PrometheusDirector: Ridley Scott Writers: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof Stars: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green Cinematography: Dariusz Wolski
One of the most anticipated films of the summer, Prometheus has a lot to live up to. It is director Ridley Scott’s first time back in the science fiction genre since 1982′s Blade Runner. The first Alien movie, which was released in 1979, has spawned several sequels which includes such awesome titles as James Cameron’s Aliens to the unfortunate Alien vs. Predator. But Scott had not gone back to the franchise he originated until now. A vigorous debate started as soon as the project was announced, and it has been fueled by wild rumors, interviews, and countless viral videos.
As every piece of the Prometheus puzzle fell into place with the famed director, the stellar cast, and the amazing looking trailer – fans of Alien began to hope. This was not going to be just any old prequel, this was going to be a great new movie that would both dazzle and scare the bejeezus out of us. But with all the build-up to the premiere, you have to wonder if Prometheus could ever live up to the hype. So does this prequel truly live up to fan expectations or has Ridley Scott lost the old science fiction magic on his way to more mainstream stuff?
In the year 2093, a team of scientists traveling across the galaxy arrive at a planet that could possibly sustain life called Zeta 2 Reticuli, or LV-223. The scientists, led by Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), are searching for a group of beings that may have visited Earth and left behind an “invitation” to come and find them. The mission, being funded by the Weyland Corporation, is to find answers about the beginning of man-kind. But the crew may not like what they discover as they explore this new world. Their search for our beginning may lead to our end, as the tagline says.
Whatever else you may say about this movie, it looks absolutely amazing. Ridley Scott knows how to create a world that is alien and beautiful, which will have you wide-eyed in your seat. You will definitely recognize the look of the set from the original Alien movie and it has the same ominous feeling. The walls look like they could start moving to crush you, their thick black lines reminiscent of throat muscles clenched to kill. And while certain things (such as the Space Jockey) will remind you of Alien, there are many things that are entirely new. With the technology being a lot better than it was back in 1979, I’m sure Scott had a lot of fun playing around with the different things he could create using CGI. And all of it looks absolutely incredible.
The 3D Effects
I know how some of you may feel about 3D, I’ve griped about it too. Sometimes it feels like Hollywood is just trying to get you to pay more money for a set of cheap plastic glasses that do nothing to make the movie better. But this film wasn’t one of those last minute money-making conversions, Ridley Scott shot it in 3D. And it certainly shows. If you’re going to see the movie, make sure to see it in 3D. It looks incredible. Certain scenes, which I can’t actually talk about, are absolutely breath-taking. It enhances the viewing experience so much to be inside of a movie like that. There aren’t any jump at you effects, but when you’re looking at that giant humanoid head in 3D you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The Android David
I may be a bit biased to like Michael Fassbender in any role he’s in. And he has been in some great movies (300, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class), but it’s more than just his pedigree. He is amazing as a robot. Especially when he has to follow Ian Holm (otherwise known as Bilbo from The Lord of the Rings) as Ash from Alien, he does a great job. He’s the most likable character on the ship even if he ends up doing some very strange things. I can’t tell you whether these things are good or bad, but if you’re anything like me you’re probably going to be debating that question after the movie. He wears a bemused expression most of the time, as if shaking his head at us funny little humans. In playing a superior being, Fassbender definitely steals the spot-light.
Aside from Michael Fassbender’s David, we don’t really get to know any of the other characters. We get brief glimpses of their backgrounds and motivations in the movie, but it’s not really enough to care about them. I sort of felt that without my prior knowledge of certain character traits through the countless interviews and viral videos I watched, I would have been left in the dark. Take Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her faith. In my opinion, you kind of have to have a character do more than wear a cross for them to be known as the “religious” scientist. It would have been an interesting side to her personality to see, but we’re only given a few lines of dialogue as glimpses of her ideas about God. The other person that bothered me was Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). We get that she’s the stiff corporate suit, but she does some weird things that contradict her cold exterior. They don’t really make sense, especially when we have such a brief look at her character. I also really like Idris Elba as Janek, but he just didn’t have enough screen time. My advice to anyone who is casting Elba – the man has talent so you should make him a bigger character than just the “cocky Captain”.
Too Many Questions, Not Enough Answers
Don’t be surprised if you leave the theater with a furrowed look on your face in utter confusion. Because that is exactly what I did. This is a movie that asks a lot of questions about humanity, the meaning of life, and of course the most popular question: why the hell did they do that? I suppose this is an off-shoot of the poor character development, but you find yourself wondering about certain things the people in this movie do. But you are also left wondering what Ridley Scott is trying to say. I should have remembered going in that this is not just a prequel to Alien. This a prequel to the prequel of Alien. Which means that the questions you have about the derelict space craft from Alien are not really going to be answered. Some of them are addressed, but not enough of them. When I leave a theater I want there to be some resolution, some sense that the movie is over and that I have figured something out. There aren’t any clear answers, just the guesses that you make in order to understand it all.
Not Enough of the Thrill
The tag line for Alien is that “in space, no one can hear you scream”. Ridley Scott has also indicated that Prometheus was meant to be in the same vein, of scaring the shit out of you. But that is the one piece of the puzzle that is kind of missing. There are some scenes that are gory and scary, but those are overshadowed by the confusing ideas within the movie. I found myself cringing but there wasn’t really enough tension. The original Alien has several quiet scenes that build the nervous energy in your body until releasing it with a scream. That didn’t happen to me this time around, because that doesn’t seem to be the main point of Prometheus. While Scott can talk all he wants about trying to scare me, it can’t really happen when I’m wondering what the hell is going on during the action. The goal of this movie seems to be to get you to think and discuss, and that means taking away some of the more frightening aspects of an alien creature going on a killing spree.
Overall: 4 out of 5
Prometheus is a good movie, but it takes some work. I have some advice as to how to enjoy it the most. First of all, if you’re a fan of the original then you need to go into the theater with the fact that this is a prequel of a prequel to Alien in mind. You do not know the ending of Prometheus, because it doesn’t end where Alien starts. It will help you with a lot of the questions that pop into your mind during the movie as well, because you have to remember that we haven’t quite gotten to the Alien we all know and love yet. It is also important to watch this movie more than once. I was so confused the first time I saw it, but I’m glad I took the time (and the money) to see it again. Things start to click when you aren’t concentrating so hard on figuring everything out. It is also smart to see this movie with some friends who don’t mind debating nerdy topics for a while after the movie, because this is certainly a movie that will need some discussion. I also advise that you see it in 3D, because it’s just so much cooler. I understand that this film will not be for everyone, because not many people want to work for their entertainment. But there are a lot of good movies (like Inception for instance) that deserve your attention and make you think. You will not have all the answers by the end, but you’ll enjoy asking the questions. Hopefully my watch, discuss, and repeat formula helps.