Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender
Running time: 124 minutes
Cinema release date: 1 June 2012
In a summer blockbuster season predominantly lorded over by superheroes, Ridley Scott has chosen to return to the universe that he created in the seminal Alien (1979). When the Prometheus movie was originally announced, Scott was unwilling to state outright that it was a prequel to that film and, although it is clear that it is a precursor to one of the best horror/sci-fi hybrids of all time, it is equally clear upon viewing as to why he wanted to take that stance.
Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (coincidentally also the character name of a scientist in Doctor Who, who specialises in protecting the Earth from alien threats) and Charlie Holloway discover a number of etchings and drawings in various places throughout the world which all appear to depict the same constellation of planets. They realise that they’ve found a map that may provide us with the answers to the genesis of the human race. Financed by the Weyland Corporation (the Yutani part of the company hasn’t arrived yet for those aware of the series lore), the spaceship Prometheus takes a team of scientists to the moon LV-223 to try to discover who left the drawings and what awaits humanity.
As you’d expect from this series, things go awry and the team discover that some questions are better left unanswered. There are some great set-pieces – and we can heartily recommend seeing the movie in 3D, with the production being filmed in the format, not added post-production – and it is interesting to see that the technology falls short of what was on show in the original series opener, whereas other franchises make mistakes in that field. There’s the ubiquitous android on board (we’ll leave you to discover if he falls on the Bishop or Ash side of the fence) but the film does leave the door open for a sequel to this prequel, and not in a way you’d readily expect for a Hollywood film of this size.
In a summer that is overloaded with over-the-top special effects and men in capes, it’s great to see some intelligent horror on the big screen, but is it all necessary?
Scott does answer some of the questions that we were left with following the Nostromo expedition in the original 1979 film, such as who the Space Jockeys were, and we are left in no doubt as to the size of the director’s vision for this universe – both in story and scope. However (and again, for those who are fully aware of the existing lore built up by the previous entries into the series) there are just as many questions asked as there are answered.
It is entertainingly bleak – after all, you didn’t expect a happy ending considering that we know what comes next, did you? This is horror for grown-ups who like a bit of mythology thrown in for good measure.