We Have Lift Off!
Did Ridley Scott's Prometheus, set in the same universe as the Alien franchise which he kickstarted back in the late 70s, live up to its hype? For those who got teased by its potential in having its characters probably meet our true creators, what with religious connotations and the like, may be disappointed given that this film posed a lot more questions than answers, questions that will allow follow up films to explore where Prometheus had left off. Those well versed with the Alien films, especially the first one, may find this supposed prequel, or genesis if I may call it, rather familiar, since there are many structural elements in its narrative that were reminiscent of the original film.
So what did Prometheus, written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindeof, achieve? For starters, this is a worthy Alien-ish prequel as far as the creatures evolution is concerned, providing a very interesting twist to how the iconic slimy finally came about, in a much extended timeline, to haunt Ripley and crew later on. And as much as I would hate to mention this, it's the star power attached to this film that lifted it from becoming a bore for those who have sat through Alien countless of times - you can tick that checklist containing elements such as massive ships on both human and alien sides, a strong female protagonist, an android of ambiguous agenda, and how everything went from innocuous mission to that fight for survival when biological hazards get introduced onboard.
What worked to the film's favour would be its characterization of the major players here. Michael Fassbender of course stole the show as the android David, developed by the Weyland Corporation (before it merged with Yutani to become Weyland-Yutani), to be onboard Prometheus in its 2 years plus long journey to what Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), a clear spiritual predecessor to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, called an invitation to visit. David is creepy, and possesses a wry and wicked sense of humour, as well as hiding a certain agenda that will reveal it's ugly head as the film progresses. There are some who may find his abilities being rather convenient, but I thought it's an issue blown out of proportion, and his itchy hands and fingers point to being programmed for a more ulterior motive constraint by available time left.
And I suppose Noomi Rapace, under Ridley Scott's direction, finally found a film to break away from her career defining role as Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium trilogy of films. Gone is the goth fashion sense, and in comes a cleaner look, though not lacking in the same steely demeanour. Possibly in one of the most intense scenes in the film, Rapace proves she can stand out from amongst an ensemble, and her character in being the alpha-female when called upon, proved to be no push-over. Then there's Charlize Theron continuing from Snow White and perfecting her role as the resident bitch, playing a character with limited screen time (and looking good), but chewing up the scenery each time she appears. The best scenes she has here comes opposite Guy Pearce (in another space outing), disappearing under heavy prosthetics to play Peter Weyland, the head honcho who commissioned the trillion dollar mission, but alas they were limited, and I thought had promise to be explored further, and given how it was played out, probably in another medium.
The major downside is of course how the structure of the tale was so Alien-like, and despite not having seen Ridley's original film in recent times, there's no doubt how one can almost stay one step ahead of the action. However what I had enjoyed here was the premise in the search for our creator, that took on the thesis of a what-if he/they had come from a species more technologically advanced than ours, and being able to craft the homo-sapiens rather than believing in Darwin's theory of evolution, occasionally coming back to account for UFO sightings and to see how well we, as creations, are doing. Or so we thought.
Biblical parallels such as having been created in an image, and issues brought up such as this having been almost like a futuristic Noah's experience of sorts, or one of the many plagues that got unleashed, get set to blow the minds of many if one chooses to draw some parallels, not so much in a provocative manner, but utilizing such scenarios to further the development of its own story universe. Even if these are put aside, the story here tosses up interesting, open ended questions with regards to the motives all suddenly revealed in the final act, allowing plenty of room for that post screening discussion, until the next film, if it gets made, rolls around to address them.
Prometheus has that Ridley Scott signature of attention to detail given the tour of the titular ship as a rather peaceful introduction before the mayhem began, as well as the littlest of beaming pride displayed all over, such as David's finger being imprinted with the Weyland logo. It didn't go for the jugular and you can feel the punches being pulled too many times, as if keeping all cards very close to his chest, and leaving room for more adventures to follow on from what Prometheus has now teased even further. One can only hope any subsequent film will link up in some way back to the original quadrilogy, while expanding upon its own themes and mythology created.