Though it arrived with great anticipation, Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus has seemingly divided critics right down the middle, with some calling it a tremendous achievement in the world of science fiction and others calling it a colossal, overly-ambitious mess. For me, the film had some pretty huge expectations to live up to. Not only am I a big fan of Sir Ridley, but I also hold Alien near and dear to my heart and take the side of those who call it the defining sci-fi film of the 20th century.
Suffice to say, my excitement for Prometheus was off the charts and now that I’ve seen it and have had time to reflect on it, I’ve made up my mind: Prometheus will eventually be hailed as a sci-fi classic, with critics placing it on the same level as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Brazil etc. When it comes to Scott’s latest, all the elements are there and the more I think about it, the director has crafted a near perfect sci-fi film.
Simply put, Prometheus is a wholly engulfing movie. Populated with head-scratching questions that probe to the very deepest cores of our intellect, Prometheus is most definitely a thinking man’s film. It challenges us to ask where we came from and, better yet, why are we here? Who created us, and why? These are no doubt tough questions and the film doesn’t offer up many answers, but it never pretends to.
Like Inception did two years ago, and like The Matrix did before it, as well as countless other films, Prometheus inspires discussion. It stirs our minds and tempts us to contemplate questions that had been all but unthinkable beforehand. It attempts to shake the very foundations that our beliefs rest on. What if the human race was just simply engineered, and what if our creators are still out there on another planet?
It’s a fascinating concept and one that expands your mind, just like Inception and The Matrix did. It makes you think of things that you would have never otherwise begun to ponder. Furthermore, the fact that it challenges you to go to those places with your mind, without ever providing clear answers, is the best part about it. What good would it have been had Scott given us all the answers? Would we still be thinking about the film days, perhaps weeks after we’d seen it? Likely not.
By simply giving us the outline of a story, and hinting at a much deeper mythology that underlines it all, it allows our minds to roam free and speculate, ponder and wonder about what exactly is going on. It inspires discussion, theories and explanations. And really, isn’t that what a good sci-fi film is meant to do? Isn’t the sci-fi genre as a whole supposed to be inspiring and provocative? If you want a simple film that will excite you but leave you uninspired, then go see an action flick. Sci-fi is supposed to be the smarter genre, right? It’s supposed to hold some deeper meaning and explore more complex themes. It’s supposed to make you think and in this regard, Prometheus succeeds. It inspires intrigue and fascination.
The ideas presented here are so monumental and earth-shattering that they simply beg for your attention. Whichever creation theory you choose to subscribe to, it most likely incorporates the fact that whoever did create mankind likely isn’t here anymore. But to suggest that our creators still exist, and currently live on another planet? To me, that’s simply mind-blowing. The greatest question any one individual can ask is what is the meaning of life? To suggest that the question can be answered by the very individuals who gave us life is something truly provocative and remarkable. By no means am I saying that I believe we were created by Engineers who exist on another planet – I realize that this is purely science-fiction (despite similar theories being introduced in the past) - but it is fun to think about, isn’t it?
But Ridley is far from the first director to pose deep questions and provide little answer. So what else about Prometheus works so well? Well, for one, on a purely visual level it’s dazzling. Avatar aside, this is one of the best uses of 3D that I’ve ever seen. It truly does elevate the film, giving it an extra element of immersion. Even if you dismiss the 3D, the film still works wonders on a visual level. Scott has always been more of a visualist and the real treat in many of his films is losing yourself in the world he has created.
With Alien, we only saw hints of what was going on Scott’s mind. With Prometheus though, he peels the layers back and lets us dig deeper. Though there is still a lot that is unknown and unanswered, the universe that we’re presented with here is stunning. Every aspect of it is completely engrossing and on the big screen, the director shows that he really knows how to spend a couple hundred million. The set pieces, the VFX, the camera work, the production values, etc. Everything is marvellous and the entire film is a real treat for the eyes.
Where Prometheus also falls in with other sci-fi greats is that it works on so many levels. Even for those who aren’t willing to reach deep into their minds to answer the questions that Scott poses, the film will still entertain. A perfect cast and a strong story will capture the attention of most, as will the looming sense of intrigue and mystery found at every twist and turn of this puzzling thriller. There’s so much to admire here that your mind won’t know where to focus first. Do you focus on the truly chilling horror scenes that Scott has deftly created? Or do you struggle to keep track of the various clues left so brilliantly by Scott and writer Damon Lindelof?
The truth of the matter is, no matter which aspect of Prometheus you focus on, you’ll surely find something to like. And I haven’t even mentioned Michael Fassbender‘s character, David. Fassbender is positively brilliant in the role and though some may call it audacious, I’d say David holds up to the iconic Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The character is completely captivating and Fassbender plays the role with such conviction that you can’t help but to be gripped by David for every second that he’s on screen. It’s a performance that’s not much different than what Rutger Hauer did in Blade Runner but in my eyes, it’s surpasses that. Though Prometheus is supposed to be Shaw’s story, it becomes David’s. Fassbender is able to speak volumes without so much as uttering a syllable and he moulds a truly fascinating character with David.
To sum it up, Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus is dazzling in every sense of the word and no matter how it’s received in the next few weeks, I have no doubt that it will go on to become a sci-fi classic. In fact, the mixed reviews don’t sway my mind at all. Sometimes a sci-fi films needs a few years to be appreciated, as is very often the case. We’ve seen it happen before, most notably with Scott’s Blade Runner, which is now one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. Prometheus will be the same.
As we have more time to dwell on it, more time to watch it again and undoubtedly see where Scott will go in the sequels, our appreciation for the film will grow. That I am sure of. I could go on and on discussing what else there is to admire in the film, to expand on what I’ve already said, but I won’t bore you. I’ll let you go and allow you some time to think about what was shown for the two hours you spent in the theatre.
I will say this, though: In 10-20 years from now, people will have stopped talking about the bullet time sequences from The Matrix or the four layered dream sequence from Inception. They won’t be raving about the polarizing scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the complexity of the Replicants in Blade Runner or even the fascination inspired by Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis. Rather, they’ll be talking about Prometheus, and all the greatness that the film has to offer.
Before I let you go though, I ask you, what do you think? Is Prometheus destined to become a sci-fi classic? Or will it fail to leave its mark on the genre? Let us know in the comments section below.