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REVIEW: Ridley Scott returns to Alien territory with Prometheus (15)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba
Director: Ridley Scott
Running time: 125 minutes
IF you’re expecting a lot of gloopy slime, stomach-churning creature births, and acres of forboding metallic spacecraft, then Prometheus - Ridley Scott’s eagerly-awaited “not-a-prequel-to-Alien” blockbuster - won’t disappoint for a second.
If, however, you’re looking for a modicum of rational plotting, or a watertight story you can make sense of after the credits have rolled, then you might be booked on the wrong roller coaster ride.
However, even the most cynical viewer can’t help but admit that when it comes to visually gob-smacking sci-fi for a mainstream audience wider than the usual geeks and fan-boys, the South Shields-born director remains the undisputed master of the genre.
Away from some of its more portentous dialogue about Greek gods and the gift of fire, what we have here is another classic voyage of discovery, with a motley crew of explorers aboard the spaceship Prometheus on a doom-laden mission in pursuit of a lead to the origins of mankind itself.
Our fearless crew includes Noomi (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) Rapace’s Dr Elizabeth Shaw, a scientist not afraid to believe in something bigger than logistics; Charlize Theron’s Meredith Vickers, the starchily-suited boss representing the mega-corporation funding the trip; and Idris Elba’s Janek, the ship’s lusty captain, a salty old sea dog with a mini-accordion and a mindset not far from Robert Shaw’s shark hunter Quint in Jaws.
Notable as all these fellow travellers are, there’s one more presence who steals their thunder from the word go - man-of-the-moment Michael Fassbender as David, ostensibly the ship’s janitor, yet actually not a man at all but a robot provided by the trip’s corporate sponsors.
And while Wall:E’s cinematic inspiration was Hello Dolly!, David’s is Lawrence of Arabia, so much so that having soaked up the iconic biopic, he practically channels its star Peter O’Toole, dying his hair blond and scattering tight-lipped bon mots just the right side of camp.
“I didn’t know you had it in you,” he quips to Shaw, after she’s survived the mother of all operations - a DIY job that provides the movie’s most squirm-enducing sequence - to which he swiftly adds, “Sorry, unfortunate choice of words!”
Savour such rare moments of humour, because Prometheus, once it gets going, doesn’t stint on those water-cooler moments of nail-biting, splatter-fest tension. Echoes of Alien inevitably abound, and not just in the tie-it-all-up finale.
What is the liquid oozing from those ominous cave-bound vases (or “vaises”, as Elba’s unnecessarily American skipper, would have it)? Is Vickers a robot too? And when will those tulip-headed snakes actually bite?
While this is arguably Fassbender’s finest hour (surely deserving of an Oscar nomination), Rapace doesn’t do so badly as our iron-willed heroine who - despite a wobbly English accent - busts enough balls to prove herself as the 21st-century’s answer to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
Yup - we just checked - it’s 2093. Still the 21st century…..