“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good” – Genesis1:31
Prometheus is not afraid of asking – and trying to provide answers for –really big questions. With Alien (1979) and Bladerunner (1982) Director Sir Ridley Scott left an indelible mark on the design and themes of Sci-Fi to this day and his return to the genre after thirty years sees him tackling similarly complex themes. In Prometheus, the crew of the titular spaceship set out to literally “meet their makers” by following a map left in a number of ancient scriptures and cave paintings which directs them to a specific moon capable of harbouring life. When they get there, the crew begin to realise that their creators may not be quite as benevolent as they had originally hoped…
Over his previous two Sci-Fi films Scott dealt with the themes of birth and motherhood (Alien) and of the nature of humanity (Bladerunner) and here he deals with both again but also contemplates questions like “What would God do if he was unhappy with his creation?” and “Why would our creator(s) abandon us?” In this respect I think Prometheus is a real triumph its drama is well constructed and its vision and design is out of this world (forgive the pun).* You can’t really say this of many modern Sci-Fi films, they seem to be – with notable exceptions like Moon – all style and little or no substance. Not to say that Scott’s film is without flaws, it’s got plenty of clunking lines of dialogue and “twists” which are about as shocking as the choice to include explosions in a Michael Bay film. And in many ways, a lot of the crew has so little screen time it makes you wonder why they were included at all.
The cast which is less “all-star” and more like “all-talent” includes OSCAR® winner Charlize Theron on top form as the understated and cold Boss of the expedition (remarkable considering just a couple of weeks ago she was on panto-baddie duty in Snow White and the Huntsman), Noomi Rapace (The Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo heroine) as our strong willed and likeable protagonist, Guy Pearce (hidden beneath makeup for prequel/sequel reasons) Idris Elba and others. The real standout though is Michael Fassbender as android David, whom he plays with humour, amiability and humanity yet still is utterly convincing as something manufactured. It would seem that Fassbender has that incredible capability of being able to be excellent in low budget “arty” films like Hunger and Shame but also standout in big blockbusters such as this and X-Men: First Class. It won’t be long before he is amongst George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon – if he isn’t already.
It’s not often that I come out of a blockbuster of this size having genuinely enjoyed it, it seems that many I’ve seen recently are bloated and overlong, pumped full of too many underdeveloped characters (of which this has only a couple; who fail to earn their ‘heroic’ end) and generally aimed at the mentally challenged, not to challenge you mentally. Prometheus, on all counts, dodges most of those pitfalls. It is thrilling, at times frightening and constantly entertaining up to the explosive and exhilarating finale. Why it has taken 30 years for Sir Ridley to return to Sci-Fi I don’t know, but if it takes another three decades to make another masterpiece, I will gladly wait for it.
*You really have to see it in Imax if you can, it really brings out the design. It’s breathtaking.
Prometheus is out now in Imax, 3D and 2D in Cinemas everywhere.