Big things have small beginnings

Prometheus ****

IN SPACE no one can hear you scream was the infamous tag-line to Ridley Scott’s 1979 science fiction horror feature, Alien. Now 33 years later, the British director returns to the universe he created, in Prometheus, certificate 15.

Set nearly 30 years before the events seen in the original film, the director has described Prometheus as an indirect prequel, which exists within the same universe as Alien. He said: “Though the film shares strands of Alien’s DNA, it explores its own mythology and ideas.”

Scott said his motivation for making this feature, was to explore the history of the infamous Space-Jockey, seen albeit briefly in the original film. Some viewers might be surprised to know that the film’s events take place on a different planet, than the one seen briefly in the opening stages of Alien.

The film features a truly stellar cast, including Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. The plot sees a team of explorers discovering a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth. Their discovery sees them travelling to the darkest corner of the universe as they search for their answers. As the film’s tag-line, ominously proclaims: “The search for our beginning could lead to our end.”

Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green star as the archaeologist couple, Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, who make the discovery of a star map, hidden within the ancient remains of several otherwise unconnected cultures. They persuade Guy Pearce’s character, Peter Weyland to finance their trip, on-board the spacecraft, Prometheus.

The ship’s crew includes the mysterious, Meredith Vickers, played by Charlize Theron and Idris Elba’s sarcastic Captain Janek. David the synthetic android is brilliantly played by Michael Fassbender.

The Irish actor continues his rise within Hollywood, at present he is probably one of the industry’s hottest actors. He is fantastic throughout the feature, stealing every scene with his magnetic performance. His physical mannerisms and general calmness as the film’s events unfold mean his character becomes as menacing an onscreen presence, as the external alien threat.

The idea that his android character has no soul is constantly played with, allowing David to perform acts with a childlike sense of curiosity, which his human counterparts might find unethical.

Noomi Rapace’s character and Theron’s Meredith Vickers are very much as different as chalk and cheese to each other. In fact Theron’s character is much more in the mould of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, but as the film’s events play out Shaw’s character is moulded into as strong a central heroine as Ripley herself.

The film itself is visually stunning, much like Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, Bladerunner. Shot entirely in 3D, the director builds an immersive world down to the smallest detail. From start to finish the film is breathtakingly beautiful. The accompanying musical score by Marc Streitenfeld and Harry Gregson Williams compliments the feature wonderfully.

Scott’s film is full of big ideas throughout its runtime. Concepts like creation and destruction, faith and religion are all explored and discussed. As Fassbender’s character ominously proclaims as he holds a tiny droplet of alien primordial ooze: “Big things have small beginnings.”

Fans of the original film might be left disappointed by the lack of any xenomorph action throughout the feature. Other than one brief appearance near the end of the film, the alien antagonists do not feature. Ridley Scott claimed he felt the creatures had been flogged to death, with several sequels and wanted to move the story away from them.

In doing so the film raises more questions than it answers. The script co-written by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaints gets heavily weighed down by the big issues and concepts it raises. It’s a very different feature to Alien, it lacks the horror of the original but the director still manages to include some grotesque sequences, including a nauseating scene involving Noomi Rapace and some desperate surgery.

Prometheus might not have been the film I expected but nevertheless it was still a fantastically watchable feature. Those lucky enough to have avoided film’s over-revealing trailers will probably enjoy this film the most.

It’s great to see Ridley Scott returning to science fiction, his fantastic visual style perfectly suits the genre. Considering how the Alien franchise became nothing more than a cash-cow for Fox studios, it’s great to see the director bringing the series back to its science fiction roots.

It might lack the impact of the original but it reminded me of great films within the genre, such as Danny Boyle’s 2007 feature, Sunshine and Steven Soderbergh’s, Solaris. Scott has said he hopes to make two more sequels to this film, to answer any outstanding questions and link the series back to the Alien movie. I hope the director is given the chance, Prometheus, might not be perfect but it’s great to see a film with such fantastic aspirations.

Review By William McClean


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