Prometheus: A Movie Worth Seeing
[Editor’s Note: It is Summer Movie Season, we warned you this might happen about the consistency of what articles get published after what happened with The Avengers. The Steven Seagal movie reviews are being worked on, our writer ASSURES us this is the case but don’t be surprised when the next article you read is for Dark Knight Rises since our knucklehead just got his tickets for that reserved. Still, this article might be one of the more evenhanded reviews you are going to read on this blog so enjoy!]
I’ve watched a lot of movies in my short lifetime. Many of those have been in the category of Science Fiction. Now when I talk about Science Fiction, I am not talking the fantastical Lucas or Frank Hebert derived Space Opera. I am talking about hard Science Fiction along the lines of Arthur C. Clarke or Carl Sagan. Hell even Gene Roddenberry gave us a better hard Science Fiction than George Lucas ever could. I bring the subject of “Hard Science Fiction” up because I recently saw Prometheus and I really think it might be the best Hard Science Fiction movie I’ve watched since Stanley Kubrick adopted Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to film. Director Ridley Scott has put forth a movie that asks the question “If you could confront your creator and ask him ‘what was the purpose in making man?’, what do you think his answer would be?”. More importantly, what if God’s answer is not only not what you expect but actually the exact antithesis of what you expect?
The biggest confusion about Prometheus, from the start of its concept to its final production, is whether or not it is in fact a direct prequel to Scott’s 1979 Science Fiction Horror masterpiece, Alien. There is not an easy answer to this question, because an easy answer is never “possibly”. What Scott and writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof have crafted is a movie that tackles the topics of the evolution of man, religion and God while leaving a message that just because Man has questions about his origins, does not mean that the answers he will find are what he wants nor will they be particularly palatable. In fact the answers to the questions of the origins of life are utterly horrific and may lead to even more penetrating questions that you really shouldn’t want the answers to either.
Even the title of the movie, Prometheus, is an allusion, using the Greek myth of the tormented Titan to draw comparison to. The irony is that in the myth of Prometheus, it is Prometheus alone who is punished for giving the gift of fire to mankind. The movie essentially shows the consequences of what would have happened if Zeus not only punished Prometheus for the gift of fire but determined that simply for having fire, mankind had to be destroyed. To put it in more Judeo-Christian terms for everyone, there is a reason one should not look upon the face of God and then expect to come away from the experience unscathed. Hell, Raiders of The Lost Ark taught us the supernatural consequences for this course of action so it only makes sense that Prometheus shows the scientific reason for why gazing upon God’s visage is beyond a bad idea.
The movie itself is what you want from Ridley Scott returning to the genre of film that made us take notice of him. The fact that H.R. Giger returns to the universe of Alien definitely gives a somewhat sense of thematic cohesion from a design standpoint. The interior shots are vast yet still give off a certain cramped and claustrophobic feeling just like they were on the Nostromo in Alien. The exterior shots are amazing and beautiful at first and as the movie progresses the elements turn the planet against the protagonists of the film. Hell everything turns against the protagonists of the film simply because you cannot expect Ridley Scott to make a thematic prequel to Alien and have things go smoothly. I mean shit, this isn’t a Hayao Miyazaki family movie, you haven’t come to watch Tonari no Totoro, there has to be conflict or else Scott would have made the dullest Science Fiction movie since Contact.
Let’s get the story of the movie out of the way. The Cliff Notes version is this, Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall Green) use cave paintings to theorize that mankind may have in fact been the result of aliens manipulating DNA, seeding the planet and then leaving. All the cave paintings are spread across the Earth and all are from different time periods, but all show the same pattern on them. This actually turns out to be a star map, pointing to where our possible alien creators came from. Shaw has named these creators “Engineers”. Using the information Shaw and Holloway get financial backing from Weyland Industries to send the scientific vessel Prometheus to a moon located in the star system the maps all point to. The ship is manned and monitored by CEO Peter Weyland’s (Guy Pearce) personal android David (Michael Fassbender) for the 2 year journey. The meat of the movie is about what the crew of the Prometheus find on the surface LV-233. It is about how when you scratch the surface of the riddle of man’s existence, nothing good will come of it. The revelations come rapidly. Who the Engineers are, what their connection to Earth and humanity is and what their ultimate plan for mankind actually is. No, you will not get those answers from me, for that you need to go watch the movie. All I will say is The Engineers are awfully harsh for being such terrible absent parents.
The story for Prometheus is fascinating yet chilling as more and more questions get answered. The acting is excellent, with Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender really hitting it out of the park. Fassbender really is on the verge of being a huge star at this point based on this and his performance as Magneto in X-Men: First Class last year. He plays the android David, a being that is devoid of emotions, with a certain naivete at times and yet a certain eerieness in others. The thing is his expression remains utterly neutral and his behavior patterns only ever change in the slightest bit. Everything Fassbender does in his portrayal of David is pure body language and Fassbender is just amazing in that regard. Noomi Rapace gives yet another amazingly physical performance, like she did in The Millennium Trilogy. She really sells pain and desperation exceedingly well. The rest of the cast is solid, with Idris Elba being a fun character in the Captain of the Prometheus, Janek. Elba plays the character with an American Southern drawl, which doesn’t sound natural but isn’t exactly jarring either. I’ll praise Guy Pearce’s performance but I’m not going to tell you why exactly. When you see what was done to him you just might double take. Yes, all you Alien fans you will get what you came for but you have to be patient. This is not a movie for those of you wanting instant gratification. Ridley Scott and company make you wait for the payoff for why you came to this movie and they make you want it bad.
Prometheus is an excellent film and definitely makes up for my disappointment with The Avengers. There are parts that fill you with wonder and parts that may terrify you. It is every away mission on an episode of Star Trek gone horribly wrong and no, that isn’t backhanded praise in the slightest. It is a movie that questions whether man should even venture into deep space for answers to the myriad of questions we, as a naturally inquisitive species, all have. Its moral, however, is that all finding the answers to your questions does is beget more questions and the overall curse of humanity is that we just don’t know when to stop searching for answers, no matter how truly frightening those answers might be.