Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prometheus - Movie Review

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Alba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris and Rafe Spall.  Directed by Ridley Scott.

This is a prequel of sorts to Alien, but it's a distant prequel, by which I mean I can see another movie or two happening between the events of this and Scott's original classic Alien.

The setup is familiar. A team of scientists, experts, etc., are on an exploratory mission. They believe they've found where life on Earth came from. They're in hibernation for two years while the ship travels; only the android David (Michael Fassbender) is awake. The scenes of David by himself are very reminiscent of the first half-hour of Wall-E.

The crew eventually awakens, and then they are given their mission brief. I think it's amazing that a crew would agree to go on a four-year mission without being told why before they were put into hibernation, but work with me here. They have found a habitable moon around the planet LV-223 (look up Leviticus 22:3), where they believe their creators - they call them the Engineers - are from.

I caught this in 3-D, and I really enjoyed it that way. This is a visually gorgeous film. The set design has H.R. Geiger's handiwork everywhere, and the eventual mythology spelled out makes sense in the Aliens universe.

There are three primary issues I have with this film. I have many more, but these are the three primary ones.

1. Unanswered questions. I am cool with some unanswered questions; it invites discussion. But there are so many unanswered questions that it's hard to tell what they were intentionally ambiguous about and what they just had no idea what the actual answer is. Rememeber how the end of Star Trek V felt like a cheat? Prometheus isn't as bad as that, but it made me think of it.

2. Stupid characters. Stupid character decisions are okay here and there. I mean, why is Brett looking for the cat by himself in 1979's Alien when he knows that killer critter's on board? But Alien had seven people and we got to know each of them. Prometheus has seventeen people on board, and half of them could be named Soon to Be Alien Fodder Especially If You Have An Accent. The experts in their fields, allegedly smart people (especially the biologist), behave as idiotically as teenagers in a Friday the 13th movie.

3. There is one character who dies near the end in such a stupid way that I can't help but think that maybe they actually survived and we had a bad camera angle. I mean, it's stupider than anything else anyone else does, and therefore it gets its own issue number.

It has its other, more minor issues, like why cast Guy Pearce if he's going to be in old-age make-up the whole time? And despite all of this, I am hungry for Prometheus 2. Prometheus 2 doesn't even have to connect us to Alien yet. There's plenty of room there, and possibilities. A lot of the bioengineering stuff worked for me. The explanation of what's really going on on that planet worked for me. Most of the time we don't know much more than the characters. I devoured the visuals.

It's a brilliant mess, a moronic masterpiece, a wonderful misfire. It's a paradox. And so I would recommend it to those who are curious, but expect to be a little annoyed when you come out.

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