The 1979 movie “Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott, was a smart horror movie. After several other movies in the franchise, he returned to the helm to produce and direct the prequel to a movie loved by so many people. The movie was good but not without a lot of things that weighed it down. I am not sure why it needed to even consider itself part of the Alien franchise. Maybe Scott should have moved away from it entirely and tried something new. Then at least it would have been heralded as something new and original. On its own merits the movie has great acting, good effects and an interesting narrative.
In 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth, played by Noomi Rapace, and Charlie, discover a star map among several unconnected ancient cultures. They believe this as an invitation from humanity’s "Engineers". They board the space vessel Prometheus (funded by the Weyland Corporation as an IN joke to the fans) to follow the map to a distant moon. The ship's crew travels in stasis pods while the android David, played by Michael Fassbender, monitors their voyage. They arrive and they are informed of their mission to find the Engineers. The Prometheus lands near an artificial structure and a team is sent to explore.
The acting is damn good in this movie. Charlize Theron as Mission Director Vickers is played as aloof and cold, but begins to thaw as the movie progresses. Noomi Rapace is great as Elizabeth and she seems to be able to capture the fear that is in the heat of the moment on screen. Michael Fassbender is the android David, is who steals the show. He is intelligent and cold and models himself on Peter O'Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia”. He also manages to walk the line between good and bad where you are not quite sure his intentions at any given moment.
The sets and the special effects are really cool. Watching it in 3-D impressed me a lot with this movie. There were amazing landscape shows on Earth as well as on the alien planet and both were so stunning that at times, it felt it belonged on a documentary. The creatures are stylized and very alien. The designs of H.R.Giger are looking great on screen using modern CGI.
The problems of this movie stem a lot from multiple plot threads branching off the main one and becoming a convoluted mess. There are a lot of unanswered questions as well as problems of continuity between this and the first “Alien” film. Many of the minor characters are really forgettable with a few exceptions. When I see this in a movie you may as well just write “Dead Man Walking” on their chest. The movie is also really big on religious overtones to the point that it beats that theme over your head with its not-too-subtle-symbolism.
For the most part, “Prometheus” is a good movie. If it didn’t have the baggage of being attached to the “Aliens” franchise, it could have had a lot more going for it too. Still, it’s a good movie with decent acting and good effects- not scary at all though. I’d recommend it as a matinee or rental if you want to catch some new science fiction.