Robyn's Review of Prometheus
A well made sci-fi movie--Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" is an entertaining science-fiction film, all the more intriguing because it raises questions about the origin of human life--and doesn't have the answers. Viewers should understand what they're getting; it has less to do with action, than with an exploration of space as a means of learning about what it means to be human.
The majority of the movie takes place during the final weeks of the year 2093. The 17-man crew of the science vessel Prometheus is awakened from hypersleep when the ship approaches their destination - a desolate planet orbiting a distant sun-like star that may be the home of space visitors who intervened in early human history. The creations have come in search of their gods to ask one of the most basic questions of existence: Why? Although this is the stated goal of the mission, several individuals have their own agendas.
The lead scientists are Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is in charge--and she makes it clear that if aliens are found, contact is not to be initiated. Prometheus' captain, Janek (Idris Elba), is content to remain on the bridge of his ship and watch on monitors as the expedition departs. There is also an android on board (a precursor to Alien's Ash and Aliens' Bishop): David (Michael Fassbender). The initial expedition discovers a series of massive underground caverns and chambers, as well as the corpse of one giant humanoid, but nothing is alive. That quickly changes, however, and the life forms that come into being are not friendly. The most spellbinding scenes involve the crew members exploring the passages and caverns inside the pyramid, obviously unvisited in aeons, and their experiences with some of the hibernating alien beings.
Noomi Rapace holds her own as the lead of the film, playing a bit of a precursor to Ellen Ripley. Her character is tough--adorable and complex--and she can be both the victim and the hero. The star that outshines Rapace in this film is Michael Fassbender as David, they synthetic human keeping control of the ship. Fassbender has been impressive in both indie and mainstream films lately. It's an understated role, but like any great character, there's as much in what he doesn't say and do as is in what he does.
If there's an obvious element missing from "Prometheus", it's a strong identification with the humans, who are underdeveloped and underwritten. Most of what's interesting about the story has little to do with the protagonists.
"Prometheus" is not without problems but, for the most part, they are problems that result from overreaching rather than playing it safe. "Prometheus" has a little too much going on. It's a story of big ideas and, as is often the case with movies designed to be about something--the human characters get marginalized.