Trying to Solve the Mystery of Life, and Encountering Extraterrestrial Life

Review of new Hollywood film “Prometheus”

BY VINCENT ABBATECOLA

The first film in the “Alien” trilogy was Ridley Scott’s only one as a director. Three decades later, he displays that his extended time away from the franchise has not tarnished his adventurous spirit for the sci-fi realm. Just like in “Alien,” Scott’s sort-of-prequel “Prometheus” has the director tapping back into the dangers and harsh consequences that the characters’ new discoveries can bring to their futures, as well as diving into the enigma of life’s beginnings.

In the late 21st century, a group of explorers, while searching through remains of ancient civilizations, discover a star map that has the potential to lead them to a distant moon that could tell them the secrets of humanity’s creation. Led by mission director Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), and an android named David (Michael Fassbender), the team flies on the space vessel Prometheus to a distant moon to begin its scientific search.

After some time in their new environment, the group’s findings begin to pose some deadly threats that could very well bring an end not only to them, but to Earth as well.

Much like the other Alien films, Ridley Scott calls in a female character with smarts and strength who shows the bravery and capability of going through with a perilous journey for the pursuit of near-unattainable facts of humanity’s existence. Noomi Rapace fills that role just as Sigourney Weaver did when she played Ellen Ripley in the previous installments. She has a hunger for knowledge, but a sense of selflessness for her fellow crew members.

Being the more religious individual in her group, the character of Shaw is an interesting combination of faith and science. Shaw has quick decision-making skills when it comes to choosing what is best for her team and for herself. Because of Rapace’s petite appearance, however, she doesn’t come off being as physically strong as Weaver was when she battled the aliens. But, where Rapace is different from Weaver in physicality, they both match in scientific intelligence.

On most occasions, 3D doesn’t do anything to enrich the viewing experience. In the case of Prometheus, however, the extra dimension works in its favor. The appearance of outer space, the moon the crew visits and the futuristic construction inside and outside the spaceship all have a justified use for 3D because there are a lot of visuals to absorb.

Since the film is science fiction and concerns space travel and visiting far-away places, it helped me recall the first time I saw “Avatar” and how this movie-making technology assisted in telling the story. Instead of having random things reach out to the audience, the 3D adds more depth and life to what’s on screen, using wonderful image quality to enhance the special effects.

Jon Spaihts’ and Damon Lindelof’s screenplay has some fascinating philosophical and religious ideas infused into the action-packed suspense of the crew’s exploration. The questions asked throughout the film, particularly why we are here, who created us and what happens after we die, are among the most important. Those questions are the reason for this voyage in the first place.

With Noomi Rapace’s character being pious and Logan Marshall-Green’s character being a skeptic, the two share a thought-provoking conversation about the possibilities of the existence of gods and their motivations for creating humans. While there are some questions that are answered, there are more that are not.

Those questions will more than likely be addressed again in the possible sequel, and the extra ending will have long-time fans, as well as newbies to the series, cheering and hoping for a continuation of the story. You’ll have to find out for yourself what’s included in that ending.

After many years of non-science fiction projects, Ridley Scott returns with his flair for the genre intact. Much like “Alien,” his latest film is not just about the famous creature, but about deeper issues as well. He continues to offer visions of a bleak and uncertain future that is filled with advancements in both science and technology that could lead to greatness, or to our demise.

He can tell a story of a grand and hazardous adventure in his deep-space canvas and fill it with interesting ideas. “Prometheus” begins a thrilling and scary new chapter for the universe, with a lot more that has yet to be revealed to us. Until then, like the characters speculate where they came from, we will speculate where they are going next.

Final grade: A-