I'm going to review the movie.
Is Prometheus a great science fiction film? Yes, it is. It is also a pretty damn terrifying horror film, as well--two things its predecessor also was. Scott is in full form here, returning to play in the universe he first lured us into some 33 years ago. And while many were puzzled by the narrative detour he took, I for one really enjoyed how the film tangentially ties into the Alien mythos, while also being detached enough to completely stand on its own, as a very strong work of horror sci-fi.
I admired the guts it took for Ridley Scott to make an intelligent, thoughtful piece of sci-fi in the year 2012, when science fiction has come to be almost synonymous with action--such a far cry from its pre-Star Wars form. I also admired the guts it took for Scott--as well as screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof--to make a movie that doesn't feel the need to explain everything. And I don't just mean in a lazy way, as if they honestly don't know which way they're going (a la Lost or Heroes, for example), but rather, it's very clear that Scott and company know exactly how everything fits together--they're just leaving a lot of it for us to sort through. Which we've all been doing ad nauseum for the past few weeks.
|Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?|
Speaking of David, it is Michael Fassbender's enthralling portrayal of this character that steals the show. What would a movie in the Alien universe be without a captivating android, and just like Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen before him, Fassbender (looking astonishingly like a young Laurence Olivier) is the standout of a solid ensemble cast. At times sinister, at others sympathetic, yet strangely vain and Pinnocchio-like in his interest in human culture, David epitomizes the film itself: complex, with no easy answers.
Also like 2001, Prometheus is a true feast for the senses. The production design work by Arthur Max, whose past credits include the likes of Gladiator and Seven, take the original designs of H.R. Giger that inspired the whole Alien mythos in the first place, and translate them effortlessly into this tangential narrative. Yet all the while, Giger's heavy influence is there. This is even true of the very humanoid Engineers (a.k.a. Space Jockeys) who are, as their xenomorph predecessors were, like Giger illustrations literally come to life. Amazing work here by costume designer Janty Yates and a crack makeup design team.
So is it scary? Does it work as a horror film? I can certainly say that it's the most frightening "Alien" film since the original, and it's no wonder why. Ridley Scott brings the same "haunted house in space" sensibility he brought to his 1979 masterpiece, and it pays off once again. The man is a master of generating thick atmosphere and an overall sense of weirdness, and his aim is further aided by the very talented Dariusz Wolski of Pirates of the Caribbean fame behind the camera.
Moon some years ago. This is a film that isn't afraid to think big thoughts and ask big questions about the nature of man, the nature of life, and the nature of the universe. That's what great science fiction has always been about, going back to the classic days of pulps like Amazing Stories and Astounding. I enjoyed the way it delves into the whole alien astronaut concept of the origin of life on Earth. It's just as much Chariots of the Gods as it is 2001.
And for the record, I applaud the studio's decision to go with Lindelof's notion of taking the script in a different direction from being a pure Alien prequel. It works better for it. Let's face it, the xenomorphs have been overexposed thanks to those god-awful Alien/Predator flicks, and it was wise to put them into the background. By turning it into a completely different story that happens to take place in the Alien "universe", the filmmakers allowed the picture to work completely on its own terms. It tells its own story, and you absolutely do not need to have seen any of the Alien films to appreciate it on its own. The fact that it still contains teasing elements of prequel-ness is just acidic icing on the cake.