Ridley Scott / USA / 2012 / 124 mins
33 years after Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi, Alien, literally burst onto the silver screen, Scott has returned to where it all began, with Prometheus, the latest film set in the Alien universe. Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, this long-awaited film discusses our obsession with the possibility of life on another planets, and perhaps most importantly, the source of life on Earth.
Set in the late 21st century, the film follows a group of archaeologists, scientists and crew of the star ship, Prometheus, led by Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) as they arrive on the distant moon, LV-223, in the hopes of finding the origin of the human race. But their presence on the moon soon unleashes a long-dormant presence that holds unimaginable power and hostility, which could threaten their mission, and of course, their lives.
Frequently cited as the prequel to Scott’s 1979 genre defining sci-fi horror, Prometheus is in fact a film set in the same universe, but not set in the same time frame, or even on the same planet that the crew of the Nostromo investigate. This is evident in the name of the moon, LV-223, whereas the original moon was named LV-426. However, differences aside, while Alien was a dark sci-fi horror that featured themes of gender, survival and conspiracy, Prometheus takes just enough of these themes to create a new and relevant sci-fi for a different audience in a new century. Scott’s themes of gender, specifically femininity and feminism itself, are noticeable in the characters of Shaw and Vickers.
But Prometheus’ bite, much like that of its predecessor, lies in its use of notions of vulnerability, of fertility, of pregnancy, and perhaps most importantly, of birth. The idea of being forcibly impregnated, and then having to give birth is a horrifying thought to many, but in the Prometheus universe, this notion takes on new dimensions, where both men and women can be impregnated, and then have their bodies destroyed by the foetus as it is born. Notions of death, mortality and also creation come hand in hand with birth, and this is where Prometheus differs from the other Alien films; this is a film that questions humanity’s roots, purpose, and our place in the universe. While the film poses some philosophical questions, Prometheus is, at the very heart, a sci-fi that challenges, as well as terrifies. This film will divide audiences with its content, and while Scott’s return to the Alien franchise is not quite perfect, it’s simply unforgettable.