Ridley Scott’s recent Sci-Fi adventure, Prometheus, a distant prequel to the 1979 classic, Alien, offers a ‘profound’ exploration of the origin of the human species. The first half of the film kept me riddled with excitement for a chance to enter into unexplored territory, but ultimately the film was just too reminiscent of a film that was much more memorable. Prometheus has about a thirty-three year advantage in the special effects department, and with that I was easily dazzled by the visual style and presentation of the film. There were pretty lights, and futuristic contraptions that made me pay attention, but the humans wielding those contraptions are easily forgotten in the background. In the year 2089, we follow the titular spacecraft, “Prometheus” with a crew of several characters - a handful of which you’ll actually remember. Following drawings discovered on walls of ancient civilizations, scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) lead an expedition to discover our origins. Once they reach their destination, however, they find more questions than answers.
1. Where did we come from? Is the golden question of the film, and we spend most of the movie not getting the answer. We get a lot of hints, and speculate just as much as the main characters do. The mystery behind our origin is the motivation for the characters in charge, but not enough to motivate underlings such as the entertaining character, Fifield (Harris), a geologist who knows it’s time to GTFO when you stumble upon a ‘big dead body’. Almost blinded by their determination to find answers, the scientists ignore all warning signs and survival instincts triggering a series of events that prove to be fatal for most. After all the death and horror all we learn is the origin of the titular creature from Alien and, after thirty-three years, I could care less.
2. David is pretty damn interesting. The ‘synthetic human’ aboard “Prometheus”, David (Fassbander) is probably the most interesting character in the film. He is the first character the audience is introduced to, while the humans are in cryogenic slumber. Although his actions and dialogue are riddled with ambiguity, leaving a lot of room for interpretation, David has a large impact on the crew and mission at large. Not actually human, David supposedly lacks human emotion and has an edge over the rest of the crew in many situations. His agenda, although unclear, doesn’t go unnoticed by audiences and his feelings (although supposedly he has none) manifest in somewhat hostile interactions with Charlie Holloway. My personal favorite exchange: David “Why do you think your people made me?” Charlie Holloway “We made ya’ cause we could.” David “Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?” By far the most intriguing character.
3. Elizabeth Shaw is pretty bad-ass. Ripley, from the original Alien series is probably my favorite lead character to date. And when I first saw the trailers for Prometheus I was really excited to get a glimpse at what I thought were going to be two strong female leads. Meredith Vickers (Theron) unfortunately doesn’t leave a very strong impression. She is obviously a character seeking to have things under her control, but she ultimately fails at having any power at all. She comes off as some sort of villain, and isn’t given as much depth as there was potential to. The star of the film, and ultimate bad-ass is Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace). With a somewhat interesting background that would explain her lingering faith in some sort of God, she is the leading scientist on this quest - or so it seems. She’s one of the most observant and asks the questions that audiences might ask. Once pinned into a corner it becomes clear how far she’s willing to go to survive. It’s one of her survival scenes that definitely gets the audience to wince and then cheer for her will to live.
Ultimately we don’t learn that much in the end, but instead are given more questions to ponder over and the film even ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger. The more I saw and the more questions left unanswered actually left me excited for a possible sequel. It actually is great to see a Sci-Fi film that is attempting to explore new territory, and I wish Prometheus did more of that instead of backtracking to origins of the film, Alien. With a romance that doesn’t really provoke feeling and some plot-holes sprinkled about (such as the navigating geologist, Fifield, getting lost even though he has a layout of the entire structure), the film fails to reach the same height of awesomeness of the film it references. The sequel, according to co-writer Lindelof, “will tangentialize [sic] even further away from the original Alien." And that is something to be excited for.