In 1979, a cheaply made B-movie made its cinematic debut. It would later become one of the most popular movies in cinema history. It contained brooding silences, chilling imagery, and John Hurt struggling to keep his food down as his chest exploded. The film was of course Alien, and its success, for good or ill, spawned an entire movie franchise. Now Ridley Scott returns to the franchise that launched his directing career into the stratosphere, looking to ask (but not really answer) some really tough questions.
Prometheus is a prequel to Alien, and at the same time it isn’t. Ridley Scott has said that while this film does take place inside the Alien franchise, we are still at least two more movies away from when the Nostromo decides to answer an unknown warning beacon. So think of this as the Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace of the franchise.
Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are both on an expedition in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. They come across a cave painting, which bares the same pictogram they found from other civilisations. They depict an alien being, inviting them to what is supposedly their home planet. Both Elizabeth and Charlie believe that these depictions are showing where mankind came from. So they set off on the billion dollar science vessel Prometheus, hoping to meet their maker.
Prometheus essentially just confirms for us something we’ve already known for quite a long time – that Ridley Scott is an incredibly intelligent person who knows how to tell compelling stories. Prometheus doesn’t have many answers, true, but Scott’s brave attempt to even ask the questions ‘where do we come from?’ and ‘why are we here?’ is commendable, and they are handled with admirable intelligence and complexity.
The only problem is in the mist of all the complexity, the characters are made to suffer. Charlize Theron’s Vickers and Idris Elba’s Janek are the main victims of this; however a stellar performance from Elba makes his character come across considerably more rounded. What made Alien so good was that we were given time to care about the characters, to be scared with them whenever the threat of the alien intruder approached. We don’t really get much time to get attached to the characters in Prometheus, as it moves along at a considerably faster pace. Michael Fassbender however puts in a superb performance as the android David. It’s yet another thoughtful performance that we’ve come to expect from Fassbender, even when it came to the viral marketing video he did where he chillingly cries on cue.
The visuals and special effects are breathtakingly good, most notably when Fassbender’s David initiates a holographic video while inside a desolate canyon. While the visuals may be good, and the ideas the film tackles are complex and interesting, it will still leave people wanting more answers. Considering there should be two more films on the way from Ridley Scott, we shouldn’t really have expected to learn everything in one movie. What we do know however, is that as long as Ridley Scott is involved, we will be captivated right up until the end.
Image reproduced from moviesblog.mtv.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / PrometheusMovieUK
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