Prometheus June 10, 2012
By Paul Peters Everywhere Man
If you don’t like science in your science fiction, skip Prometheus. Director Ridley Scott takes the script by Spaihts and Lindelof and turns it into a visual masterpiece with perfect pitch and timing. I have even read it described as “eye-gasmic.” This is not Aliens, or down the franchise chain of Predator vs. Alien. Those movies have a place in the world, some closer to my heart than others. This movie is science fiction and not the horror/gore/action blend of recent years. It is thought provoking and fast paced.
The origin of the species and the hope for divinity in mankind is the central theme to the movie. Darwin tells us about evolution, about survival, about the adaptability of organisms. As we trace that back to the start we ask how did these first cells arrive on the planet earth. One group will tell you that it was chance encounter between an object in space and the perfect conditions of a planet cooling off. Others might tell you that there was a divine intervention that made all of these things possible to align in just the right conditions. This story tells us that there was a plan by alien beings that planted the building blocks of life on the planet. Have I spoiled the movie for you? No, we are just about to hit the opening credits.
By the time our two scientist Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holms: Game of Shadows and Lisbeth Salander from the original Millinuim series) and Charlie Halloway, played by Logan Marshall-Green, are able to identify the theory of what has happened and support it with enough evidence to the super rich and super powerful Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce (Memento and L.A. Confiedntial) he is on the verge of death. Much of the story takes place on the trillion dollar spacecraft Prometheus paid for by Weyland. It’s custodian is David, played by Michael Fassbender, a cyborg, that looks after it’s crew asleep for two years in transit and studies multiple languages so that they can be best prepared for anyone they may meet. He looks and acts much like a young Peter ‘OToole in Lawrence of Arabia, David’s favorite movie.
When the 17 member crew of the Prometheus arrive in proximity of the destination they are awakened from sleep and told why they have been hired for this secretive and expensive gamble. They are there to find “the engineers”, the beings believed to have created or designed life on earth. On survey of the planet they discover earthed berms reminiscent of Mayan temples lost to the ages. Exploring one of these temples reveals the remains of alien corpses and canisters preserved over the last 3,000 years.
Shaw and Halloway are split on the findings of their long relationship as colleagues and lovers. Shaw is optimistic that they will discover more in time, while Halloway wanted to meet and talk with the engineers to ask “why” questions.
David is under other orders. Tensions and mystery remains unanswered between David, the keeper of the ship, and Meredith Vickers, played by Charlize Theron, who is the corporate representative on board the ship.
Two of the crew have stayed inside the temple over night resulting in a scene that has not made me cringe so much since Star Trek 2 the Wrath of Khan when “they put creatures in our ears captain.” On a return for exploration the nature of this place “being filled with death” becomes quickly apparent for the entire crew.
There are wonderful moments that call back to the 1979 movie “Alien” Scott directed. Questions that have been carried by other great characters like Dr. Eldon Tyrell and Roy Batty in Blade Runner are explored with careful detail here. The movie is beautiful in look based on H.R. Geiger’s (http://www.hrgiger.com/ ) original drawings. The action moves with the plot and is not just there for effects. There are some spots that have gore, but nothing near the levels of the recent blood fests of the “Saw” franchise. There is a scene that made me cover my eyes on several occasions, and just when I thought it was over jumped from my seat one more time.
I paid $20 for a Sunday matinee in the IMAX 3D theater here in Toronto. So my question is always was is worth the price of admission. The answer is a resounding, Yes! But this movie is not for everyone. I think it’s best appreciated by those with a little background in movies. So for homework I would assign that you watch a few things before seeing this movie: Lawrence of Arabia, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Blade Runner (1982), and the videos that came in the last year to promote the movie especially: http://blog.ted.com/ted2023/
Will you like the movie without this homework? Is it good on face value? Yes, you will. This is a solid stand-alone story with one of the best moviemakers of our time at the helm. But don’t expect to see the space battles of Star Wars. This is not standing on the bridge of the Enterprise debating ethics. This is the recently departed Ray Bradbury dystopia of “Fahrenheit 451” where the world we think we know, the history we want to believe, the people who wield power and greatness, are all turned on their heads and we ask ourselves what we truly believe and why. Who made those aliens that made us? Was it a divine power? Was it the chance mixing of organisms? What will result from our own discovery and experiments?