Prometheus is a nice touch to the Sci-Fi genre, even though it doesn't redefine it.
I've been a pretty big fan of Alien for quite a while now. It was actually not long ago when I first saw the movie. Back when I was still in college, I remember wanting to explore more movies and see the movies that people always told me I should see, and one of those movies was Alien. I went out to the mall one day and bought a copy of the film, along with Aliens, because that was another movie people told me I needed to see. I first watched it about a week later, and it didn't leave much of an impression on me. It really took multiple viewing before I could really appreciate and love the film. Imagine my surprise when about a little less than a year later, I hear Ridley Scott (the director of the original Alien) was planning on making a "prequel" to Alien. I spent quite a while reading up on pre-production details about this movie, but it wasn't until I saw the first trailer that I got really excited for this movie.
It wasn't until I fully understood the Alien mythology did I start asking numerous questions that I hoped this movie would answer. Who are the Space Jockeys? Why did they crash on the planet? Where were they going? What is the Alien? Is it some sort of biological weapon designed by the Space Jockeys? So, you can imagine how excited I got for this. Most of you on Facebook saw my posts of Alien and Prometheus quotes and pictures just prior to me sitting in theaters. But I was really worried if they would answer my questions or not. And I was worried if the movie itself would be dull and not entertaining. Being one of the most anticipated films of the summer, there's a lot of hype around it. Did it live up to what I thought it would do?
In my own opinion, yes, it did.
Now comes the plot summary. For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, this will be a detailed summary, giving out the entire movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, please stop reading now, because this plot summary will spoil the entire movie.
The movie starts with a shot of Earth during its creation. One of the alien creatures known (by fans) as the Space Jockey, takes a drink of some sort of black liquid, which causes its DNA to split apart, and causes the Space Jockey to split apart as well. The Space Jockey falls into a river, where its DNA starts to replicate and form living cells, which will eventually lead to life on Earth. Cut to the year 2089, the space vessel Prometheus is on a two year journey to a small planetoid in a distant galaxy, known as LV_223 (not LV_426 like in the Alien movies, but I assume a nearby planet). Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace, and her co-worker and boyfriend Dr. Charlie Holloway, has brought a small crew to the planet to explore a star map that they have found in numerous ancient caves across Earth, and they seem to think that this planet will answer mankind's questions, such as what we are, where we come from, and who created us. They land on the planet, and find these dome-shaped rock buildings that have caves dug deep into the ground. The crew explores these caves, when they come across a room filled with what appears to be small, cylindrical stones, a giant stone head of a Space Jockey, and a body of a deceased Space Jockey. Due to an oncoming storm, the crew has to make their way back to the ship. Shaw and Holloway bag up what appears to be a decapitated Space Jockey head, while David (played by Michael Fassbender), the ship's android, takes one of the stone cylinders and brings it back on the ship without the crew's knowledge. The crew makes it back, but two of the ship's engineers are left behind in the structure until sunrise. David analyses the cylinder in secrecy, under orders of a hidden guest on Prometheus, and discovers a black liquid, which he proceeds to put inside a cup filled with wine and gives it to Holloway. Meanwhile, Dr. Shaw analyzes the Space Jockey head, and finds out that its DNA matches that of humans, giving them the answer they have been looking for. In the caves on the planet, the two engineers discover a living creature, which eventually kills the both of them. Also, Holloway, after having sex with Shaw, discovers that there's something not right with his body, like something must have infected him. The crew suit up and go back to the cave to rescue the two engineers, only to find them dead. Holloway's condition gets worse, and they are taken back to the ship. Meredith Vickers (played by Charlize Theron, will not let Holloway get on board, fearing that whatever infected him will infect the rest of the crew. Holloway understands that he might be a danger, and has Vickers burn him alive, which causes Shaw to pass out. After this, they discover one of the engineers from the cave is actually still alive and mutated, and starts to kill some crew members before he is killed himself. This causes the pilot of Prometheus to realize the black liquid found in the cave and on the stone cylinders to be some sort of biological weapon. Shaw regains consciousness, only to find out that Holloway impregnated her with an alien creature that is rapidly growing insider her. Shaw performs a surgery on herself with the use of an automated surgery device to get