Directed by: Ridley Scott | 126 minutes | action, horror, science fiction | Actors: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Emun Elliot, Benedict Wong, Kate Dickie, Patrick Wilson, Lucy Hutchinson
“There’s nothing in the desert. No man needs nothing.” It is not Prince Feisal that is speaking, but the android David (Michael Fassbender), who killed time during the more than two-year journey of the spaceship Prometheus – while the rest of the crew was in cryosleep – among other things by watching Lawrence of Arabia. A film that clearly fascinates the robot man, as he imitates Peter O’Toole during his wanderings on deck. ‘There is nothing’ returns towards the end of the film, but in a completely different context. Again in a dialogue with David, of whom it becomes clear at that moment that he is in fact the pivot on which ‘Prometheus’ revolves.
Ridley Scott didn’t make it easy for himself. Set in the universe of his own 1979 classic ‘Alien’, he wanted to tell a story that answers the question: where do we come from? The man who goes in search of his maker. It is the scientist couple Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) who believe that in 2089 they will have an answer to that question on the basis of a series of identical cave drawings from all over the world. Their argument is apparently so convincing that the elderly billionaire Peter Weyland (a nicely made-up Guy Pearce) equips a spaceship – the Prometheus – to go on an expedition to the place where our creators are supposed to be.
The Prometheus (named after the Greek mythological figure who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans, enabling the development of a technical civilization) arrives with a crew of seventeen on a similar planet to which the story of ‘Alien’ takes place. will play out several decades later. Part of the tension lies in the fact that almost no one is clear why he/she came with the mission. On behalf of client Weyland Industries, it is up to the distant and hostile Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) to keep the group in line. Her sidekick is the android David, but he soon turns out to follow orders from someone else.
Where Scott could have opted for an intelligent cat-and-mouse game between different stakeholders, he mainly focuses on David. Although it only gradually becomes clear what his plans are, it soon becomes clear that he is the one with the most dangerous mission. Dangerous for humanity. As the film progresses, the question is not who survives, but why David does what he does. The crew becomes subordinate in the story, so it hardly has an emotional impact when one after the other dies. And no matter how sinister some scenes are, nowhere is the atmosphere so oppressive as with ‘Alien’.
This also has to do with the clear, dazzling presentation of the film. Scott eschews the darkness and instead depicts his world in great detail. The production design is truly stunning. Since ‘Avatar’ there hasn’t been a movie that looked so beautiful in 3D. But beautiful pictures alone don’t make a good film. Scott eventually leaves too little to guess and to shudder and lapses into simplicity. The characters and the story lack intelligence, depth and above all, wonder. It makes the movie soulless. Just like David.