OK, fellow geeks, you can exhale. Prometheus is a very good movie.
For many years, director Ridley Scott has been teasing about returning to the land of the xenomorph, the fierce franchise he started back in 1979 with his masterpiece Alien. There was talk about a sequel with Sigourney Weaver where Earthlings go to the place where the acid-for-blood bastards originated, and other plot ideas bandied about.
A few years ago, it was announced that Scott would be working on not one, but two Alien films to be shot in 3-D. Then, of course, the news came that he would only be doing one for the time being, and it might not really be an Alien film after all.
So, for the last year or so, fanboys and fangirls alike have been dying to know: Is Prometheus an Alien film and, more specifically, is it a prequel to the original Alien?
Well, Prometheus has landed, and it couldn’t be more of a prequel to Alien than it is. I actually see it as a prequel to a prequel. Scott has taken a new, more cerebral approach to the universe he began, and has thrown in a big, heaping tablespoon of speculative theology. His Prometheus dares to ask big questions of the Alien movie universe, bigger questions than “What will the xenomorph kill next, and will it be a man in a suit or CGI?”
The film opens with what appears to be a “dawn of man” sequence. While Scott has claimed in recent interviews that Prometheus shares DNA with his Alien, I declare that it also shares a little with Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in that it asks big, broad questions about human beings and their place in the universe.
From man’s beginning, we jump to the future, where scientist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) has discovered a cave drawing that appears to be one of many invites from the “engineers of the universe,” calling us to come visit them. Jump ahead again to Shaw in cryo-sleep on the ship Prometheus, on her way to distant planet for a possible rendezvous with the gods, courtesy of Weyland Corporation (the same corporation that built the Nostromo, Ripley’s ship in Alien).
Other characters aboard the ship include Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), Shaw’s cocky fellow scientist and lover, Vickers (Charlize Theron), Commander of Prometheus, and, most notably, David (Michael Fassbender) a spooky android occupying himself with basketball and Lawrence of Arabia while the crew members sleep.
Everybody wakes up, they land near something that looks like a manmade temple, and things start happening. Some of these things are the type of body horror violence that we have come to expect from the Alien series, especially from Ridley “Chest-Burster” Scott. I can report that the film, on top of being visually stunning and intellectually challenging, has its share of squirm-inducing, stomach-churning moments.
I think there will be a strong faction of people who are disappointed with this film because it isn’t a prototypical Alien film. Some people will want to see the same-old, same-old. Scott is shooting for something new and wonderful with this one, and he succeeds—for the most part.
The film is saddled with a few uninteresting supporting characters that do nothing to enhance the movie and are simply cannon fodder. And it does feature its share of possible logistical goofs that fanboys will gnaw at like morsels of meat left on the communal bone.
Of the performances, it is Fassbender’s that resonates the most. The Alien franchise has featured both good and bad androids, and David is a crazy, creepy mix of both. He’s a lot of fun to watch and just a little bit scary. Rapace brings a sweet power to the role of Shaw, delivering work that requires a lot of emotional and physical torment. She would fare well in a cage match with Ripley.
I have my own theory as to how the end of this movie could get us closer to explaining the events that take place in Alien. I could be totally wrong, but until there’s another installment, the whole thing plays out a certain way in my head … and I love it.