Prometheus (US, 2012)

Looking for answers

Spoiler alert! Ridley Scott’s prequel to his 1979 classic SF movie Alien is typical of the director with its brilliant visual conception and weak narrative construction. The narrative holes seem to have bothered other critics more than me, though I don’t think that the film clearly explains how the humanoid alien, with its chest exploded, gets to where it’s found in the original film. That, apparently, was the starting point of script rather than explaining the monster aliens’ ‘backstory’. I was uncertain, in Prometheus, as to whether they were a creation of the humanoid aliens, who were responsible for life on earth, or not. Were they designed to eradicate humanity for some unexplained reason; the inevitable sequel will no doubt delve into that one.

Prometheus is described as a US movie by imdb though this seems to be a simplification – see Roy Stafford. The cast and crew are multinational and it is a good example of the internationalisation of Hollywood. Michael Fassbender, almost inevitably, is the scene-stealer with his portrayal of David, the android that’s meant to serve but is clearly following another agenda. He echoes Ash in the original and one of the fascinating things about Prometheus is how it uses Alien as a palimpsest. Viewers new to the franchise need not know the preceding films but those who do are offered playful hints, such as just when we’re thinking that Charlize Theron’s ‘ice-queen’ Vickers might be a robot, Idris Elba’s captain asks that very question. He also suggests that, to prove otherwise, that they have sex. Vickers agrees and it’s noteworthy that this is an exception to the Hollywood rule as it still eschews ‘black-white’ sex, a hangover from the Production Code.

Other moments when the original looms large is when Noomi Rapace (Shaw), as the only survivor, enters the apparent safety of a spaceship only to discover that there’s a monster aboard. All it lacked was a cat called Jonesy. Earlier in the film Rapace, when dressed only in bandage material, reminded me very much of Milla Jovovich’s Alice (they share a similar body shape) in the Resident Evil (2002-10) series.

Vickers and Shaw (she is certain of herself) are the final two ‘girls’ and it is typical of Ridley Scott to feature strong female protagonists – see previous post that was plugging the kindle publication of my book on Scott’s Blade Runner on kindle (was that a meta-plug?).

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