Ancient Greek mythology tells us Prometheus was the champion for mankind; stealing fire from Zeus to light the way for mortals. As retribution Zeus sent Pandora to live with man. We all know how that turns out. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a different kind of mythology. Despite proclamations that this is not an Alien prequel, the common themes are apparent and less than subtle at times.
The opening scene shows us the germination of mankind. Post credits find us in Scotland in 2089. Drs. Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover an ancient wall painting in a cave that shows a specific star constellation. Fast forward to 2093 and the good doctors find themselves awakening from stasis on the deep-space vessel Prometheus. With backing by Weyland Corporation’s CEO Peter Weyland, the Prometheus is on a journey to find the specific constellation appearing in the art of several unconnected ancient cultures. After finding the constellation far from earth the crew is there to look for the Engineers, those who created mankind. What follows is a nod to the ancient myth as the crew metaphorically steals fire and unwittingly opening Pandora’s Box.
Ridley Scott has long been heralded as a one of the premiere directors of the last 30 years. His filmography includes several action films, novel adaptations and period pieces. However, two films cast a shadow over all of his other work, Alien and Blade Runner. Two seminal sci-fi classics that have spawned their own cult-like following and rabid fan base. Scott has essentially kept his distance from sci-fi fare, likely due to the expectations that would weigh on any such project. Scott, along with James Cameron, began developing the idea for Prometheus as an entry in the Alien franchise. After a few years of modifying the film Scott states it “shares DNA” with the Alien franchise but has its own canon. But could the film match the expectations set upon the man who brought us Ripley and Deckard?
Yes. Prometheus stands tall as the third monolithic sci-fi classic from the director. The script, pacing and direction are on par with Alien. Capturing the same claustrophobia and tension, but without the cheap gore that often ruins such films. The films cast is a strong ensemble that give several great individual performances. Charlize Theron is icy as Meredith Vickers, the supervisor of the expedition. Noomi Rapace is the optimistic scientist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Idris Elba is the pragmatic ship’s captain.
However, it’s Michael Fassbender’s character, David, who really glues the whole thing together. An android, he is almost a forerunner of the Bishop character from Aliens. But David is more proper; a cold and calculating servant who has a clear sense of where his loyalties lie. His actions propel the story while straddling the line between hero and villain just as Fassbender’s portrayal sways from mechanical and subservient to calculating and mischievous.
Despite the heightened expectations Prometheus delivers in droves. This is one of those few sci-fi films that will resonate over time. Prometheus is an entertaining blend of stunning visuals and haunting mythology. Highly recommended.