Technical: 4 Moral: 3
CINEMA Rating: R 14 (For ages 14 up)
It is year 2093. Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of ancient cave drawings from different cultures, the oldest dating 37,000 years, spanning various civilizations, and pointing to a single location in space—an earth-sized moon circling the sun, called LV-223. Shaw and Holloway both believe that LV-223 could provide clues to the truth about the beginnings of mankind. Their belief happens to mirror that of billionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), CEO of Weyland Corporation, who, upon hearing of the couple’s findings, agrees to finance a space mission to LV-223. Dr. Shaw and Dr. Holloway are to be lead scientists in the mission, accompanied by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), who, representing Weyland Corporation, is in charge of the expedition; David (Michael Fassbender), an android who with almost human intelligence has inscrutable motivations; and 13 other crew members. The spacecraft is named PROMETHEUS. Arriving on LV-223, however, the team quickly realizes that the two doctors had underestimated the implications of the expedition, as their discovery of a superior humanoid life form in suspended animation results in horrible consequences threatening humanity itself.
This must be said: casting is spot-on, and the acting, superb. Shot entirely with 3D cameras, Prometheus offers a captivating and believable scenario of Earthlings’ space science a few years short of the 4th millennium. Although director Ridley Scott helped define the genre about three decades ago with Alien, it matters little whether the viewer has seen Alien or not—Prometheus can stand alone, and maybe even elicit enough enthusiasm to warrant the making of Prometheus 2. Unlike most sci-fi movies nowadays which offer little more than fascinating gadgetry and jaw-dropping CGI, Prometheus has gorgeous visuals plus a plot that challenges the imagination and engages the viewer’s moral judgment.
Not that it has a perfectly plausible story—it has over-the-top assumptions, too, like in that scene where Dr. Shaw undergoes strenuous action right after a brutal surgery: not one staple on her abdominal wound gets undone. Incredible—but you give it the benefit of the doubt since it’s set almost Circa 3000; perhaps medicine and surgery on our planet will be superior by then, and humans will have superhuman strength as well. It also has a scene which sticks out like a huge wart to mar the movie’s almost perfect face: a scientist lost in the underground maze fools around with a strange cobra-like creature—even kindergarteners are smart enough to stay away from unknown creatures, so why would a serious expedition like Prometheus include a buffoon in its crew only to be eliminated in just a stupid a way?
What’s fascinating in Prometheus is that it unwittingly assures he audience that almost a century from today, humans will still be humans—being smug about their knowledge, having sexual needs, wanting to have children, and still searching for answers about human creation. A belief in God and Christianity is still compelling for a scientist: Dr. Shaw cherishes the cross around her neck as a meaningful memento from her father. Theron’s character, Vickers, also exclaims at two crucial moments “Jesus Christ!” We wonder if this is intentional in the director’s part, subliminal, or simply, an oversight of the scriptwriters. It is not dwelt upon at length in the movie but (spoiler coming!) the fact that it is the believer alone who survives must say something about the movie’s message. Elsewhere in the movie, Shaw asks Holloway: “…they created us. If they created us, why would they want to destroy us…?” The voice-over close to the movie’s ending has Dr. Shaw asking more questions, saying the search goes on—which implies that searches of such kind will never find answers.