Sci-fi fans have varying degrees of forgiveness and tolerance for story continuity. Ridley Scott (BLADE RUNNER, GLADIATOR), who first directed ALIEN in 1979 and made a star out of Sigourney Weaver, returns to the genre in PROMETHEUS, a pseudo-prequel of ALIEN.
Since 1979, the ALIEN franchise has given birth to a wildly different number of sequels – from James Cameron’s ‘Marines in Space’ action approach with ALIENS to David Fincher’s nihilistic ALIEN 3 to various other attempts to reboot the premise with the dreadful recent attempts like ALIEN VS PREDATOR, ALIEN VS PREDATOR REQUIEM. Logic flew out the window, so these sequels were as bad as GODZILLA movies – all formula.
Leave it to Ridley Scott to take PROMETHEUS to rebirth the series with a knowing nod to the cerebral film 2001. The origin of the human species, the question of faith, all of these heady topics come into play in the first half of PROMETHEUS when 2 scientists discover a variety of ancient cave drawings around the world which point to a distant galaxy. Could humankind have originated from the stars? Zillionnaire Peter Weland (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce) finances an expedition to find out.
A strong ensemble cast seems over-edited with not enough to do. Noomi Rapace (GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) plays Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Charlize Theron is a very irritable ‘company’ woman who doesn’t really seem to have a role on the ship aside from countercommanding orders. And the always interesting Michael Fassbender plays David, an artificial human, who, in the tradition of the ALIEN movies, we know is deceitful.
Special effects are stunning – it’s a relief to get away from the black starkness of outerspace to be on a planet that is almost lifted from DUNE with a desert palette just begging for Egyptian ruins.
But if you are expecting this movie to be a direct prequel to ALIEN, you’ll have a lot of questions since there seems to be missing pieces. The ending is also a headscratcher, but after the cheese of the last 2 or 3 films, it’s quite an accomplishment for Ridley Scott to elevate his old monster movie to such philosophical heights.