Fassbender steals fire from 'Prometheus'
By Kwaak Je-yup
A lot of people will expect a bona fide prequel to the 1979 classic “Alien” when they head to movie theaters for “Prometheus,” which opened Tuesday evening. However, they will not get one.
In fact, the movie only succeeds as an independent entity; it loses focus when it awkwardly tries to tie in the monstrous creatures to the storyline.
However, stunning computer-generated imagery, competent acting and masterful plot pacing make the latest Ridley Scott film an unforgettable experience. And, be sure to watch it in 3D.
Especially striking is Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender as the android David, who steals virtually every scene in which he appears. His inscrutable yet ill-boding face ― especially his creepy smile reminiscent of a Hitchcock villain ― maintains tension throughout the story.
He and other crew members are aboard the spaceship Prometheus, with the weighty mission of finding the origins of mankind. The ship is named after the titan that stole fire from Zeus, gave it to humanity and then was punished by the Greek gods, an allusion to the crew’s quest.
The voyage is backed by a multibillionaire and pursues a theory developed by scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace of the original Swedish “Millennium” series) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall Green, best known for recurring roles in TV series “24,” “The O.C.” and “Dark Blue”).
They claim to have discovered the same star map among disparate ancient cultures, which they believe is a sign that humanity’s origins lie in outer space, enabled by beings they dub “Engineers.” They are joined on board by David, mission director Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), captain of the ship Janek (Idris Elba, who last appeared in superhero flick “Thor” last year) and a score of other scientists. When they finally land on their destination planet, they discover straight lines ― “impossible in mother nature,” one character observes ― along with other man-made structures inside of which are statues of human forms and a corpse. DNA tests confirm a perfect match with humankind.
Then, alien creatures appear and start breeding using people as hosts, including Shaw and Holloway. Disaster ensues. David, though, is undeterred ― as an android he is of no use to the monster’s method of reproduction ― and he finally unearths the story behind this planet and our own.
But, the plot becomes muddy. No one is sure why the aliens are attacking humankind, nor is there an explanation of why humanity’s forefathers’ created mankind and then tried to destroy it. There is plenty of exhilarating destruction and explosions on screen ― they look great and expensive ― but one cannot help but feel they rob the film of gravity.
Other than David, the characters lack substance. Rapace’s Shaw is supposedly driven by Christian creationist beliefs, but her obsessive quest becomes boring after more than two hours of reference to it. Theron’s villain Vickers is more watchable than her recent incarnation as Snow White’s mother in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” released last week, but could be due to her shorter time on screen.
Ultimately, the first half of the story, the quest for truth, is infinitely better than the second, the doom of mankind. Aided by stunning visual effects that cost more than $120 million, there is a sense of wonder that carries the audience through the journey, like an amusement park ride. Fassbender’s David keeps hinting at impending tragedy, keeping intrigue alive. Once Pandora’s Box is open, however, it proves to hold nothing more than a dud. Running time 123 minutes. Rated 18 and over.