There can be no faulting the exquisite craftsmanship of Ridley Scott’s directing, the stunning and awe inspiring production design (Arthur Max the designer also gave us “Gladiator”) and the class acting of the principals (Noomi – ‘Lisbeth Salander – Rapace, Michael – busiest actor this year – Fassbender and Charlize – playing nasty again – Theron); but “Prometheus” is portentous, pretentious piffle.
“Alien” (“Prometheus” started out, apparently as a prequel) was the antidote to “Star Wars”. One was a nice light fantasy, despite its later mythologizers, with nice, clearly identified heroes; the other was dark and scary with the emergence of one of the first women to eclipse the role of masculine action heroes – Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. But part of the success of “Alien” was that the theme of contagion and Scott’s ability to tap into our communal fears of ‘the other’: the snake/lizard, slithering, head horned like a devil, oozing, body inhabiting force of destruction.
In “Prometheus”, meet Ridley Scott, philosopher and apologist for his version of Intelligent Design. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi) makes it known that she’s a Good Christian (she wears a cross) and is a Faithful Believer. But she believes, based on the similarity of a series of ancient paintings discovered in a variety of deep, hidden, caves, that WE were all created by alien beings (“but who created them?” questions Ms Shaw, ruminating while all hell breaks loose). This is of course Erich von Daniken, whose book, “Chariots of the Gods” published some time ago theorized the same thing: Aliens came down, levitated the stones that created Stonehenge, criss-crossed the world (or the UK at least) with magnetic lines which were used as the routes the Druids took to build their places of worship.
Von Daniken at least suggested that man had already evolved (you now, that Darwinian conceit that Romney voting Americans want to deny). Not so, for deep thinker Scott. His original man (it’s a man… the original, uber Adam), who looks like a giant Mr. Kleen (after all this… it’s come down to the fact that for all these centuries, we’ve been worshipping a detergent!) was the primordial creative force. That is, before he fell into some sort of waterfall and presumably drowned, except that he, or maybe his twin brother was actually decapitated by large octopodia on that distant planet where the hapless crew of the Prometheus, and the audience looking on, find themselves.