by Ed Sum
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus
is a very different type of horror science fiction product that does not even need to be associated with the Alien franchise. True to his style, he has created a very visual treat and cerebral product that works infinitely better than James Cameron’s Avatar
. This director certainly has brought a new layer of mythological constructs into the universe he created.
He should also deserve more credit for creating one of science fiction’s most enduring beast. With this movie, he may have created a new terror.
His tale brings to light some of the themes of creation that were explored in the Greek myth of the same name. In the original tale, Prometheus is a Titan who created mankind out of clay, and the goddess Athena gave life to these figures. They honoured the giant. Epimetheus, his twin brother, created beasts that attacked his rival sibling out of spite. Or there was more going on between these two.
When considering how Scott’s film opened, the good Titan helped give rise to the creation of the human species. But there are others of his kind who look very similar but they have other agendas. The importance of this part of the myth is prevalent in this film, and that makes for some interesting storytelling.
If there is to be some analogies to be made in the types of fables introduced, mankind is seeking its creator. Humanity is seeking more than just spiritual meaning to their life. In the archaeological discoveries that Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) made around the world, they have found a familiar cluster of stars. The two surmise that the pictographs must be pointing the way to an undiscovered truth. The themes of how organized religion can be wrong in the belief of God and desire for hope makes for a great subtext.
Although some audiences may wonder if where they travel to is somewhere in the Pleiades cluster, this star system is one star shy to be it. But director Scott and writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof nail the astronomical and astrological significance dead on. Only six stars are visible to the naked eye on Earth. Depending on what various soothsayers may want to reveal, this star cluster can predict good omen, honouring ambition and human endeavor, or ill will, causing ruin and violent death.
And this movie has plenty of it. The various subplots play off each other very well, and repeated viewings is a must to understand everything that is going on. With a solid cast to play the roles of a bewildered scientific expedition, the stand-out performances really has to come from Michael Fassbender, who plays David the android. His stoicness comes through like how David Hyde Pierce played the role of Dr. Niles Crane in NBC’s "Frasier." But at the same time, there’s a poetic-ness to the character, which comes from how Fassbender studied Scott’s other film, Blade Runner
, where it featured many androids dreaming of electric sheep.
Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is very much like the warrior-goddess Athena. Her spirit and resilience is very evident in Rapace’s performance. While some moments have to be taken with a grain of salt, like in how fast she can recover from surgery, her determination no doubt cements her as this film’s version of Ripley.
Guy Pearce could have been better in his role as Peter Weyland, the financier of the expedition. Sadly, the huge amount of prosthetics does not work to make him convincingly old. The effects department aged him too much! And more could have been done to explore what his relationship was with Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), who is the commander of the spaceship Prometheus. In some ways, she is like Hera. She is typically portrayed in many films as a mysteriously brooding figure.
A sequel is no doubt inevitable because some fans will want more. Prometheus is one film that does a better job at exploring the ancient astronaut mystique than the first Aliens vs Predator
notwithstanding. To see what other ancient world connections the sequel can explore will be fascinating. That is especially true with the fact that the enormous head in the posters is reminiscent of the statues located on Easter Island. The similarities are too evident!
In the comic book front, Dark Horse has done very well to continue the franchise with some decent character developing story lines (and ignoring all those superhero vs. alien/predator mash-ups). Although these books are not considered canon, to see where comic book creators like Steve Niles can go next with the inclusion of the mythos introduced in Prometheus really must be followed.
If Ridley Scott is smart, he should sanction story proposals before the comic book writers can get started. With fandom, no one can hear you scream, "Too much franchising is going on!”