I’ve been looking forward to Prometheus ever since it was announced. It was my most anticipated film of the year and after seeing it I can firmly say that it delivers. Prometheus delivers on many levels, yet it fails on a few. It should not be held up as high as Alien, but it also shouldn’t be counted out, because Ridley Scott‘s experimental sci-fi journey goes looking for the creation of humankind and if it’s answers that you’re searching for then you’ll be pleased to know that Prometheus does answer these questions, but you’re most likely not going to like what it has to say.
Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are looking for the answers to the creation of human beings. Not just who created us, but more importantly why we were created. They lead a team that consists of David (Michael Fassbender); a human built robot, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron); the Weyland Industries employee sent to babysit and protect certain investments, Captain Janek (Idris Elba) and a few other less-notable scientists.
The team goes searching for these age-old answers on a Moon located in the darkest corners of the universe. There they find the answers they seek, but they realize why some things should be left a secret. They go looking for the beginning and what they discover might be the end.
Prometheus has been built around the hype that it’s a prequel to Alien and that couldn’t be more far from the truth. It certainly has roots in the same universe as the Alien films, but aside from a few characters and creatures it really is its own entity. Ridley Scott returns to the sci-fi genre with a full-force attack of stunning imagery that’s literally breathtaking, plus some truly terrifying horror that plays on the intensity cleverly and sparingly.
There’s a lot to say about Prometheus, but unfortunately some of it might get spoilery, so I’m going to throw out a disclaimer, while still trying to avoid spoilers where ever I can.
*POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW*
There’s a very experimental feel about Prometheus that I enjoyed. Yes, it does put character development in the backseat; with the story also taking a breather, but it never loses its way or purpose. People will complain that the film asks a lot of bold questions and never really answers them, but that’s where I call bullshit. Prometheus asks these deep and meaningful questions and it answers them in the bleakest of ways. Religious and non-religious people should know that the film looks at both sides of the perspective and it still maintains an even-sided approach.
Sometimes something as important and driving as creation of life can be the result of something as disappointing as a sheer random event or even curiosity. If someone told you that your entire purpose was simply because a higher being made a mistake or just felt like making you, wouldn’t you have a massive feeling of disappointment take over? You traveled all of this way and then you realize the real truth is underwhelming and depressing. Prometheus will no doubt leave you in this state of mind during the entire film, but that’s precisely the point.
It’s that feeling of never being able to live up to that impossible hype. There’s absolutely nothing that could have been said to Shaw or the crew that would have satisfied everyone, so Scott and his writers approach the film with a much more open sense of things, which will leave most pissed and upset. Blame the script all you want, but realize that you were building up false intentions and judging the film on your own terms.
One thing that everyone can agree on is that Prometheus is a technical achievement on every level. The visuals are a perfect balance of CG and practical effects. The set pieces are gorgeous and expansive and the 3D is game-changing, much like Avatar. There are a few pop-out scenes that will remind you of the added dimension, but most of the film caters so heavily to the format that you’ll quickly forget that you’re watching a 3D film. It will become a normal part of the viewing experience, which can only be fully experienced on an IMAX 3D screen.
The acting in Prometheus ranges from devoted and captivating to slightly dry. Michael Fassbender elevates the film beyond the stars with his performance. His portrayal of the robot David is worthy of its own spinoff film. Prometheus is at its best when Fassbender is on screen and that’s because he knows exactly how to convey emotions for an emotionless character. David has his own set of plans for the film and he never reveals them, you simply must sit back and watch. Some of the stuff he does is pure evil, but mostly with positive reasoning. Maybe David is taking pleasure in destroying his fellow crew members or maybe he’s just naturally evolving and adapting, while still following the orders given to him.
His character is such a split down the middle, because part of me enjoys the mystery surrounding David, but the other part wishes Scott would have expanded on David’s reasoning and thought process.
Idris Elba and Charlize Theron clock in second in terms of most used talent. Elba plays the captain with an old-school mentality that best represents a way of thinking that’s slowly dying. He’s very much a key player on this mission, but not once does he try and stick his nose into something that he doesn’t belong in. He never asks questions about these alien creatures, because he knows he’s not going to like the answer. Elba has no problem taking a supporting role and giving it some humor and life.
Charlize Theron‘s Meredith Vickers is probably the most misunderstood character in the film. She’s constantly being presented as the bitch of the crew with no heart or soul, but she’s actually the most logical. Her decision making skills are calculated not only on the priorities of Weyland Industries, but also on the maintaining of human life. She does start to fit the stereotype towards the end, which is a shame, but she’s mostly a victim of what I didn’t like about the film, which we’ll get to in a few minutes.
Closing thoughts on the cast are reserved for Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce and Logan Marshall-Green. All three represent the mediocre parts of Prometheus and the parts that could have been written and approached with a lot more thought and care.
Rapace’s Shaw is the center of the film, yet the most detail her character gets is brief 30 second flashbacks that show her stance on faith and why she’s a part of this mission. Rapace does the best with what little she’s given, but her character never rises above an afterthought.
Logan Marshall-Green is much worse, only because he doesn’t house the talent of Rapace. He’s a more than capable actor reading a lackluster script that doesn’t know how to properly explain its characters.
Guy Pearce as an actor in this film isn’t a problem, but his horrible CGI aging appearance is just awful and has no reason to be in this film. Why Scott didn’t opt for an older actor is a complete mystery.
Prometheus isn’t exactly a game-changing science fiction film that will leave you speechless for days, but I still find myself thinking about the film after watching it. I do plan on seeing it again, because the theater experience (in IMAX 3D) is really the only way you can soak up the entire scope of the film. There’s just so much to look at and take in.
Comparing the film to Alien will leave you more than disappointed, but if you approach the film with an open mind you’ll probably find something to take home. I admittedly didn’t care for the ending that leaves it too open for sequels, but I do naturally feel the need to want to return to this giant universe that Scott has slightly revealed to us.
Those of you looking for positive answers and straight-forward reveals will want to skip this one, because Prometheus doesn’t spell it out for you, but it makes things more than obvious if you actually look and continue to pay attention to its characters and constantly repeated plot points. I believe that Scott answers these questions during the opening minutes and then continues to return to them in their depressing matter throughout the film, but some simply pass over the film and blame a shoddy script for not delving in deep enough or explaining more clearly.
Prometheus will divide audiences, but in doing so it will keep the discussion going and that’s exactly the point. Finding the reasons behind human existence shouldn’t be simple and straight-forward and Prometheus understands that and tries its best to interpret that. It doesn’t become an instant classic or perfect film, but it’s a strong one, with shining character moments, dark and distinct images and gut-churning horror.
Don’t turn your brain off while watching this film, but do ease back on the expectations. Think less 2001 and more Event Horizon. It’s the best film I’ve seen this summer, but not the top dog of the year. I could see it maybe holding on in a top ten list at the end of the year, but that’s only because 2012 has been one great year for films.
Prometheus – 9/10