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Rant and Rave: ‘Prometheus’

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Many may say that the genre of alien movies has hit a saturation point, with plotlines becoming repetitive, and the only way to impress audiences is by constantly amping up the CGI. However, director and producer Ridley Scott (famous for films such as Gladiator, Robin Hood, Blade Runner, and yes, Alien) heads back to the sci-fi realm to make another gem of a movie.  Prometheus, his latest creation, hit cinemas last Thursday, June 7, and it is definitely worth seeing over the weekend.

The film revolves around a team of explorers led by anthropologists, Drs. Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, played by Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Logan Marshall-Green (Across the Universe, The O.C.) respectively. In the year 2089, Shaw and Holloway find 30,000 year old cave paintings in a cavern on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Comparing this discovery to those which they had previously studied, they realized that all the cave paintings they found depicted ancient civilizations worshipping a group of celestial bodies. Shaw and Holloway’s research led them to one of the planets linked to the celestial system in question – a planet very capable of sustaining life, a planet very much like Earth. They believe that on this planet reside the superior beings (whom they call “Engineers”) who created the human race.

Onboard the space ship Prometheus, Shaw, Holloway, and their crew travel to the mysterious planet looking for answers to questions about man’s origin and life’s purpose. Along the way, they learn that some questions are purposedly left unanswered, because the answers themselves are too much for this world to bear.

Ridley Scott achieves profound storytelling through great cinematography and consistent attention to detail, succesfully creating a new dimension of reality with his sets and special effects. In the film, he takes the viewer on a comprehensive tour of another planet, giving you aerial, terrain, and even underground shots, totally immersing the viewer as if one were exploring each new corner with Dr. Shaw and her team.

Given that Scott is not new to the sci-fi genre, the advanced technology and gadgets used in the film were appropriate and believable enough to be something that may come up in the next couple of decades. In fact, one of the characters was not actually supposed to be human at all. David, played by Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method) is a robot developed by Weyland Industries, the same company funding Project Prometheus. David, a personification of the man-versus-machine debacle, is equipped with artificial intelligence and runs the ship while the crew is in hypersleep for two years on the long journey from Earth.

The script poses a lot of questions for the audience to chew. For instance: how do we know? How are we certain that our Earth is the only one with life on it? How are we sure that we really came from apes, as stated in the Darwinian Theory? Did God really create us from dirt and His breath?  How are we so sure of ourselves and our purpose in this life? In the face of the overpowering and overwhelming Unknown, what does it mean to be human?

Prometheus is a good showcase of the capabilities and limitations of human nature, as seen in its characterization.

There is, for instance, Fifield (Sean Harris), the sceptic who initially does not want to believe in the existence of other life forms, because he would rather cling to the familiar.

Then there is Janek (Idris Elba), the captain of the ship, who, ironically enough, does his best to avoid responsibility, and stay neutral in crisis.

Of course, there is also Charlie Holloway – brilliant and spirited but drunk on pride.

Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is cold, logical, calculating and selfish.

David, mentioned earlier, although not human, displays our ability to be infinitely curious to a fault.

Lastly, there is Elizabeth Shaw, who shows how we are always inclined to hope, and that our rationality and our reality rest on the concept of faith; that our destiny and our strength comes mainly from what we choose to believe.

Why only a 3.0? Prometheus is a grand endeavour with a big budget that does not disappoint, at least aesthetically. Is it, however, memorable? The intense questions mentioned above which call for  internal reflection do not really stick with the audience, as they are blown away by amazing special effects several seconds after they are asked. Although not as probing as Inception, Prometheus at least vocalizes the questions that have plagued man for centuries on end, and directly encourages watchers to discern the answers for themselves. The real take-away from the Prometheus experience, however, is the new universe Scott has created. At the end of the credits, a link is given to the website of Weyland Industries, where viewers could explore the company, see a bit of backstory (and at the same time gain some context on the development of technology thus far), and actually try out to be an actual employee. Also, projectprometheus.com has a great interactive activity, that brings out your natural space explorer – you can control the space ship Prometheus itself and read about different planets (now with Earth colonies) up to 1575.5 lightyears away from our world.

By Noelle Santiago

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