Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender
There is a point in Batman: Arkham City when the Joker says knowing the secrets behind a work of art doesn’t provide satisfaction. He says, “Imagine your favourite TV show. You’ve been through it all. The ups, the downs, the crazy coincidences and then bang! They tell you what it’s all about. Would you be happy? Does it make sense? How come it all ended in a church?” Ridley Scott’s Prometheus can be described the same way.
Prometheus is Scott’s prequel to Alien, a classic work of horror science fiction, but tries to be an independent film. In Prometheus, we discover how the ship from the first movie got there, who was piloting said ship and how the xenomorphs were created. At first, it may seem like these questions need answering, but co-writer Damon Lindelof leaves viewers in the aforementioned church while simultaneously setting itself up for a sequel following a different storyline.
The film stars Noomi Rapace, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as Elizabeth Shaw, an archaeologist who discovers messages from an ancient alien race called the engineers. Soon, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), founder and CEO of Weyland Corporation, sends a science team including Shaw, an overseer Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the android David (Michael Fassbender) and the ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba) to a planet where they believe the engineers can be found.
The performances are all incredible. Elba continues to be the most interesting character in everything he is in, milking his few powerful scenes to create a compelling character. Fassbender’s David provides much more insight into the world of synthetic life than his predecessors and successors. Rapace, again, shows how much she can do with a strong lead role, but this won’t shock anyone who has seen the original Millennium Trilogy films.
As the film’s director, Scott wisely maintains a lot of the ancient myths in his science fiction—references to the Greek god Prometheus and versions of the Oedipus complex were made more intricate by synthetic and alien life provide compelling thematic elements.
The biggest issue with Prometheus is its link to the Alien movies. As a stand-alone, Prometheus would have been great. However, the prequel follows the original’s narrative beat for beat—a slow, lengthy build-up to gain a sense of the film’s setting and to introduce some of the characters and their motivations. Further, Prometheus puts too much emphasis on setting up the original. The films sets up Alien and the creation of the xenomorphs, which makes its final act disjointed.
Scott makes a decently constructed movie in Prometheus. There are worthwhile performances, a comprehensible plot and several awe-inspiring moments—it is probably one of the best summer blockbusters currently in theatres. It was also shot on 3D cameras, making the image appear in some degree of 3-dimensional space. Scott makes the usually unnecessary 3D investment worthwhile by making the images look authentic.
However, the film doesn’t take science fiction in any new or exciting directions. Like its characters, Prometheus is a film that walks among the gods of old science fiction movies, but has nothing divine about it.