‘Prometheus’ is an ‘Alien’ prequel trying to be something else

Michael Fassbender in 'Prometheus'
Michael Fassbender in ‘Prometheus’

An alien being stands on what appears to be Earth as he watches his ship leave.  We then watch as he is consumed by something, that results in his DNA being seeded into the water, ostensibly leaving the genetic footprint that ultimately leads to the evolution of man.

“Dr. Elizabeth Shaw” (Noomi Rapace) and “Charlie Holloway” (Logan Marshall-Green), in 2089, are exploring ancient cultures and find an oddity.  Maps of the exact same patterns in the stars, among completely disconnected peoples.  There’s no way this information could have passed from one group to another, and the last finding is really old, some 35,000 years old in fact.

Four years later, we see a gigantic vessel travelling through outer space, its humanoid crew kept in stasis while they are monitored and cared for by the human-looking android, “David” (Michael Fassbender). Give director Ridley Scott and/or the screenwriters credit for using possibly the best film ever made as a learning tool for David.

A mysterious Engineer in 'Prometheus'
A mysterious Engineer in ‘Prometheus’

When the ship nears its destination, the mission commander, “Meredith Vickers” (Charlize Theron) is first to be awakened.  Once she’s fully awake she instructs David to get the rest of the crew up.  After they are all awake, they are informed why they are there, and who hired them as they view a video from “Peter Weyland” (Guy Pearce), the aged leader of the Weyland Corporation.  Apparently this is one great big company he heads, as it spent $1 trillion to put this ship together and launch it toward its destination.  Weyland gives his speech and then turns over the mission explanation to Dr. Shaw and Mr. Holloway, who explain that their findings have been interpreted to be an invitation from the “engineers” to come and find them.  The “engineers” are credited with creating humans and Shaw and Holloway want to meet and question them.  But mission director Vickers orders them to avoid direct contact.

They land near what is clearly an artificial structure and a small team goes to explore it.  But before they can complete their survey, a very bad storm hits and they have to rush back to the ship for safety.  Except that two of them had apparently headed back early, but gotten lost within the structure and those two have no safe way to get back.  Milburn and Fifield are trapped within the structure and have a confrontation with what awaits doesn’t go well for either of them.

What happens from here I will leave to viewers to discover themselves.

Noomi Rapace in 'Prometheus'
Noomi Rapace in ‘Prometheus’

When Prometheus was originally envisioned, it was to be a prequel to Alien, which Scott directed in 1979.  Somewhere along the way supposedly the plans changed and the script was rewritten.

Folks, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and smells like a duck, then dammit, it is a duck.

The same ship from Alien is shown.  The Weyland Corporation is in the Alien films. The appearance and characteristics of the aliens the humans come into contact with in this film are remarkably like the aliens from that film franchise.  If people want to delude themselves into thinking this isn’t a prequel, that’s their prerogative, but in my mind that is exactly what it is.

But that doesn’t make it a bad film.

It has strong special effects, more than adequate acting performances, particularly from Fassbender and Rapace.  The viewer will be on the edge of their seat most of the way and as far as sci-fi/fantasy/horror films go, it’s a more than just decent effort.

If there is a criticism to be offered, it’s that the best parts of the film are the early parts, and rather than get better as it goes along, it tends to be a little less good later on in the story than when it begins.  But it is still very watchable and enjoyable.

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