June 7, 2012
Rated: R Runtime: 124 min Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Ridley Scott returns to the universe of the 1979 movie Alien with Prometheus.
Is it a prequel? It definitely takes place before the events of Alien, in 2093 (For those counting, Alien takes place in 2122). And it involves the Weyland Corporation.
In 2089, archeologists have found a half-dozen places on Earth where ancient cultures, widely separated by geography and time, have all depicted the same star-and-planet pattern in their cave paintings/stone tablets/etc. of a star system they couldn’t have seen from Earth.
Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, the original Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe it’s a message from aliens who visited Earth long ago.
The Weyland Corporation finances a scientific expedition to the star system. Led by Company Woman Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), who as much as tells the crew everybody is expendable but her (She has her own life support system and escape pod on this ship). She locks horns with Captain Janek (Idris Elba), not a Company Man.
In typical Alien fashion, our crew of 17 travels for 2 years in suspended animation, watched over by the android David (Michael Fassbender), who’s spent his time learning ancient languages and watching Lawrence of Arabia.
I’m going to try to keep fairly spoiler-free, but this much can be gleaned from the trailer: You may remember in Alien, there were really two types of aliens: The eponymous critters (Who do not appear in this film), and the dead, giant humanoid found in the driver’s seat of the derelict boomerang-shaped spaceship. Fans of Alien have wondered for the last 33 years, “Who were those guys?!” This movie embarks to answer that question.
On the planet, they find a giant structure riddled with artificial tunnels. When they start to explore it, we’re back on more traditional science fiction horror ground.
Along with Alien, this movie could be thought of as a spiritual successor to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The movie also asks, if we discover extraterrestrial life elsewhere, does that strengthen or weaken religious faith?
Meanwhile, android David is facing another existential crisis – he knows who created him: the head of the Weyland Corporation, Peter Weyland. But why was he created?
The screenwriters are Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour), and Damon Lindelof (TV series Lost, Cowboys & Aliens, and the upcoming Star Trek sequel).
The visuals on this movie are astonishing, and 3-D certainly adds to it, but isn’t required.
Fans of the Alien series may get into debates about whether this all fits; 33 years of Alien has seen 3 sequels, 2 prequels of questionable lineage (When Alien Met Predator), comic books, video games, etc. It’s a lot of background weight, and some may feel this movie explains too much; others, not enough.
But it’s mindbending science fiction/horror that raises questions, which is more than a lot of recent science fiction films.
And by the way, this planet they visit has an atmosphere, however unbreathable. So in contrast to the old tagline, on this planet, everyone, human or otherwise, can hear you scream.
Popularity: 40% [?]
Seen it? How many stars do you give it?