Movie review: A 2nd look at Prometheus

We promised it, and Prideaux delivers. Here’s an alternative look at Prometheus – which do you agree with more?

In the late 21st century, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus mounts a scientific expedition to the far reaches of space to discover the origins of humanity. Funded by the Weyland Corporation, the crew quickly discover that some questions are better left unanswered.

So. We’ve all seen the Guy Pearce TED video, and Michael Fassbender exciting women everywhere by putting himself on sale. After all the hype, is Prometheus worth waiting for, and is it an Alien prequel? Yes and no, and kind of.

As befitting a Sir Ridley Scott movie, the scale and scope are epic and the imagery is quite simply stunning at times. Prometheus grapples with weighty issues of existence, God, humanity and why, who and what we are. But after posing immense questions and tantalizing us with various disparate elements, the answers do not quite add up. While some of the questions
were deliberately left open (sequel alert!), Prometheus stumbles towards an uneven, messy and ultimately dissatisfying ending.

The opening sequence leaves your jaw stuck to the ground, where it will remain for much of the movie. Scott brings us right to the roots of human existence, the camera literally delving beneath the skin to show the building blocks of humanity being torn apart. ‘Majestic’ does not even begin to describe the eye candy on display, as the director of Alien and Blade Runner outdoes himself.

The mystery draws you in from the start and only deepens, and the tension builds and builds as the scientists begin to realise the full extent of what they are facing. To reveal any more at this point would be to give too much away, but suffice to say that the riddle of the space jockey from the original Alien is (almost) unraveled.

But as with many Scott movies, visual effects come at the cost of characterization. Other than the android David (Fassbender), corporate soul sucker – or is she? – Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and woman of faith Dr Lisbeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), the rest of the crew are essentially ciphers. Even an actor as good as Idris Elba is consigned to the somewhat folksy role of captain Janek, though he does have one vital expository line. The rest of the crew might as well carry signs labeled “CANNON
FODDER” or “PLOT DEVICE”, for all the good they do.

Ultimately, it is Fassbender who steals the show with a remarkable performance as a man pretending to be human. Posture ramrod stiff and with a perpetual ghostly smile, you can almost feel the chill every time he appears on screen. His performance is reminiscent of Jude Law’s cyborg in AI: Artificial Intelligence, minus the charm or charisma, but with a much more sinister air. And in the grand tradition of Alien movies, the exceedingly creepy android is inevitably more than what he appears to be.

Verdict: Scott is still a science fiction god, Fassbender is headed for an Oscar at the rate he is going, and as new Ripleys go, Rapace falls far short.

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