dir Ridley Scott
scr Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
prd David Giler, Walter Hill, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott
with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie, Patrick Wilson
release UK 1.Jun.12, US 8.Jun.12
12/UK Fox 2h04
Something's out there: Theron and Elba

rapace fassbender pearce
See also:
Alien (1979) Alien: Covenant (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Prometheus There are clear echoes of Scott's last outer space thriller (1979's Alien) in this big, bold film, but this is something very different. It's certainly not a clear prequel. And even if the plot is full of holes, it's utterly mesmerising.

When archaeologists Shaw and Holloway (Rapace and Marshall-Green) figure out that ancient civilisations share a map to a specific star system, the Weyland CEO (Pearce) funds a two-year mission to get answers about the origin of humanity. Led by Weyland crony Vickers (Theron) and Captain Janek (Elba), Shaw and Holloway are accompanied by a helpful android (Fassbender) and a team of not-so-enthusiastic scientists. But what they find on this distant moon isn't what they expected, and the remnants of this civilisation aren't as dead as they seem.

Scott directs on a grand scale with epic landscapes and seamless effects. The film looks gorgeous, especially in Imax, and is packed with sequences that take our breath away. Particularly eye-catching are the holographic scenes, which use an inventive dotted effect to make the most of 3D. But by centring on the characters, the film also feels surprisingly intimate. These people may not be hugely complex, but they're interesting enough that we want to know more about them.

Fassbender is the standout, with a remarkably controlled performance as the emotion-free robot with a secret agenda. What he does isn't terribly logical to us, but Fassbender plays every moment with riveting stillness. By contrast, Rapace is a bundle of barely suppressed emotions, unable to control her reactions to everything that happens to her. Which is quite a lot. And Theron is steely and nasty as the voice of the evil corporation, while Elba and Marshall-Green get to ooze sexuality in their pressure-releasing roles.

As events develop, the film gets pretty nasty, never shying away from the grisliness. Several types of slimy beast prey on our heroes, with such a variety of results that nothing quite makes sense. But it's so jarringly inconsistent that keeping us off-balance must have been the filmmakers' intent. While the story nods to themes of faith, loyalty and playing with fire, it never says anything terribly profound. But it keeps us glued to our seats and leaves us wanting more.

cert 15 themes, violence, language 30.May.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall