By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, and Logan Marshall-Green
Ten minutes into Prometheus, a title floats across the screen telling us, the audience, that we are approximately 77 years into the future (2089) and in Scotland. Well, that title might as well have said ‘Scott-land.’ Because, after 30 years of being away from the genre of dark science fiction that many claim he created, director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) is back! And, with Prometheus, he has crafted a film that may be the most intense, beautifully shot film of his career. That’s right folks. With a startling performance from Ripley-in-training Rapace (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) some mysterious off-putting characters lurking in the background & darkness (Theron’s Meredith Vickers), and scenery chewing wizardry, Prometheus visually, was all I expected coming in and more. But, did the script (by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindeloff) live up to the visuals at hand?
One cannot talk about Prometheus for more than 2 minutes without mentioning the visuals. And, after three decades of being away from the ever tricky game of dark sci-fi, you can truly tell that Scott is relishing in what he has created. The film is in an ever evolving shade of yellow, blue, green, and red color schemes. And, only Scott could weave these schemes in the way of storytelling that is involved with this type of dark fantasy. For example, after more than an hour of being in the background, Vickers is eventually front & center and caked in blue light, and this is obviously Scott’s way of saying now you have to pay attention. And Theron (just coming off Snow White and the Huntsman, one of my surprising favorites of the year so far) once again brings her A-game. She pulls this tricky role off in a masterful way, because while she stands stoically most of the film, she eventually utters the word ‘sincerely,’ and you really don’t know whether to believe her or not. Which keeps her motivations a complete mystery until the very end.
Speaking of motivations, I was not too keen on just how unclear some characters in this films’ motivations truly were. And I think that harkens back to the script. Spaihts and Lindeloff seem to be so taken aback by the opportunity to craft this unofficial prequel to the Alien saga, they have forgotten what made it so memorable to begin with. Without going into detail on who, it was real tough to pinpoint what was truly driving some characters to do some of the things they do, and it was frustrating at times to figure them out. Another problem I had with the film in general is that Marshall-Green and Rapaces’ characters’ relationship was very poorly handled. In a way, I understand the whole dynamic the writers were trying to create with making Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) the believer and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) the skeptic who doesn’t want to believe. After all, this is part of what made the X-Files so successful. But I really didn’t believe them as a couple and their storyline felt like a ham handed way to add a love story into the mix.
This is not to say the performances in the film were bad, however. While I already delved into Theron, it was pretty remarkable how Fassbender plays the android character of David. For some reason, he reminded me of the way Haley Joel-Osmond played his role (which coincidently is also named David) in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. He was matter of fact, but at the same time innocent in a way. And, I really dug the way he inflects, and keeps his deliveries dry when needed. I also liked what Elba (Thor, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance) brought to the role of Janek, captain of the Prometheus ship. He was a very welcome presence, and brought some much needed humor into the mix. However, if Prometheus proves anything, it’s that Scott was right to cast Rapace as the is-she-or-isn’t-she-the-new-Ripley Elizabeth Shaw. After watching her in 2009’s original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was immediately intrigued with this casting decision. And, truth be told, she is excellent in this role. Once again, without giving too much away, Rapace has to go through a lot of intense scenes here, and the way in which she pulls them off, coupled with the way she can do things such as make her lip quiver and utter the shakiest of voices in extreme close-ups, made me, more than anything, root for her character of Shaw. I look forward to seeing more of what Ms. Rapace can do in the future.
Going into a 3D screening, even after all the talk of how good it looks, I was a bit skeptical. But, once again Scott brings the goods, and I heavily enjoyed how he visually pulls the story off. However, the big question going in was: just how much of the original ‘Alien DNA’ does this movie contain? Sorry, Amigos. I am not going to divulge that here. What I will say, is that Prometheus melds perfectly into the Alien universe that it so gallantly claims to be a part of. While not overt, Prometheus, in my mind, will please fans of Alien, as it gives enough small hoots and whistles to those that love that first film which Scott directed all those years ago. But, what about the rest of the crowd? I honestly think there are enough chills and seat clinching thrills to keep them entertained as well. In fact, there were a couple spots that even though you were expecting them, still throw you for intense, nail biting loops! Scott has done so well with the way he has directed Prometheus that you feel at any time within the course of even a two-shot (just a scene of two actors talking in the same frame), literally anything could happen. In the end, I would definitely recommend Prometheus. Yes, there were some major issues with the script. Yes, it could have used a bit more doctoring. But, with Walter Hill and David Giler once again producing a Ridley Scott film (the first time this has happened since the first Alien film in 1979), I feel Prometheus will stand the test of time much like Scott’s original has. And, if this film is successful, who knows? As David utters at one point in the film, “big things, have small beginnings.”
4.5 out of 5