Fassbender’s David is the film’s centerpiece. Rapace plays the Hollywood girlfriend role instead of a steely protagonist on a messianic journey. Theron always commits fully to every character she plays.
I had to promise not to reveal two key spoilers. This, of course, limits me especially since one key scene (in different context) appears in Blade Runner and Gladiator, two of director Ridley Scott’s iconic films. He’s working through something. It’s a form of therapy with one outstanding dimension – it’s on public display.
As Seinfeld said: “Not that there is anything wrong with that.” In fact, in Blade Runner and Gladiator the scenes are powerful, memorable, and drive the film.
Meredith Vickers: “A king has his reign, and then he dies. It’s inevitable.”
Prometheus delivers even though there is no one to explain what is going on. It begins with a planet bursting with life-creating water. A strange humanoid prepares a ritual and drinks a toxic liquid that destroys his body. Intentional or hoodwinked? It seems he did not know what the liquid will do. Dying, he falls into the raging water and his body erupts. His damaged DNA breaks apart. The new life that will eventually emerge with have his corrupted DNA. What intelligent creature will develop?
The film moves to 2093 and the spaceship Prometheus is within reach of their destination – a planet that may have a lifeform that created us. Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have travelled all over the world finding ancient carvings and cave paintings pointing to this planet. Elizabeth believes it is an invitation and they have been chosen to make contact.
The billion dollar project is being financed by ancient Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce). He has died but appears in a hologram addressing the crew after they emerge from hyper-sleep. Laying out their project’s goals, he introduces the crew to David, who is like a son to him. David is a robot.
See a young Peter Weyland give a TEDTalk: “I will change the world” at TED2023. Here is Peter Weyland’s TED bio: “Peter Weyland has been a magnet for controversy since he announced his intent to build the first convincingly humanoid robotic system by the end of the decade.
“Whether challenging the ethical boundaries of medicine with nanotechnology or going toe to toe with the Vatican itself on the issue of gene-therapy sterilization, Sir Peter prides himself on his motto, “If we can, we must.” After a three year media blackout, Weyland has finally emerged to reveal where he’s heading next. Wherever that may be, we will most certainly want to follow.”
(Video conceived and designed by Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof and directed by Luke Scott.) http://blog.ted.com/TED2023/
But that was 2023. It is now 2093.
The Prometheus has a crew of 17, including the captain, Jadek (Idris Elba), and a sterile, high-functioning Weyland executive, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). Meredith is in charge. The crew and especially the scientists are “employees” of Weyland Industries.
“Good morning. I am Meredith Vickers, and it is my job to make sure you do yours.”
And then there is David (Michael Fassbender), a brilliant robot who has modelled himself on Peter O’Toole’s performance in Lawrence of Arabia. (So humans can relate to him.)
After landing on the planet, they see a group of straight lines and know that intelligent life must be responsible. As one crew member says: “God doesn’t do straight lines.”
Several members of the crew immediately go outside and head for a massive structure that looks man-made. Inside, they can take off their breathing equipment. This being their first time at the rodeo, they want to take back some souvenirs. David packs up a huge jug.
David is the most fascinating character in the film and Fassbender is terrific. It is a difficult role – he has to play an android learning about humans and how to relate to them. Fassbender must be inquisitive without looking like an awe struck man-child. As a trusted “son” by Weyland, why does he behave the way he does? If not Weyland’s directive guiding him, whose agenda is he following?
Why were humans invited to the planet? What happened to the race of intelligent beings who lived there and came to Earth to leave clues? Were we a failed experiment and the time has come for someone to “trim the herd”?
The devoted fans of the Alien movies will not be disappointed. The 3D and special effects are terrific. The muddled story never really jells and some type of linear understanding of the storyline is missing. The reasons are ambiguous. Rapace, in her Hollywood incarnation, is miscast here. She is more interested in camera angles and playing a heroine instead of being a scientist-warrior on a mystical quest. Rapace was the least engaging character in the film. She should have played Elizabeth as a visionary “fire-eater.” Co-starring with Theron, in her Ice-Queen role, must have been intimidating – and it shows.
Victoria Alexander is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/ and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria’s weekly column, “The Devil’s Hammer,” is posted every Monday. http://www.fromthebalcony.com/editorials.php.
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