Some of the most revolutionary artists have that child-like quality of looking at everything as if for the first time (and showing it to the viewer via the art of cinema, literature, theatre, and so on).
Ridley Scott is one of these rare artists. The sense of wonderment with which he opens his peepers every time he looks at something is contagious. He did it in Alien and Blade Runner, creating dystopian worlds of utter devastation and infecting his audiences with lasting horror that haunts and transfixes at the same time. He did it in Thelma & Louise, as an Englishman, staring at the American landscape, wide-eyed, jaw-dropped – as if no one stared at these plains and hills before, and sharing the experience with those who’ve accepted the invitation.
And yes, he is doing it again in Prometheus, despite what you may have heard from whiny critics, when he shows the viewers their home – planet Earth – as they’ve never seen it before. But like a true artist who is always enchanted with wondrous beginnings, he is also drawn to inglorious ends...
Prometheus opens with show-stopping shots of the Earth in its early days (filmed at the base of the active volcano in Iceland), and there is a terrifying creature to observe, but not the one many would expect in a movie that began as Alien’s prequel but ended up being its own master.
Archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover an ancient painting in Scotland which is one of a series of similar paintings from different cultures and historical periods (H.R. Giger designed the murals). All the etchings point to the same planet, as if inviting humans to visit, so both Elizabeth who is a cross-wearing believer and Charlie who is a steadfast scientist, are filled with wonder and hope.
The all-powerful corporation Weyland Industries sends the two, together with a crew of scientists and the friendly android David (Michael Fassbender – enchanting), headed by the steely Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron, not an ounce of fat in her body) to a planet similar to Earth on a ship called Prometheus. They arrive in 2093 to make history, but as power struggles start, the hidden agendas of the seemingly obvious characters begin to unfold – with disastrous consequences for most of the crew.
The eager viewers will find out what David the android is doing when the rest of the crew are sleeping. Michael Fassbender is brilliant at showing the methodological movements of his double agent character – whether he is learning ancient languages and bleaching his roots. It’s hard not to like David. He looks at human beings with a sense of quiet disgust – at their will to explore, conquer, kill the living things, bring dead things to life, theorize, analyze, categorize. When Elizabeth asks David what he is going to do when no one programs him, he answers he will be free, with a dry smile. That dude knows that freedom ain’t all that; but he never forgets he is just a slave in the eye of the humans; there is a twinkle in his eye that suggests that one day he will retaliate.