Prometheus

I almost feel like I shouldn't write a thing about this after only one viewing - not just because I don't think anyone should read anything about this movie before seeing it (that's your warning), but also because I know for a fact I haven't even brushed the surface of it the first time around - but I've done well so far this year writing about all the new releases I've seen, so I may as well try to keep up the habit.

My attitude coming in to Prometheus was a lot like the way I went to Dark Shadows last week… that is, there were moments when I really wondered exactly why I was so excited to see it. I'm not a great sucker for trailers and don't buy into hype easily. I'm a big fan of the Alien series and it seemed clear that Prometheus had something to do with those films, but Ridley Scott's original has never been one of my favourites in that series - James Cameron's sequel is leagues above it for me, and even after that I have a real love of David Fincher's death-shrouded third.

As a matter of fact, I've never been a great fan of Ridley Scott at all. I own the 5-disc "final cut" DVD set of Blade Runner but it's still never done anything for me yet. His latest work from Gladiator onward has always struck me as technically brilliant but otherwise mechanical. My favourites of his have always been the smaller stories - Thelma and Louise, Hannibal, Matchstick Men and A Good Year

But the Prometheus trailer not only looked extraordinary, it had that spectacular, spine-tingling shriek on the soundtrack that utterly convinced me that this thing might not only be technically flawless (that being a given), it might also be genuinely frightening. That's really all I wanted from this movie… slick n a few good scares.

All I can say at this stage is that Prometheus was everything, nothing like, and more than anything I could've expected, from utterly engaging opening, bordering WTF to gleefully satisfying end. It delivers elements from all the Alien movies we've seen so far - the character, the horror, the action, the doom ("There is nothing…"), and even bizarre "adaptations" of Giger's original designs like Alien: Resurrection - and adds a surprising layer concerning faith, what makes us human, etc, that is so out there that when I first realised where it was going I worried that I wouldn't be able to go with it. The script raises all the right questions, though, thanks to crew members just as cynical about the job as those in the first movie, and doesn't give too many answers.

Michael Fassbender makes a fine addition to the lineup of androids we've already seen in the series - Lance Henrikson, Ian Holm, and Winona Ryder (shut up, I really liked her). Fassbender manages to be unsettling, unfathomable and utterly heartwarming seemingly without ever changing his expression. He kind of reminded me of Jude Law in Artificial Intelligence at times - there's an innocence and longing there, perhaps just projected, but I'm certain there's something masterful going on in his performance, even if it's just in being so blank that I felt compelled to project…

I saw the movie in 3D and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the fact I've never doubted Scott's attention to the technical side of things, it's some of if not the best 3D I've ever seen - the opening shots are simply extraordinary and the cold palette of space didn't seem to suffer from the brightness loss nearly as much as other 3D movies (and I don't generally even care about that stuff even if I notice).

As I said, I haven't even begun to make up my mind about this movie after just one viewing, but I won't be surprised at all if it ends up being one of my favourites in the series, and easily over Scott's own original. If nothing else it is in my opinion the best film he's made in at least 10 years, combining his unfailing technical prowess with his occasional knack for really touching something deep which I've personally only really seen in those smaller movies I listed. Instead of playing a variation on the original, like the sequels - more aliens, alien on a prison planet, alien clones - while keeping a moderate amount of continuity going, it expands the whole concept into areas I doubt anyone had considered… we're talking Kubrick-sized questions here. We knew this had to be pretty damn interesting to pull Scott back to the genre, but it actually verges on the ridiculous yet somehow (for me at least) pulls through. Suddenly the Blade Runner sequel doesn't sound like such a bad idea…