Into this informational vacuum, Scott announced he was once again revisiting that universe in his new movie, Prometheus, set approximately 40 years before the original; the word prequel was subsequently splashed and bashed around a fair bit. It seems, though, to have been an unfairly crude paintbrush to take to the new film; Prometheus works well as a standalone movie, while at the same time those that have seen the original film will feel familiar with parts.
Starting on Earth with discoveries of cave paintings and other ancient images by two archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, Dark Blue), the movie moves briskly. Hidden within these ancient works of art, the pair believe they have found an all important clue to one of humanity's greatest questions. The clue, in the form of a "star map", a map so convincing that four years later an exploratory scientific research trip upon the ship Prometheus — sponsored, naturally, by the Weyland Corporation — takes the pair, as well as other scientists, to the constellation that has just been revealed or more precisely a moon within that constellation.
The plot centers mainly on five characters, Shaw and Holloway as mentioned, Prometheus pilot Janek (Idris Elba, Takers, Thor) , Prometheus captain Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron, Snow White and the Huntsman), and service android David (Michael Fassbender, Shame) — a camp-looking robot, who takes his looks from a young Peter O'Toole. There are others, at least 17 aboard the ship alone, but they may be understandably considered cannon fodder.
Of these, David and Shaw steal the show; everything seems to be linked to the android with the ability to think for himself and inquisitiveness to match. While many may liken Shaw to Ripley, you would be unwise to do so. Ripley was a woman playing in a man's world, whereas Shaw is very feminine, albeit vicious when pushed into a corner; she is one hell of a fighter, but a caring one.
One thing that will stand out more than anything else is the cinematography and special effects; they are quite out-of-this-world brilliant! Scott actually makes you feel like you are on another world surrounded by a vast desert of lunar rocks while at the same time making you feel quite lonely, vulnerable, and so small in the grand scheme. Special mention must be made of the 3D effects, all too often a failure for barely being there, but Prometheus has to be the best 3D I have seen in a movie to date; it certainly adds, in this case, to what you are actually watching on the screen.
So it appears all is good with it — but not all! I honestly think there could have been another 30–45 minutes to this movie. How much Scott had to cut I suppose we will not know unless a director's cut should hit sometime on Blu-Ray. Although the film clocks in at just over two hours, I felt that the last third was rushed, marginally robbing me of what could have been; the movie was building into a huge crescendo, then fell just a bit short. Do not get me wrong, though; this is a minor gripe.
The enormity of what Scott has brought to the big screen makes Prometheus his best movie since Gladiator; it is imaginative, thought-provoking, and asks a lot of questions without really needing to answer any. Will we speak of it in the same glowing rhetoric as his other Sci-Fi classics, Alien and Blade Runner, in 25 years' time? I would like to think so.