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PROMETHEUS

SYNOPSIS:
A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Review by Louise Keller:
The astonishing creature designs of H.R. Giger are the stars of Ridley Scottís highly awaited sci-fi thriller that spews horror when you least expect it and in doses that were big enough to make me swallow hard and screw up my face in cinematic repulsion. After all, it was Gigerís visual effects and designs for Alien in 1979 that were awarded the Oscar, elevating that alien jaw with the slimy saliva that became Sigourney Weaverís nightmare into an iconic image. The designs however, are not the only memorable thing in the film that began as an Alien prequel before it developed into a monster of its own making.

Itís easy to understand why Scott chose Noomi Rapace, the petite brunette with the intelligent eyes from the original Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Like Weaver in Alien, Rapace has all the attributes a director could wish for Ė she is charismatic, photogenic, credible and gutsy. Her English is exemplary, too. The scene in which Rapaceís archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw installs herself into a clear plastic capsule for a panic-stricken emergency procedure to extract an alien foetus by caesarean section from her tiny frame, with she (and we) watching, is one that you will not forget.

Set in 2093, the storyís premise explores lifeís most meaningful question: where do we come from? The crew of 17 on the spaceship Prometheus is on its way to a far-away destination in space, led by the clues depicted by drawings in ancient caves. What they find is even more unnerving than the motley crew, funded by the Weyland Corporation for reasons we can only guess. An unrecognizable Guy Pearce plays the aged Weyland billionaire. Wearing a cross around her neck, Shaw is a believer, a contradiction in terms to her sceptic partner Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Charlize Theron plays the icy, hard-nosed corporate executive with conviction, while Michael Fassbender is the enigmatic and irresistible robot David, who does not know fear and styles himself on Peter OíToole in Lawrence of Arabia. Idris Elba is the shipís unlikely Captain who makes himself available for Theronís wants.

After a striking opening shot in the wilds of Iceland, the pace drags to snail speed until the creatures become part of the action. A heavy handed score by Marc Streitenfeld alerts us none too gracefully to the increasingly frequent scares, but the creatures do not disappoint, with long, abhorrent tentacles and a vulva-like mouth, that contracts in terrifying fashion.†

I have had the pleasure of seeing Gigerís brilliance first hand, having recently visited the Museum devoted to his work in the little Swiss town of Gruyere, which is better known for its cheese. Prometheus is no Alien, but the film makes provocative viewing, prompting fuel for thought and conversation.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
No major American studio will contemplate producing a blockbuster movie in which the origins of mankind turn out to be not a god but some (deadly) alien life. This makes the screenplay of Prometheus rather convoluted, since the filmmakers are heading in that direction, but are saved by the crucifix around Noomi Rapaceís neck and a twisted resolution. There isnít enough of a strong, clear story in which to invest.

Rapace (of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo fame) plays Elizabeth Shaw, some sort of scientist, who with her boyfriend and fellow scientist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) take the Prometheus on its $1 trillion journey, financed by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) the ancient billionaire who wants to meet his maker Ė literally and while still alive.

Charlize Theron plays the shipís landlord Meredith Vickers, whose surname is meant to mislead us as to her true identity, so I wonít divulge; itís a steely performance with bluster, her character being the negative to Rapaceís positive Shaw. The shipís rather leisurely Captain is Idris Elba, but heís not the only unlikely character on board. The chaotic geologist doesnít seem quite suitable either, but the setting is 2093, so perhaps eligibility will have been eased by then.

Michael Fassbender makes a terrific robotic David, a not entirely original sci-fi idea, but effective nonetheless, as are some other derivative elements, notably the H. R. Giger-inspired exoskeletal-ish designs from Alien. This visual element links the film to the Alien franchise, of which it is a kind of indirect prequel. Kind of because there is no story link, only the notion that fascinated Ridley Scott about the origins of the nasty-mouthed beast that begats itself inside a human and bursts out rather dramatically.

The film presents us with a clammy world full of danger and unknown forces, which the screenplay likes to prod into action to satisfy its plot points, but it doesnít really gel into any coherent plot. The short synopsis should be enough to engage audience interest, and most attention will be paid to the superb digital work and the occasionally crunchy scene of alien horror. Another sure talking point is the automated abortion that becomes necessary when the foetus Ö. well, you can guess.

It strikes me that over the past 30 years or so, this sort of interplanetary sci-fi adventure-horror movie has taken us to so many wild and unearthly places, with so many hideous alien creatures that we are getting harder and harder to surprise or impress. The one thing that stands out for me in Prometheus is the suggestion that mankindís origins are not benign: we are made by violent, destructive forces Ö in their own image.†

This is the subversive heart of the film, although itís played down in deference to the rigid god-fearing codes of its US audiences. But itís there.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

PROMETHEUS (MA)
(US, 2012)

CAST: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie, Patrick Wilson, Lucy Hutchinson

PRODUCER: Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David Giler, Walter Hill,

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

SCRIPT: John Spaihts, Damion Lindelof

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski

EDITOR: Pietro Scalia

MUSIC: Marc Streitenfeld

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Arthur Max

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 7, 2012







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