“Big things have small beginnings,” so sayeth the android David (an exceptional Michael Fassbender) partway through Prometheus, a big-budget blockbuster from master filmmaker Ridley Scott. The line refers to something found on an alien planet that sets in motion terrifying events that escalate for the men and women aboard a spaceship sent to locate the possible creators of our world; it’s also a knowing wink to an audience wondering whether or not what they’re watching is a prequel to Alien, the defining film of the sci-fi-horror subgenre. There is definitely some shared DNA between the two, and there is a somewhat unnecessary coda that more or less gives you an answer about the connection between the two properties. Connections (or lack of connections) aside, this movie stands on its own and certainly tries to set itself up as an independent potential new franchise. Alien was terrifying in its calmness and quiet, Prometheus attempts to elicit scares by using increasingly bigger action scenes and gore.
It’s hard to get too far into detailing the plot without entering spoiler territory – the less you know before entering the theater, the better. The spaceship Prometheus is sent to a planet located galaxies away where scientists Shaw (Noomi Rapace, the woman of faith) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, the man of science) believe they will find the secrets of mankind’s creation. They’ve been bankrolled by Weyland Industries, whose icy representative (Charlize Theron) is on board to oversee the mission. Upon exploration of the foreign planet the crew encounters horrors it didn’t anticipate. They should’ve been warned, “be careful what you uncover.”
Prometheus is, above all else, an expertly crafted and visually marvelous thrill ride. The set designs, makeup and special effects are all top-notch (expect a slew of technical achievement Oscar nominations next year). It was shot in 3D but the added dimension doesn’t detract from the experience like it usually does. The actors are serviceable enough, but Theron and especially Fassbender make the biggest impression. The script was co-written by “Lost” mastermind Damon Lindelof and that series’ uncontainable sense of wonder can be felt here, but unfortunately the lack of many definitive answers also carries over. There’s some grand ambition in its ideas and scope, but that ambition doesn’t always pay off.
I think Prometheus is a good film, but there’s a bit of disconnect between the first half of the movie and the second, when it becomes more of a loud and intense (and sometimes disgusting) thriller and abandons the real search for the big answers proposed near the start. It’s nice to see Ridley Scott revisit science fiction (his first film in the genre since Blade Runner in 1982) - the director knows how to fit the technical pieces together to create an eye-popping spectacle. It will definitely entertain audiences, so long as you can stomach a little gore and some slimy creepy-crawly creatures.
Prometheus Full Trailer 2