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