Synopsis: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba
Director: Ridley Scott
Running Length: 124 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Optometrist – Dhruve Patel
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: When 20th Century Fox announced Prometheus, buzz concerning its possible ties to their Alien franchise was hot. When Alien director Scott was officially on board at the helm the buzz volume was raised several decibels. In production and marketing of Prometheus prequel rumors ran rampant and the filmmakers didn’t do much to dissuade the public from such thoughts. Deliberately cagey, they kept their cards close and told us only what we needed to know: that this film wouldn’t be a retread of what we’ve seen before and its plot could have ties to the Alien universe.
How refreshing, then, to see that the studio stuck to its guns and kept the film tightly sealed until today’s release. More 2001: A Space Odyssey than any of the Alien films, Prometheus is a possible franchise starter that is designed for a moviegoer that would rather not check their brain at the door. Even with its imperfections Scott has delivered a film with the balls to ask big questions, showcase incredible visuals, and provide some chilling sequences.
It’s been quite a while since a film budgeted as a summer blockbuster dared to introduce ideas of our origins and our relationship to a higher power. Where do we come from or who were our engineers is a more refined way of asking ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ and it’s the driving force behind the mission that brings the crew of the Prometheus spacecraft to a distant planet. Funded by a shadowy corporation (that absolutely has a relation to Alien), the 17 member group is stocked with the usual suspects: geologists, medical experts, historians, grunts, an icy executive (Theron), and one very complicated android (Fassbender).
A brief prologue makes more sense as the movie progresses and sufficient earth-bound exposition is shown before our outer space journey begins. An expertly designed tour of the ship introduces us to not only the many nooks and crannies but also to David, an android that fancies himself a not quite flesh and blood Peter O’Toole. Once the crew is awakened from their two year space sleep and the objectives relayed to all aboard the deeper questions and adventure of Prometheus emerge.
To give away much more of the plot would be a disservice to the careful structure that Scott and screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof have put into place. Let’s just say that further exploration of the planet creates trouble as is nearly always the case when man ventures where he should not go. Which crew members learn that lesson the hard way is something you’ll need to discover for yourself.
Now well into his 70’s, Scott returns to the sci-fi genre that put him on the map and that he shepherded into a new era. The work he did on Alien and Blade Runner have made these films classics and he still has that golden touch. Clearly interested in not going back to the exact same well, he instead found a new reservoir that’s pretty close by but with water that tastes a little different.
Part of what has made Scott such an A-list director is his ability to choose the right people for the job. Though all 17 members of the ship aren’t explored in extreme detail, Scott has cast our primary and secondary leads with actors that are incredibly varied and interesting. Though not listed in the primary opening credits, Scottish actress Kate Dickie is a prime example of smart Scott casting. As medical personnel, Dickie has such an interesting look that she becomes one to watch either directly or indirectly in her limited screen time. This also is true for several exploratory crew members that could have easily been treated with no regard but have been given strong life by lesser known/unknown actors.
In our leading role, Scott continues his good instincts by utilizing Rapace’s talents in her first lead in a US picture. The original Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Rapace made her US debut in a wasted glorified cameo with December’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. While she’s no Ellen Ripley, Thelma, or Louise she still creates an original character that is motivated by more than ambition or greed. She helped to identify the signs that have brought her to this planet in hopes of learning about our creation. She’s joined by a fellow scientist and lover (Marshall-Green) who may not completely share in her endgame outcome. Their romantic subplot is a weaker part of the movie, though it does prove essential to a development late in the film.
Theron is at her chilly best as the corporate representative onboard to represent the money side of things. Her relationship with David piques some questionable interest and the secretive silence behind her dagger staredown of nearly everyone sends a message loud and clear that there is more to her than we are seeing. Theron excels at these strong female roles and comes off better here than she does in Snow White and the Hunstman. Elba too brings a perfect attitude to his rumpled pilot role and gives the film a nice and solid core with a watchful, thoughtful, eye.
Prometheus is being released in 3D and IMAX and it’s one of the few film that utilize the filming techniques for all they’re worth. The 3D gives depth to both the spaceship and planet as the explorers venture further into the heart of unknown darkness. The visual effects are top notch and pretty incredible in their detail…expect the effects teams to be up for multiple Academy Awards for their beautiful work.
There’s been a bit of a backlash as more people are seeing/reviewing Prometheus concerning the fact that it’s not Alien but then the film really never tries to jump that hurdle. If you go into the film wanting that same Alien experience you’ll be disappointed and sadly miss a strong stand-alone picture. It’s relatively short on scares but not lacking in tension or well-crafted “get out of there, don’t touch that” terror. While it may be devoid of any of the now famous one-liners or sequences that made Alien (and for that matter Aliens) classic, I get the feeling that everyone involved wasn’t setting out to duplicate what has been done before. In doing so they have provided an intelligent and grandly sci-fi adventure that brings the viewer to the far reaches of the galaxy to answer our basic questions of life, death, and what waits for us beyond.