Prometheus (2012) (R)
Ridley Scott's masterpiece "Alien" is arguably the best science fiction movie ever made. It's thrilling and groundbreaking in its style and technique. From the grainy quality of the cameras that the ground men use to the haunting shots of civilizations that have come and gone, it delves deep into space and time for a thriller that will be unmatched. It's sequel, "Aliens" is, if anything, even better. But it just builds upon the foundation that "Alien" laid and doesn't invent the way that its predecessor did.
Now, three decades later, comes a prequel of some sorts to "Alien".
"Prometheus" is a creature of myth, named for a titan. Elizabeth Shaw seems to embody this titan better than anyone else of her crew. She is a scientist alongside her partner/lover Charlie. Their goal is incredibly simple and complex in the same breath: find the meaning and origin of life.
Caves in Icelandic country have been discovered with a drawing that the scientists have found reproduced all over the world. This drawing contains a map that the scientists decide to follow in order to deduce whether or not the map leads to their makers.
Shaw is a religious woman, who always wears a cross around her neck. When she is questioned she retorts that it is a matter of faith what she believes. Charlie is less so religious and more easily swayed here and there. When things don't go exactly according to plans, he somewhat gives up while Shaw keeps going. She's the tougher of the two of them, the backbone of the relationship.
The starship that the crew travels on is called "Prometheus", this is the second of many titans in the film. These titans could be people, ideas, creatures, any main source of conflict or plot device becomes a titan as the movie progresses.
The crew itself is made up of a gathering of various professionals: geologists, biologists and the like. They are just there because they're getting paid.
The only two with a sense of urgency of the crew are Elizabeth and Charlie. It becomes a drive for them to figure out where they came from and who is responsible for life.
Enter David, the android. David is incapable of experiencing human emotions; but he also wants to be like Lawrence from "Lawrence of Arabia". David is another titan of the movie, an ever looming personality that guides the story to his whims.
Damon Lindelof helped bring the script to life. I've been a fan of his for a while, ever since he helped write the hugely popular TV series "Lost". Here he shows less flashiness than "Lost" developing themes that took six seasons to accomplish in "Lost" in a relatively short period of time.
The class that Ridley Scott brings as he returns to the genre that he helped pioneer is remarkable. The stylization of "Prometheus" is incredibly beautiful.
But the movie belongs to the action and the gore and the acting. One of the most famous things about the "Alien" franchise is one scene in the first movie, so cheekily nicknamed "the chest burster scene". If anything the writers and director felt that they needed to one-up their previous works and near the climax of the film comes one of the most intense scenes to date. A feeling of claustrophobia is so tangible to the viewer that is causes one to sit back in their seat to get away—it is very effective.
Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender are the two shining lights of "Prometheus" as Elizabeth Shaw and David. Rapace is particularly good and Fassbender is always a delight to watch. He's one of the most gifted actors of recent years.
"Prometheus" is enigmatic and does not answer all of the questions raised by the original "Alien" which I really like. Prequels often feel like just boring explanatory films that needed to not be made at all. But "Prometheus" does not give the results that you would think would be included in this film.
It's beautiful and inspired, a great new standard for science fiction movies.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones