Nonstop Movies: ‘Prometheus’

“Why are we here?”

It’s an age old philosophical question that man has been asking for centuries. Scientists believe we’ve evolved over thousands of years from single-celled organisms to the creatures we are today. People of faith believe that a powerful being created us all. Leave it to director Ridley Scott to come up with his own original theory.

The quest for man’s origin is the story that drives “Prometheus.” Doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are romantically involved scientists who have discovered the possible key to creation. Their findings have caught the attention of the wealthy, yet decrepit, Peter Weyland, who funds their venture into space to unlock this mystery. Weyland representative Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) joins them on the spaceship Prometheus along with Captain Janek (Idris Elba) and several other scientists. Of course, this crew traveling to meet their creator fails to ask if their creator wants to meet them.

Scott’s return to science fiction is a triumphant one. The director of “Alien” and “Blade Runner” proves he has no peer when it comes to suspense and thrills in an alien world. Speaking of an alien world, many are wondering if “Prometheus” is a prequel to “Alien.” It most definitely is, but not in a direct sense. There are certainly common elements, and the origin of the xenomorph creatures in the “Alien” franchise is revealed, but the two stories take place in entirely different settings.

But even without the novelty of tying in to “Alien,” “Prometheus” is an instant science fiction classic. Scott challenges both himself and the audience with some heavily philosophical material courtesy of screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof (“Lost”), and while the script may not necessarily provide all the answers, it does promote thought. Character development takes a bit of a loss as a result, but not in an overly dumbed-down way.

“Prometheus” is also easily one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen. From the lush panoramic landscapes of the opening scenes to the design of the Prometheus, as well as the alien world and spaceship, the visual marvels in this film are plentiful. The CGI is flawless, and this is one of those rare films where 3D is highly recommended. The 3D will immerse you into the movie, rather than distract you from it.

Theron, Elba, Rapace and especially Michael Fassbender as the android David all deliver excellent and believable performances. There had been an android featured in each “Alien” film, so it was a challenge for Fassbender to bring something new to his role, yet he does it with ease. He rides that fine line between robotic indifference and human emotion so well that it’s often difficult to tell what side he’s actually on.

If there is one fault in the film it’s that it feels a little too similar in tempo and tone to the original “Alien,” sometimes sharing just a few too many parallels to it. But if you’re going to borrow from someone, might as well borrow from the best, even if that means it’s yourself.

“Prometheus,” 124 minutes, is Rated R and opens in theaters today.