Way back in 1979, a man named Ridley Scott directed a movie called Alien. It became a huge hit with science fiction fans, redefined the space thriller and engraved H.R. Giger’s nightmarish alien into the minds of the everyone who watched the movie. The movie eventually won an Oscar for the incredible visual effects, especially the horrifying and iconic alien. Then, in 1982, Ridley Scott made another science fiction movie, known as Blade Runner. This too was met with great success and eventually both Alien and Blade Runner became cult classics which raised the bar for Science Fiction movies and movies in general. Sadly, after Blade Runner, Ridley Scott left the science fiction genre, instead blessing the cinematic world with movies such as Black Hawk Down and Gladiator. Science Fiction fans, however, had to wait 30 years before Ridley Scott would pick up their genre again.
Prometheus is the return of Ridley Scott to the Science Fiction genre, as both director and producer of a loose prequel to the 1979 Alien movie. It is a movie that has been highly anticipated by fans and is one of the biggest cinematic releases of 2012. Is it the masterpiece we have been waiting for or does it end up alienating its fanbase?
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n Greek mythology, Prometheus was a titan known for his quest for scientific knowledge and the inherent risk of unintended consequences. This is an apt title for the film, as it neatly encompasses the plot of the movie, in its most simple form. After discovering a series of ancient drawings, all pointing to the same location in space, a group of scientists take these drawings as an invitation for humans to go there and learn about their origins. A crew of 17 people are sent on a spacecraft, called Prometheus, to this distant location. Upon arrival they end up finding something very different from what they were expecting and it eventually leads to catastrophe.
[pullquote_left]Michael’s acting as David is the highlight of the show, turning every scene he is into gold.[/pullquote_left] Noomi Rapace takes the lead as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, the leading scientist of the vessel, along with her colleague and love interest, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Charlize Theron plays the role of Meredith Vickers, the stoic leader of the crew and Idris Elba is cast as Janek, the captain of the ship. The one who steals the show, however, is Michael Fassbender as the enigmatic David. The entire cast gives a sterling performance and do their utmost to convey their characters to the audience. Noomi does a stellar job at bringing the soft, ambitious Dr. Shaw to life while Logan communicates the overreaching scientist role perfectly. Charlize’s acting is magnificent, but it is weighed down by her character being incredibly two-dimensional. You can see her struggling against the limitations of her character, but she pulls the role off with her usual style and charisma. Michael’s acting as David, however, is the highlight of the show, turning every scene he is into gold.
[pullquote_right]Considering that the plot is highly orientated around the beginning of life, the movie makes a very clear point not to discredit any forms of religion[/pullquote_right] The structure of the story is very reminiscent of most other films in this genre and it serves as a suitable drive for the movie to explore the various elements presented. The main focus of the story is that of life, death and what it means to be human, but it also explores how our never-ending thirst for knowledge often blinds us to what it is we have right now, right in front of us. The former is driven forcefully by certain characters and their personal stories, while the latter is explored a lot more subtly, but neither of these elements are explored as strongly as they could have been. Considering that the plot is highly orientated around the beginning of life, the movie makes a very clear point not to discredit any forms of religion, keeping it on equal footing with the subject matter, maintaining religious context at all times.
The actual story has a few weak spots, mainly regarding some of David’s actions, which appear to lack motive. It does appear like the cut that made it to the cinemas had a few scenes removed from it which would more clearly define his actions. The second act of the movie is also largely split into two parallel plots, one concerning the unmotivated antics of David, the other concerning the rest of the crew, but the contrast and lack of continuity between these two plot lines is so jarring that it makes it feel as if they belong in separate movies. These scenes lead to more confusion, again regarding David’s character and are never explained and do not make a lot of sense upon reflection. It can be seen that screenwriter Damon Lindelof was clearly out of his depth with this project and it’s a shame, because these holes in the plot will sour the taste of an otherwise excellent movie.
[pullquote_right]Despite the flaws in the story, the movie is still incredibly entertaining to watch.[/pullquote_right] Despite the flaws in the story, the movie is still incredibly entertaining to watch. The cinematography is astounding, with brilliant shot compositions making almost all the frames in the movie seem like they belong in an art gallery. The special effects are amazingly convincing, while the visual designs are both disturbing and striking, much like they were in the original Alien. The film cleverly keeps the violence at a minimum for most parts of the movie and when violence does occur, it is done in such a way that it is not overly gory or explicit. This clever juxtaposition makes the violence that does take place feel visceral and painful. The action scenes combine smart camera work and strong soundtracks to make the action so much more immersive and frantic. In the opening act, the film does a good job at building a strong, tense atmosphere, which adds more fuel to the fiery closing act. For those that are concerned about the 3D effects, they are also very well done, with the effects being neither overbearing nor headache-inducing, but rather subtle and captivating.
Overall, Prometheus took more from its namesake than it had intended. It shows the viewer how humanity’s overreaching thirst for knowledge could (and usually does) lead to unexpected disasters. But it also illustrates a movie that reached out for perfection, but failed to see the obvious holes in its own plot. It is a movie that asks big questions but leaves the audience questioning the story structure rather than the elements it brings to light. It is a movie that triumphs in its execution but is weighed down by its flawed premise. Though the problems with the plot steal excellence away from Prometheus, it is still a very good movie and well worth your time. Go see it for the intense action, the beautiful scenery and the creative imaginings of life beyond our planet. As long as you do not expect a masterfully crafted storyline, you will not be disappointed.