| Director Ridley Scott (“Alien” and “Blade Runner”), 74, makes a glorious return to science fiction fantasy after a 30–year absence in one of the most anticipated movies of the summer.
The movie opens with jaw-dropping scenery of pristine natural beauty with an awe-inspiring musical score.
Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace from the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and its sequels) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) make a discovery on Scotland’s Isle of Skye in 2089. It is a cave drawing that is at least 35,000 years old. It depicts men pointing to the stars and worshipping divine beings. This is just one of several symbolic murals placed throughout history by ancient human civilizations. They surmise that these paintings indicate that the alien beings that created mankind want us to come and find them.
A few years later, aging billionaire visionary Peter Weyland (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce covered with disfiguring special-effects makeup) of the Weyland Corporation funds a mission on a trillion dollar scientific exploratory vessel named Prometheus.
The spaceship carrying a crew of 17 goes farther out in space than any previous manned craft.
Besides Shaw and Holloway, the other major characters onboard include Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron recently seen in “Snow White and the Huntsman”) as the apparent boss of the expeditionary force; Janek (Idris Elba) as the ship’s old school captain; and David (Michael Fassbender), the most fascinating advanced android created by Weyland.
The voyage begins in late summer of 2091 and the crew is placed in separate sleep chambers. The super-intelligent David wakes everyone up in late December 2093 after they have been in hibernation for 2 years and 4 months.
The crew assembles for a meeting in which a dying Weyland appears in a hologram. He states that the time has come for the Titan to return. He is referring to the Titan Prometheus, a servant of the gods, who stole and gave to mankind the gift of fire, an immeasurable benefit that changed the human race forever.
Weyland is a superstitious man and wanted Shaw aboard because she is a true believer. She wears a cross necklace and is “willing to discount three centuries of Darwinism.”
Her boyfriend Holloway is a skeptic seeking a purely scientific explanation to the origins of human life.
Weyland concludes his remarks by saying “It’s Christmas and I want to open my presents.” Shortly thereafter, the ship lands on the surface of a mysterious distant planet. A survey team embarks on land rovers and explores various nooks and crannies.
The screenplay written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof (“Cowboys & Aliens” and “Lost”) was inspired by Erich von Daniken’s writings about ancient astronauts.
“Both NASA and the Vatican agree that it is almost impossible that we can be where we are today, without there being a little help along the way. We are talking about gods and engineers, engineers of space,” said Scott.
This movie makes you think and presents lots of ideas. It captures your imagination from the outset and keeps you guessing throughout the 124 minute running time.
The first half of the film grapples with the most meaningful questions posed by mankind. Why were we created on Earth in the first place? What is our special purpose?
The suspense and tension keeps you on the edge of your seat. The second half is a bit of a letdown with the filmmakers resorting to gore and a high body count. The movie turns into a violent and scary nightmare-inducing creature feature.
Everyone will come away with their own individualized impressions from experiencing this film. Some may be frustrated by the lack of profound definitive answers and the ambiguity that you’re left with as the story crosses the finish line. My immediate reaction was “I can’t believe what I just saw” followed immediately by “Is that it?”
Everyone will be talking about this movie. Lively debates and dissection of the plot should make for interesting conversations.
Scott has indicated that this film takes place in the same universe as “Alien”, but that is mostly an original movie and not a direct prequel.
Fassbender’s performance stands out as the super-intelligent, man-made manservant whose curious nature proves dangerous and destructive. He models his appearance after Peter O’Toole’s T. S. Lawrence (of Arabia). He will remind you of HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Rapace has mastered the English language and her star will be on the rise after effectively expressing intense physical and emotional pain. Theron spends most of the film wearing a skintight outfit that shows off all her curves. Her expressive face and haughty demeanor convey a woman constantly struggling for power and control.
The movie’s main drawing card is not the story or the acting, but rather the unbelievable visual effects. The astounding eye candy is on higher plane than anything ever seen before in an epic blockbuster. Visual mapping, ground-breaking computer-generated special effects and other technological tricks of the trade are on display to create an immersive visceral experience.
The breathtaking set designs inside the spaceship and outside on the planet by Arthur Max are worthy of year-end awards recognition.
The movie’s other strengths are the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Eagle Eye” and “Sweeney Todd”) and the original musical score by Marc Streitenfeld (“The Grey,” “Robin Hood” and “American Gangster”).
For science-fiction purists, I would recommend that you go first class and see this entertaining movie in the premium IMAX 3D format.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"