prometheus poster2012

Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Directed By: Ridley Scott

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Arriving on an almost unprecedented wave of anticipation, Prometheus marked director Ridley Scott’s long awaited return to science fiction and to the franchise he created: Alien.  While it rather predictably falls short of that iconic film, Prometheus still delivers a fascinating exploration into the origin of man.

Set in 2093, Prometheus follows the crew of the titular ship as they arrive at an unexplored planet hinted at by ancient remains on Earth to contain the answers to mankind’s existence. The two archaeologists heading the mission hope to meet their makers and discover the meaning of their life and existence. Everyone else aboard just wants to go home and get paid. Yet when Prometheus touches down on this faraway world it is immediately clear that an advanced alien civilization was here. It is also clear that something is very, very wrong.

What follows is two hours of serious minded, immaculately crafted science fiction, with a few elements of horror sprinkled in for good measure. Unfortunately it also treads perilously close to over-familiarity. Does any of this sound familiar? A rag tag crew of bickering working stiffs land on barren planet. They explore. Things go very bad, very quickly. There is a storm. Members of the crew are compromised by unknown life forms. There is a shadowy corporation. There is an android of questionable morality. There is even a moment where a female commander refuses an unwell crewmember access to the ship for fear of breaking quarantine. So far, so Alien.

In many ways, it’s a shame that Prometheus is part of the Alien universe at all. Not because it is bad in any way (it isn’t) but because this forced over-familiarity distracts somewhat from its own considerable strengths. Firstly there is the art design, the same jaw-droppingly bleak architecture and bio-organic technology that made Alien such a grim wonder to behold. There are some great performances too, from Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and most of all Michael Fassbender as the unsettlingly calm android David.

There are also a number of standout sequences and though the film never achieves the same unbearable tension of Alien (or the same unrelenting pace of Aliens), a scene that takes the concept of alien impregnation to its logical, horrible conclusion will certainly stick with you.

Prometheus comes out of the gate with a few big ideas about humanity, god and creation but unfortunately a lot of this left on the backburner when the crew touches down and an Alien infatuation takes over. Ultimately, a serious case of identity crisis keeps Prometheus from scaling the same heights as the film it so accurately apes. Yet, taken on its own terms, it is a smart, sophisticated and downright gorgeous slice of hard science fiction that isn’t afraid to ask a few big questions – even if it never exactly answers them.

★★★

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