Published on June 11th, 2012 | by dvdpinson0
Prometheus is the Ultimate Origin Story
This has been the burning question surrounding the film since its inception and director Ridley Scott is cryptic with his response “There may be a vague notion, some slight DNA from the original “Alien” (quote from “Entertainment Weekly” issue #1207).
While this answer plays like a sly, buzz-building way to skirt the question it turns out that these words are nothing but the truth. The two films share the same genetic makeup in theme and story and have been birthed from the same chest cavity.
“Prometheus” is a Sci Fi thriller that marks Scott’s return to the genre after a 30-year hiatus. Scott followed the massive success of “Alien” with “Blade Runner” in 1982, a film that is widely considered a masterpiece. In other words, Ridley Scott is pretty good at making movies about spaceships and androids. Both films were densely written and visually striking works that truly transports the viewer to another world. “Prometheus” mostly achieves the same and is up to standard. The film marks an exciting return to form for Scott and should leave the fanboys drooling for more.
The year is 2093, roughly 30 years before the Nostromo landed on planet LV-426 to discover a crashed ship filled with Alien eggs. Interesting the 3-decade gap, considering it’s the same amount of time Scott’s been away from the genre. Coincidence?
The spaceship Prometheus (named after the Greek god who gave fire to man) has arrived at a planet called Zeta 2 Reticuli under the guidance of two explorers how have pieced together a map to the stars left in several cave paintings back on Earth. All of these scribblings point to Zeta 2 and (somehow) imply that the inhabitants of this planet could be the creators of all mankind. It’s a stretch but as a wise man once sang to us while donning incredibly tight jeans “You gotta have faith”.
“Prometheus” is the ultimate origin story that goes beyond concerning itself with where the monsters with acid for blood came from and tries to touch on the very dawn of mankind. Heavy stuff that is reminiscent of the novels that Asimov published in the 50’s and 60’s. The film is challenging and may take more than one viewing to fit the puzzle together. Like Scott’s early work mammoth sets were built to transport us to another world. See “Legend” as an example of this, that movie is almost nothing but set pieces. In a time where green screens and virtual sets are the norm, this is a welcomed change. While the design works of H.R. Giger (the man who designed the original alien) are only credited as inspiration, his presence can be seen throughout. The walls seem like an impossible skeletal structure and the new beasties look properly like horrifying versions of human reproductive organs.
Some of the horror show elements of “Prometheus” do fall flat but the overall effect is chilling. “Alien” was famous for the chest bursting “birthing” scene and this film features its own delivery that will leave you breathless. While Scott tried to embrace 3D film making, the result is pointless. Other veterans have faired better: Scorsese used the extra dimension expertly with “Hugo” and Spielberg never stopped moving the camera in “Tin Tin”. Scott does nothing to enhance the added depth. Save the 3 bucks.
Then there is Michael Fassbender who plays David, the best paranoid android ever to grace the screen. He is the heart of the movie and mesmerizing. Time is spent with David as the ship moves toward its destination and the rest of the crew sleeps in suspended animation. The isolation conveyed is awesome as David burns away his time exercising and obsessively watching “Lawrence of Arabia”. Noomi Rapace brings the required strength to the role of Elizabeth Shaw. The ladies always reign supreme in these films (thanks to the talented Mrs. Ripley) and girl power is present.
One last thing (and Semi-SPOILER ALERT): While “Prometheus” morphs into pure set up in its last 15 minutes, one glaring connection is missed. When all you have to do is get a space jockey in a chair by the final credits, you’d think it would be easy. This is just a small distraction in an otherwise fantastic film.