Rating: R (for sci-fi violence, including some intense images and brief language)
Length: 124 minutes
Release Date: June 8, 2012
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Stars: 4 out of 5
Science fiction buffs have waited almost 30 years for Ridley Scott to return to the genre he helped create-the gothic sci-fi horror film. With “Prometheus,” he returns with a vengeance. The film is like a rollercoaster that starts at full speed and doesn’t let up for a second. With all the hype, some moviegoers might have been worried about a letdown. No worries here, though: This film delivers everything we could have wanted, and a little more.
The plot of “Prometheus” isn’t complicated. A pair of scientists, Shaw and Holloway, discovers that a common symbol is found on ancient writings and cave walls all over the world. They theorize that an extraterrestrial intelligence communicated with early human civilizations. Dr. Shaw even believes that maybe humanity was spawned from this alien race. The Weyland Corporation-the same company in the later “Alien” movies-sends an exploratory vessel into deep space with the scientists on board to check out their theory. Idris Elba plays Janek, the ship’s captain. Representing the interests of the Weyland Company is Meredith Vickers, played wonderfully by Charlize Theron. Vickers is cold and robotic, but not as much as “David,” the ship’s artificial life form. David is played by Michael Fassbender, who needs to be considered for some awards for this performance.
As expected, the set design and visual effects are top shelf. The Prometheus spacecraft looks and sounds like a real spacecraft. The hallways, cryo-chambers and air-locks all seem like they would function in real life. When the spacecraft descends onto the alien moon, the viewer gets a sense of height and space. One of the most stunning effects was a rock-filled dust storm that swooped in on the explorers after they return from a mission.
Scott uses 3-D effects in “Prometheus” as well as in any of his films to date, with the exception of “Avatar.” Nothing is overbearing or unnecessary. The 3-D complements the film, especially when used to show holographic characters and scenery.
Let’s face it: Most people are going to see “Prometheus” because they want a thrill ride. Maybe they even want to be scared a little. Most people will not be disappointed. The setup of the film lasts only a few minutes, followed by a steadily rising sense of tension and dread. When the crew is investigating structures on the moon’s surface, the fear of the unknown is thick enough to cut with a knife. The last hour of the film is a bombardment of alien attacks and grisly death scenes. Yes, this is an intense movie and not for the squeamish.
In a film with lots of shocking, scary scenes, one stands out above the rest. When Dr. Shaw finds out that there is “something” in her womb, she takes things into her own hands. She knows that there’s an automated surgery device in Vickers’ chambers. If she can operate the device, it might be able to remove whatever is kicking around inside of her. Getting there is half the battle as David tries to keep her sedated and calm. She literally has to fight her way through, but she eventually succeeds. The surgery scene will make your skin crawl, assuming you’re able to keep your eyes open.
Near the film’s conclusion, we learn the real purpose of the mission. Apparently, it was never really about scientific discovery or unraveling the history of humankind. The founder of the Weyland Company is still alive, to everyone’s surprise, and on board the ship. He believes that the strange black goo and alien technology they’ve discovered may save him from death. Unfortunately, they actually set events into motion that kill nearly everyone on the mission and even put planet Earth in grave danger.
There’s been a lot of mystery as to whether “Prometheus” is a prequel to the “Alien” series. The answer is really in the eye of the beholder. Yes, the films do take place in the same “universe.” Before the final credits roll, we see a creature emerging from the humanoid alien that looks a lot like one of the creatures that Sigourney Weaver fights in “Alien” and “Aliens.” In addition, Shaw and David have commandeered an alien vessel and can go anywhere they want. Shaw says she wants to go to the home planet of the giant humanoids and find out why they want to destroy Earth. Does that mean there could be a sequel to “Prometheus”? If the box office receipts are big enough, then the answer will probably be “yes.”