The most hyped non-men-in-capes movie of the summer, Prometheus ponders some of the big questions of the universe.
Unlike the past Alien movies, this is not a simple horror film. Ridley Scott chooses to have screams take the back seat to long, ponderous scenes.
Prometheus centers around a group of scientists traveling to an alien planet that may contain clues to humanity's origin. Scott and writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof want people to be guessing plot twists and turns, and not worry as much about aliens popping out from around the corner. Lindelof is known for leaving big questions unanswered, just ask any fan of Lost, where he was the lead writer. This trend continues in the story of Prometheus.
The movie jumps around time and location for the first ten minutes until it settles on the ship, Prometheus, where the story takes off. We first see David (Michael Fassbender), an appropriately creepy android. David is an Anglophile and genuinely interested in learning about humans even if it means major invasions of privacy. One of Fassbender’s first scenes is him watching over the crew and diving into their dreams during homeostasis without their permission. He continues this trend of doing whatever he wants throughout the film, without keeping in mind the safety of his human counterparts.
David is a play on the story between man and creator, but his development first feels stunted and then rushed at the end. He is here to tie the whole story together but in the end falls short.
After David has awoken the crew, we learn they have been paid buckets of money (a theme from the old Alien movies) to take two scientists to another world in hopes that we find our creators. As the Prometheus lands they see no indication of life. However, non-natural formations point the crew to a large pyramid where the majority of the film takes place.
The pyramid pays homage to H.R. Giger, but lacks his unique touch. In Alien the intricate scenery established by H.R. Giger instantly sets a tone of unease for the horror movie. If the movie started here, it would have been much more classic 80s horror. That could could have helped the long shots of scenery and lack of tension in the first half.
The tension slowly builds in the second half and Scott starts to bring on the gore and jump-scare tactics. The horror scenes are rehashed and are not given enough time to be truly scary.
The female lead, Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace), is a strong character but she doesn’t have that same unstoppable strength as Sigourney Weaver. Being kick-butt was expected from Rapace, who was so strong in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Rapace doesn’t come off as comfortable in her character and this leads to the audience never getting behind her all the way. People want to cheer for the lead, not wonder if she’ll ever shut up.
Her counterpoint, Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), continually pushes her on her ideals of God and its conflict with her career as a scientist. These two characters play muddled on the screen. They are supposed to be a representation of humanity and love, but come off as cold and hollow. It is no surprise that their pitch to the crew of why this mission is important is laughed off and met with eye rolls.
The Weyland Representative, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), is along for the ride and becomes less and less interesting as the film goes on. Theron comes off as bored with her character and doesn’t make much of an effort in any development until her last ten seconds on film. Her character is supposed to be in major conflict with another and only appears to be slightly annoyed by his presence.
This movie set in the Alien universe, and acts as an origin story, but really does not need to be tied to the Alien franchise.
Ridley Scott wanted to ask big humanity questions without having to do the work of building up an interesting universe or back story to go along with it. The audience is ignorant about the movie's future humanity; there are people willing to sell their safety for a quick buck, there are scientists wanting to discover new things, and multi-trillion corporations thumb their noses at everyone else on planet Earth.
But are we still fighting wars? Do we worship capitalism? Why should I feel a connection with these people?
The movie feels soulless.
All the wonderful things that makes us human are ignored, and the characters are half baked. Without strong character development, there is no tension when the characters are faced with death. The fist pounding hoorah of the first Alien is lost even during the tense action scenes.
The best part of Prometheus is the beautiful landscapes and art work that went into the film. The audience is transported to a very alien world, but Scott did not bring our humanity along.