The enjoyment of the new Ridley Scott flick, Prometheus, depends greatly on which one of the three kinds of public you fall into. The first is a well-informed moviegoer that knows the film is a prequel to the famous Alien saga. The second – where I happened to belong – gathers distracted 35+ viewers that think mixing Ridley Scott, sci-fi, a sophisticated title and 3D technology should, at the very least, bring a movie as memorable and groundbreaking as Scott’s 1980 Blade Runner. The third group is the very young’s realm, those for whom Alien and Blade Runner are titles on the VOD “vintage sci-fi” section.
There is enormous visual impact and force in the opening scene. A breathtaking waterfall, an alien-looking individual performing a strange ritual and disintegrating into the waters. Indeed, except for “bullet time”, no high-impact visual element is missing from this movie. We have motorcycle riding, implosions and explosions, scenes shot in space, underwater shots, Charlize Theron, morphing, enormous flying objects, holographic maps and holographic recordings, state-of-the-art spacecraft interiors, state-of-the-art slime & blood, state-of –the-art monsters. I was too busy with the visuals to fully appreciate the music, however I am sure music is state-of-the-art too.
The opening scene shows the creation of mankind, no more, no less. This, together with the movie’s title, tricks some viewers into thinking that the film will reach some degree of depth actually exploring the origins of man. Indeed, the second scene takes us into an underground setting where the main characters will find a cave painting, last missing piece of their research for the source of mankind. This is the reason that will take them to travel, frozen, on spaceship Prometheus. Further on, the dialogue steers onto the mythological character by the same name, who stole the divine fire from the gods to spark life in humans.
All along the film we are left yearning for some further degree of depth, if not regarding the origins of man, at least regarding the plot and characters. Ironically, we have depth only in the character of David — due perhaps to the fact that, as viewers, we have no expectations from an android regarding depth of character. Whatever the reason, Michael Fassbender masterly depicts an android so perfectly created as to develop a pseudo-identity with human traits like curiosity and jealousy, and his own quest for truth.
We have definitely been spoiled by the cinema. It is difficult to satisfy cinemagoers who are constantly looking for new elements or at least new combinations of existing elements. Prometheus (watch the trailer) does offer this, but not as much as some of us would have liked, and not as much as we would expect of extremely high-budget cinema. There is a sense of déjà-vu in the assorted group of mercenary scientists brazenly entering a dark building in an unknown planet with many flashlights and only one gun. There is a sense of déjà-vu in characters performing surgery onto themselves. There is a sense of déjà-vu in the pilot going kamikaze against the aliens in order to save planet Earth. To name a few. And, as in most sci-fi movies, some questions remain open, way too open. Open enough to ensure a future new installment of the saga.