Published June 07, 2012
Buckle up, because Ridley Scott has created a whole new beast (literally) with "Prometheus." Returning to the genre that skyrocketed his career with "Alien" and “Blade Runner,” Scott has fashioned a fascinating new mystery within his original "Alien" universe.
Not exactly a prequel to "Alien," "Prometheus" still shares many elements with the classic. "Prometheus" is all about origins; both our origins and those of the Space Jockey (which the crew of the Nostromo in “Alien" discover at the beginning of that film).
Fans of "Alien" will revel in the expanded history of this universe. Scott presents a whole new world, with so many new paths to venture down in possible future installments. Noomi Rapace is archeologist Elizabeth Shaw who, with her team, venture to an alien planet where she believes the origins of our species began among a race a human-like aliens.
Like "Alien," Scott spends a good portion of the film on atmospherics, introducing us to the ship Prometheus, the alien planet and the unsettling clues Shaw and her crew find. Scott and his team are smart to make "Prometheus" as much an archeological mystery as it is a creepy fright-fest.
As the mystery compounds, Scott creates an unsettling atmosphere where nobody is safe. One scene in the Prometheus medical bay is memorably unpleasant. Some of the H.R. Giger's organic-styled set designs from "Alien" make a welcome return, complimenting the eeriness of the film. Unfortunately, the creatures (and there are plenty) are all CGI, losing the realistic sliminess and ferocity of the models used in earlier films.
"Prometheus" is written by Jon Spaihts and "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof, and like “Lost,” Lindelof starts the story off like a tangled ball of yarn which then unravels over the course of the film. Similarly, there are a dozen or so questions left unanswered by film’s end.
Michael Fassbender gives a chilling performance as the android David. He is cold, calculating, often sinister, but always engaging. There’s a also a cool correlation in the film between his character and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).
The rest of the crew are expendable cookie-cutter characters. There are obvious layers to Charlize Theron's character (a representative from the Weyland Corporation who oversees the entire expedition) which are sadly never developed.
Another disappointment is the casting of Guy Pearce, who is distractingly unbelievable as the nearly 100 year-old Peter Weyland, the head of the company financing the exploration. While Pearce is an excellent actor, the age makeup is bad. Scott should have cast an age-appropriate actor.
Scott has given us a fresh story from seeds already planted in "Alien." With "Prometheus," he keeps us guessing to the end.