It’s been about a week since I have seen Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Its themes – both haunting and human – have been resting inside me while I contemplate the dynamics of what I’ve seen. Since then, I have seen the adverts on the television with the “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” piano tinkling. Genius, aren’t they? While there are some very minor flaws in the film, I cannot shake it's beauty and sense of vision. Simply put, Prometheus might be the most honest film experience of the summer. It’s bold, it stretches when it should bend, but – damn it - there’s a certain hunger within this film. A desire to seek the truth and, by god, I do believe Scott is onto something so close to being perfect that one can’t help but let the film slide on its few shortcomings and sit back while its themes gestate.
Let’s clear one thing up first. The sooner you forget about Alien the better. That fact alone is elemental in the enjoyment and possibly the understanding of Prometheus. Director Ridley Scott has returned to the science fiction genre and delivered a visually dynamic film that, while laying the groundwork for 1979’s Alien, has so much more on its mind than simply scaring you with H.R. Giger’s creature designs. Much like the Greek myth it takes its title from, Prometheus is on a quest for knowledge and the unintended consequences (for more on this, see Alien) therein.
Prometheus opens with a beautiful Kubrick-inspired montage at some gorgeously vacant landscapes on Earth. It is an earth of the past and these shots, coupled with composer Marc Streitenfeld’s achingly haunting score, provides an introduction for the ages. It’s eerily cold and distant and, when it’s over, the realization of what you’ve just witnessed is … remarkable. Open your bible. Turn to Genesis. Tweaking an idea William Shatner explored in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the writers of Prometheus - Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof – send human beings to meet their maker. Literally.
Archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have found evidence that life on earth was started by aliens. Believing to have found the location of the planet that correlates across the art of the ancient civilizations of earth, the two researchers embark on a journey to that planet funded by billionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) of Weyland Industries. Yes, this confirms what many have suspected about Prometheus. It is the prequel to Alien but don’t jump to conclusions. Prometheus isn’t trying to scare you with a haunted house in space high concept idea. Scott, while favoring action, wants to tease your brain a bit with the consequence of creations meeting their creators.
Enter another creation to complicate the meet-the-maker themes of Prometheus, David (Michael Fassbender in a character study if ever there was one) is obviously not human. We recognize the motif: he must be an android. On board the spacecraft, while the other members of the crew enjoy their hyper sleep, the android watches and quotes Lawrence of Arabia, practices his human mannerisms and peeks in on the dreams of various crew members, well, namely Elizabeth’s.
Armed with his maker’s instructions, David is a multi-dimensional secret to be discovered and because androids are key to the Alien mythos, he should never be trusted…just like the computer you are using to read this review. See what I did there? Made a real-life connection. But seriously, what motivates an android? That’s right, their programming. Sure, this echoes back to Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) in the original film but this is to be expected in the the year 2093. Androids are everywhere.
Once awake and ready to send the first wave to explore moon LV-223, the ice-cold executive nature of Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) completely instills a sense of dread in the crew. Vickers trusts no one and suspects every one else – including the two archeologists – but especially David. Never one to act without an escape clause, she has a backup plan that would shame most emergency exits manufactured today. Call it a well-decorated panic room, if you must. Regardless, she’s a person you’ll suspect very much and like more and more.
Theron absolutely nails this performance. Allowing the cold of space to keep her cards close to the chest and, in spite of her stiffness, comes across as very, very human. She knows what motivates her crew the most and it isn’t the quest for God. It’s money. This includes Captain Janek (Idris Elba), botanist Millburn (Rafe Spall), and geologist Filfield (Sean Harris). Of the acting, all I can say is that every single cast member nails their part with such believability that, even in the film’s weaker moments of logic, they sell the drama and the tension of their situation.
Science fiction films like this don’t come around as often as they used to. Prometheus isn’t an easy film. It reads like an Alien film – as it should - and yet, upon closer inspection, we have a movie that tackles a very basic and very real question about the nature of our existence inside an already established universe. There’s the trick of the author’s hand. Leave your expectations at the door and let the film allow you to wonder about possibilities.
