Loving The Alien
Though he’s always been considered a master of sci-fi, director Ridley Scott hasn’t actually made a sci-fi movie since 1982’s “Blade Runner.” But now he’s returned to the genre, and in grand form, with “Prometheus,” a kind-of, sort-of, though maybe not really a prequel to his other sci-fi entry, 1979’s “Alien.”
After discovering evidence that aliens have visited Earth, and may be our dad, two archeologists lead an expedition to what they believe to be the aliens’ home world. Though, of course, what they find isn’t loving parents, the answers to all their questions, or even an alien Starbucks, but trouble with a capital “T.” And an angry “R.”
How this all ties into all of the “Alien” movies (and games, and comics, and coffee mugs) is, well, complicated, and the movie does a better job explaining it than I ever could. Though before I go on, DON’T READ THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT ANYTHING SPOILED. Are they gone? Good, let’s talk about them. No, instead, let’s talk about the movie, which is not a direct sequel the way “Halo: Reach” was a direct sequel to the original “Halo,” it’s an indirect one at best. But it is set in the same universe, and answers some questions that have lingered since the first “Alien” (and thus might irritate longtime fans who had their own ideas about things). Which means there could be another movie that bridges “Prometheus” and “Alien.” Or that what prompted the events of “Alien” first led to the events of “Prometheus.” [END SPOILERS]
Regardless of how it does or does not connect to “Alien,” though, “Prometheus” still stands on its own thanks to a smart script penned by Damon Lindelof of “Lost” and “Star Trek” fame, and Jon Spaihts, who penned “The Darkest Hour.” While there are times when you’ll think you have it figured out, the movie never takes the most obvious path, though it also never throws a pointless curveball just because it can. That said, people who found “Lost” infuriating because it never spelled things out will have the same reaction to this movie.
Supporting the story in the way they always should, the film’s special effects are, well, very special. Though what’s interesting is how well they fit aesthetically what Scott did in “Alien.” Granted, the Prometheus does look a lot snazzier than the Nostromo, which might strike some as odd given that the Nostromo is probably newer, but it was also a space truck while the Prometheus is a scientific vessel built by a trillionaire.
Also helping out the story is the film’s cast, who take this material as serious as it needs to be taken. The always solid Charlize Theron doesn’t tear it up like she does in “Snow White And The Huntsman,” but then she’s playing a very different character. Same for Idris Elba (“Thor”), who plays the role of space captain Janek like a real space cowboy. In fact, he and Theron have what is easily the best of the human moments in the film. But the standout role belongs to Michael Fassbender, who plays the robot David with such a creepy amount of detachment that you’ll wonder why the hell the rest of the crew would ever agree to be on a space ship with him.
What’s not creepy, oddly, is the film’s score, which, most of the time, is more grand and orchestrated like a “Star Trek” film than atmospheric like “Aliens” or “Blade Runner.” It mostly works, mostly, but it might throw some people.
In the end, “Prometheus” isn’t as groundbreaking as “Alien” and “Blade Runner.” Or “The Matrix” for that matter. But it is just as thoughtful, and thought-provoking, as well as compelling and exhilarating. It’s easily the best pure sci-fi movie — assuming you don’t count “Iron Man” and other comic book flicks — since “Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith.” Or, to put it another way, it’s exactly what we’d expect from a sci-fi master like Ridley Scott.