By all accounts (particularly the Making Of Blade Runner documentary) Ridley Scott is a real prick to work with. He is a pedantic perfectionist who works people to their limit and accepts no compromise. As an audience we see the ultimate illusion created by this true visionary. Alien was the finest science fiction film since 2001: A Space Odyssey and by returning to the Universe that is truly his alone, Scott has created a new masterpiece with Prometheus.
From the mind-bending opening scene which screamed, “This film is unlike anything you have seen before in the Aliens Universe” to the colour motif (that has been a key element of all 4 previous Alien films) Prometheus is a masterwork of film making.
Yes it is an Alien prequel. But it is so much more. This is a film with so many layers. It speaks to those of a spiritual bent and to the cynical atheist like myself equally. It engenders a sense of true wonder at the Universe and its infinite possibilities.
At another level the film confirms two facts.
1. Noomi Rapace is a fantastic actor and a worthy successor to Sigourney Weaver.
2. Charlize Theron has the finest arse in Christiandom.
The discovery of the final starmap and the journey to LV-223 were mercifully brief, and the scene with the briefing was copied directly from Alien Vs Predator. Guy Pearce playing the old man was an odd choice, surely they could have just got an old actor? It stood out in his speech that while David was “The son he never had” clearly Vickers was his daughter.
David was a masterpiece of character and acting. Evesdropping on the sleeper’s dreams and watching Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia and styling himself in the same way was fantastic. Fassbender never dropped out of character. Even when he was rescuing Shaw and Holloway during the storm and they were flailing around and being blown by the wind – he was ramrod straight. He moved like a dancer and you never stopped being aware that he was in fact an artificial.
The industrial strength living conditions and grim realities of space-travel were again present. People puking after waking up from coldsleep, the body and mind being in shock.
The initial exploration of LV-223 which is of course NOT the same planet that Ripley and the Nostromo crew landed on (LV-426) heightened that sense of colour motif. The use of white in this film (representing purity, sterility and in some cultures, death) was subtle and profound (Alien of course had green/black, Aliens was electric blue, Alien 3 was red/orange and Alien4 was copper/rust).
The links to Alien are detailed and exact. The action unfolds in a fascinating way. The opening scene with the Engineer (or Space Jockey) sacrificing himself to create all life on earth was a totally different spin on things. This alternate use of the purification weapons of mass destruction (the goo that evolves into Aliens through successive generations when exposed to host genetic material) was a profound statement about technology.
Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace carried this film, Michael Fossbender stole every scene he was in and Idris Alba was just rough enough to get Damaris’ heart racing.
The rest were there solely to be killed and ramp up the action. The death of Fifield and Millburn were almost darkly humorous.
“Get it off me!”
“I’m not touching that!”
“TOUCH IT! TOUCH IT!”
The unnamed crew and Ford the Irish medic were just there to be killed. The use of flamethrowers in decontamination spoke to me a lot about our primordial fears of the unknown. If we don’t understand it, we kill it. Kill it with fire!
Of course David was bound by his programming and the lunatic egomania of Weyland. A touching moment was when Shaw asked what he would do when Weyland died, and David said he would finally be free.
The Engineers created the Aliens. Clearly they were a programmed evolution through successive generations when combined with suitable biological genetic material. We saw this in Alien3 when the initial host was a dog – so the alien had a different shape to it. The multi-generational aspects of their evolution were fascinating to watch, Worms to big worms, to squid like creature to giant face-hugger to Engineer based Alien.
I did rage a bit against the final scene – surely the Engineer should have been back on his crashed ship and had the alien burst out of his chest. But this was NOT LV-426 so that scene happened on a different world. Another weapons outbreak… another disaster from those who thought they had the power over life and death. Once I clicked to that it made a lot more sense.
The most powerful moment in the film for me came when Shaw declared she was not going home. I literally gasped. Of course! You have access to that kind of technology, why go back? She chose to believe and that drove her onwards into the unknown which is really the ultimate purpose of faith.