RETRO REVIEW – ‘Prometheus’

Does Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller really deserve its polarizing reputation?

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2012
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dariusz Wolski
WRITERS: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
MUSIC: Marc Streitenfeld

Director Ridley Scott definitely went against what people were expecting for a prequel to his original masterpiece, “Alien”. Instead of focusing on monsters in claustrophobic settings, Scott decided to ask some pretty hefty questions about where humans came from and what their ultimate destiny really is in the Universe if there even is one. Then, Scott went about not answering almost any of the questions that the film proposes.

Other issues audience members had included questionable decisions from the crew and little to no character development. Before I go on, here is what the film is about in a nutshell.

“Prometheus” is about a ship that heads out into deep space in search of the aliens that supposedly created humanity. However, when they get to the planet where their creators may reside, the crew of the Prometheus discovers that they may not be as wanted as they originally believed. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of the people who actually love this film, though it is not without its faults to be sure.

First off, let me get this out of the way. Characters do make dumbass decisions in the movie. This included things such as removing their helmets in an alien environment just because the atmosphere is breathable, petting unknown alien snakes and not being able to zig and zag when a falling spaceship is about to crush them in a completely open field.

I’ll also tell you that I have no reasonable argument to justify those things. They are there and I’m not going to deny them. But I will also say that I largely don’t care, either.

The tone of the film is quite different from “Alien” and if that movie is what you’re looking for going into this film, then you will be horribly disappointed. I was able to disconnect this film from Scott’s classic because Scott himself said before the film was released that while “Prometheus” is set in the “Alien” universe, it was going to tell quite a different story.

He was right about that and I can’t fault the man when he told me what I was in for from the start. Now, let’s get to the fact that the film asks more questions than answers them. I think Scott cleverly tells a story about humans seeking out their creators and demanding answers. Then they are punished for their hubris when they don’t get the answers that they seek. The movie also studies the relationship between religion and science.

The main character, played superbly by Noomi Rapace, is Elizabeth Shaw. She is the only one onboard the Prometheus that is religious. Despite the fact that she discovers that humanity was created by the Engineers and not a one true God, it doesn’t hinder her beliefs. She simply asks, “Who created them?” In this way, the film explores whether or not science and religion can co-exists. Also, and I say this with a big spoiler warning, she is the only one to survive so one could say that her belief in God is what kept her alive… If you believe that sort of thing, of course.

In a much simpler defense of the film, I would also say watch the movie for a great performance from Michael Fassbender as David. He is the android on the ship and he also sets up some pretty big questions about creation and what it means to discover the answers as to why one was created. For example, at one point David asks Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) why David was created and Holloway simply responds, “Because we could.”

David then proceeds to ask how disappointed Holloway would be if that was the answer Holloway would get from humanity’s own creators.

As far as these big questions are concerned, though, I can only provide my own answers. The film is set up to only provide you with clues to the questions asked and then it tells you to answer them for yourself. I love films where everything is wrapped up by the end, but I can also find the enjoyment in a film that makes me think about the bigger questions in life rather than simply giving me what they think those answers might be.

Yes, characters in this movie do stupid things, but that I could easily forgive. The movie is expertly made by Scott and looks fantastic. The real question is whether or not you like a film that questions your place in the Universe and then leaves those answers up to you. If you don’t like that, then this film is not for you. As for me, I thoroughly enjoy this sci-fi thriller from one of the masters of the genre.

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