After watching the first two “Alien” films again last week, I was very excited to see their prequel, “Prometheus.” Unfortunately, the Ridley Scott-directed movie turned out to be a major disappointment, particularly after an engaging first hour (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW).
The film delves into the origins of the villainous “Company,” which manipulated the events that led to Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the Nostromo reaching the planet where the murderous alien is discovered in the original film. In “Prometheus,” “Company” founder Peter Weyland bankrolls the voyage of two scientists who believe they have discovered the extraterrestrial origins of life on Earth. Unlike the first two films, profit is not the company’s motive; instead, the dying Weyland hopes that finding humanity’s creators will help him extend his life.
The composition of the Prometheus’ crew reflects the growing openness of American society since the 1970s. Whereas the original ship featured a multicultural crew with minorities and women in supporting roles, an African American man captains the Prometheus and Weyland’s daughter, Meredith Vickers, supervises him (a bizarrely underused Charlize Theron). This evolution reflects the election of Barack Obama as well as the emergence of female leaders such as Madeleine Albright, Condi Rice and Hilary Clinton. The idea of an African-American president with a female Secretary of State would have seemed like science fiction in 1979, but is reality today.
Co-written by “Lost” show runner Damon Lindelof, the movie echoes the conflicts between faith and science that marked the show. The lead female character, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (a possible homage to a character from the original “Doctor Who”), struggles with reconciling her religion with the disastrous events on the planet. Shaw is contrasted with the unemotional rationality of android David (a possible homage to “2001”), just as John Locke and Jack Shepard argued the same debate on “Lost.” “Prometheus,” like “Lost,” asks many questions without offering its audience clear answers, although the door for a sequel to wrap things up is left wide open. With “Prometheus’” open-ended conclusion, it is as if “Lost” had ended following the airing of its pilot.
Though the film had great promise, I can’t really recommend it. Wait for cable or Redbox.