Set in the year 2093, the film centers on the crew and mission of the Prometheus, a massive ship that travels to a distant moon where the answers of mankind's birth may rest. Archaeologist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) has discovered clues on Earth of an ancient race of beings who came to our planet countless years ago and began life as we know it. Along with these clues are directions to finding these beings, which the crew, funded by the notorious Weyland Corporation, follow. The discovery on the moon is not what any of them expected.
Prometheus is a splendid, sci-fi yarn with much going on underneath. It's a film with huge ideas, the big questions and what ifs.
Scott has always been a visionary director, one who creates vast worlds and then transports you to take in the stories that play out there. The neon but grimy streets of Blade Runner. The enveloping corridors of a mining vessel in Alien. The Coliseum as it's seen in Gladiator. These are only a few of the brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed settings that form around the action of his films. Prometheus is no exception. From the ship itself to the alien world that it sets down on, to the design work of the creatures they find there. All of it is created with breathtaking realism, the kind that you lose yourself in before being gripped with absolute terror from all sides.
Aided by stellar effects work, the visuals in Prometheus are the kind that require a pause button. You want to take them in for as long as possible before moving on to the next item of magnificence and beauty. It's no stretch at all to compare the film to an art museum, one containing pieces of imaginative sci-fi glamour but that go so far to distract you from the horrors that lie ahead.
Prometheus is a film that earns its R rating tooth and nail and bone and a whole lot of blood and gore. The crew, though not as fleshed out in the screenplay as one would hope, dwindles in number as Shaw grows closer and closer to finding her answers, and most of them meet ends that require an awful lot of makeup work and even a healthy dose of CG effects in many cases.
The graphic imagery here, much like its environments, are on an ambitious level far superior to anything that might be considered a knockoff. One particular moment involving Rapace will likely go down as the film's most memorable moment, even if not everyone will get through it without feeling the blood leave their head.
All of the cast do a fine job bringing live and color to their characters, but it's Michael Fassbender as David, the ship's android who acts as maintenance man and butler to the crew's needs, who really shines. As with every other android in this universe, there's more to David than he lets on, and Fassbender has a blast riding the line between charming and mischievous. David is a necessary character in Prometheus, a man-made creation who has questions of his own as his engineers search the deepest reaches of space for theirs. Fassbender plays the role with every ounce of sincerity he can muster but never allows the character to get too dry or cartoonish. Early moments with David living on the ship while the crew sleep are among the many high points.
Ridley Scott's return to the universe that launched his career as we know it is not a spotless journey. Few are. But with a hook that makes the film ripe with amazing design, a varied and interesting cast, impeccable visual effects, and the once and future master of atmosphere, Prometheus is far above all the sci-fi thrillers.