Wednesday, June 13, 2012
In 1979 a horror film set in the far reaches of space, modestly called ALIEN and directed by the unknown Ridley Scott, opened in theaters and became a sensation. In 1982 Scott gave us BLADE RUNNER, securing his reputation as a visionary filmmaker. Now thirty years later he returns to the milieu that made him. This time, rather than a mining ship responding to a distress call, a team of scientists travel on the good ship Prometheus to a planet light-years from Earth where, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe, an alien species created the human race. Mysterious tycoon Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) has funded the trip posthumously (he’s seen in hologram) to the tune of trillions. The ship’s crew consists of no-nonsense Captain Janek (Idris Elba), an android named David (Michael Fassbender) who has uncertain loyalties, the icy Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) representing the interests of the dead Weyland, and several redshirts (read: alien fodder). The film begins with promise – a sacrifice on a barren planet; David preparing himself and the ship for arrival. But once the shipmates wake from their forced sleep and begin speaking lines by screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, that promise deflates like a balloon with a slow leak. Rather than evoke well-paid professionals on an astronomically expensive (not to mention important) mission, the demeanor of many of our space travelers more closely resembles that of fraternity pledges duped into a journey that, had they been sober the night before, they would have refused. So it should come as no surprise that much of the impending carnage can be attributed to stupid, reckless or self-serving behavior. Arthur Max’s production design and Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography dazzle, but the performances and story remain inert. Rapace seems miscast, Marshall-Green is annoying, Elba and Theron are underused, while Fassbender makes the only lasting impression. Too often Scott and the writers make oblique reference to seminal moments in earlier movies, so that we long to view them again and forget this disappointment as quickly as possible.