Ever looked up into the sky and uttered those words? Ever stargazed on a cold, cold night? Wished upon a falling star? If so, then Prometheus is the film you’ve been waiting for. While it’s just shy of being completely genius, the longer it sits with you, the better off it fares. See it twice. Beg, borrow, steal to get in. Prometheus just might have the answers you need to hear.
Using the illusion of depth to great advantage, Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski have designed a 3D film that feels as if it was actually painted on an Icelandic canvas with thick strokes by a renowned artist. The otherworldly CGI is flawless and the location shots of the surface of the moon are some of the most wonderfully realized shots of both men’s career. Prometheus feels as real as reality could ever get on the big screen. Scary, I know.
I must repeat that you should walk into the film with an open mind. Do not expect what you’ve seen in the original, its three sequels, two crossover films, a series of Dark Horse comic books, and novels. The canvas is bigger than you’d even suspect. Perhaps Scott said it best when he sneakily commented that Prometheus shares "strands of Alien's DNA, so to speak” and that, dear reader, is where your mind must come into play. Use it. Think about those words.
Without a doubt, this will be the film of the summer that sparks some interesting conversation. For my money, Prometheus invites repeated viewings and, most importantly, offers possibilities that most films – especially those released during the summer months - don’t dare handle anymore.
MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.
Runtime: 124 mins.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Cast: Noomi Rapace; Michael Fasbender; Charlize Theron; Idris Elba; Guy Pearce
Genre: Sci-fi | Horror
Tagline: They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end.
Memorable Movie Quote: "A king has his reign, and then he dies. It's inevitable."
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site: www.projectprometheus.com
Release Date: June 8, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 9, 2012
Synopsis: Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, returns to the genre he helped define. With Prometheus, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Available on Blu-ray - October 9, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, Ukrainian
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Russian: DTS 5.1; Hindi: Dolby Digital 5.1; Tamil: Dolby Digital 5.1; Telugu: Dolby Digital 5.1; Ukrainian: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy
While your expectations of Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction might flavor your view of Prometheus, there’s no denying that the film looks remarkably robust on High Definition. This is the movie to show off your Home Theater with. Filmed with the Red Epic digital camera, there simply isn’t a bad looking moment in this 1080p/AVC- encoded Blu-ray transfer. Shot completely at Pinewood Studious, Ridley Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski have complete control over the lighting of the detailed sets and it shows. At every single turn the picture yields an absolutely gorgeous image. Fine detail is stunning, computer graphics are seamlessly integrated into the physical world, colors – blues and blacks being the strongest – are all exceptional, and the many low-light scenes are surprisingly noise-free and runny shadows. Black levels are consistent. Flesh tones are nicely realized. There really is nothing bad to report on this image, and the amazing cinematography/compositing on this transfer is simply stunning. Even more impressive is the sonically booming DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that is in every sense impeccable. Impressively well balanced, there’s very little moments where you need to “ride the remote” and adjust the volume between quieter scenes and all-out action sequences. Surround activity is expertly handled, creating a handsomely immersive sonic experience, supplemented by brilliant LFE support.
- There are two commentary tracks included, one with director Ridley Scott and the other with writer Jon Spaihts and writer/executive producer Damon Lindelof. Scott articulates the best and provides a very interesting discussion on the making of the film, revisiting the franchise, and comments freely on his experience working with 3D. Spaihts and Lindelof, recorded separately, provide different takes on the construction of the story and several other versions of scenes that almost were. Scott is the track you should listen to, though. Lindelof is a derailed train. How he ever sells a pitch is beyond this reviewer.
The standard Blu-ray release doesn't contain all the extras that you'll find on the expanded 3D release, while all of the items it does contain are top-quality and add to the overall experience of the film, this review covers the standard blu-ray release only. First up is a good collection of deleted scenes. While most seem to have been cut for length issues there are some surprises. They are available with or without commentary from Pietro Scalia. Next up is The Weland Files which contain four video items. A couple of them appear to be archival tapes about the crew, while the last one is a TED Conference speech by a younger Peter Weyland, featuring some of his grand ideas and exploratory hubris. Pay close attention to this one, folks, as it possibly relates to Ridley Scott’s new Blade Runner film.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (37 min)
- The Peter Weyland Files (19 min)