In one word ‘Prometheus’, the super-hyped brand-new Ridley Scott film, is ‘Avatar’ of 2012: The most anticipated movie of the year, an epic in every sense of the word. The return of the great Scott to his very own ‘Alien’ world; and promise of a storytelling grandeur that only movies can deliver, that too in inevitable 3D, with a killer marketing campaign to boot.
After a long time, I went to see a film in theatre, that too in 3D (my first after ‘Avatar’), that too on first day first show, on Friday, and my head is still reeling. I remember an exactly same feeling after seeing ‘Inception.’ A day later, I’m still thinking of ‘Prometheus’, and my thoughts are not coherent.
Is ‘Prometheus’ a great film? Unfortunately not. But, and I say this emphatically, the film is worth your money and time. It was a magnificent movie-going experience. The film is wondrous to behold, with scenes of such ethereal beauty, when it introduces the technology of the humanoid alien species that may have “engineered” us, the humans. Yet, the film has such gaping holes, such slippery loose ends. Critics are right when they say that the second half of the film fails to lives up to expectations. No, it’s not about the big questions and the big revelations (which has been carefully reserved for a possible sequel), it’s how the climax failed to unfold, it was like, the creature (of the all ‘Alien’ films; here, the film itself) was brutally maimed before it could morph itself to the beauteous monstrosity.
And, we are not even discussing the film’s alleged link to ‘Alien’ that Scott directed 33 years ago, which changed the face of Hollywood horror/ body horror/ creature films. Okay, now, we can at least answer who the so called ‘Space Jockey’ in the first ‘Alien’ film was, and why that derelict ship that the fateful crew of Nostromo discovered in the uninhabited planet was filled with that deadly cargo. Yes, according to the film’s mythology, extraterrestrial beings exist and they created us, and later, they wanted us killed, by unleashing bio-monsters on us, if you like. It was our luck that they were all killed, except one, in hyper-sleep, some 2,000 years ago. That person in hyper-sleep appears to be the “space jockey”, who birthed the first ‘alien’ monster (John Hurt in ‘Alien’ would be the second; remember the scene?)
This is a very popular conspiracy theory, that Gods, as narrated by various religions in the world, are but alien races who came to the Earth and created us according to their image. This theory was popularised by an infamous book ‘’Chariots of the Gods,’ by Erich von Däniken. It was the Da Vinci Code of 1970s. In any case, ‘Prometheus’ not only believes this theory, but also proves it right.
‘Prometheus’ begins with a haunting scene set “before the time”, next to a gushing waterfall, with a naked man, very big and very pale, as a flying saucer hovers above. The screen fades and we are in Isle of Skye, where a pair of archaeologists discover an ancient mural of a giant man pointing to a peculiar cluster of planets (The year is 2089, and you wonder if archaeology as a discipline still exists and there are still places on earth to be discovered. Doubtful.). The archaeologists, a pair of lovers, Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, have seen this particular images elsewhere, and they, specially Elizabeth, has a theory. The giant in the image is from another planet and this pictogram is an invitation, to go and meet them. She is so earnest in her belief, “I choose to believe,” she says, that she convinces the old, dying owner of Wayland Corporation, Peter Wayland, to fund a trillion dollar trip to the space.
The year is 2093 and the spaceship ‘Prometheus’ arrives at the moon of an unknown planet; it’s called LV 223, and it’s not the same planet the Nostromo crew arrived at in ‘Alien’, unless they change the name later.
Soon after they arrives at the new planet, they see a dome-like structure, which certainly looks “man-made”, and the crew is more than eager to explore the place. Here’s an introduction to the crew. Apart from Elizabeth and Charlie, there is Meredith Vikers, who represents the company, and she is in charge. “If you meet anyone, don’t engage them, don’t talk to them, but, report back to me,” she barks. There is the pilot, Jenek, a happy-go-luck fella, who will “believe” before the film ends. There are a few scientists who would, as we know already, would soon die. And, there is David, an android, who, as Pater Wayland clarifies, cannot die, and we are not sure what his agendas are. He is clearly far intelligent than any of the crew members, and he seems to be looking for something in particular, than the big answer Elizabeth wants to find: Who made us? Why? And, who made them?
Now, begins the real beauty of film. The crew discovers a tunnel, and discovers that they can breathe here, the atmosphere is much like the Earth. "They are terraforming," someone screams. And, they discover the engineers, in an old holographic recording which David “plays.” They are running away from something, and then, the crew discovers their bodies. I could not help but notice that the helmet the engineers wore is like the helmet the Dream King wears in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series of comics. So similar. The crew also discovers the egg chambers from ‘Alien’.
And, David, and later, Elizabeth, find the answers, at the cost of their lives, and if you have seen the trailer of the film you know, Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth screaming, “We were wrong, so wrong.”
Never mind how the film ends, and how Jenek the pilot makes such a crucial decision in such hurry, and with such flamboyance, which may or may not remind you of ‘Sunshine’ (“If we don’t stop them, there will be no home to go to,” Elizabeth screams.)
And, oh, wait for the birth of the monster. It’s should be worth your while.