Returning to the genre after three
decades, Scott’s focus is still more on the visuals than the content. Yet as
with Alien and Blade Runner,
his Prometheus is anything but an empty summer blockbuster. It provides
the requisite thrills yet it leaves us with questions. That, perhaps, is the key
to Scott’s science fiction: you exit the theater awed by what you saw but eager
to talk about what it all means.
It’s the late 21st century and
billionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce under a ton of makeup) has sent out the
ship Prometheus to look for the planet that may be responsible for life on
Earth. Researchers have found signs in several ancient Earth civilizations that
they had visitors from the stars, and now archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi
Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are leading an expedition to
see if they can discover the creators of humanity.
Of course it’s not quite that
straightforward. There’s the android David (Michael Fassbender) who has
undisclosed instructions from the corporation as well as Meredith Vickers (Charlize
Theron), the tightly wound but very human executive on board. Most of the crew,
including Captain Janek (Idris Elba), seem to be in it only for the money.
"A science fiction film that will leave fans arguing . . ."
If this seems to be
recapitulating the original
Alien it’s no accident, although the agenda is quite different. Alien was
essentially a haunted house story in space.
wants us to consider if we want to meet our creators – or Creator – if such a
thing was possible, and what might happen if the opportunity presented itself.
With the humans working at cross-purposes it raises the question as to whether
humanity is actually ready for such a meeting.
After planetfall there are
secrets to be uncovered, and scary alien beings that may or may not be
precursors to the being in Alien. One of the questions viewers have had in
anticipation of the movie is whether this is a prequel.
Prometheus ultimately answers that question only to leave us wondering, “Now
The strong ensemble cast makes
it difficult for anyone to stand out, but two actors manage to leave a lasting
impression. Noomi Rapace (from the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
series) is the clear heroine of the story and gets the film’s most horrifying
scene where she has to perform surgery on herself. Michael Fassbender (who
played Magneto in X-Men: First Class) is the
duplicitous android we’ve come to expect since the original Alien, but
who proves to be a bit more complicated than his programming.
As with Alien and
Blade Runner, Scott has fashioned a science fiction film that will leave
fans arguing, with some dismissing it out of hand and others declaring it a
In the midst of the summer
blockbuster season the main question is whether it engages the viewer and
provides enough excitement. That it does. Over time that will prove less
important as viewers (particularly repeat viewers) try to make sense of
everything that has happened. It’s a discussion that will continue for a long
time to come . . .