the creature out of her, which all happens successfully. She leaves the creature in the surgery room, and wanders the ship for a while, before stumbling into a room, where we find out that Peter Weyland, the 93 year old C.E.O of the Weyland Corporation who funded and sent the crew to LV_223, has come aboard with them to speak to the creators and hopes that they can prevent his imminent death. Shaw, Weyland, and David go aboard the Space Jockey's ship, and wake up the last surviving Space Jockey. David attempts to speak to the creature, but it shows hostility by ripping David's head off and killing Weyland, along with one other crew member that joined. Shaw manages to escape the ship, but the Space Jockey activates the ship, and is attempting to go to Earth with the intent of using the biological weapons on board (the stone cylinders) to destroy the accidently created human race. Shaw tells this to the pilot of Prometheus, who makes the decision to crash their ship into the Space Jockey's ship. Vickers escapes in her lifeboat before the ships collide. The Space Jockey's ship crashes on the planet, killing Vickers in the process. Shaw goes back to the lifeboat, to discover the creature that she removed from herself has grown monstrous. Shaw gets a warning from David that the Space Jockey is still alive and coming for her. Before the Space Jockey can kill Shaw, the creature breaks out of the room it was left in, grabs onto the Space Jockey, and shoves a tentacle down its throat, revealing that it is a giant facehugger. Shaw manages to get aboard the Space Jockey ship to find David, who says that this ship is one of many on the planet, and says he can navigate one of them back to Earth. Shaw decides not to go back to earth, but to go to the Space Jockey's home world to understand why the Space Jockeys created us and why they wanted to destroy us. David and Shaw find another ship, and head off into space. In the last shot of the movie, the Space Jockey starts to convulse, and an alien creature, with jet-black skin and an elongated skull, bursts out of its chest and lets out a roar before credits roll.
The crowd experience for this movie wasn't what I wanted to be. I guess not a lot of people have the love of Alien like I do. The people that showed up early seemed to be the fans of Alien. I overheard a guy behind me explain to his friend what Alien is all about; there was a guy with a facehugger on his back, which I thought was really awesome. I kinda regret not getting a picture. There was someone there wearing a Weyland-Yutani Corp shirt, which made me smile. But the later crowd that came in just seemed like people who probably never seen the original Alien, or even ever heard of it. I was worried I was gonna hear shouting from these people. I was really worried that these people would just ruin the movie for me, but surprisingly, everyone was silent the whole way through. Everyone was paying attention, which I think was a success from the movie. It allowed everyone to get into the movie, and not hate it while watching it.
Now, let's dive into this movie.
The beginning of this movie kinda confused me at first. I knew reading press material that Ridley Scott said that this movie would begin with mankind's origins, but I did not expect that we'd start with a Space Jockey on Earth. But this beginning does spell out what this movie is gonna be about. The theme of this movie is to find out where we come from and who we are. The Space Jockey drinks something (I don't know what), but it causes his DNA to break apart and eventually will lead to our creation. I wanted to know what happened there. Why did the Space Jockey drink that liquid? Did he know it would do that? I really think he had to know what it would do. Or, at least, the other Space Jockeys knew what this would do. I find it weird though. I wanted an explanation, but it would be hard to explain what was going on in this scene without having some character blatantly stating it to the audience. I like the ambiguity of the scene, and of course, it would be kind of explained as the movie unfolds to us.
Then we get into the main point of this movie; two scientists find a map in separate caves and structures all across the world. Noomi Rapace, who plays Elizabeth Shaw, is pretty excellent here. I've only seen her in one other movie, which is a movie that I think almost everyone has seen, the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She was excellent in that movie (even though I thought Rooney Mara played a better Lisbeth). She portrayed the character in a way that I could understand it. She apparently has a past of religious beliefs. Her father (played by Patrick Wilson in a cameo role) had a strong belief in heaven and God, and that belief passed onto her. It creates a great conflict with this character. She's a religious person, but she's also a scientist, and she wants to know where they come from and what their purpose is in the universe. I like that conflict here, and it doesn't really play out that way at the beginning. It's really when she discovers that the Space Jockey's (which are called Engineers in this movie) DNA matches human's DNA. They point out that the character wears a cross around her neck. Again, it was a character trait that I really enjoyed.
