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In Prometheus , Ridley Scott has turns his classic Alien (1979) into something more grandiose, more elaborate, but less interesting.
There are some shrewd and witty touches from Ridley that brings to audience a full package of wonderment, scariness, tension, ambitious and unforgettable shock. We also get Michael Fassbender stealing the show with his terrifically creepy performance and the chilling, parasitic relentlessness of that first gut-bound alien. The original took place in space, where no one can hear you scream; in this movie, no one can hear you scream above the deafening, kettle drum-bothering orchestral score.
Prometheus is part prequel, part variation. The movie’s object seem to be ostensibly explaining the presence in Alien of a strange humanoid-corpse with a hole blasted open in his stomach. What it also does is return us to the world of Chariots of the Gods, a movie about humankind being bred on Earth eons ago by aliens. In Prometheus, the crew are basically on a mission in to establish the truth behind human’s appearance.
Noomi Rapace is well cast as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, a scientist with strong religious belief. She and her colleague/lover Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient cave in which have paintings showing humans worshipping a specific star-constellation. There are other cave paintings in the world duplicating this. Astronomers soon locate the constellation, and Dr. Shaw and Dr. Holloway are on board heading there. Coming with them are the icy, black jumpsuit-clad corporate commander Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the rebellious captain Janek (Idris Elba), and there are some feisty, low-level tech guys.
Also, there is Fassbender playing David, a robot who has been designed to look like a highly convincing humanoid, avowedly to avoid scaring or upsetting the crew. Fassbender himself is the one providing the move’s real glint of steel, while decentering its dramatic focus. While the crew have been cryogenically frozen during the two-year flight, David has been gliding about like a head waiter keeping everything on board shipshape. He has shown himself to be a robot with his own mind. With his Aryan look and stiff-armed walk, he’s channeling C3PO. David also enjoys old movies, and he models his supercilious manner on Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.
When the crew arrives, they make a staggering discovery. Their worst nightmares begin when they return to the ship. In Greek mythology, Prometheus is the titan who was tortured by the gods for giving fire to the humans – but here it is the humans who are tortured and consumed by a new and terrible kind of fire.
There is some kind of Easter Egg in the movie. The spacecraft in Alien had name of Nostromo, it seems to be a hint from Ridley about David Lean’s final unrealized plan to a movie of Nostromo, and even be claiming some David Lean epic grandeur for himself.
All in all, Prometheus movie is a muddled, intricate, spectacular film, but more or less in control of all its craziness and is very watchable. It lacks the central killer punch of Alien. Still, there’s a driving narrative impulse, and, however silly, a kind of idealism, a sense that it’s exciting to make contact with whatever’s out there.