20th Century Fox
Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Ridley Scott, David Giler and Walter Hill
Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
Like most of you, upon hearing that Ridley Scott was filming a prequel to “Alien” I got as giddy as a 10 year old hearing that a law has been passed making every day Christmas. The current age of filmmaking we live in now is one where movies I never dreamed would be made are coming to cinematic life. And Ridley Scott returning to the “Alien” universe is most certainly one of those things I never thought would happen. “Alien” is for me the definitive blending of horror and science-fiction film because it works so well as both. And so many other thing went into it to contribute to its rightful place as a film masterpiece: the look of the film itself. Between “Alien” “Blade Runner” and “Outland” we would never again have science fiction movies set in the future that looked like movie sets. We now had future worlds that looked lived in with machines that looked functional and practical, not like priceless sculpture. The casting of Sigourney Weaver as Ripley who became the template for female action heroes in the movies. Surely with Ridley Scott directing a new movie set in the same universe PROMETHEUS would be a cinematic experience worthy to stand alongside that work of art.
Sorry to disappoint you but it doesn’t. At least not for me. The look of the movie is spectacular with sets that are absolutely amazing and flat-out beautiful special effects, especially during a terrifying sandstorm and a scene where one of the characters discovers a breathtaking holographic star map showing the way to Earth. PROMETHEUS is watchable and worth looking at but that’s all it is.
It’s the year 2093 and aboard the trillion dollar starship PROMETHEUS, the crew is awakening from cryonic stasis sleep after two years of travel to their destination. Which is a small moon that archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe they’ll find evidence of beings they call The Engineers. Their theory is that The Engineers are direct forefathers of humanity. To prove this theory, the billionaire founder and CEO of the Weyland Corproration, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) has had this ship built and sends a crew along with Elizabeth and Charlie. The crew includes the captain, Janek (Idris Elba) Weyland Corporation executive Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and David (Michael Fassbender) an android who acts as pretty much a glorified hi-tech gofer. There are other crewmembers but it’s hardly worth mentioning them as they’re there just to have really terrible things happen to them.
Upon landing on the moon, an exploration team investigates a huge structure, discovering that an entire crescent shaped starship is inside. They discover corpses of humanoid beings they assume are Engineers and strange stone cylinders. Charlie becomes infected with a strange dark liquid inside of a stone cylinder David has snuck on board the ship and from then on, things continue to go horribly wrong. So wrong that the crew of the PROMETHEUS are forced to make a decision between their own survival and that of the human race.
Okay, let me get what I didn’t like out of the way so that I can end this review on a high note with what I did like. PROMETHEUS is one of those movies where people go where they have absolutely no business going and then run around screaming because that decision bites them in the ass. And in this case I mean that quite literally. The story really didn’t grab me and the poor characterization didn’t help either. Most of the characters in this movie are just there, relying on visuals like wearing hoodies and mohawks so that we can tell them apart. There are some scenes that are meant to be frightening and scary but to me were just laughable. Especially the scene that inspired me to dub Noomi Rapace’s character ‘Elizabeth the OctoMom.’ If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about. Idris Elba, one of my favorite actors is totally wasted in this movie. At least Charlize Theron gets to have some fun playing the icy executive who makes it clear to one and all she doesn’t want to be on this mission. Theron’s character is the only one displaying any kind of common sense which makes her stand out even more.
Noomi Rapace continues to add to her resume of solid performances as she plays a women of strength with intelligence and compassion. Her struggle to reconcile her scientific discipline with her religious faith is well done. But it’s Michael Fassbender who walks away with the acting honors. For an android, David displays more personality than anybody else in the crew and has more of a sense of wonder about their discoveries than the humans. He also has a goofy sense of humor that manifests itself in very unexpected ways.
So should you see PROMETHEUS? Most of you reading this probably already have and are either wishing a pox upon my house or defriending me on Facebook for some of the things I’ve already said. But for those of you who aren’t let me say this: I’m not saying PROMETHEUS is a bad movie. It’s not. It’s a Ridley Scott movie and the man knows how to make a movie, no doubt about it. The problem lies in the story which simply doesn’t live up to the huge cosmic themes it raises and the lack of characterizations. Everybody turns in solid performances as best they can (but what was up with that accent, Idris?) and technically you couldn’t ask for better. But on a level with “Alien”? Nah. Not even close.