Posted on 6/22/12 08:00 AM
Director Ridley Scott‚(TM)s first foray into hard science fiction since ‚Blade Runner‚? in 1982 is also his most interesting and memorable film since the masterful ‚Matchstick Men‚? in 2003. ‚Prometheus‚? boasts stunning visual effects, a fascinating and thought-provoking story and non-gratuitous action sequences, but necessary and organic to the plot. In other words, ‚Prometheus‚? kicks ass and refuses to apologize for its ambitious questions and ideas, which few mainstream movies today have the backbone to ask.
It all starts with a sacrifice. As ‚Prometheus‚? opens, we are shown the vast, rocky surface of some planet where no life appears to exist. Overhead, high in the sky is an alien spacecraft. At the edge of a surging waterfall stands a tall, muscular humanoid being. His skin is white, his eyes are black and from a small chalice, he drinks a strange black fluid that instantly begins to destroy his body. As his crumbling remains tumble over the falls, they land in the water below where new cells begin to multiply rapidly forming new life.
Time passes, and in the year 2089, two archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), are searching for answers to mankind‚(TM)s existence, and after discovering a series of ancient cave drawings pointing to the stars, they believe they have answers at last.
With profound financial assistance from Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce), the elderly CEO of a technology-based corporation, Shaw and Holloway are able to set off into space with a crew of 17 on a ship called Prometheus, to seek out the beings who may very well have made us ‚" to meet our makers, referred to by Shaw as ‚Engineers.‚?
The crew joining Shaw and Holloway includes Captain Janek (Idris Elba), corporate buzz kill Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and an android called David (Michael Fassbinder), a piece of human technology that does exactly what it is programmed to do, for better or for worse. In the case of the Prometheus crew, it is the latter.
As often happens in movies when human beings start to ask too many questions about their own existence, they get exactly what they asked for and plenty more. Writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof (‚Lost,‚?) have cooked up a genuinely suspenseful, wondrous story, and so many ideas are approached in ‚Prometheus‚? that the story could extend beyond this film alone. The horrors Shaw and the crew discover when they reach their destination are equaled only by the wonders surrounding it all.
The mystery of who created what and why dominates this film, although it does exist in the ‚Alien‚? universe originally created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, and directed by Ridley Scott in 1979. The events in ‚Prometheus‚? do not directly lead to the events in ‚Alien,‚? but they certainly do answer a lot of questions of which previous sequels such as James Cameron‚(TM)s ‚Aliens‚? and David Fincher‚(TM)s ‚Alien3‚? steered clear.
The stars of the movie, aside from the visual effects, are Rapace and Fassbinder, who steal away nearly every scene they are in. Fassbinder plays the android with such grace and frightening tranquility, not to mention his fascination with the film ‚Lawrence of Arabia,‚? which leads him to slightly alter his way of speaking and dye his hair blonde to emulate Peter O‚(TM)Toole.
Fassbinder‚(TM)s performance is consistently riveting, as is Rapace‚(TM)s work in the film as a scientist with conflicted faith who has sought out answers to existence since she was very young. I last saw Rapace in Swedish made ‚Millennium Trilogy‚? films, beginning with ‚The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‚? in which she played the flawed iconic heroine, Lisbeth Salander. She was stunning in those films and brings the same level of intensity and sincerity to Dr. Shaw in ‚Prometheus, particularly in one scene involving a complex medical apparatus that nearly reaches the shock of the chest-burster scene in Scott‚(TM)s original ‚Alien.‚? She is one of the most exciting actresses working today, and I look forward to anything she does.
Following ‚Young Adult‚? and ‚Snow White and the Huntsman,‚? Theron continues her mean streak in this film as an icy corporate head overseeing the mission, making sure the money and time are all well spent and never wasted. Her interactions with the captain of the ship, played with sharp sincerity and ease by Idris Elba (‚The Wire,‚? ‚Luther‚?) and David are some of the best in the movie.
‚Prometheus‚? is one of the best films of the year so far, and it is one of the few times you may actually yearn for a sequel to continue the story as the credits roll. There are flaws in the movie, some involving small, implausible details, but they are overcome by the sweeping wonders ‚" including the (inter)stellar musical score by Marc Streitenfeld and Harry Gregson-Williams ‚" it offers. Scott is a director known well for his technical and storytelling craft. His films have been hit-miss throughout the past decade, but this time he reveals without a doubt he still has it, and sci-fi is strong within him.