How often you get to watch a blockbuster movie where it mesmerizes you at the opening minute, before gradually grabs you by the throat and never let go until the very end? The answer is none others than PROMETHEUS, Ridley Scott's long-awaited comeback to sci-fi genre since BLADE RUNNER (1982). It is certainly well worth the wait especially since PROMETHEUS is a prequel to his own timeless classic, ALIEN (1979). Well, actually it is more of an indirect prequel (you just have to see it for yourself). But one thing for sure, prequel or not, PROMETHEUS is a rare breed -- a thought-provoking, yet frightening science-fiction epic that isn't afraid to ask difficult questions related to our very own existence.
Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2089: Archaeologists Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover 35,000 years old ancient cave drawings that features a mysterious star pattern not found in our solar system. They also believe that the drawings might hold the answer to the so-called "Engineer" of life, as they like to call it.
Flash forward to Christmas Day, 2093, Shaw, Holloway and 15 other crew members, all aboard the space vessel called Prometheus, has awaken from stasis to learn they have nearing to their destination -- a destination of a mysterious planet capable of sustaining life. Funded by late CEO of Weyland Corp., Peter Weyland (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce), Shaw and Holloway are put in charge of the space expedition, while being held under the watchful eyes of a Weyland first-in-command employee, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). Once they land on the planet, they proceed on their expedition along with a Weyland android David (Michael Fassbender) and subsequently discovers a series of massive underground caverns and chambers. But what Shaw and Holloway's hope to find answers to life's greatest mysteries, doesn't turn out to be something remarkable to celebrate for after all.
Of late, science-fiction genre (especially the big-budget Hollywood blockbuster-type) is mostly about state-of-the-art special effects, big action set-piece, big star, and anything that resembles an empty-headed entertainment. But it's a refreshing change of pace to see Ridley Scott revisits the true essence of what great science fiction genre should be -- big ideas filled with provocative question -- similarly the one he did remarkably well in both ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER. Scott is certainly at the top of his game here, with his masterful direction that favors slow build-up of escalating tension before gradually turns his movie into a full-blown terror that never fails to have you at the edge of the seat. No doubt this movie is expertly paced with razor-sharp editing and careful framing that each moment is a sight to behold. This is especially true as Scott's keen eyes to combine top-notch CGI and (mostly) practical effect is both epic, yet involving enough to mesmerize you throughout the journey to the unknown.
And speaking of escalating tension, PROMETHEUS is benefited with lots of nail-biting suspenseful moments, especially with the help of Marc Streitenfeld's terrifically rousing score. One particular memorable scene, which also set to be a new classic of a suspenseful moment, is none others than the squirm-inducing set-piece involving Shaw struggling inside the automatic surgical chamber, is a remarkably hair-raising experience. That scene alone is worth the price of admission -- and I admit it's been a long time since I'm so stunned with such heart-pounding set-piece Scott has expertly crafted here.
However, script-wise, Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof's highly-ambitious screenplay is wobbly at times. Although the movie is worth all the praise of its depiction of many thought-provoking concepts and such, there are just too many questions left hanging throughout the movie (whether or not all the mind-boggling questions will be answered in the potential sequel remains to be seen).
As for the cast, all of them are impeccably acted. While I'm sure a lot of die-hard fans are still rooting for Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley character, rest assured that Swedish actress Noomi Rapace is similarly remarkable as well. Forget about her Hollywood debut in last year's SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS. Here, her steadfast role as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is a complex heroine where Rapace lifts up her part with such commanding performance, both physically and emotionally. As Meredith Vickers, Charlize Theron delivers her trademark bitchy and ice-queen presence to astonishing effect, while the rest of the supporting actors are equally strong as well. But of course, one would have agree with me that Michael Fassbender nearly steals the show with his memorable performance as the curious android David. In fact, Fassbender has the most intriguing character than everyone else combined here. As David, he plays his part with a mixture of curiosity, arrogance, detachment, and playfulness (especially in the early scene where he imitates the look and speech pattern of Peter O'Toole while watching LAWRENCE OF ARABIA).
Despite some of the flaws in the script, PROMETHEUS is one of the best sci-fi (make that as "sci-fi horror") movies in a long while. It's also a personal best for Ridley Scott, who previously stumbled in 2010's ill-fated ROBIN HOOD with Russell Crowe.