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‘Prometheus’ is a Think Piece, Sci-fi Blockbuster

Published: Thursday, June 7, 2012

Updated: Thursday, June 7, 2012 11:06

Prometheus Movie Poster



Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Directed By Ridley Scott

Rated R

Opens Friday


Grade: B+


The appeal of the science fiction genre is firmly rooted in its ability to ask and explore the “big” questions; thematic ideas that elevate the art of whatever media it’s representing. That’s not to say that other genres can’t accomplish the same goal. Horror movies address societal trends and dramas and comedies analyze a particular human condition, if sometimes in a roundabout way.

Science fiction, or rather the best science fiction, can take foreign concepts like alien invaders, time travel or genetic manipulation and use that starting point to make an audience ponder. With good storytelling, audiences also get to question alien invaders and how it relates our place in the universe, the ethics and morality of time travel and the responsibility and pitfalls of both genetic modifications and artificial life.

“Prometheus” is very much an idea film, having both its central characters and the audience question the ramifications of its story and think about two big questions in particular: “Where did we come from and why are we here?”

The movie is enjoyable. The talent in front of and behind the camera advances the movie to a place of true art, even if the execution falters. Director Ridley Scott, best known for the sci-fi epics “Blade Runner” and “Alien,” can’t quite match the game-changing effect of those movies. The anticipation and expectation for a movie that might actually have a connection, if only slight, to “Alien” puts this movie in an unfair position, since there isn’t a movie to date that could compare. Except maybe James Cameron’s “Aliens.”

But the idea is phenomenal. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and company discover an identical pictograph shared amongst various historic and prehistoric cultures. Each image shows a larger, obviously worshiped figure, pointing to a star location outside of where those civilizations could conceivably see. Think the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens.”

So with the financial backing of entrepreneur Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), the group takes a two-year jaunt across space to find whatever those pictures were pointing at, hoping to find some ancient, but advanced culture. And in true sci-fi fashion “what they found could change the course of humanity!” Cue dramatic music.

The fact that Shaw and company assume that these beings weren’t just worshiped, like the aliens in, say, “Thor,” but instead were the progenitors of the human race, shows an outside way of thinking even if the assumption is without basis. It’s a stretch to say the least.

Besides that, there are some interesting, engaging concepts. For example, take Michael Fassbender’s David, an android built with a chip on his shoulder and a wicked sense of curiosity. Obviously seeing himself better than his squishy companions, David stands as a being who knows his purpose and where he came from – something no human can truly claim without going into the whole faith discussion.

That in itself is one of many interesting debates that can come from this movie. Think of it as an entertaining forum for debate that also has funny lines, interesting but slightly underdeveloped characters and lots of blood and viscera.

Because of that, “Prometheus” stands out as a thinking summer blockbuster – a rare type of film on those merits alone – but exhibits the true sci-fi quality: It raises poignant and interesting questions.

– Aaron Tavena, College Times

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