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Dan's Review: Prometheus

In space, no one can hear you scream, "prequel!"
Prometheus (20th Century)

Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie, Patrick Wilson, Lucy Hutchinson.

Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.

Directed by Ridley Scott.

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:


Don't you dare call it a "prequel." That's what director Ridley Scott and others associated with Prometheus say about the movie. Although a precursor to the Alien movie series launched by Scott in 1979, it is not exactly part of the same story line. Or is it?

Prometheus is the story of two scientists who discover ancient Earth drawings and use them as a map to a remote planet where they hope to encounter "the architects" of human kind, or the origins of mankind. The scientists are Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Repace) and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), who are also romantically attached.

<<<<SPOILERS FOLLOW>>>>

A voyage is planned and funded by multi-trillionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce in geriatric makeup) as Shaw and Holloway join a group of hired-hand explorers, led by Miss Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). The group uses the state-of-the-art ship Prometheus in their voyage, joined by a couple of dozen crew members, including Janek (Idris Elba) and robot David (Michael Fassbender), who appears to have a hidden agenda.

After arrival on the remote planet, an away team explores an archeological site where the "architects" seem to be hiding. What they discover is a spaceship hidden below the planet's surface carrying thousands of "vases" that contain some sort of liquid life form (sound familiar?).

Eventually, the crew discovers what happens when you come into contact with the liquid in the vases, with varied gruesome outcomes. One of those encounters includes the impregnation of one of the female team members, along with a very graphic attempt to rid herself of the alien form.

The crew also gets close to one of the gigantic humanoid "architects," which does not respond very kindly to their presence. Dr. Shaw is soon faced with the reality that the "architects" might not have the best intentions in mind for mankind, and she must decide whether to save herself or all of humanity.

Prometheus is an excellent science fiction movie, and much like Ridley Scott's original Alien, it prompts plenty of deep, existential thought about humanity and survival. There's even room for religious consideration. Prometheus is definitely a "thinking person's" science fiction movie, which makes it a little less palatable for movie audiences used to a lot of flash and space battles. If you liked the Alien franchise (especially the first two installments, the second of which was the product of an up-and-coming director named James Cameron back in 1986) Prometheus is certainly for you.

One slight gripe one might have is the almost formulaic similarities between Prometheus and Alien, which are many (including a perhaps not-to-be-trusted creepy robot and a rag-tag crew with diverse backgrounds and agendas, and the possibility that only one female crew member will survive). Another small flaw is the casting of Guy Pearce as a really old guy, which seems like an unnecessary use of a lot of makeup, when there are so many talented octogenarian actors available. These little distractions don't ruin the otherwise well-crafted film.

But is it a prequel? You'll have to see Prometheus yourself to make that call, but it is fair to say that 1) Prometheus is set prior to and in the same universe as the original films and 2) Prometheus is a movie that stands on its own, even if you haven't seen the original movies. One caveat: you will enjoy Prometheus more if you've seen the originals, and you will also leave the theater with plenty of ideas as to how we get to the last fatal voyage of the Nostromo (the ship in the first Alien movie) no matter how much Alien exposure you've had.

The possibilities are endless, and I suppose that's the point.


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