2012, alien, Blade Runner, Charlize Theron, Damon Lindelof, existentialism, Guy Pierce, Idris Elba, John Spaihts, Kate Dickie, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Patrick Wilson, Prometheus, Rafe Spall, Ridley Scott, Ripley, science fiction, Sean Harris, Sigourney Weaver
Written by: John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Guy Pierce, Patrick Wilson
I don’t really ever care to warn about spoilers, but here I make a bit of an exception. Much effort has been spent on keeping the lid on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and in this time when a movie’s every detail is revealed long before production ever starts I think its admirable how quiet Prometheus was kept. In this piece I want to speak directly to some of the events of the film, but I really believe that you should go and see this movie without knowing much, because how often do you get to do that? So… spoilers.
Science fiction revolves around a handful of oft-repeated questions, almost all of which are concerned with the what-ifs of our existence. Questions which include the ramifications of genetic engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, time travel, biotechnology, distant stars and the distant future. Some sci-fi stories suggest that it’s terrifying that we are alone in the Universe, while others fear that we are not alone. Science fiction is a place where those of us with a penchant for science, skepticism and curiosity can let our imaginations run wild. In Prometheus, Scott and Lost writer Damon Lindelof raise a number of questions about the origin of human life and they suggest an answer that none of us would hope for.
What if we have a Creator but it turns out not to be the one some of us have been praying for? The characters of Prometheus discover that perhaps we are just a failed or forgotten-about experiment, or maybe we were merely manufactured as weapons. Would such a discovery render questions of the meaning of life moot? Michael Fassbender’s David is a convincing android (though not yet as convincing as Ian Holm’s later model from Alien) who has within him some sensitivity and yearning, yet he is relatively indifferent to human life. David’s presence in the film stands for the larger revelation that humans are a mere construction, built by a species so much more advanced than us that they are barely conceivable.
Of course, all this is merely the point of Prometheus, and its moving parts are just as compelling. Visually, the distant moon explored in the film is a bizarre, barren place, with aerial panoramas filled with colours and textures that are just not quite Earthly. This grim moon is marked, rather eerily, by long-dormant and inorganic structures and decorated by the creepy visions of H.R. Giger. Most successfully, I think, Scott reduces the stature of humans to an almost microscopic level. So diminutive are his humans on the scale of the Universe and its secrets, the sensation leaks from the screen into the viewer. A shot of the Prometheus as it floats past a massive ringed planet just screams with the absurdity of human life in the expanse of the Universe.
Prometheus is scary, more so than I had expected, and the many alien creatures in the film are just so intriguing; watching their strange textures move is enormously satisfying. It should be said, also, that the performances in Prometheus are expert all around. Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and the fascinating Idris Elba each bring something enormous and something tiny to their respective roles. Noomi Rapace is hypnotizing to watch and her Elizabeth Shaw deserves standing alongside Sigourney Weaver’s iconic Ellen Ripley. Guy Pierce is tragically and bizarrely miscast as the extremely old trillionaire Peter Weyland. Scott and Lindelof perfectly mix action into their Big Questions and as a result, Prometheus is exciting and cleverly entertaining.