FILM REVIEW: Prometheus – Ridley Scott’s alien Redux

 

In the prologue to Prometheus a humanoid creature meets its fate on the backdrop of  what we presume is primordial Earth or some other alien Arcadia. It is a scene of pictorial elegy and metaphysical mystery which as it turns out is not to be answered in the ensuing two hours. Instead it virtually assures a sequel  to Ridley Scott’s prequel to the Alien tetralogy. Prometheus ends with a beginning and Sir Ridley, who is in a revisiting mood (he has also announced a follow-up to his other sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Rumnner)  has all but confirmed  that there’s more Alien to come. For the moment he returns us to the accursed planet  where over 30 years ago Lt. Ripley and her crew  ill advisedly retrieved their alien biological specimen. This time its a different crew that alights on the planetoid moon and a  different vessel  that gets them there:  the Prometheus,  so named in case anyone should miss the mythological reference to the Titan who defied the Gods and was eternally punished for it. His folly has obviously rubbed off on the scientific crew of his namesake starship whose mission is no less to meet humanity’s makers (based on hieroglyph decoding in several archeological digs back home). The premise in other words is straight out of  an episode of  In Search Of…, but against all odds the film survives the weighty ambition of its eschatological overreach about man’s place in the universe and delivers a high energy sci-fi movie that we predict will enter the annals of science fiction alongside its predeccessors. This is in large part due to the great performances of  its central characters played by NoomiRapace and  Michael Fassbender and to the filmmaking talent of Scott himself who manages in this time of serial reboots, sequels and spinoffs to deliver a near perfect prequel. Prometheus is actually somewhere between a prequel and a straightforward remake with its endangered crew fighting for survival  in the cosmic reaches of space, including the female lead   that’s a direct descendant (ok, technically an ancestor) of  Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and the onboard humanoid android David (Fassbender) whose cosmic resignation and ulterior  motives make him kin to both Alien’s Ash and 2001’s HAL 9000, specially during the ships interstellar voyage when, with human crewmembers in cryogenic slumber,  he has the run of the place and passes the lonely months watching endless reruns of Lawrence of Arabia ina maudlin mood. For that matter the film is rife with homages  that happily never feel like rip-offs, specially since Scott mainly quotes himself , sometimes verbatim, reproducing  whole scenes from his earlier film. When Prometheus  eventually lands,  the crew sets to exploring the planest mysteries and things go south pretty quickly from there, in a most slimy cresendo of  unpleasantness. Throughout, Fassbender’s David/Ash (if you think he was robotic in Shame, jut wait) and Rapace’s Elizabeth/Ripley  are transfixing and Scott doesn’t spare the gore – a scene involving a surgical pod and a, let’s say very unconventional  pregnancy, is destined to become a classic of sci-fi horror. Scott revels in the sticky, organic side of speculative fiction  and with Prometheus he has pulled off a nifty, suspenseful  piece of  science fiction. In other words a great, if occasionally grandstanding, genre movie.

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