We are aliens. That’s what the movie suggests in the opening scene, showing a pale human like creature disrobing to sacrifice himself, so life on Earth can begin. Fast forward to the year 2089 and two archaeologists (Noomi Rapace & Logan Marshall-Green) are convinced that there’s life in another planet and they get to go on an absurdly expensive trip, funded by old Guy Pearce, to another galaxy following a star map. They’re leading a crew composed by Michael Fassbender (robot), Idris Elba (dry military persona) and Charlize Theron (corporate buzz killer) hoping to find the origins of humanity, but instead they find an unbelievable threat to mankind and that’s how Prometheus starts, Ridley Scott’s return to sci fi, after three decades since Blade Runner. The movie is beautifully shot and in 3D it looks even more enticing.
Prometheus starts very slowly and it takes a while for things to start happening, they take their time to set up the story and give us some background on the characters, which is not so bad, but it could be more eventful. So, we take a break from the crew and we see what David (Michael Fassbender) is like, shall we?
As the crew sleeps, David, the android, hangs out by himself and we get a feeling that this is what Hal 9000 would be doing as well. You know, checking in on Foursquare, tweeting how sweaty and gross humans are and hacking in their Facebook accounts to see their private dreams. David, played adroitly by Michael Fassbender, is a unique character. Unlike previous incarnations of robots in the franchise, he’s jealous, arrogant, condescending and vain. Fassbender didn’t base his performance in the interpretations of Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen, rather he observed the robots from Blade Runner, David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth and the Olympic diver Greg Louganis. His time studying humans and history and Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia is fascinating. This is an interesting spin on the way androids are characterized in the Alien movies. He’s brilliant and full of flaws like many a man, but he has no soul, promises the decrepit Guy Pearce, as the Weyland honcho. We see the good old robot racism, but instead of being coldly understanding, the android is more of a provocateur. That’s really funny, since the concept of the android wasn’t in the first script, rather it was introduced by Walter Hill after many rewrites, and Dan O’Bannon, the original screen writer, was not on board with that storyline at all.
I didn’t care as much for the other characters, however Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw gives an energetic performance, a part that I’m not sure would suit the other actresses that were considered for it. Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Gemma Arterton, Carey Mulligan, and Abbie Cornish were at some point choices for the part.
Visually stunning, Prometheus promises more than it delivers, since Scott reaches for the roots of Alien, a very successful sci fi horror with unforgettable scares, but keeps us wondering most of the time in an ambiance that is not suspenseful enough nor scary enough to make this an authentic Alien prequel, instead, he chose to create philosophical debates about creation and destruction, the meaning of life (42) and God.
The movie ties up the space jockey loose end, created in the 1979 movie, at least. The original story was that space jockey was a pilot in a space carrier filled with Alien eggs that had the ability to drop them as bombs, so the creatures could find hosts and this ship would be inside a pyramid. — All these pieces of the puzzle are shown, but not explained and that happens a lot in this movie: a lot of show and no tell. I have way more questions now that I’ve seen the movie than before. It feels lazy to push the answers to a possible sequel, because at the end of the day you can tell if a movie is engaging or not by how long the experience feels and that’s what happens here.
The third act makes you coil back in your seat, but it doesn’t make you root for the good guys. It got to a point where I thought, if they all perish, I won’t miss them. On Alien, Ridley Scott proposed a fourth act where Ellen Ripley’s head would be devoured by the creature and I don’t think I could handle that after all that Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in a vigorous performance) went through, she had to make it. SHE HAD TO.
Prometheus comes with a lotta bang, an epic original score, but it lacks the long silence and that invisible sense of endangerment that was so well crafted in the best movies of the alienverse and you know what? I’d trade any visual feast for that claustrophobic feeling any day.