Directed by: Ridley Scott Runtime: 2 hr 3 min Studio: 20th Century Fox
Screenwriters: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof, Dan O’Bannon Rated: R
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall-Green, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Benedict Wong
Ridley Scott returns to the Alien franchise he started in 1979 but with a different trajectory in mind. In the previous Alien films, the question of “where did they come from” never comes up. That’s okay, those films were designed for thrilling suspense and to scare you. They were never intended to answer big questions. Or ask them. Prometheus tackles these logical questions head-on to examine the storyline from a new lens while still connecting it to its predecessor.
Prometheus doesn’t precisely answer any of the questions it raises, to the annoyance of many viewers. Still, life doesn’t always give answers—and neither does Scott. Strangely, I’m okay with it. While the pacing is sometimes slow, the Prometheus crew gets an answer to if man is alone in the universe.
This quest for understanding originates from archeological findings on Earth in 2089. A “scientist” belief that mankind is being invited to go looking for their maker is all that is required. The Weyland Group privately funds a space expedition for this journey through the stars. In Alien, the Weyland Group is what the Umbrella Corporation is to the Resident Evil franchise. Though it’s not really apparent in this movie.
While the plot’s rationale for taking a journey through space is thin and scientifically absurd, as are the other scientists and professionals, the characters are still likable. There’s a biologist who acts like a kid at a zoo, a geologist who gets lost despite mapping equipment, a medical doctor, security personnel, and the bridge crew. Two archeologists (one who believes more in faith than science), a Weyland employee overlord, and an android with a creepy god complex round out the rest.
Half of the characters are barely developed. The ones that are are a mixed bag. I can’t understand the lack of rules and protocols of a crew on a spaceship. It’s like you stole your parents’ car and drove for the first time with friends, it’s aggravating chaos. Despite that, the performances are well done; not Oscar-worthy but enjoyable all the same. My two favorite characters are the ship’s Captain/pilot, Janek, played by Idris Elba. Hello, it’s Idris Elba. No other reason is required. Seriously, I like his level-headed demeanor. It’s in stark contrast to everyone else. The other is David the android, played by Micheal Fassbender. He depicts an android emulating a human without emotion with precision.
Another depiction that is well done is the scene/set locations. There is this opening sequence that shows this harsh, beautiful landscape. You don’t know if it’s on Earth or when. The similarity to that setting and the one later in the film highlight how our planet is not unique in the universe. It indicates how small we are, and that’s not a notion we like as a species.
In movies, there is this notion that space travel, ships, and equipment have to be either old and industrial or clean and futuristic with lots of technology. The original Alien films look very dirty and industrial, which is a sign of the times when they were made. Special effects were not what they are today. However, the vessel Prometheus itself and the land equipment are a great mix of the two. Additionally, the other technology used throughout the film isn’t so reaching as to be unbelievable.
This movie isn’t for those who don’t want to think about it too hard. It will also not be loved by serious fans of the Alien franchise if all that is expected is low-lighting, suspense, and body cavity bursting. Prometheus is designed to show you how the body cavity bursting aliens come to be. It’s about their origins. Sometimes a good story is slow to set up, which this film is for many. However, it’s not the only movie Ridley Scott has planned as an Alien prequel. With this in mind, you should add Prometheus to your watch list.
—a pen lady