So many things come to mind when seeing this movie. It has a history, a legacy, a future to write and rewrite. It has signature themes that have already been evolved over the course of at least two subsequent franchises. It’s important to remember that whatever those non-Ridley Scott films addressed themselves to, the kernels of inspiration were all to be found in the original. This one in a way, by jumping back in time, both continues the story and grounds it (or, make that, founds it). So we have prickly concepts that seem familiar, mostly involving the terrors of the body, especially sexuality and birth. Here those fears are literally magnified by a deeper focus on anatomy, biology, and microscopic DNA. The sexuality of female characters (or the classic male/female divide between threatened wombs/orifices and phallic attempts to penetrate and invade) remains paramount. The illusion of safety provided by the iconic space suits, with their egg-like helmets that fail to keep air in, or keep infection out, make everyone thinly-shielded and vulnerable, male and female alike. Here the suits are sleeker and less armored than the samurai suits employed in the original film, leaving no one any safer. The other thing to keep in mind is that the script is by the writer of the final episode of Lost, which is pretty much tantamount to the ultimate example in unanswered questions and the sidestepping of the entire narrative thrust of a long-winded series, one that gets so caught up in explaining matters of faith and belief that it skips over logic or even basic story structure. Elizabeth Shaw, the ostensible main character, is both genius and childishly naïve, beset by sexual threats but also protected (barely) by religious belief. So crosses and crucifixions figure as much into this narrative as rape scenarios, and it’s a very uneasy and clunky mix, to jump from questions of eternity and the soul to hastily performed self-surgeries and drastic emergency life-preserving measures. Yes, we get a one-upping the chest-bursting scene from the original film (the image that haunted the 2nd and 3rd films, unlike the fourth which was more concerned with the phallic mouth poking its way in – as opposed to out of – the body voraciously), in that Shaw at one point, in those white bandage-like under things favored by cryogenic sleepers, must perform a caesarian on herself (one that she attempts also to make an abortion, when she sees what comes out) with the aid of a robotic surgery capsule initially calibrated (for no clear reason) only for male patients. Horrifying, and unlikely that an archaeologist would have the requisite medical knowledge, but then everyone in this film seems able to wave their hands at an endless array of blinking lights and get exactly the result wanted, which in a way signals the bizarre realities of a sci-fi future all by itself. As to why this future seems more advanced than the one inhabited by the original film (which fits decades later in the timeline), chalk it up to the Nostromo being basically an 18-wheeler in space, and the Prometheus being the whimsy of a wealthy backer who can provide the best of everything. No reason to argue that the designs aren’t of a piece with the original film, so beautifully realized by Scott to imaginatively suggest worlds of order and science and industry that he never has time to actually show in any of his films (except maybe Blade Runner a teeny bit). Scott is a master of set design speaking volumes visually, and this movie is beguilingly gorgeous from beginning to end, matching fonts with buttons with holograms with costumes with hairstyles with tattoos with the prettiest most convincing CGI you’ve ever seen. This is the best-looking sci-fi movie in years. Scott’s got all he needs as far as visuals and in casting (Guy Pierce, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba all acquit themselves with skill, as do the supporting cast of character actors comprising the crew). The alien world looks alien. There’s a moment where the crew approaches the sort of hive-like ruin they find on the planet where I get a hint of finally seeing the filmed version of Rendezvous with Rama I’ve always longed for (where the tale of space exploration doesn’t result in horror, but in wonder), but that’s not the way this story goes. And not only do we get horror after horror piling up by the end of the film, we also get a rather pointless and predictable back story involving the corporate side of things which makes Paul Reiser’s corporate flack in Aliens look like the height of capitalist critique. Guess what? Being rich doesn’t make anyone happy. Michael Douglas told us that long ago. I’m not going to mention Fassbender, because every other critic has already done that. He is indeed endlessly watchable, and the relationship between his artificial David and the bloody and visceral Shaw (as they vie for that main character status) is one of the more intriguing in the film. The excesses of the climax are almost balanced by the hints for a sequel (or, maybe we should call it parallel history, should it come to pass). Shaw is no Ripley; she’s not going to be remembered for that iconic drive to save human life (that was turned into mother for the second film, wise crone in the third film, and bitter ghost in the fourth). The self-abortion scene, if anything, makes Shaw an anti-mother, and you can’t really blame her for what results from the fetal remains. She’s a dreamer too foolish to avoid inevitable disaster; but she wises up pretty quickly, and has her wits about her when it counts the most, leaving her more than just a victim, and preserving her essential nature as an explorer. I don’t know yet the legacy of this film so obsessed with immortality (another horror movie cliché), only that I will need to see it again. Prometheus (2012)3.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.