Prometheus - movie review

From June 9, 2012

Score: A
In one of the biggest events in sci-fi movie history of late, Ridley Scott has returned to the 'Alien' franchise for the prequel 'Prometheus' and it's really good.
First off, is 'Prometheus' a prequel to the 1979 'Alien'? Yes, it is. 
Are there aliens in 'Prometheus'? Yes, there are, though not the kind you'd expect.
Is it scary? Sure, although I'd say more thrilling than scary.
Does 'Prometheus' fit into the 'Alien' mythology? Yes, very well.
The film has incredible photography of sweeping landscapes of ancient earth as well as LV-223. This is a Ridley Scott picture, so you can rest assured that you'll get something gorgeous to look at.
I really liked the music of the film, which I honestly wasn't counting on. I had never heard of the composer, Marc Streitenfeld, but I've later read that he is a frequent collaborator with Scott. The main theme in 'Prometheus' is very good. I found myself humming it the next day.
The acting is beyond top-notch, especially Michael Fassbender. 'Prometheus' is getting positive reviews, but the thing most reviewers are raving about it Michael Fassbender's performance as the robot David. He roams the ship alone for over 2 years while the humans sleep in cryostasis. He plays basketball so frequently that he can do it while riding a bicycle. He learns many languages by utilizing an interactive program that can hear if he pronounces things correctly. 
And the most interesting that David does--I think--is that while the humans are in cryostasis, David can bring up a GUI on their cryotube that allows him to watch their dreams using a virtual reality headset. I think that's an incredible idea (and I know that we're not far from being able to do that). David is also responsible for some shenanigans aboard the ship, but I won't get too into that.
The movie is all about people finding some unnatural structures on a faraway planet in the year 2093, which, I've heard is 30 years before the events of the original 'Alien' (although I've never seen any date in that film). Anywho, the humans travel to LV-223... and not to LV-426, which was the supposed planet in 'Alien' and 'Aliens'. Why is the name of the planet different? I don't know. Perhaps Scott is disavowing the legitimacy of 'Aliens', which was the film that specifically labeled the planet LV-426. I think it's more that the humans in 'Prometheus' are just traveling to a different moon as there are many ships and maybe there's another one on LV-426. Not really important, I suppose, but I'm the type of person who likes continuity. Call me crazy.
Being an 'Alien' picture, there are also many spills and chills, as well as a heaping helping of moody atmosphere. Yes, 'Prometheus' is better than 'Alien3' and 'Alien: Resurrection', but is it better than 'Alien' and 'Aliens'? Most people reviewing the film have said "No", but I think that they're wrong. I love both 'Alien' and 'Aliens' for different reasons, but in terms of actual plot both films aren't that good. 
Ridley Scott has said in old interviews that the original 'Alien' is a B-film dressed up as an A-picture. He has said that it's an art house version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre... in space. Which is all true. The original 'Alien' has good acting, great production and design, tons of moody atmosphere... but at the end of the day there's little actual plot. It's a "the monster eats the people" flick. Plain and simple. 
And James Cameron's 1986 'Aliens'--while being one of my favorite movies--is nothing more than a shoot 'em up action flick. It also has good acting, great production and design, with less moody atmosphere... but the whole plot is: Marines go shoot aliens. 
'Prometheus' has much more to offer. Sure, at its heart it's still a "the monster eats the people" flick, but that's sandwiched by some big themes of, Where did we come from? Who made us and why? Where did the Aliens come from? Who was the petrified giant sitting in the chair in the original 'Alien'? You specifically get to find out that last question, and it's pretty interesting the way they spun it. I won't give that away.
'Prometheus' deals with some weighty themes like creation, patricide, sacrifice, and panspermia. (Panspermia is the idea of life being spread between planets.) You don't see any of those themes talked about in any of the other 'Alien' films. You also get some really great scenes that stir emotions other than fear, emotions like wonder, as in the scene where David sees the holographic map room. You don't get scenes like that in the other 'Alien' films (except for the scene in 'Alien3' when Dillon gives a sermon as bodies are cremated).
What's also interesting is how the Aliens come about. I'll just say that the way the Aliens begin life is a bit like the X-Files and leave it at that. 
In a counterpart to the original 'Alien' dinner scene, there's a scene in 'Prometheus' that won't shock you as much, but it did make me squirm in my chair, fold my arms over my stomach, and leave them there the rest of the movie. You'll see why...