First off, let’s just clarify that while it is not necessary to be familiar with Alien to watch Prometheus, Prometheus is undeniably a prequel to Alien. That being said, I will not divulge any details to spoil the film for fans of the Alien franchise. Instead I will move on and talk about the film from the perspective of director Ridley Scott, a film that firmly stands on its own.
The plot is simple yet complex: Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), two research scientists from the future, explore uncharted territory in the universe. While looking for answers to the origins of man that both challenge and validate their own beliefs, they find the unexpected. Shaw and Holloway are accompanied by a variety of contrasting personalities: Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the commander of the mission, Janek (Idris Elba) the ship Prometheus’ captain and David (Michael Fassbender), a robot created in man’s image. The team is eclectic in its make up (both fictional character and real-life actors), and beautifully counterbalances one another.
While the landscape is large, the film is quite intimate. Set on a uninhabited planet, we are treated to sweeping vistas of a foreign world set in the future. Ridley chooses familiarity: waterfalls, canyons, forests and structures that more than slightly resemble the great pyramids. It is a smart choice in that the audience is not required to process a world, rather he or she is able to pay attention to the story and the interactions of the characters. This may be a disappointment to sci-fi fans in that the special effect theatrics are kept to a minimum, especially for a film of this genre. But, the interactions that Ridley establishes, a true reflection of man, elevate the film to more than just a sci-fi thriller.
From the first viral video introducing David (you can catch it below, if you are not already familiar with it), it was apparent that Michael Fassbender would once again (last years performances included: X-Men, Haywire, Shame, A Dangerous Method and Jane Eyre) deliver a phenomenal performance. But, how much I would enjoy the nuances of this performance was unexpected. Fassbender blends robot and human behavior, making David slight disturbing, yet enduring. Charlize Theron, Meredith, plays icy cold well. And only Noomi Rapace, the original “Girl With A Dragon Tattoo,” could pull of some of Prometheus’ plot points as believable. (Really? After giving herself a c section, she is able to climb, lift her full body weight and kick-ass.)
While there are issues here and there with the believably of the stories plot, they are easy to overlook when taking in the film as a whole. And certainly there will be a few disappointed sci-fi fans who were looking more more special-effects and explosions. (There are plenty of wonderfully executed special-effect, don’t worry.) I commend Ridley for not focusing on the sci-fi aspect of the film, but instead focusing on the film itself. One that is highly entertaining, most certainly holds its own, and yet manages to play beautiful tribute to a film that first elevated the sci-fi genre, Alien.