Contributor: Andy Spencer
Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
Directed by Ridley Scott
Many of the best science fiction, not just in film but in all media, uses its generally futuristic setting to ask fundamental questions about humanity, and what it has to do with something or another. And they usually answer these questions in their own way, and these answers can be either predictable, satisfying, or sometimes both, and in the worst cases the former but not the latter. Prometheus does not take any of these routes. It instead asks questions and leaves the answers up to the audience. There is no real payoff, which is both this film’s saving grace and biggest weakness.
I will proceed to talk about the plot as little as possible, to avoid any spoilers. The plot itself is actually fairly formulaic. Guys fly a ship, guys find alien life, alien life fights back, guys die. Nothing special. However, the philosophical angle is what makes this film’s story a unique one. It hearkens back to the days of truly intelligent sci-fi, such as “2001″ and, yes, “Alien”. The film asks and seemingly answers the question “where did we come from?”, but the question of where our makers came from is one that will have to be answered in the sequel. This is one of the tantalizing mysteries that “Prometheus” drops on us, and one that I cannot wait to find the truth of.
Seemingly knowing how important this film is to those who will be seeing it, the actors have put their all into their characters, who all have just enough personality to avoid seeming like androids with differences in their programming. The one who truly steals the show is Michael Fassbender, whose performance as David the android is one of the best I have seen in a science fiction film. His movements are fast and precise, making him truly feel like the artificial person he is. Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron both bring the necessary strength to remind viewers of Ripley, continuing the series’ legacy of strong female leads.
Scott has stated numerous times that this film is not meant to be like “Alien”, but rather as a sort of companion piece set in the same universe. In this sense, the film succeeds brilliantly. The horror elements return in full force, and are still as squirm-inducing as they were three decades ago. The action takes place in some of the most gorgeously rendered and built sets I have ever seen in a film. This is a technically incredible, so much so that it almost overshadows the story the writers are trying to tell.
This film has the definite feel of a prelude to something bigger. This is not an especially good thing, as movies with this trait tend to end in a rather unsatisfying manner. The final scene feels too much like a bone Scott has thrown to rabid fans of his 1979 classic, and those unanswered questions do not help. Despite this, I left the theater feeling like I had seen the most intelligent sci-fi film to come along in some time, and for that, “Prometheus” deserves to be commended.