Then there's Michael Fassbender who plays the android David. I love the fact that Michael Fassbender is in this movie. I've seen him in about three other movies, which include Inglourious Basterds, 300, and X-Men First Class, and I loved him in all of those movies. So, when I heard that he was cast in this movie, I really got excited. Michael Fassbender has to be my favorite actor working in Hollywood. I was kinda worried when I heard he was cast as the android. Well, not so much that. I was actually worried that they announced early on that there would be an android in the movie. I liked in the original Alien that it took a while to find out that one of the crew members is an android, and I would've liked if that remained a mystery for a while. But they play it very well here. I'm not sure if Fassbender researched how the other actors in the Alien series portrayed androids, but I know he went to Blade Runner for reference, and that's what I really got from his performance. He acts like what a robot would, sort of cold and without empathy, but you can feel he does have some emotion in there. Everyone throughout the movie, even Weyland who David thinks as a father, keeps pointing out the fact that he is an android, and you can see it in his facial expressions that it bothers him. He plays it a little bit obvious, and it is also pretty subtle. I also like the look of David. It's very reminiscent of the android Bishop from Aliens, and he also plays it pretty similar. I think even though Noomi Rapace gets top billing, Michael Fassbender really takes the show.
Charlize Theron plays Meredith Vickers, who works for the Weyland Corporation. She is the stereotypical bossy character. Always following procedure and doing what is best for the company. She really plays an unlikeable version of Ripley from the Alien movies. Ripley was a character who made sure that everyone does what they're supposed to do, which is what this character is doing. I never felt like this character had a chance to be heroic. She just seems to be self involved, and for a while, we think this character might be the main antagonist; the person who is going to make sure that the alien creature is taken back home for study, sort of like the setup of the original Alien. And it plays that way for about 2/3 of the movie. She and David seem to answer to this mysterious guest on Prometheus, and Vickers is jealous of David, because David is the one who talks to this person. It turns out that Vickers is actually Weyland's daughter, which changes the character's motivations. She just wants to live up to her father, which parallels David's conflict. I liked that symmetry. They almost seem like brother and sister. They have moments where they fight each other, which makes it seem like sibling rivalry. I liked it.
Guy Pearce plays Peter Weyland, the C.E.O. of Weyland Corp. that has funded this scientific expedition. I like Guy Pearce. I've only really seen him in a handful of movies. He was in my all time favorite movie Memento, and that's where I became a fan of his, but here... I didn't really enjoy him. I honestly thought we'd get a scene of his younger self setting up Weyland Corp. There was a viral video with him in it doing this, and I thought it would be in the movie. Instead, we get a 93 year old Weyland, which I thought was kinda a bad decision. I thought the old age makeup looked bad and obvious, sort of like the makeup used in Inception on Ken Watanabe. It just called attention to itself. And I don't think Guy Pearce played a convincing old person. I liked his performance, but it is nowhere near perfect. It was actually kind of cheesy now that I think about it. But I was glad to see him here. I was confused as to why Weyland was here in terms of the Alien franchise. I get why he joins along; he wants eternal life. But in all of the Alien movies, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation wants to use the Alien as a weapon, but this never answers how that company knows that this creature can be used as a weapon. It's a thread that never gets tied into this story line, but it does explain that the Weyland-Yutani Corporation does know that there are these other forms of life around this area, and that they know that LV_223 and LV_426 has life of some sort on them.
