It’s been over 30 years since Ridley Scott (Robin Hood) delivered one of the most groundbreaking science fiction horror movies. Alien was a milestone in every aspect. From it’s rich yet straightforward story which left so much unanswered, to the amazingly well designed and established technology and worlds. It all works perfectly. I can’t think of another sci-fi horror movie that even comes close. My emphasis being on the horror. I still can’t forget the tagline, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream”, it sold me on the film. It was simple and elegant, it gave me goosebumps.
I wish I could say the same about Prometheus. First and foremost, I would like to say that this is already one of my favorite movies of the year. It is filled with such beautiful and meticulously designed sets and locations and is shot in an exemplary way. I’d expect no less from Scott. It’s been 3 days since I have seen the movie and I haven’t been able to stop discussing it with other people. It is a true conversation starter. I wish the story hadn’t lost some of its appeal in the third act, but it can be argued that it was done with intent. I’ve read quite a few critics bashing the end, but admitting they still loved the film overall. I can completely see where they’re coming from.
Personally, I find that Prometheus is much like two of the most intriguing and genius films of last year, Melancholia and The Tree of Life, in that it is intentionally vague and leaves many questions unanswered. Both of those films also dealt with life, its origins, and ultimately its end. The creation mythos that we see in Prometheus is much more complicated than in either of those, dealing with the idea of exogenesis.
The story opens with an array of scenes on a planet, much like creation shots in The Tree of Life. I love Scott’s take on a pre-life pristine Earth, the imagery present in the opening is mesmerizing. I touch much more on that because much of what I got from the story kept bringing back to that opening. After that we are introduced to our heroine Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, portrayed marvelously by Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). She is digging around caves in Scotland, conducting research on ancient symbols with her boyfriend Dr. Holloway. The symbols they find turn out to be an “invitation” from who they think are our creators. From here the film jumps into outer space and we are introduced to the most interesting character in the entire movie, Michael Fassbender‘s David. An android created by the Weyland Corporation, who is also sponsoring the voyage to LV-223, not to be mistaken with LV-426 from Alien and Aliens.
David commands every scene he is in. His lack of emotion is evident, but he somehow manages to connect via his excellent understanding of the way humans see things. Early on in the film, we get glimpses of the fact that David may actually have his own motivating force. During a brief introduction to the crew members of the space craft Prometheus by none other than Peter Weyland himself, played through an unbelievable amount of makeup by Guy Pearce, we see David’s facial reactions to certain comments and things start to surface as crew members show their disdain towards the android.
Once on LV-223, the plot becomes more mysterious as the discoveries the team makes do not turn out to be what they initially hoped. The sense of tension continually increases as time goes by and more things start to go against the crew. Scott does a bang up job of building everything up to one of the most horrific do-it-yourself situations ever put on film. The cast does a great job and should be praised since the movie consists of a lot of build up and everyone does well in their respective roles. Even those that can be considered filler. All of the build up is based around the notion that whoever left the “invitation” on Earth wanted to meet their creations and that they would be willing to answer questions regarding their intentions.
All of my major complaints come mainly from the third act. Although I enjoyed that we got more information regarding the Engineer’s/Space Jockey’s, we were also left with a ton of unanswered questions. Some things seemed to come out of nowhere or were resolved too easily, but the plot ultimately came together towards the end. Although there is no direct connection to Alien, there is a definite opening for a sequel to Prometheus which could tie things up more closely with the Alien franchise. I am hopeful we will get to see where the stories converge. Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof (Cowboys & Aliens) crafted an engaging story with a simple plot and made it quite enjoyable. I look forward to revisiting the film once again and am especially interested in the director’s cut that Scott has said will be featured on the Blu-ray release later this year.