Arriving into theaters on the back of a massive viral campaign that was pushed even further by the anticipation of fanboys and science fiction lovers alike, Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” is a possible relative of 1979’s “Aliens.” Promising more than scares and creatures, “Prometheus” is an ambitious film that goes after an answer to the biggest question of all: “Where do we come from and what is the meaning of our existence?”
In 2089, archeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a very old cave painting that holds the same design as others found throughout history. They take it as an invitation for us to go find those who created us “the engineers” of humanity.
Four years later, with the help of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and his trillions of dollars, they are awakening on the ship Prometheus along with a handful of other crew members as they have arrived at the designated location. While they were in hyper-sleep for over two years for the journey to this mysterious planet, they were tended to by David (Michael Fassbender), an android indistinguishable from humans who serves as the ship’s butler and maintenance man. As the crew begins to awaken, we learn that the majority of them have no idea why they are in the far reaches of space, but as time goes on we learn that a few of them are in the know and have ulterior motives to this exploratory journey and what they hope to accomplish.
Sent to monitor the expedition is an employee at Weyland industries, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a cold and calculating leader who has no faith this expedition will uncover anything of significance. Janek (Idris Elba), the captain of the vessel Prometheus, has a sailor’s point of view and is only interested in keeping his crew safe. Milburn (Rafe Spall) is the resident botanist and Fifield (Sean Harris) is a geologist who has become a bit unstable and seems to know when things are going off the designated plan.
As they enter a structure, it is evident that intelligent beings have shaped and crafted these underground structures complete will hallways, chambers, monoliths and a type of biomechanical technology that only David is capable of interpreting. All of this doesn’t answer the questions they seemed to want to ask of the beings themselves. With no physical life present, the trip takes an information gathering turn, but it isn’t long before things go awry and people begin to start dying. This leads to more questions, such as why would “the inventors” of humans leave a map to lead us to this desolate planet and what is the purpose of this place? Either way, I am sure that the ultimate creators wouldn’t be happy with the secret agendas certain members of the crew are working towards and in the end the answers we find might be more frightening then we could have ever imagined.
The opening of “Prometheus” and the first hour or so is where this movie shines, in asking questions and the thrill of seeking the answers. Director Ridley Scott has a knack for suspense and the ability to show drama with visuals that will amaze. The funny thing is after leaving the theater, there seems to be many unanswered questions and it is open to possible sequels.
Besides the visual feast, the highlight for me was a few of the main cast members, notably: Fassbender, as the eerily troubling and completely amazing android David; Noomi Rapace, as the scientist who gets to kick some seriously alien butt; and, of course, Charlize Theron, as the ruthless Weyland employee who has some serious issues to work out. Using his talent to transform and impress, Fassbender makes David into a fully fledged character that fascinates you and then begins to bring up more questions. While he is amusing and funny, there is a menacing quality to him and his actions. As the film moves forward, you are filled in on some of his alternate programming and objectives, which make him even more intriguing. Rapace and Theron are the two female leads and while one steps up to become the heroic possible savior of humanity, the other lurks in the recesses of the ship and tries to carry out her own agenda. By now, I shouldn’t be surprised by either of these powerful women and what they can do, but I was impressed with their performances.
The major downfalls of the film are mostly lack of story and, like I mentioned earlier, the film answers your questions indirectly, but then again leaves you with more to think about as it ends. I feel like the build-ups to the major discoveries in the movie were some of the best parts of the film, but once the action kicked in, the suspense wasn’t as strong for me and I believe that’s where 1979’s “Alien” succeeded. It was a truly terrifying and suspenseful film that delivered in the end, whereas “Prometheus” felt disappointing as it ended. Rarely do I say this with movies, but at only two hours and four minutes, the film could have used more time to answer questions and wrap up ideas, but I am guessing it was left somewhat open-ended for a possible sequel.
I went in hoping that “Prometheus” was Ridley Scott’s triumphant return to the sci-fi genre and while it is a dazzling spectacle to watch, it doesn’t seem like the 74-year-old director can pull it off as well as he did in his prime. While “Prometheus” will dazzle the senses visually, overall it was underwhelming and failed to inform us like it promises at the beginning and should be viewed as a fun sci-fi film and not much more.
“Prometheus” is in theaters now and is rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.
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Maybe my expectations were a little too high, but I found it disappointing.