Prometheus is Director Ridley Scott‘s return to form. The story takes place before 1979’s revered sci-fi classic ALIEN. Set in 2093, 30 year’s before the Nostromo. It’s written by Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour) and Damon Lindelof (LOST, Cowboys & Aliens). Prometheus manages to stand on it’s own maintaing a unique look and feel while building worlds on top of the existing Alien mythology with out feeling out of place in terms of technical or creature design. It perfectly balances a strange but familiar atmosphere…
Being a fan of the Alien franchise, I had certain expectations going into this film. I’m happy to say that Ridley Scott took those expectations flipped them on their head and shattered them.
Right from the opening of the film, what I’ve come to call the “Genesis” scene, Ridley Scott makes his intentions clear… what you are about to watch is complex, beautiful, terrifying and facinating.
Prometheus isn’t just a return to form for Ridley Scott but for the sci-fi genre itself. Today, science fiction is more known for it’s lite hearted, brain disengaging story lines and eye popping special effects. Growing up in the late 80’s early 90’s, science fiction was better known for introducing strange new “ideas” and the serious “exploration” of possibilites. Prometheus refreshingly engages this concept.
The movie, besides it’s entertaining value, brilliantly asks the heavy questions. Where do we come from? Are we alone in the universe? Do we have a creator? What happens after we die? The movie explores those questions through the impeccably casted crew of the Prometheus and is the underlying motivation for the principle characters, who’s points of view range from Christianity, Creationism, Darwinism, to Atheistic. Needless to say, the movie doesn’t pretend to know all the answers instead leads our curiosity down a perpetual path of questions.
For example there was a small but interesting scene after the crew discovers the existence of the “Engineers” where Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) is sharing an intimate moment with Charlie Holloway (played by Logan Marshall-Green).
(More or less the way I remembered it)
Charlie (to Elizabeth): “You can take off your fathers cross now.”
Implying that they now have the answer to who created the human race, proving Shaw’s religious beliefs false.
Charlie: “Because we found our creators.”
Elizabeth (unwaveringly): “and who made them?”
Prometheus starts with an overwhelming sense of discovery and wonder but promptly hits a slippery slope of terrifying events that progressively increase in shock and intensity. The “Caesarian” scene comes to mind. Which reminds me, this morning the news reported that in Australia a 13 year old boy suffered a seizure during that scene. So you can add Prometheus to the infamous list of movies that killed/almost killed an audience member (Pulp-Ficiton, Jaws).
The Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger returns to create the new creature designs for the film and as you would expect they’re completely faithful to the Alien-verse. Fresh and new but indicative of what the species will inevitably evolve to.
Supporting that sense of exploration and foreshadowing terror is the films soundtrack composed by German composer Marc Streitenfeld which features two supplemental pieces by English composer Harry Gregson-Williams. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for a week now (I’ve been avoiding the song titles until I saw the film lol) and my 3 favorite tracks are “Life”, “Going In” and “Space Jockey”. Symphonically those 3 tracks sum up the movie for me.
The movie has a running time of 124 minutes and I’ve heard complaints about the films pacing, but in all honesty I didn’t find it to be problematic. To the contrary. Once the story takes a turn for the worst the films pacing induces a feeling of falling down a horrifying rabbit hole. Every climatic moment in the story immediately leads you to the next, twisting your expectations along the way. From the Xenomorphic microbes, the phallic shaped creature, to the “Space Jocky’s” exo-suit. It got to the point for me that I just had to stop trying to outthink the movie and let it resolve itself.
The main characters in the film felt hefty and believable. David the synthetic (played by Michael Fassbender) was creepy, cold, but fascinating to watch. Meredith Vickers (played by Charlize Theron) was rigid, authoritarian but alluded to something more. Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) was surprisingly good and well fleshed-out, worthy of being Ripley’s predecessor. Charlie Holloway (played by Logan Marshall-Green) wasn’t the most intriguing of characters but I don’t think he was meant to be. He’s was pretty straight forward in his pursuits throughout the film. Janek (played by Idris Elba) is the Captain of the Prometheus and delivers a calm and cool-headed performance. The rest of the supporting cast do a good job adding to the ambience of the film with some memorable moments sprinkled throughout.
As I was leaving the theater my mind started to run wild with all the numerous questions the film leaves you with and I bantered back and forth with my brother and sister-in-law.
Shortly after I came to the conclusion that Prometheus has to be the best summer movie so far. Few movies manage to get me excited with anticipation and leave me with a renewed sense of excitement afterwards. I’m well aware that The Dark Knight Rises is just around the corner. But I honestly don’t see The Dark Knight Rises being better than Prometheus, not that TDKR will suck, God no. But Nolan has to wrestle with the bar he set with The Dark Knight… so theres a giant Texas-sized hurdle he has to over come.
Ridley Scott proves that he still has his movie making mojo. Prometheus is nothing short of spectacular. It more than succeeds in intriguing, entertaining and scaring you. I’m sure the Bluray/DVD of Prometheus will be one of those discs you watch over and over again, dissecting each scene and discussing minut details with your fellow movie-going friends.
As an Alien fan I give it a perfect 5 Crosses out of 5, it gives you more than what you want and leaves you wanting more. As an average movie-goer I give it 4 out of 5 because it leaves you holding a few loose ends.
Sets the bar for the 2012 summer season! IMAX/3D is highly recommended!