The big question floating around Ridley Scott’s large-scale sci-fi thriller is a simple, often repeated one. “Is this film a prequel to his 1980 space horror, ‘Alien’?”
The short answer is “yes.”
The accurate answer is “yes, but the titular aliens are not the key to the film.” The conflict in this film is related, but the xenoforms themselves are a sidebar, not the point. Prometheus is much more about the origins of humanity than the introduction of the Giger-inspired alien race.
The Prometheus Project, funded by Weyland Industries, is a trillion dollar space exploration to prove that the creators of mankind may have been alien, and that they may still exist on the outer reaches of space. Prometheus, named for the Greek legend who gave the gift of fire to humans, and its crew of 17, are deployed to find the mysterious beings.
The science research is the work of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” actress Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend, Charlie Holloway (“Devil” actor Logan Marshall-Green). Weyland’s mission leader is the cold Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron (“Monster”)). Captain Janek (“Thor”’s Idris Elba) leads the crew, who are cared for during flight by the android, David (Michael Fassbender of “X-Men: First Class”). They awaken from stasis and are briefed by the video holograph of Weyland’s founder, Peter Weyland (“Memento” actor, Guy Pearce).
The crew then engages in a series of scientific expeditions, uncovering a number of video replays that tell the events that transpired in the hollows of the huge structure. They discover that Shaw’s research was accurate. The race who created mankind did once inhabit these moon. The question is...did they, or did anything, survive?
Director Ridley Scott maintains fantastic continuity with the other films in the Alien franchise, keeping Giger’s themed visuals while expanding an entirely different path. Many of the visual keystones to the original film are explained (at least partially). Even the suits, the spaceships, and the environment closely follow the original, with the benefit of modern filmmaking technology.
Rapace tears her heart out several times in this film, given by far, the most depth of any character. Fassbender’s David is a mix of Blade Runner replicant and 2001’s HAL. Many of the supporting characters are good, in their smaller roles. Overall, the film is well-paced, with the huge jump from emotional to physical action in the final act.
One can’t review Prometheus without mentioning the beautiful, wide shots of the planet, and the creepiness of the interior shots. Where James Cameron’s Avatar is a world of beautiful colors and translucent foliage, Scott’s Prometheus is like a bleak outpost at the edge of the world…one without a future. The IMAX experience was very supplemental, with a small something in 3D in almost every shot, and the key elements that require 3D delivered well. Unlike some other films, 3D never seemed to distract from the overall experience. Marc Streitenfeld’s original score is incredible.
Fans of the Alien franchise should largely be amazed at the cinematic event written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, and brilliantly brought to life by Scott. Anyone who enters thinking that they’re going to get an easy, straight line origin of the face huggers is in for something else. Prometheus is a voyage of self-evaluation, faith, and circumstances.
Prometheus used viral promotion to get the word out to audiences. Several commercials for the David 8 android were released online, along with a TED Talks 2023 video of Weyland making his big announcement to the world. Weyland industries has a website, along with the film’s official, facebook, and twitter pages.