Prometheus (2012)

Prometheus (2012) – Ridley Scott has not made a science fiction movie in 30 years, since his unparalleled masterpiece Blade Runner. Almost as good (and definitely more popular) is Scott’s second-best film Alien. Alien kicked off a franchise given us the great sequel Aliens, the sequel which I like (though few others seem to) Alien 3, and the sequel I do not like (though a few others seem to) Alien: Resurrection. It was also merged with the Predator franchise for two profoundly unimpressive crossover films. Word was that Ridley Scott was coming back to the fold, re-taking the franchise that he had relinquished to James Cameron, David Fincher, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet for a prequel to his film that started it all. Of course then the rumors began to shift. It wouldn’t be so much a direct prequel, but merely set in the same universe. So no xenomorphs… So is it really an Alien movie then? But then many elements are present like the Weyland Corporation (the precursor to the evil Weyland-Yutani Corporation of the Alien movies) and the mysterious “space jockey” that only appeared as a hollow-chested corpse in Alien. So is this an area of the films’ universe worth exploring? Or is an Alien movie without the titular aliens just spinning its wheels?

Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are archaeologists who have found the same basic cave painting in several disparate ancient societies that would have had no way of communicating with one another. The drawings all have the same star coordinates on them. Shaw and Holloway believe than an alien race that served as the architects of humanity may be there. Wealthy industrialist Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce in old age makeup) agrees. He funds an expedition to the habitable moon at the star coordinates. Years later, Shaw and Holloway awaken from cryo-sleep on the Prometheus, a ship captained by a man named Janek (Idris Elba) and under the supervision of Weyland Corpration executive Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). Also on board is the white-blooded android David (Michael Fassbender) who seems to have a different set of objectives than anyone else. Soon a team lands on the moon and begins to investigate an ancient structure. Shaw and Holloway want to meet the architects and ask them all the big questions about existence. But the Prometheus may have other mission parameters…

So there are a lot of questions that Prometheus leaves unanswered (many of which can be found at this spoiler-filled link) which really is to be expected as screenwriter Damon Lindelof was the show-runner for Lost. However, journeys are more important than destinations. Sometimes the whys are less important than the whats. Prometheus is more about curiousity leading us to something we cannot truly comprehend and why that should be appropriately horrifying. As a thriller, Prometheus does have a couple good scares but it’s more about the philosophical questions it asks (and doesn’t always answer). Noomi Rapace is a worthy successor to Sigourney Weaver as the capable action heroine. Theron plays a seriously unlikable character who, in retrospect, might have been one of the more level-headed characters (until a stupid mistake towards the end of the film). Fassbender continues his run of great performances. The man has versatility. Prometheus is not a perfect film but it feels like more of an Alien film than the past three films that actually DID prominently feature the xenomorphs (plus there is a connection). Ridley Scott is talking about doing a Blade Runner sequel next. Now I don’t necessarily think that perfect movie needs a follow-up but if he puts as much thought into it as this film, it might be worth a look.

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