Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I first saw previews for Prometheus while I was at the theater to see The Hunger Games and I couldn't have been more excited about seeing this film. The trailer was done ala Aliens with no vocals, only flashes of scenes set to spooky Alien background music. My first thought was that this was an Aliens rip-off, but then I learned that this film was being toted as a prequel of sorts. I couldn't wait for Prometheus to make its way to theaters to see Ridley Scott's return to the franchise he started all those years ago.
The movie stars Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw, an archaeologist searching for the creators of mankind. Along with her lover and fellow archaeologist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), the two have uncovered an interesting similarity between cave drawings and other works of art from varying civilizations throughout time. While each one seems different, they all contain a similar element - one that depicts mans' worship of larger beings presumably from a solar system depicted in exactly the same way in all of the artwork.
Lacking the funding and resources to investigate this solar system, the archaeologists find an interesting ally in Peter Weyland, founder of the Weyland Corporation. He funds the journey to the only solar system matching the artwork found by Shaw and Holloway in hopes that they and the scientists he has sent with them can find some answers about the origins of humankind. Leading the group aboard the vessel known as Prometheus is Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a tough as nails corporate woman with little regard toward the theory that humankind was created by another species of beings. The expedition also features an android named David (Michael Fassbender), created by Weyland himself as a surrogate son of sorts. He watches over the scientists and crew on this journey, but you can tell right away that David has another agenda.
As the scientists land on the remote moon known as LV-223, they soon discover that all they believed about the creation of mankind may be correct...but with a twist. That which has been created can be destroyed and from all the evidence, it would seem that the very creators were running from something terrifying to them that eventually wiped most of them out. But what could it be and what effect could it have on mankind?
Now, I am used to Ridley Scott films never coming directly to the point and being a bit drawn out at the beginning. That being said, it was no problem for me to sit through the seemingly strange actions of the android, David, as he wandered through the ship, learning languages of ancient civilizations, exercising, watching movies and the like. I knew that would all be explained later. But I could sense the audience around me wiggling in their seats wondering, "What the heck?" All in due time, I thought. The real action and science fiction special effects don't take place until the Prometheus lands on the moon. I could sense the excitement building in the audience, but I had to remind myself that, being a Ridley Scott film, this was also a thinking man's movie and the main theme was bound to be in the little stuff, not the huge action sequences.
Once the scientists enter the creator's lair, things begin to get interesting. Mysteriously, David can decipher the strange alien writing on the walls and somehow activate their technology, opening doors and allowing the expedition to enter areas in the lair they would never have gotten to on their own. My theory at this is that, by studying all of the ancient civilizations' languages, David was able to find the similarities between them and the creator's language. After all, the earliest civilizations should have a very similar dialect to that of their creators, right? The holographic images of the past are a little confusing, but you eventually realize that the creators are trying to tell whoever enters their lair something...something very important...a warning, if you will.
Now, one would expect the movie to start moving forward very quickly after the scientists encounter some inexplicable, and often deadly mutations, but things still move a bit slowly. It is only when one of those mutations ends up in their midst do things start to get interesting, but even then...well, the movie is simply not as scary as it was marketed to be. There are a lot of special effects that are quite interesting and probably look amazing when viewed in the 3D format of this film. However, the suspense and terror that are the crux of the Alien franchise are just not there. I was not spooked at all. There was no gripping scene where I found myself jumping in my seat as something popped out at me. And as I looked around the theater, I could see the same was true for the rest of the audience.
I was right about the thinking man's journey through this movie. There are definitely some underlying messages thrown in by Ridley Scott as to why our creators might have wanted to destroy us and why the Prometheus beacon warning away from the planet would have instead drawn the Weyland Corporation back to the source in Alien, though I find it strange that the planet from that movie is different than the moon they land on in this one. Perhaps Ash had orders to investigate other planets in the region when he brought the Nostromo down on LV-426.
To say more about this film will be to give things away for those who still want to see it. I won't ruin the film for our readers and so, I will only say that I went in to the theater excited to see Prometheus and left it rather flat. While Noomi Rapace is no Sigourney Weaver, I never expected her to be, so I wasn't disappointed there. In fact, I think she player her part extremely well, though I wonder how believable some of the action sequences will be considering what she goes through. Charlize Theron is mostly an ice queen in this film, definitely not likeable and most will be cheering her fate by the end of their journey. As for the rest of the characters, they never really get fleshed out enough for you to like them or even care about their fate. I will say that Michael Fassbender does an impressive job as an unfeeling, knowledge-seeking android. Not enough to carry the movie, I'm afraid.
I'm not exactly sure what it was I was expecting out of this film, but I sure wasn't expecting to leave it disappointed. I waited until the very end of the credits, so I, unlike some of the folks who appeared to be in a rush to leave, saw the extra scene which serves to explain future events. I also got to see a side joke thrown in at the very end of the credits that only true fans of the franchise will actually get. Although the movie did have some merit in the special effects department and in the thinking man's plot, Prometheus really didn't wow me the way it should have. This is one of those films that only diehard fans or those who may never have seen any of the Alien films and are looking for some cool special effects should bother going to.