It has been said that director Ridley Scott’s ground-breaking 1979 film “Alien” is known as much for its tagline than anything else. That line is: “In space no one can hear you scream.” And like it did for “Alien” it also aptly sums up his so-called prequel “Prometheus.” Both films, at their core, are monster/horror movies made with extraordinary skill and vision, but the promise of “Prometheus” was that it would be something much more than frightful and thrilling.
Beginning with as breathtaking a set of images attached to any summer film, “Prometheus” introduces weighty issues from the opening shots. Where did we come from? Who made us? And once the engineers created man, where did they go?
When two archeologists make a startling discovery in Scotland, a rich business tycoon, Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), funds their exploration that will take them light-years away. Their ship, the Prometheus, is helmed during the long trip by Weyland’s crowning achievement in robotics, David (Michael Fassbender channeling Peter O’Toole from “Lawrence of Arabia”). When the explorers awake from their two year sleep, they find an uninhabited planet on which, it appears another group of explorers have been marooned. The team is led by two archeologists Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). And their curiosity when investigating the marooned ships on the planet may get them in trouble. “Be careful what you wish for” is an appropriate tag line. In time, all Hell breaks loose. And students of the franchise can expect familiar ground to be covered together with a high body count.
While “Prometheus” meets everything required of it to reap rich box office returns, I found it less complex and intellectually stimulating than the promotional clips and videos suggested. The film is not anything approaching Kubrick territory and his epic “2001,” even though it clearly wants to evoke the same level of discourse thereafter. The reason is that where “2001” was interested observing and grappling with the big picture issues, “Prometheus” ultimately wants to thrill and chill us. And given the many machinations of alien creatures that in H. R. Giger fashion grace the screen, there are many chilling moments definitely worth seeing. But since it left me wanting more, I suppose a sequel will be required to answer the nagging questions. And like the mythological origins of Prometheus, the titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man, Ridley Scott’s slightly less ambitious film might set fire to a new Alien franchise.