I wanted to see this in the movie theater when it came out but was just too plain lazy to go. But also there were some mixed reactions on the fan sites and it made me wary.
Let me state again, I liked "Alien", the film that started it all. But I'm under no illusion that it was some kind of wonderful as a film. It was all flash and very little substance. The characterization was slipshod and what little of it there was, was totally due to the efforts of the actors (or lack of it-Kotto/Stanton-the best element in the film). But there were hints of stories among the characters. One of which was Ash and his robot/human dilemma. The struggle just barely reached the surface of the film because the Alien stole the show. But it culminates in Ash's attempted "rape" of Ripley. This attack scene shows that there was another important story in the background of Alien...what is the place of intelligent A.I. in a human universe? What happens when an intelligent Robot loses or perhaps gains its own sense of himself/herself and longs to be human or...alien?
Unfortunately no other filmmaker even thought to explore this hanging thread except to touch upon it here and there in the sequels.
Prometheus is Ridley Scott's attempt to pick up the missed opportunities and explore them to the end. Whatever that end may be. Because Prometheus is really not about those famous Aliens but about David. The intelligent robot who, to his own surprise, is developing feelings.
However unlike Ash, these "feelings" do not cause him to break down. In fact David is excited by them. They are something to be studied, even cherished and most certainly kept secret. His creator/father would almost certainly view these feelings as glitches in David's programming. But David wants these glitches because if he didn't he would lose what makes him David. He would lose his love for the film "Lawrence of Arabia" and what drives that love, his fascination with the film's heroine, Elizabeth Shaw.
Scott begins his film with David alone in an empty ship engaging in pasttimes while the rest of the crew sleeps. Already Scott tips his hand by showing huge references to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". Make no mistake, this robot does turn lethal but not due to mixed demands by his superiors but by the most human of all emotions...jealousy.
One of the most potent images is at the beginning of the film, David admiring his sleeping beauty, Elizabeth Shaw. Since he cannot touch her or even kiss her, he watches her dreams. In the fairy tale, the prince's love awakens Sleeping Beauty, in Scott's nightmare Shaw fleetingly sees David haunting her.
Meanwhile the rest of the film is regarding a search for the Engineers. Who supposedly have the answer to everything (42). The film has this creationism malarky about engineers seeding the earth with their own remains. Uhmmm, right, don't ask. Truthfully it seemed to me as if Scott and the rest of the company shamelessy decided to pilfer story elements from the first failed "Aliens vs. Predators". It is almost the exact same story. It takes a patient viewer to wait until almost the end of the film to discover just how the aliens of the first series come into being in this prequel. Is it worth the wait? Not really. Fortunately the film isn't really concerned with the aliens or intelligent design.
How far are you willing to go?
In a pivotal moment of the film, David finally decides to take action to gain what he most wants under the guise of helping his "father". Since he was already being asked to commit an unethical and dangerous act, why not get something out of it that he wants in the process? Most fans think that David was just experimenting due to Weyland's (David's father) instructions and his own curiosity. But that is not the case.
David knew very well what he was giving to Dr. Holloway was poisonous. This is due to the fact that David had a general idea of the Engineer's language. The film continually shows him navigating the ship and reading its various markings. The warning signs are all over that the ship contains biological weaponry.
Before he poisons Holloway, David has a pointed conversation with him that has double meaning. On the surface it looks as if David is asking Holloway how far he would go to discover the mystery of the engineers and their plans. Holloway agrees he would do whatever it takes, then David hands him the poison. But on David's level, he isn't discussing the engineers. The engineers are just another form of humanity to him...David is asking himself how far would he go to discover what he "feels" about Elizabeth. The answer for him is also whatever it takes and he gives his rival a spot of poison. Is it jealousy? I would say it is, not that David is at the point of pinpointing the emotion with any accuracy at this time in the story.
I'm very interested in discovering where the new story will go with David and how his relationship with Elizabeth will develop. I also think David will grow and mature throughout the story and perhaps realize the crime he committed in order to gain his desire. The very act that gained him Elizabeth ensures that he will lose her forever.
Technically the film is gorgeous to look at. The acting is decent. Michael Fassbender's David is the best character in the whole film. I do believe that there were too many characters in the film and it was rather hard to remember who they were many times. Once the action starts in the last half of the film, it didn't really matter anymore.
All in all this turned out to be a very enjoyable film and it took the Alien universe in new directions.
Labels: commentary, movies, reviews