Deep Space Quest for Life's Origins Atmospheric, Philisophical and 3D Thrilling

by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Scene from "Prometheus"
Scene from "Prometheus"
Provided by 20th Century Fox

Let’s get one point out of the way: Space travel fantasy lends itself marvelously to 3-D, so “Prometheus” ranks as the best science-fiction 3D since “Avatar.” Ridley Scott knew better than to slip in shoddy ‘point at the audience’ scenes; he did not have to. The star ship, new planet, and discovered life forms all lend themselves to the technology. Don’t brush off this assessment quickly, directors in the “Alien” franchise included James (“Aliens,” “Avatar,” “Titanic”) Cameron and David ( “Girl with Golden Tattoo,” “Social Network”)  Fincher .

Lauded as a prequel to “Alien,” the production has a deeper philosophical edge (think “2001 : A Space Odyssey”) mixed into the search for beings on other planets like ourselves. When released in 1979, Sigourney Weaver pioneered  action heroine, Ripley, in that franchise. Charlize (“Snow White and the Huntsman,” her Oscar winning “Monster” and “Young Adult”) Theron shares the strong female lead with Noomi (“Girl with Dragon Tattoo” series) Rapace.  Theron’s  demanding and dominating corporate commander Ms. Vickers has a selfish, emotionless off the scale (apparent) financial gain agenda. She pairs well in a pseudo boy meets girl intellectual jousts with David (played by Michael Fassbender), a humanoid whose voice has the same flat, logical and monotony as that of the Hal 9000 computer (Douglas Rain in “2001”). As a likely faceoff to the classic, the astronaut Keir Dullea played was named Dave Bowman.  

Biologist/scientist Elizabeth Shaw has a  giddiness towards discovery and research. However, she’s not lost all empathy toward others and despite implications of searching life’s origins, she still chooses to hold a traditional belief.

Ambiguity replaces dark upchuck chills as a string of ancient drawings lead biologists, geologists, and corporate executives into deep space to find a possible “engineer” for life on Earth. A few spoilers lead to better absorption, especially this early one: The opening scene naked life form on Earth occurs in a predecessor to recorded history. The solution drunken , for better or worse, leads to the evolvement of life.

Unlike “2001” which left wide story gaps filled by classical music, star vistas, and Hal 9000 conversation with the astronaut, “Prometheus” has philosophical/theosophical banters. “Choosing to believe” becomes a buzz word for faith. What if “God” did not “create” us, rather, the inhabitants of Earth descended from a different species that once visited the planet and set a life chain in action?  Temporarily accepting the thesis leads to a further stretch, where did these accidental life engineers come from and who created them?

Symbolically, the cross hanging from  Ms. Shaw’s neck disappears when “contaminated” by the new planet’s air then, she reaches out for it.

Left undeveloped, the pursuit of a fountain of youth (or banishment of death) by mission financiers,  the Wayland Corporation. Ms. Theron hints sinister foundations, but when creature battles gain momentum, these societal queries vanish, except we now have a winding thriller scenario of the ‘who will survive’ variety.

Atmospheric surprisingly well lighted caves dominate, which allow close up foreshadowing to permit viewers knowledge of which the characters have yet to obtain .

A more ‘thinking’ voyage does not translate to a lack of reptile-like creepy crawlers ingesting unwilling living bodies. Scott has the trademark flesh exploding from within segments, just not as often. Intensity increases as the embryonic skin contortions take on a predictably unpredictable outcome courtesy of the SNL expression “deep thoughts.”

Ultimately, survival trumps thesis, leaving a want of more mental challenges after the 3D actions kicks off. Call this a hunch just a mainstream corporate collapse, which dilutes the quest for meaning.

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