Wherefore art thou Prometheus?

I love movie tag lines. And Prometheus has one of the very best – “They went looking for our beginning – What they found could be our end”.

Pregnant with portent. Curiosity killed the cat writ large.

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Prometheus is the prequel to the Alien quadrilogy. Which my 15 year old son watched again in one sitting (9 hours of the directors cuts) as ‘training’ for the release of Prometheus. I’m so proud.

So its only right to compare Prometheus’s tag line with that for Alien – “In Space No-one Can Hear You Scream”. Really. We’ve come a long way. However despite our evolution in tag line sophistication I’m glad to report in Prometheus that there is still A LOT of screaming – some of it by me I’m ashamed to say.

But along with the screaming, the sobbing, the jumping and the urinating we get to do lots of thinking. Prometheus plunges us head and vital organs first into the biggest questions of all time – who are we, how did we get here, who created us and why? The triumph of this film is that it doesn’t answer these questions – it pulls back the curtain just enough to allow you to come up with your own ideas – all of which will be unpleasant.

This film is just so visually rich and precise and our starting point – Scotland, Earth 2089 looks so beautiful. Sad, forlorn even, but beautiful. The Carbon Tax must have worked, our clean energy future has kicked in and humanity has survived. No Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Kevin Costner post apocalyptic waste-scape to be had here. Pity. We’ll have to look a bit farther afield.

So we join a couple of scientists – Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) who are putting together some amazing archeological finds. Hitherto unconnected cave paintings and other artifacts – separated by thousands of years, races and continents all point to the same thing – giant humans showing us where they (we?) are from.

Now I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned every time a film starts out with an archeologist, nothing good follows – Archeologists = Shit About To Go Down, in my book. I got the same feeling here that I did at the start of “The Exorcist” – and look how that turned out. Just saying.

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We then find ourselves aboard the USS Prometheus – a deep space expeditionary craft with 17 souls on board. Scientists, flight crew and corporate types – a motley mixture of true believers, mercenaries and some, well we just don’t know what to make of them. Based on Shaw and Holloway’s findings they have identified the galaxy and moon referred to in the cave paintings and have convinced the geriatric patriarch (Guy Pearce) of a wealthy corporation to fund the expedition.

So now after almost 4 years the USS Prometheus orbits moon LV-223. The crew start waking from hyper sleep – assisted with loving care and thoughtful concern by David (Michael Fassbender) who has stayed awake during the flight. He’s spent this time boning up on languages and communication. Later I draw the conclusion that David must have been sick on the day Issac Asimov handed down the 3 laws.

With everyone awake and assembled the mission and command structure is revealed. Find who made us. The scientists Shaw and Holloway are in charge. However through sheer force of will (and her death-stare) no-one is going to countermand Mission Director, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). I wouldn’t.

Flying low and slow over LV-223 some huge rounded structures are spotted. The USS Prometheus sets down near the first one and the crew prepares to investigate. Ending up deep in the first structure the crew finds what they were expecting and a whole lot more they weren’t. The Search For The Truth devolves into a horrific and desperate Fight For Survival.

This is a Ridley Scott film and one that is a prequel to one of the most revered science-fiction / horror films of all time. The anticipation and expectation have been massive. So no pressure. Overall I loved this film and I commend it to anyone who even thinks they would like it. Having said that I have two misgivings.

Misgiving number one is Guy Pearce. He stars as the fattest geriatric I’ve ever seen. Supposedly days away from death by old age, our Guy looks like he has just scarfed a dozen happy meals and 14 thick shakes. Not to mention that he has stolen strands of Donald Trump’s hair from a hair museum, probably. Are the Aliens pleased to see him? Well it’s debatable.

Misgiving number two is Logan Marshall-Green. He is not scientist material. Not even archeology material. His dialog is strangely off. As a consequence all of his scenes lose impact and momentum and you start to notice that you’re in a cinema watching a film. Thanks Logan.

Now some highlights. Roomi Rapace. A new Ellen Ripley and Star is born. A powerhouse performance that builds and builds and builds. Maybe there was method to the madness of Marshall-Green’s casting. A disappointing moral and intellectual contrast to Rapace. We’ll never know. Michael Fassbender gives a compelling, chilling and precise performance as David. I couldn’t take my eyes off Charlize Theron’s eyes. She commanded every space and every scene. Finally the sensational visuals and mood coupled with the sheer size and ambition of the questions asked, with answers partially revealed, partially hidden.

This is a film you will thrill to in the moment and think and talk about long after.

I’m giving it 9 Xenomorphs out of 10.

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Categories: Films, Horror, Science Fiction

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. I didn’t read the review as I haven’t seen it yet, but I wanted to comment on the tagline.

    Very Lovecraftian. I like the idea that our pursuit of knowledge or whatever it is to make our lives better could be our potential downfall. Nuclear weaponry is an example of this, I guess. The unfortunate disadvantage of being thoughtful beings means we have an uncontrollable urge to seek out the truth in all matters. Maybe it’s not meant to be found or, if found, understood. Our unquenchable thirst for knowledge or forces beyond our control and understanding may be the end of us. Kinda tragic.

    Great tagline, though. Got my attention.

    • I think tag lines are the haiku of hollywood. You’ve got a great take and have gone a little deeper on this one -which I think is a comment on it’s quality. It’s one of those that really define the soul and the thread of the entire film.

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