6/11/2012 9:01:00 AM MOVIE REVIEW: Scott raises question of alien origins in Prometheus
20th Century Fox
Space scientists enter a strange and deadly new world in Prometheus.
David Kanowsky Kudos Movie Critic, The Movie Man
Prometheus is Scott Ridley's return to the Alien genre of sci-fi. I view Prometheus on its own terms mostly because Alien is too far gone in memory for me to be concerned about the relationship between the two films.
In a prologue we see a being from another planet emerge from a space ship in primordial times. It is humanoid in shape, but much larger. It spews forth gooey stuff containing worm-like things that we may suppose will be the start of life on Earth.
In the late 21st century a team of scientists uncovers a subterranean cave with pictographs that are at least 35,000 years old. These paintings are of special interest. They depict a man pointing to an astronomic formation. The same configuration has been found in several other places around the world, each from a vastly different era of life on Earth. The scientists are able to determine the location in deep outer space that these various paintings are showing.
Prometheus is the name of the space vessel traveling to that location on a path of exploration to discover the origin of our species here on Earth. The lead scientist is Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her partner and lover, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). There is a human-like robot on board, David (Michael Fassbender), who has some extraordinary powers of the mind. Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is the person in charge of the expedition. She's tough and rigid in her views, but her significance in the film is not clear.
When they arrive at the destination after two years' travel, they find a dormant civilization of these giant beings. The actions of the Earthlings awaken the natives and they are murderous. David is able to communicate with the beings and his report is that they are trying to reach Earth to destroy everything on our planet so they can rebuild it for their own needs. (I did not get any sense of why they wanted to do that.)
The battles and chases in Prometheus do not go well for the Earthlings. But Prometheus is sensational for its computer generated holographic images with which the ship's crew can follow the action on the ground and in the many labyrinthine caves on the planet. Vast elaborate interiors are mind-boggling and much of it seems to be geared toward 3-D technology. Violence and gore abound in this movie, including a graphic scene of a bloody surgical procedure performed by robotic surgeons
Prometheus has moments and scenes that are reminiscent of other movies, like Alien, Star Wars, Rosemary's Baby, 2001: A Space Odyssey. A strong tie to 2001 is the android, David. He is an up-to-date reincarnation of HAL, in human form instead of a machine. Some of his actions are less than helpful to the Earthlings he is supposed to serve.
There is a conundrum presented in Prometheus having to do with the concept of the origin of life. Elizabeth is a devout Christian who is willing to believe that life on earth came from these creatures. But who or what created these creatures? Charlie denies the role played by the aliens because it refutes his belief in Darwinism. The issue is not resolved!
The acting is fine by all the characters, especially by Rapace. I particularly like the role played by Idris Elba as the cool man-in-charge pilot of the ship.