Prometheus: The epic sci-fi blockbuster we’ve all been waiting for

by Michael Clancy

Science-fiction since the 1970’s owes a lot to Sir Ridley Scott. Without his visions of future worlds in Alien and Blade Runner, modern sci-fi might be quite different, as he influenced generations of film-makers and audiences. Scott’s return to sci-fi has been a long time coming, thirty years in the making. Prometheus marks, not only his return to the genre, but also his return to the universe of Alien which he helped to create in 1979.

Make no mistake, Prometheus is very much an Alien prequel, despite Scott and Damon Lindelof’s claims to the contrary. Do not fear, this is not a prequel of The Phantom Menace variety, seeking to provide back-story that no fan asked for (midi-chlorians anyone?), and sucking up all sense of wonderment and mystery created by unanswered questions. Instead Scott has tried to provide some answers to questions raised by Alien, while also creating new mysteries to ponder.

Following their discovery of a star map in a prehistoric cave, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) head an expedition, funded by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and the shadowy Weyland Corporation, to a distant planet in search of answers to the question of humankind’s origins. But, what they find there could lead to the extinction of all life on Earth. The plot is mainly concerned with shedding light on the mysterious space jockey and derelict space-craft from Alien, details which have been the source of much fan debate and speculation since the film’s 1979 release.

Rapace shines as the religious archaeologist Shaw, providing a captivating emotional performance for the audience to get behind, as she questions and struggles to maintain her faith in the face of horror and adversity. Rapace creates her own reluctant hero, who manages to stay out of the shadow of Sigourney Weaver’s legendary Ellen Ripley. Charlize Theron brings an air of menace to the role of Meredith Vickers, the corporate representative with questionable motives. It is Michael Fassbender, however, who eclipses all as the creepy android David. An innocent artificial intelligence, whose quest of knowledge, may lead him and the crew down a terrifying path. His performance is reminiscent of Ian Holm’s turn as Ash in Alien.

Prometheus is visually stunning. A lengthy pre-production phase has resulted in highly detailed craft and sets. Fans of Alien’s unique visual style will be pleased to learn that H.R. Giger was brought in as a consultant, and also provided a mural which is used in one scene. Scott filmed Prometheus in 3D, but his use of 3D is intended to immerse the viewer rather than entertain and shock.

Scott manages to craft an epic space blockbuster, tempered with subtle chills and thought-provoking questions. While providing some answers regarding tantalizing elements from Alien, he manages to maintain a sense of mystery, and creates new questions which send the franchise in an exciting new direction.

Image source: EW

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4 thoughts on “Prometheus: The epic sci-fi blockbuster we’ve all been waiting for

  1. I was really looking forward to see it, but I left the cinema quite disappointed. While it truly is visually stunning (and I love the music theme), it lacks character.
    First of all, Alien was scary – it was a sci-fi horror film, while this one – not really. The main character is good, David too.

    The captain is just a shade of Nostromo’s, and he (with two other guys) didn’t really convinced me about their suicide mission (yay! let’s blow up ourselves! you pay me on the other side… kaboom!).

    And the two guys that got lost in the ship (yay! let’s be dumb and funny, let’s get lost – even with hi-tech area scanning devices and map at hand – and die trying to pet some dangerously-looking snakelike creature for no reason).

    The air is breathable here? Good, remove helmets and don’t mind possible extraterrestial germs and such.

    The aborted monster looks like a calamari, then it turns into a giant octopus. (ever wondered how they actually gain mass without eating anything? the same mystery since Alien 1).

    The last thing aches me mostly – I really hoped the alien ship from Alien IS the one in the film (I hoped for some nice story synergy). Sadly, it’s a different ship 😦

    Even if I sound too negative, I enjoyed the film (and the wine). It’s good they went with new storyline, so maybe in Prometheus:3 we will find some answers.

    • You make some good points. I especially like the one about the creatures gaining mass without eating anything.
      I love how it has completely split fans down the middle and created a lot of debate and discussion. It’s what all good cinema should do.
      With regards to them removing their helmets though, rather than it being a glaring discrepancy I think this ties into the theme of faith in the film. Holloway and Shaw are the first characters to remove their helmets after acknowledging that it’s a stupid thing to do. Faith is a huge part of their motivation for seeking out the engineers, so i think the risk they take in removing their helmets speaks volumes about their character and motivation.
      I really hope Ridley Scott gets to make a sequel, and answer some of the questions rasied in the film.

  2. Thanks Steven. I agree, too many reviewers are caught up with comparing it to Alien. While it pales in comparison to Alien, the point is that it stands on it’s own as a terrific sci-fi film with a lot of new and original ideas.

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