Prometheus (2012) Director: Ridley Scott, Producers; Tony Scott, Ridley Scott, David Giler, and Walter Hill, Starring; Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, and Guy Pearce.
Billed as an Alien-prequel by excited fans and studio types during the much-hyped development, Prometheus sees veteran director Ridley Scott remaking the sort of philosophical science fiction his previous entries into the genre, Blade Runner and Alien, epitomized so well. Alien is referenced here with both films sharing the same universe in which their separate stories exist. These elements are then cleverly worked into an entirely new fable, which looks set to be adapted into a series of sequels in its own right.
Visually impeccable in terms of design and scale, Prometheus clearly got the juices running for Scott, and there is a real energy to the way the film proceeds on its quest after two scientists discover a link between cave-paintings from ancient civilizations and a galaxy far far away. This leads to a privately funded search for the existence of an intelligent alien lifeform by the Weyland Corporation – another reference to Alien – rejoining the journey as the team of scientists, military types, and of course victims, are awoken by android David (Michael Fassbender), who has cared for them on the two-year journey. Once on land it becomes clear they have found what they were looking for, but the giant humanoid aliens are dead, and all that remains is a complex structure of hidden tunnels and chambers. All is not what it seems, and when organic material is found, things start getting a little horrific. Adding to this, The Weyland backers aren’t in it for the same reasons as the scientists, and soon this ideological battle adds further complexities in dealing with what they have discovered, the key to our existence.
Scott has managed to make a film full of stunning visuals and inspired set design, and to his credit uses the spectacular effects with a fair amount of restraint, not afraid to obscure the camera inside a helmet or behind a locked door. These have often been Scott’s strongest capabilities as a director, yet some of his weaknesses, such as clichéd characters, and an emphasis on grandiose theories tend to scuttle the film. There is enough conceptual meandering going on here for a trilogy of films, and not all is resolved by a deliberate and slightly contrived ending. Many characters are also purely fodder, and a slow middle period takes it time to get that fodder out of the way. Idris Elba as Captain Janek is underused but irresistible, while Charlize Theron is sturdy as a Weyland enforcer with a secret. The original girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace is also well-suited to the Ripley-style role of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Yet the film belongs to Fassbender, whose plays the ‘soulless’ and cunning David to perfection, making every scene containing him dynamic. Without his performance or the quite brilliant CGI-world of Prometheus, Scott’s much hyped comeback would fall flat of its intentions, that said this is big-budget entertainment that you do have to think about, even if its slightly confusing.