Saturday, 9 June 2012
***** SPOILER WARNING – DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE *****
The enduring appeal of Prometheus may depend on how (and if) this movie is followed up by a sequel that answers all the open questions left at the end of this one.
The original 1979 movie, Alien, is an undisputed classic; good enough to have created a new species of sci-fi bursting from the tired chest of the genre, a thinking man’s sci-fi with a sweaty, gritty, working environment feel, albeit with a formulaic horror/thriller plot of potential victims stalked and slain down endless dark corridors, while others share an even worse fate: becoming hosts to a terrifying parasitic organism.
Thirty-three years after his original movie, director Ridley Scott, returns with a kind of indirect prequel that gives us into an insight into what came before the chest-bursting Xenomorphs and background into the origin of the Space Jockey. All the staples of the original movie are evident in Prometheus: the team of explorers landing on a barren world to investigate something they don’t have all the facts on; severe weather conditions assailing them as a precursor to the greater threat they’ll eventually face; searching down long dark corridors; creatures spewing corrosive blood when wounded.
Prometheus begins with a prologue sequence of a powerfully built alien humanoid standing atop a waterfall as an alien ship moves through the clouds above. He drinks a dark liquid that immediately affects a painful physical transformation. As his body shatters and bursts, he tumbles into the water and his DNA strands flow through the water, reconfiguring into a new life form. Like the proverbial Phoenix, his sacrifice results in birth of a new species: humans. The timescale then jumps to 2089. Archaeologists and lovers, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient cave drawings leading to a star map and other evidence that mankind was created by alien “Engineers”. An expedition is then funded by the elderly and frail Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and the couple find themselves aboard the vessel Prometheus with a team to investigate what may have invited them to the planet of LV-223. Another regular plot element comes in the form of android David (Michael Fassbender). The main difference being that the androids in the previous Alien movies were indistinguishable from the other characters until their true identities were purposely revealed during the course of the story. In Prometheus, David is conspicuously stiff and mechanical in his movements, cold and aloof in his exchanges, although he seems to have developed his own emotional responses through studying old movies; Lawrence of Arabia in particular, mimicking Peter O’Toole’s mannerisms, speech and hair style. David even displays pain at being reminded about his lack of humanity and soul. Another plot similarity occurs when the assumed invitation turns into something malevolent after they uncover the Engineers intention to wipe out the human race.
As a life-time fan of the Alien movies (with the exception of Alien Resurrection, released in 1997, which I hated and don’t own in my DVD collection), I’ve been asked if I like Prometheus and I do. I like it a lot … but with reservations about the seemingly intentional open-ended questions. That aside, cinematically Prometheus is a joy to watch, the special effects are seamless, performances are excellent and there are impressive set pieces, but the ending leaves too many loose ends hanging which would render the movie uneven without another sequel to fill in the blanks this one leaves.