Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” is a triumph on so many levels. For a start, its 3D effects are some of the most effective I have seen, and unlike ”Avatar,” Scott doesn’t appear so enamored of them that they become overused (and somewhat self-indulgent).
In fact, the movie is so beautiful that that people behind the scenes deserve some acknowledgement.
The cinematography, by Dariusz Wolski, is remarkable, and stresses arial shots, particularly of mountain ranges and water. They manage to look otherworldly and primal without being excessively set-designed. The production design, by Arthur Max–particularly the interiors of Prometheus–look to be modeled on “2001: A Space Odyssey,” as opposed to the original “Alien,” which seemed colder and more clinical.
Though it could be argued that the real star of “Prometheus” is H.R. Giger. He worked on Scott’s “Alien, and his signature design esthetic can be seen in the ‘Engineer (or “Space Jockey’) ship and environs.
And Ridley Scott himself deserves kudos for–in these days of CGI seemingly run rampant–that he actually invested in building vast, physical sets which go a long way toward selling the mystery and (eventually) the horror that the crew of Prometheus unearth.
The cast all acquit themselves admirably, though Michael Fassbender, who plays the synthetic being, David, as (seemingly) an innocent infatuated with Laurence of Arabia, who knows more about what’s going on than anyone, deserves special mention.
And it goes without saying that his agenda, when revealed, is not exactly simpatico with the views of the rest of the crew.
And speaking of David, his character is intriguing, till the film decides to–for some strange reason–mimic “AVP” in the third act.
Another odd choice is the fate of Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), who dies in a manner that curiously echoes the death of the Wicked Witch Of The West in “The Wizard Of Oz.” It felt like a cheap shot at a character that was never particularly evil, and a bit beneath Ridley Scott.
Some reviews that I have read claim that the film doesn’t make sense—particularly in the third act, or it doesn’t answer the questions that it raises.
I suspect that that has less to do with the film than what expectations people are bringing to it more than anything else.
For instance, one criticism revolved around the purpose of the alien outpost, and why humans were “invited” in the first place. This is a non-issue because whether or not there was an invitation is open to interpretation.
What the film established early on was that two archeologists, Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Halloway (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) had founds some cave drawings in Scotland that they interpreted as an invitation.
Despite there being no definitive evidence that they actually were. In fact, if you look at the images presented (the same image is present in various cultures that have had no recorded prior contact) it could even be looked at as a warning.
Another point of contention was the effect of the alien mutagen (from the cylinders) on living beings. It did not effect women any differently than men (the purpose of the liquid appeared primarily to create Engineers, though it reacted with whatever creature it came into contact with).
Though religion, or the lack thereof, is an important theme underlying “Prometheus,” that is, when it isn’t being thrown in our faces (Elizabeth Shaw’s necklace, the death of her mother). Based upon Shaw’s faith and beliefs, she saw God in the details, though forgetting that the Devil can be found there as well.
In other words, her faith blinded her to the nature of the beings that came to be called ‘Engineers’ long before she ever actually found them. She assumed that humanity came into existence as a result of some sort of divine plan on the part of these Engineers.
The same thing happened to Charlie Halloway, though he erred on the side of archeology (science).
In both cases blind faith in a particular outcome that led them to their (potential, in some cases) damnation.
What they never considered is that the origins of humanity may not have been as divine, as monumental, as they would have liked. That we are the accidental result of an Engineer ritual, and “Prometheus” is the story of the discovery of the way the aliens were going to correct their mistake.