In director Ridley Scott’s mind, there are two kinds of people – those who have seen 1979
sci-fi thriller Alien, and those who haven’t. Prometheus tries very hard to cater to both
groups, and largely does a fantastic job.
The film begins with a beautiful sweeping landscape, immediately hitting you with the
beauty and vastness of the spectacle you are faced with, before contrasting it with the
appearance of a huge, flying saucer style spacecraft.
At once the strong sense of style which flows from the film’s director is apparent. The sets
ooze sci-fi stereotypes, but all taken from a style which Scott himself (with his team) set
up with Alien and BladeRunner. The ship, the space suits, the corridors all look just the
way you expect them too, and go a long way to convincing you that you are in the same
universe as the creepy face-hugging aliens from yesteryear.
The strongest link for Alien fans comes in the form of the world-building terraforming
company the Weyland Corporation, ‘the company’ who will send out Ellen Ripley and
the crew of the Nostromo some 30 years later. It’s founder, Peter Weyland, finances the
Prometheus mission to discover the origins of humanity after a string of archaeological
finds which point to a specific star cluster in deep space.
The discovery is made by protagonist Doctor Elizabeth Shaw (the original Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Noomi Rapace), who is brought along with partner Charlie Holloway to conduct a scientific study of a moon which
contains an atmosphere capable of supporting life.
The ship’s crew is made up of a band of clashing personalities, frequently not given enough
time or material to develop into more than stereotypical supporting characters, who help or
hinder Shaw in finding the truth.
Shaw is gifted with more development, the daughter of a Christian father who finds
reassurance in her faith, literally wearing it around her neck with a sign of the cross, and is
challenged by the revelations she experiences throughout the film, taking her on a spiritual
journey as much as a dramatic one.
Rapace does Shaw justice as a doctor caught between science and religion, and convinces
the audience to follow her down the rabbit hole, though things don’t hold together quite as
smoothly as the action ramps up in the closing act.
The development of the story is interspersed with foreboding, and for many fans the
expectation for creatures to leap on faces or out of people’s chests at any moment, but
flows along at an even pace, with the intrigue of what exactly the team are looking for
growing with each new plot point. This leads to a sense that there are more questions asked
than answered, but for the majority of viewers the pay-off of the final climax is adequate, if
The star of the show is Michael Fassbender, as inquisitive android David, who’s motives
are vague, but the character is constantly irresistible – with a combination of childlike-
curiosity and a callous attitude to humanity. Fassbender delivers his lines with the
calculating precision of a machine, while giving the constant impression of emotion, which
remains unflinching throughout.
Charlize Theron’s evil overseer role as Meredith Vickers gives a first impression of being
one-note, but she allows the characters emotions to gradually bleed through a hard exterior
shell, creating a well-rounded, if not quite likeable representative of the company.
While not the ground-breaking slice of sci-fi Alien was, it would be hard for Scott to out-
do himself in the genre, but after so many years away, the film is fun, entertaining and
dramatic, something which has the inspired touch of a visionary but also the measured
approach of a master in his field. A few light years from perfection, but when you are
thousands from Earth, it’s quite difficult to notice.
James Michael Parry