Director Ridley Scott
Screenwriters Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Cast Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce
Prometheus is the name of a spaceship carrying 17 crew members, out to explore a new planet. The reason? Curiosity. Nosy scientists just need to find out who our makers are and solve the mysteries surrounding our creation. Where do we come from? Who we are? These are just some are the questions Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) must have answered. After discovering a star map made by seemingly unconnected ancient cultures all over the world, she and her expedition partner Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) conclude that this is an invitation for the humans to venture out and find their ancestors – or makers.
The year is 2093, and with secure financial backing from a shadowy company known as the Weyland Corporation, Prometheus lands. Awakened from their two-year hyper-sleep, the ship’s crew are informed of their mission: to explore and investigate this new terrain and possibly make contact with any alien life-forms, which they dub “Engineers.” The icy cold Meredith Vickers (Theron) is very clear on a couple of points: everything should be reported back to her with no direct contact to be made with anything the team may find. And off they go, into a dark, damp, metallic structure that no sane person would dare enter. What do they find? Dead bodies, presumably of one of their “Engineers.” Gooey substances, haunting statues, vicious snake-like creatures... it’s only a matter of time until this chaotic expedition ends in sweat, tears and blood.
Let’s put one rumour to rest. Is this a prequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien? Yes, it sure is. But do you need to be familiar with the Alien franchise to enjoy the film? Absolutely not. Prometheus stands proudly on its own, and never relies on director Scott’s previous sci-fi outing for any of the film’s concepts. Most obviously, Prometheus deals on a much bigger, more ambitious scale.
Long gone are Alien’s narrow corridors, sharp corners, and claustrophobic camera angles. Instead we have a series of expensive looking sets and tons of fancy technology that give this film a whole new spin from what the audience may have experienced with Alien. The upside of this is that whatever Scott decides to show on the screen, everything looks marvellous, and the technical crew have definitely outdone themselves creating such gigantic stages for the actors to work on. The downside however, is that much of the anticipated horror has gone mute. The more dimension this adds, the less effective the scares become.
A lot of tension is lost in how much we are shown in the beginning, and anyone expecting a full-on horror film is bound to be disappointed.
Despite the many characters, the only ones that require your attention are Rapace’s Shaw, Marshall-Green’s Holloway, Theron’s Vickers, and Michael Fassbender’s David, the android. Other than that, the rest of the cast is merely there to be slain and to be served up as body parts for the bad guys to mutilate. One by one they fall, and at times, this tragically feels like yet another violent slasher horror in which the separated members from the group have absolutely no chance of survival.
So thank goodness for Fassbender, who really gives the highlight performance of the film. He plays David, a loyal and smart android. But it’s difficult to tell just what may be on his mind. Who controls him? The company does, presumably. But does he have thoughts of his own? Technically, he shouldn’t, and from what we see early on, he seems quiet and innocent enough, dutifully carrying out his orders. But in his inquisitive eyes, he appears to be more complex and devious. He seems to be thinking too much for someone acting as the ship’s servant, and throughout the film, he does make questionable moves that have us doubting his true nature. This is what Fassbender precisely right through his charming yet disturbing performance. He’s sweet natured yet there is something undeniably creepy about his stares.
Rapace, although not quite the Ellen Ripley sci-fi warrior queen, is on top form as the conflicted religious scientist. Theron, so cold and distant to the point where even a crewmember wonders whether she is a robot or not, hovers and lingers in the background with sinister expression, suggesting concealed agendas.
The script is wordy, with dialogue used mostly for explaining the details and purpose behind this mission, and is a touch too slow to get started. The opening sequence, in which several aerial shots of beautiful landscapes are sewn together, is impressive, but with Scott’s seemingly self-indulgent ways and laboured pace, there are several points in which the film loses its way, focusing far too much on looking good and not enough on its individual actors. But in the end, boasting an unbelievably huge scale and a talented cast does deliver a memorable experience. It’s lasting legacy, however, is unlikely to reach the highest pinnacle of Scott’s career.