Prometheus (2012)

In 2093, the spacecraft Prometheus enters the vicinity of LV-223, a distant moon believed to hold the secret to man’s origins. Funded by Weyland Corp.’s dying CEO (Guy Pearce), the expedition follows an ancient star map discovered by archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). On the moon, several crew members disembark, including an android called David (Michael Fassbender). Under instructions from Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), they explore the area expecting answers, and discover horrifying truths.

As many critics have noted, Fassbender gives a superb performance as David. He radiates an aura so otherworldly, so nonhuman, that it’s chilling just to watch him move. Because we are not privy to his motivations, David remains an unpredictable character. We are always suspicious. In contrast, Shaw starts off as a naïve scientist seemingly ignorant of the risks of experimenting with extraterrestrials. What she experiences, however, transforms her into a resilient survivor, and we find ourselves rooting for her by the movie’s end. Vickers, on the other hand, stays terribly underutilized. She first appears doing push-ups after two years of stasis—piquing audience interest—but she contributes virtually nothing to the plot. Without any real power (her crew keeps disobeying her) and ostensible personal agenda, Vickers functions as little more than eye candy. Theron’s capable acting is wasted on a character that isn’t done any justice in the script.

Prometheus is far from perfect, but the good news is, it doesn’t aim to be. Viewers complain that it’s confusing and that it contains too many unresolved questions—perfectly valid assessments elsewhere, but here I disagree. Details are dealt sparingly, but attentive viewers should be able to piece together enough information to feel satiated, for now. Ample threads are left open for a possible sequel, which may or may not connect to the first Alien movie (TJ filled me in on this). It’s not that I have zero complaints: An early scene, a father-daughter memory meant to provide background on Shaw’s faith, strikes me as gratuitous and too on the nose. But despite certain predictabilities (ooh this looks dangerous let’s touch it), Prometheus pulls off a thrilling and intellectually satisfying adventure by taking on some of mankind’s most enduring issues and setting them against a gorgeously bleak alien landscape. Perhaps rightly so, it portends that some questions are not meant to be answered, and leaves us with a distressing possibility.

‘The trick is not minding that it hurts.’

‘Why do you think your people made me?’ ‘We made ya ’cause we could.’ ‘Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?’

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