, Elizabeth (Noomi Rapance) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green), find a series of wall paintings on Earth that all share the same star configuration. That configuration pointed (literally) to a reachable star system where it is theorized the creators of mankind existed, and by leaving these images behind on Earth, wanted to be found.
Prometheus relies on several cliches such as the diverse crew of the overly friendly geek, the not-friendly-at-all guy with a bad haircut and worse tattoos, a wise-cracking captain (played by Idris Elba famously of The Wire), and a mysterious and obviously amoral “employee” of the corporation played by Charlize Theron … mmm … okay, I’m back.
This motley crew head off into space to seek out an inhabitable moon in the star system described in the wall paintings, being in stasis for over two years while their android (yup, another android) David played by Michael Fassbender, rides around on a bike shooting hoops, watches movies to adopt lines as his own, and of course creepily watches the dreams of his sleeping shipmates. Fassender plays this android character rather well. You know what he’s about from the outset, yet he keeps you guessing what his real motives and most of the scenes you see him in you’re not wondering if he did something more than you are asking yourself why he’s doing it.
Prometheus is the name of the massive ship that takes this crew to their destination and while en route, we get some short explanations of what the plot is about. Dr. Elizabeth Shaw has a heavy belief in God but her partner, and lover, theorizes that on the planet they’re traveling to, they’ll find the creators of mankind. Sounds like an episode of Ancient Aliens on History Channel doesn’t it? The trip is sponsored for $1 trillion by your prototypical evil corporation that is run by an old white man who is obsessed with beating death (and a bad makeup job).
Most of the story you’ve seen before if you’ve watched any survival horror science fiction film, including the original Alien and it’s sequel Aliens. People do things they shouldn’t, creepy stuff starts happening, crew turn on one another, you’re wondering who is bad and who is good outside of our main heroine, and eventually people start dying.
If you’re expecting to see aliens kill people in this film, you’ll be disappointed. This isn’t another Alien film, this movie attempts to be more cerebral and offer a weird balance between sci-fi metaphysical pontification and shock-horror. It doesn’t quite achieve either unfortunately.
There are a few scenes that will make you really want to use condoms, feel bad for anyone whose had a Caesarean, recoil from crunching sounds, and further your distaste for worms. The ending is almost predictable but it does have a few twists here and there.
The best part of the movie is clearly the art direction and the special effects. Some really creative and imaginative people worked on the look of this movie and the futuristic gadgets that are used. A scene with David in the alien map room is so intricate, complex and spellbinding that it’s like watching digital jazz. Seeing this film in IMAX really brings the details and design elements to life. Some truly stunning visuals are to be seen in this film.
Unfortunately, as much as many of us wanted to love this film, it kind of leaves the audience a bit flat. You’ve seen something cool, but it wasn’t mind blowing. You’ve seen something visually appealing, but the heart of it is rather shallow. You can’t be too down on Ridley Scott though, it’s his first science fiction film in 33 years so cut the guy a break!
3 out of 5