The rest of the cast is kinda dull, but they reminded me of other characters from all of the Alien movies. The pilot of the ship (played by Idris Elba) was very reminiscent of Parker from the first Alien. Not because he's black, but because he's only concerned of doing the job he was hired to do, and has no real interest in what's happening with the scientists. He also reminds me of Dallas, the captain of the Nostromo from the first Alien movie, because he also doesn't make any commands to anyone. He repeatedly says "I just fly the ship." Which is something said by Dallas from the first movie, "I just run the ship." It was a nice fusion of characters I liked, and a good way to get me to identify with him. I'm kinda sad when he eventually dies, but he has a heroic death. Then there's the two other scientists. Now, they're played by Rafe Spall and Sean Harris, and I have never seen these guys before. They're not too interesting, and Harris actually comes off as a character you don't like and you want him to get it early in the movie, but I do like they're little comedy stuff when they are trapped in the tunnels on the planet. I thought those were some cool moments, and the way they died was so gruesome and very well played. They essentially find these snake-like creatures that were swimming through this black liquid, and it wraps around Spell's character's arm and breaks his arm. Harris' character tries to cut the thing's head off, and succeeds, but unfortunately it bleeds acid (a very great callback to Alien) and grows its head back on. It's a very disturbing scene, with the snake creature forcing itself down Spell's throat and Harris' helmet melting onto his face. Gruesome, but enjoyable. Logan Marshall-Green plays Holloway, Shaw's boyfriend, but this is the weakest link of the cast. I didn't find him interesting, and really didn't connect with him. He ends up being infected with an alien creature by David's doing; David slips a little bit of the black alien liquid into Holloway's drink, and slowly, the liquid starts to change his cellular structure, and it deforms him. I did like it when he and Shaw eventually have sex, not because it's sex (we don't see any of it), but it brings that type of fear that was used in the original Alien; the subtext of that movie is the fear of sex and rape. It plays it up in the moment where they have at it. Logan has this alien inside him, and during intercourse, transfers the creature into Shaw. It plays well, and it was moments like that, where they really call on the themes that the original Alien had is where I enjoyed the film.
Speaking of which, I love the visual style of this movie. I've really only seen two other Ridley Scott movies, which include Alien and Blade Runner, and both those movies are just beautifully shot and filmed. He brings a little of that here. I thought the CGI used in this movie doesn't seem as cheap as what Avatar might have done; when we get to the creatures themselves, they look more real than the Na'vi did in Avatar. But this movie didn't rely all on CGI. Yes, it was a big part of the movie; it is hard to not use CGI nowadays where people can tell miniatures and models when they see them. This movie had some puppetry and real people in makeup. The Space Jockey's, when we don't see them in their elephant-like spacesuits, are played by real people in makeup, and it looks so beautiful. I think the Space Jockeys do look like Gods in this film. I bought into them entirely. I also loved the little snake like creatures I mentioned earlier. They looked like penises, which is something that reminded me of the original Alien. The chestburster in the original Alien looked like a penis, and so does this creature. Again, anything that can remind me of what was so great in the original Alien will make me happy. Including the Space Jockey's ship. The attention to detail with this ship is phenomenal. It looks just like it did in the original. The design, how it looks from the inside. I think the only inconsistency is the chair that the Space Jockey's sit in to navigate the ship. We see it briefly in the original Alien, and we see it again here near the end, and the dimensions aren't quite right. The Space Jockey's are just a bit too small. It's not a big problem, but it was something that I noticed. Other than that, I thought Scott really did a good job at keeping a consistent look.
