Honestly, I could go on and on about the Alien movies, the general mythology of the series, how outstanding the creatures are - how much I love the AVP movies (yes, I have no problem being alone in that opinion) - how the original creature design was based on sketches by Swiss artist/writer H.R. Giger, etc. But, as this review is supposed to be about Prometheus, I will digress...
Here's your trivia information that will help you win a contest someday - Prometheus was the name of one of the titans who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the humans, allowing us to begin to be civilized. He was punished by being chained to a rock for eternity where an eagle would come and peck out his liver daily, it would grow back every evening, so it just went on and on like that. You get to set him free in God of War 2 if you make it that far...
Ridley Scott had been teasing everyone for quite some time with his - "it may or may not be a prequel to Alien" speeches and I can now confirm - it absolutely functions as a prequel to Alien.
The movie begins with two doctors discovering an ancient cave drawing that is the same as other drawings found in other civilizations that had no contact with one another. Humans gathered around and worshipping a larger being who is gesturing to a specific constellation. The doctors locate the constellation, and set out to find what they call "engineers" - they engineered us. Several cryo-slept years later, the crew of the Prometheus including one 'artificial' (robot) touches down on a planet, near some structures that are clearly not natural ("God doesn't build in straight lines"). They enter the structures, the robot, David - figures out how to open doors (because, why wouldn't he have figured that out while he was awake the whole time the others slept through traveling). This allows them to view a holographic recording of the large previous inhabitants clearly running from something. They find the body of one of them outside another door - decapitated. David opens that door too - they find and bag the head. They also disturb the atmosphere in an altar-like room featuring several vases, and the large stone head that has been the main marketing piece for this movie. All hell proceeds to break loose.
The original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace pretty much carries the piece as Scott's trademark 'strong woman' role. She does a very good job as a doctor who's faith is beginning to conflict with her scientific discoveries.
Logan Marshall-Green plays her co-worker and significant other. This is the first thing I have seen him in, and he's certainly decent, but also a little forgettable.
Idris Elba plays the captain of the ship - Janeck, who is the most likeable character. He plays a concertina once owned by Stephen Stills and sums up the reason for everything they find on the planet in once sentence that comes a bit out of nowhere. I think he's right, but how did he figure all that out?
For some unknown reason, Guy Pearce plays Weyland (it's only the Weyland corporation in this, they must not have run into Yutani yet). He's wearing so much old age makeup he's unrecognizable - so why cast him? There must be a plan for that in another movie, right?
One of the two main standouts for the second week in a row is Charlize Theron. She plays Vickers, who rivals Paul Reiser's Burke in terms of company-owned tools. She is really terrific in this as the woman who is the money behind the expedition looking for the payoff and profitability.
The second standout is Michael Fassbender as David. He is incredible as the robot and plays him with an even stillness that is plain creepy. He easily rivals Ian Holme's original robot Ash in terms of general off-putting not-caring about the humans, but also mangages to bring in some of Lance Henriksen's Bishop in the pleasant blandness of simply wanting to serve the humans.
The practical makeup effects on the giant alien "engineers" is pretty impressive. The sets are amazing, and yes, you finally get to see where the space jockey from the original Alien came from, and why he's in that seat.
The movie, once the action begins, does move well, and is scary without the terrifying claustrophic feeling that Alien had. After all, here they have an entire planet to be terrified on, not just the one ship. They do spend an awful lot of time running through scary tunnels in the dark - and that will creep anyone out. At 124 mintues, I did feel like it was far too long. As good as Fassbender is, there were far too many shots of him standing around, styling himself after Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, and shooting baskets while riding a bicycle (what?). There is a lot of time dedicated to reaction shots. I don't mind long, lingering shots of sets - let's give the set designers their due - but I could do without the extended scenes of the characters looking at those sets.
I have read that some people feel it raises more questions than it answers. I felt that it tied everything up very nicely, but I sure did read between the lines to come to that conclusion - and it absolutely did leave things open for a sequel, or a seprequel? See it - it's really well done, and even if you've never seen Alien (what's wrong with you? how could you not have seen that?) - you'll enjoy this.
8 out of 10. Lost points for some of the confusing characteristics of the ooze in the vases. It did what to this guy, but what to this other guy? Gained points for Fassbender's creepiness. Lost points for Idris Elba wearing a shirt for the whole thing...he couldn't have been shirtless for at least one scene? sheesh. Gained points for Dr. Shaw having a Napenthes growing in an upside-down container in her quarters. I have one in my house - guess I'm all set for the future!
Bonus Video 1: Trailer for Aliens, which I actually prefer to Alien, mainly because Ripley becomes truly kick-ass, and Jeanette Goldstein is awesome, and has one hell of an awesome name :)