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18 June 2012

A Review of *Prometheus*

I went to see Prometheus (in 3D) last Wednesday. Here is the trailer if you haven't seen it already:

Over the last ten to fifteen years, I've become a real fan of sci-fi/fantasy. The genre is the perfect vehicle for concepts and topics that are often too difficult or abstract to deal with realistically. Science fiction uses symbolism in the same way that religions use myth, which is why religious themes are so prevalent in sci-fi literature and film. Moreover, most of the themes, religious or otherwise, are sociological, an added benefit. A fundamental question of Prometheus seems to be how much we are created by others or are our own creation. The creation of life, in both the immediate sexual sense and the larger metaphysical sense, is a central theme. Is it the pregnancy of human women or is it the planned exogenesis of masculine aliens? In Ridley Scott's worldview, both are horrifically violent events.

That said, Scott is a bit heavy handed with the religious implications in Prometheus. It's a fine line between using religious metaphors and outright explaining away religion. Overall, though, it was a good film worth seeing. The cinematography is excellent, and the 3D is put to effective but judicious use. The script had some problems, but I suspect a lot of that was exposition as sequels seem inevitable. It fits neatly in the tradition of other sci-fi classics like 2001, Stargate, and The Fifth Element.

Scott does us all a great service with a decidedly diverse cast. The actors represent several races and ethnicities. He also represents women very well. We get a cool twist on a Star Wars theme with a bit of the Electra Complex. Beyond that, Charlize Theron's character is strong, and Scott, in the legacy of Sigourny Weaver's Ripley, has created another strong female lead in Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw. Kudos.

Scott also deals well with class. He doesn't dress everyone in the same uniform, as goes that horrible science fiction trope. Instead, he has Idris Elba's Cpt. Janek dressing somewhat casually and his robotic slave, Michael Fassbender's David, dressed impeccably. He seems to judge the tragic folly of wealth with Guy Pearce's Peter Weyland. (Why would Scott cast the young Pearce to play the decrepit Weyland? I think this might point toward something coming up in the pre/sequels.)

Scott, however, doesn't represent science or scientists quite fairly. He makes us buffoons or irrational. While we scientists are an odd bunch, we tend to be boring and overly-rational (e.g. see text above).

Bottom line: go see it.

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