I also liked the squid creature that comes into play near the second half of the movie. I really want to talk about this scene, because it really got to me. Basically, after Holloway dies and Shaw faints, she wakes up, only to be scanned by David and finds out that Holloway, through the act of sex, has transferred an alien creature inside of her. She eventually makes her way to Vicker's room (the lifeboat as they call it), and activates a medical machine used to perform surgery on males. She tells the machine to cut her stomach open, and pull the creature out of her before it can grow and come out naturally. This scene not only visually grossed me out, but it also made me think of how horrific this might be for some women. This plays on a fear I think many woman have, which would be two things: abortion and caesarean section. The fear of having a living creature dwelling inside you that you don't want there, and having something cut you open and pulling it out. Now, I know some of you who may have seen the movie will say you didn't see it, but to me, it was pretty obvious. Whereas in the original Alien plays off of the fear of rape, this plays off of the fear of aborting a child that you don't want. It's some deep stuff, and not really what you'd expect to see in a summer movie, but for the type of movie that it is, and from the material it comes from, I thought it was appropriate for this moment, and it was executed very well. It was gut-wrenching (excuse the pun) to see the claw of the machine reach into Shaw's stomach and pull it out while Shaw is still conscious. Sure, she's doped up, but she can see everything that is happening. Well, we leave this creature behind to follow Weyland and David onto the Space Jockey's ship, but we come back after the ship has crashed, and all that is left of Prometheus is Vicker's lifeboat. The creature has grown monstrous, which I didn't expect to see at all. I honestly thought the creature died. It looked dead when Shaw left it, so that's what I assumed, but no, it is very much alive, and it takes on the characteristics of another creature from the original Alien: the facehugger. If only you could all see the smile I had on my face when that creature hugged itself onto the Space Jockey. Even the way it looked was very reminiscent of the facehugger from the original. The only real problem I had with it is that I thought I knew where it was going at this point. I thought the squid would lay the chestburster inside the Space Jockey, the Space Jockey would regain consciousness and fly off the planet, only to have the creature burst through the Space Jockey's chest, giving rise to the Xenomorph that we all know from the original Alien, and the ship would crash on LV_426 with a distress call into space, where the crew of the Nostromo would eventually find it. But it doesn't happen that way to my disappointment. The Space Jockey gets attacked by this creature, and wakes up a few hours later to have an entirely new creature burst out of its chest. I like the scene, I was really enjoying it when it happened, I just thought they might go into that territory.
Now, I have to speak about the ending creature. I mentioned it in my plot summary, and some of you may have thought I was talking about the Xenomorph (known as Alien to mainstream audiences), but it really isn't. It's more like a prototype to what I assume will be the Xenomorph, but it does have a lot of similarities. It has black skin, an elongated skull, and even a second set of jaws, although it looks drastically different than what the Xenomorph has. I didn't know what to make of it when I first saw it. I was very happy to see it, and I had a huge smile on my face when it busted out, but I just wish I knew more about this creature. I guess if this movie gets a sequel, we will know more about it and what it will become later on.
There's really only one major problem that I had with this movie, and I feel like many Alien fans have a problem with it too. There are still a lot of questions that are remained unanswered. But it isn't too big for me; it didn't ruin the movie for me. I just want to know more. That is a testament to this movie; it was able to entertain me, make me think about the movie itself, and leave me wanting more. I do want to know more, and I really hope that Ridley Scott and the writers for this movie come back for the sequels, because there is a 30 year gap between this movie's time and the time Alien takes place. These writers are skilled; they gave me answers that I wanted, but they didn't give me all the answers that I wanted. I give these screenwriters full props for leaving things ambiguous, and wanting the audience to learn more (at least for me. I'm not sure how others might feel about it). If there is a sequel to this movie, you can guarantee that I will be there opening night for it.
Overall, with a story that is stand-alone and very reminiscent of the movie that inspired it, a beautiful visual style that makes the movie extraordinary, and a cast of strong actors that I've seen in other movies (with minor exceptions), I have to say that I love this movie. It is a very strong recommend. I'm gonna be so bold as to say that, counting this into the Alien franchise (which I think is fair), this is my second favorite, just behind the original. I know Aliens has a huge fanbase and is a classic, I think this one is better than that, in visuals and in character. Now, just because I said that, I don't think this movie will be considered a classic like Aliens or even like Alien. I think this movie will be remembered for a long time, but it won't be treasured like its predecessors. And I know that a lot of Alien lovers will have trouble looking past the fact that this movie doesn't 100% sync up with Alien, but it doesn't bother me at all. I will be buying this movie when it is released on Blu-Ray, and I cannot wait to see where this new movie takes us.
Well, we have only made it halfway into our summer season. We have so far had our appetizers with The Hunger Games and The Lorax, we have had our french fry movies that include The Avengers, Dark Shadows, and Men In Black III, now we look forward to the main course... The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's follow up to The Dark Knight. I cannot wait for this movie. I have been waiting 4 years for this movie, and when tickets go on sale, you can bet your ass I will be buying my ticket for the midnight premier. I am so pumped for this movie, it's crazy. I have seen all of Nolan's movies, and loved all of them (some more than others) and I know he will not disappoint. I know it probably won't be as good as The Dark Knight, but I imagine it will be something worth watching. Cannot wait.
I hope you enjoyed this review. Thanks for reading.