Ridley Scott’s latest blockbuster movie, Prometheus, hit theaters last Friday with the promise it would follow in the tradition of both great Ridley Scott films and also build on the sci-fi classic series that started with Alien (1979). The movie is set on a future Earth in the 2090’s and is essentially a prequel to the Alien movie that thrilled audiences with chest-popping aliens who quickly grew into giant acid-spitting creatures happily killing any human in its path. Though not originally written as a prequel it is reported that once Scott heard about the draft script’s premise he took over the project and set it firmly in the cannon of the Alien films; thank goodness he did.
Prometheus is what a true science fiction movie should be. The movie provides movie-goers with more than just two hours of space ships and deadly monsters which has unfortunately become the accepted standard of some so-called science fiction movies. No, Prometheus is different, it begins and ends by focusing on society’s struggle with faith and our insatiable interest in discovering where we all came from; be it Heaven, the Big Bang, or something else. The internal struggle of the main character and the ends that she and others will go to answer these questions are what drive the plot of Prometheus. The encounters with alien life in the movie, though thrilling and scary at times, are used more as a necessary plot device to push the story forward than a focus of the film. That is what makes Prometheus so much better than the hundreds of other bad “science fiction” movies that channels like SyFy churn out every month. No doubt the budgets and effects available to Scott and Twentieth Century Fox are much greater than SyFy channel but the point is not the size of the budget or quality of the special effects but more importantly the quality of the content in the movie. Prometheus aims to challenge and question the origins of man while simultaneously answering questions from the Alien series first asked more than thirty years ago.
Prometheus not only benefits from great writing and directing, it also features a magnificent cast of new and upcoming actors who deliver very strong performances. Newcomer Noomi Rapace (also scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo – European version) does a magnificent job as a tormented archaeologist willing to sacrifice nearly everything to answer her burning questions and justify her faith. Supporting actors Michael Fassbender (Magneto in the recent X-men: First Class) and Charlize Theron are also challenged with roles that require more than just screaming and running from a monster and succeed in providing riveting characters that are complex and interesting. Even the lesser known actors that portray the rest of the crew do solid work by not overacting and thereby pulling the movie-goer out of the experience.
With all this said I must caution you that Prometheus is not for the faint of heart. There are several very intense scenes both in thrill and gore. Obviously intended to make movie-goers squirm, as the now famous “chest-poppers” did in seventy-nine, the moments are effective in their goal but thankfully pass quickly. Prometheus is definitely not for children and perhaps not even for many adults who don’t like a good intense jolt. For the rest of you who like to watch good and pure science-fiction I advise you to run out and see Prometheus today.
Final Cut: Fans of good science fiction and those who love the Alien movies will be very satisfied with what Ridley Scott has put together in Prometheus.
Grade: A -
Did you see Prometheus? What did you think? Do you agree this is what science fiction movies are supposed to be? Please leave your comments and opinions.