As a kid, “Aliens” was the first sci-fi/horror film I saw. It became a part of the lexicon shared between my older brother and I. I was too young to see it in the theatre without a guardian and there was no way either of my parents were going to take me, so, I asked for it later once the film was released in a physical (cough VHS cough) format which I happily received nestled in the plastic strands of fake grass within an Easter basket. Strangely appropriate and inappropriate, all at once.
Nearly fifteen years ago, I sat in a darkened theatre, having taken a rare day off from work, preparing myself for a long-awaited addition to the Aliens franchise. After seeing Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) perish in the previous film, “Alien 3”, it wasn’t exactly clear where the story could possibly go. Cloning was (and arguably still is) a hot-button issue in 1997 as the turn of the millennium bore down on us. “Alien Resurrection” played into this and our beloved heroine was raised from the dead.
The Alien franchise has been a part of my life for decades. Of course I’ve been simultaneously over the moon with anticipation and terrified of seeing “Prometheus”. My mantra has been “oh my God it’s going to be amazing” and “please dear God don’t let it suck”.
This morning, at 9.30 a.m., a full hour before the first showing of “Prometheus” I stood in line, bought my ticket and found the first seat in an empty theatre. It’s been months since word and media began to surface and spread around the latest Ridley Scott project. Some of us got tired of the neverending media circus preceding the film’s release. TED talks, an infomercial for “David” the synthetic human used aboard the Prometheus (which is actually quite brilliant). This is 2 parts brilliant on the behalf of hungry studio executives and marketing folks looking to tap into the power of social media and 1 part crap for folks like me. After all, I doubt the physical incarnation of Santa Claus himself could live up to all of the hype – it’s a dangerous game.
As a rule, I steer absolutely clear from this type of media leading up to cinematic events. And make no mistake, “Prometheus” is such an event. I want to walk into films like this with no expectations and watch the spectacle unfold before me. I want the entire thing to be fresh. After I role out of the film, if it was worth the bother (and believe me, “Prometheus” is worth the bother – maybe even several times), I will go home and hit the internet in a hunger for all of the media everyone else has already consumed, and I will braise myself in all the sound bytes, video clips, images and reviews because I will have gotten the proper context.
So, onward (and thank you, Ridley Scott for a great addition to the franchise).
Please note: SPOLIERS ABOUND BELOW.
Set during the final years of the next millennium (roughly the 2090’s), “Prometheus” is a large, provocative film that seeks to answer the question “where did we come from?” It is this question that haunts the film. The supposition is that massive human-God-like creatures, far-advanced from us, came to this planet and “donated” their genetic material so that we might exist. Many, many, many millennia later, a couple of doctors, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace – who absolutely radiates ferocity in the role) and her boyfriend Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) make a connection between cave paintings spread across the globe dating from different eras.
They set out to fund an exploratory mission to a location seemingly depicted in each one of the aforementioned cave paintings. In Weyland Industries, they find a taker. After sinking a trillion dollars into the venture, we find our crew (the Doctors included), led by Meredith Vickers (played by the ever-amazing Charlize Theron) coming out of a 2-year long hypersleep near LV-223. On the surface of a planet, not entirely dissimilar to ours (except for a slightly deadly carbon dioxide issue), Shaw and Holloway make their way through one of several massive earthen structures – think pyramid, only more organic. Inside, they find more of the massive human-God creatures and evidence that something has gone amiss – albeit, after carbon dating, centuries ago.
As a massive storm approaches, the landing crew is evacuated back to the ship, but the damage has already been done. David (scene-stealing Michael Fassbender), the ship’s synthetic human/robot/android, has secreted away a vase full of suspicious looking black fluid and Dr. Shaw has secured the severed head of one of the massive human-God creatures.
Back aboard the ship, Prometheus, the crew runs various tests on the head – finally concluding the dna of the creature and humans are a match. Dr. Shaw’s theory about our origins seem now to be fact. Meanwhile, David is doing some tests of his own on the black fluid contained in the vase. Just a drop. A drop on the very tip of his fingertip, above the “W” within his fingerprint. What can he do with a drop? Enough. More than enough. Our little synthetic human is no different than us – he has ulterior (programming) motives. And why does he have ulterior programming? Because he is the closest thing to a son Peter Weyland will ever have. And even though he is, well, artificial, of course he wants to please his father. His father is nearing death – afraid of what’s to come – and has jumped at this last chance to meet his maker and maybe cheat a little more time for himself.
The black oil. This is what I believe the whole thing boils down to. The black oil is the origin of all life. Ultimately, it is what you bring to it. For the humans who explore the ancient pyramids on LV-223, it becomes (at first) the hammerpede once it comes into contact with worms slithering on the floor. Through its continued contact with the humans, it seems to reflect their deepest fears. For the human-Gods, it becomes a weapon with which to destroy worlds. For David, well…David has no emotion, no feeling. He brings nothing to it, and, as we’ve seen in the previous Alien films, the xenomorph has nothing to do with androids outside of ripping them asunder.
So, armed with this single drop of black oil (not dissimilar to the alien sludge of the X-Files), his curiosity and the continued antagonism of his “father”, David proceeds to infect Dr. Holloway. Slipping the doctor a glass of his favorite celebratory spirits, he dips his oil-laced finger in the liquid and that’s that. What we’ve seen in the Alien franchise holds true here – the evolution of the xenomorph is nothing if not expedient and terrifyingly unpredictable. Within hours, Holloway is ill (he’s mutating) and Shaw is…well, for the lack of a better comparison, pregnant although “not in a traditional way”.
In what I believe is one of the most horrifying sequences in film, what unfolds following the very grim death of her boyfriend at the hands of Vickers, Dr. Shaw is forced to remove the “fetus” growing inside her before David can freeze her in stasis for the trip home. During this sequence, it is difficult to imagine any other actress in the role of Shaw. Rapace, who skyrocketed to international attention with the Millennium series (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”), is clearly one of the best reasons to see the film – and one of the main reasons you may find yourself fully engaged. Her raw energy are absolutely delightful.
As the film continues to unfold, you may be one of the many who find continuity errors (doors open before fingers are touching buttons, the Windows operating system tray at the bottom of Prometheus control monitors which display the incorrect dates, the actual distance the crew is away from Earth – hint: it’s not a half billion miles), but I’m asking you to stop looking for those. There is plenty of time to dissect things like that in the privacy of your home. Don’t do it in the movie theatre and spoil it for the rest of us.
Ultimately, conversation and debate around the film are going to settle in on whether “Prometheus” should be viewed as a prequel to the 1979 film “Alien”. I’m not going to get into that argument here. Instead, I will defer you to the words of Ridley Scott himself who describes the film as having Alien DNA without being necessarily related. Take that however you want. But, the bottom line is that “Prometheus” is fully capable of standing on it’s own. It’s exciting to see fresh, thought-provoking threads being woven into a story whose unfolding has spanned more than 30 years.
Do you need to see it in 3-D? Not necessarily. The action is sparse and quick, but the aerial shots which comprise the opening title sequence will be absolutely stunning.
Are there any extra scenes at the end of the film following/during the credits? No – only this:
Now nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects:
Official site: Prometheus
Listen to the soundtrack: Prometheus Soundtrack
Follow the film on Twitter: @Prometheus
Get up to the moment info on Noomi Rapace from our friends at: Noomi Rapace info