Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green and Michael Fassbender
Archeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) sets off on a scientific expedition with high expectations and big ideals. After discovering prehistoric etchings in caves, Shaw and her co-worker/husband, Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green), come to the conclusion that these recurring images are an invitation from mankind’s creators to find them (how they get that conclusion isn’t very clear… but let’s “choose to believe” it). They go into the unknown, headed for moon LV-223, clutching to the belief that their creators will give them answers to some serious questions about life and…stuff. But what they get is nothing they could have possibly imagined.
I like to think that Shaw’s journey, and my own journey to seeing Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi, Prometheus, are somewhat similar. When I unearthed the first teaser, the second teaser, and articles hyping up what would serve as a prequel to Alien, my eyes were the same watery joy of Shaw’s when she laid eyes on the ancient Irish cave paintings. Then I waited. And waited. And when I finally launched into the film, I was sucked into the belief that Prometheus could very well be the answer to my prayers – regardless of the cold responses I’d been getting from critics (arguably, Shaw’s non-believer was Charlize Theron’s character, Meredith Vickers).
Leaning towards a more mythical take on the space adventure genre, Prometheus not only opened with kick-ass visuals, but also introduced ideas that were cosmos-sized, and more importantly, intriguing. With an android called David (Fassbender), working as Jeeves for the human crew, Prometheus seemed to promise an exploration of themes such as creation, existence, power, and purpose, through a polished performance from Fassbender that combined traits of Hal 9000 and Peter O’ Toole from Lawrence of Arabia (which opens up a whole other intertextual dialogue). The impending doom, and my thirst for blood and alien discoveries, were peaking.
But like Shaw’s experience, things go completely awry, and all of those hopes, all of those dreams get slaughtered in a chaotic flailing of tentacles and black goo, until you’re left hugging yourself in the debris of what could have been an amazing adventure.
One of Prometheus’ biggest weaknesses is its lack of focus. Even if we were to ignore how little we care about the characters, the plot holes, and dialogue that feel like weak band-aids trying to hold skewed logic together – what disappoints the most is Prometheus‘ inability to balance its own shock value moments with the grandiose ideas it built its plot on. This isn’t a plea for a return to cliches (even if those cliches worked well in the previous Aliens), but rather, a desire to see facehuggers, desperate protagonists, and horrifying reveals having a close and meaningful relationship with the questions and ideas on the universe that were given cameo roles, when they should have been the highlights.
So no, I didn’t operate on myself, and I didn’t fight off pasty bald dudes with black eyes and rippling abs. But in the whole lead up and let down of Scott’s Prometheus, I can at least say I felt empathy for Noomi Rapace’s Shaw. I can say that much, right?