If ever a film has wanted to have its cake and eat it too, it's Ridley Scott's long-awaited return to the universe of Alien, in a "quasi-prequel" designed to explain where the mysterious "space jockey" in that 1979 film's early stages came from. Despite Mr. Scott's insistance that Prometheus spins off into a separate "mythology", it's clear from the finished product just how much this is an Alien prequel passing itself off as a brand new film - which it also is, hence the somewhat schizophrenic yet alluring end result.

     Prometheus is a thoughtful, oblique meditation on metaphysical matters wrapped up in a thinly disguised repeat of the original Alien structure, following a scientific expedition travelling to a distant moon where, according to archaeological digs, life on Earth may have originated, and finding itself face to face with an implacable, horrifying foe. With a number of smart winks at the original film and a structured script (extensively revised by J. J. Abrams sidekick Damon Lindelof) that leaves just enough unsaid to make its dynamics believable, Prometheus is also Mr. Scott's least mannered, more direct film in a while; the director seems here to be working more as a glorified, functional hack for hire, whose only personal touch lies in the meticulously designed and realized environments.

     But the thoughtful ideas of the script - from the concept of mankind as a species "engineered" by creatures with the power to destroy as well as create, to that of David (Michael Fassbender), the robot valet onboard the spaceship Prometheus who is also playing God, in a way, with his corporate overlords - raise cleverly structured parallels to the key confrontations in the previous Alien movies between man (or woman) and alien(s). And, again, it's woman who saves the day, putting to good effect the series' reliance on slasher/horror movie tropes and the classic "final girl" rule (here, again, doubled up with Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace on opposite sides of the "daddy's girl" divide - one who wishes her daddy dead, the other wanting him alive).

     Smarter than it appears to be at first sight but hopelessly muddled in its desire to cover all possible bases, Prometheus is ultimately a thrillingly realised teaser of a movie that remains somewhat tantalizingly out of reach, but one that is well worth the trip.

Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green; Charlize Theron. 
     Director, Ridley Scott; screenplay, Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof, inspired by a story by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon; cinematography, Dariusz Wolski (colour, processing by DeLuxe, Panavision widescreen); music, Marc Streitenfeld; designer, Arthur Max; costumes, Janty Yates; editor, Pietro Scalia; visual effects, Richard Stammers; producers, David Giler, Walter Hill, Mr. Scott (Twentieth Century-Fox, Dune Entertainment, Scott Free, Brandywine), USA, 2012, 124 minutes.
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 9 (Lisbon), June 1st 2012. 


Popular Posts