[Review] – Prometheus

15 Jun

Title: Prometheus
Year: 2012
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Rafe Spall
MPAA Rating: R, sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language
Runtime: 124 min
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Metacritic: 65

Prometheus has to be one of the ten or so movies I was most looking forward to this year. So, as it’s usually the case for those movies I’m super psyched about, I’m going to spend a bit of time talking you through why I was excited, and what it took for Prometheus to actually get made. First and foremost, as one would easily assume, the biggest reason for my excitement is that I’m a huge, huge fan of Alien, the seminal 1979 sci-fi flick also directed by Ridley Scott. And everything seemed to point out that this one would be somehow related to the Alien franchise. And hell, even if it wasn’t, it would still mark Sir Ridley Scott’s return to the genre for the first time since the equally classic Blade Runner in 1982. So yeah, that alone had my psyched.

You have to go back to 2002 now, to actually realize when this whole idea started brewing up, with Mr. Scott expressing interest in making a fifth film in the franchise (though he had only directed the first one). James Cameron, who directed the second film in the franchise, Aliens, came on board to maybe help tackle the project. But then Fox decided to instead of developing a sequel to that one, develop a cross-over film with franchise potential that eventually became Alien vs. Predator, which was, as we now know, absolutely horrible. So interested subsided for a good long while.

It came back again in 2009 though, when Fox started talking about a reboot of the franchise, and then changing their minds and speaking about a prequel. Jon Spaihts came on board to write a direct prequel to the first film, and Mr. Scott was set to direct. But then in came Damon Lindelof, the Lost mastermind, to rewrite it and make it a much more original work. From then onwards, the filmmakers kind of tried to distance the film from the Alien connections, being very vague in interviews about how the two films were linked. Which, of course, only made fanboys like me all the more interested.

Everything was clicking for me on this one, really. The director was Ridley Scott, back to the genre he reinvented with a film linked to the one that catapulted him to stardom and that redefined the genre; the writer was the guy behind what I consider one of the five or ten best television series ever; the cast started shaping up with names like Michael Fassbender, one of the three best actors working today, and Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron; the viral campaign was a thing of utter brilliance; and then you had the very important fact of the film being R-rated, which made me giddy as hell to know that Mr. Scott hadn’t relented to a PG-13 the studio obviously wished for such a big-budget summer tentpole.

Now, I have just come back from seeing Prometheus now. Obviously there’s a lot of spoiler-y stuff I can’t discuss over here, but suffice it to say I was appropriately blown away by it all. It’s one of those films that’s just absolutely amazing in its scope, one that’s indeed embedded in the whole Alien universe, and that shares some DNA with that film, but that still brings in a mythology all of its own. I’ve heard quite a lot of people saying that, while definitely very good, this film falters in the end because it just poses the questions and doesn’t actually concern itself with providing answers to them. That’s actually quite true, but I still loved the fact that it was a big studio film that had the balls to ask those questions, and some of those questions I thought were better off left unanswered; where many saw plot holes I just saw some really provocative ambiguities.

I just absolutely loved the hell out of this movie. It was just so epic and haunting in its stunning visuals brilliantly shot by Dariusz Wolski. And then you had the music, which was weird at times how it felt like it was so hopeful and optimistic instead of super moody and scary, I liked that, it wasn’t distracting and you kind of didn’t notice it much, but it enhanced the experience in a great way. And then you have the performances, which are uniformly brilliant here, proving that 2012 is the year of Charlize Theron, Ice Queen (with this adding to what she did in Snow White and the Huntsman), and that Idris Elba is a guy who should be a much bigger name, and that Michael Fassbender is, indeed, a genius, delivering a truly astounding performance as David, the android who’s the ship’s butler and maintenance guy.

That spaceship I’m referring to, by the way, is the one that gives this film its name. The film is set at the end of this century, when a group of archeologists, played by Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green, discover that several ancient cultures feature the same star map, which they deem as an invitation of sorts to find out where it leads. In comes Peter Weyland, played by Guy Pearce, the billionaire founder and CEO of Weyland Corp. that we saw in that epic viral video and who funds the building of the hugely modern spacecraft and the mission to see where those maps lead.

So both archeologists go on aboard the Prometheus, along with the rest of the ship’s crew, which include Mr. Elba as Janek, the captain, Ms. Theron as Meredith Vickers, a Weyland Corp. employee sent to monitor the mission with an agenda of her own, and, of course, Mr. Fassbender as David, the android that monitors the years-long voyage while the rest of the ship members are in stasis, think of him like a living version of HAL 9000 (not the only 2001: A Space Odyssey influence in this film). They arrive at this distant place in the universe with this advanced civilization, and there they try to seek the origin of humanity as a whole, but of course what they’ll discover is a threat that could very well end it.

That may sound a bit too vague, but that’s pretty much all I can say about the plot for Prometheus without risking spoiling this whole genius experience for you guys. Just trust me when I say that every little thing here works. It works because this isn’t one of those modern sci-fi films made for fidgety teenagers that want everything to go boom and to move super fast. No, Mr. Scott knows how to handle the pace exquisitely, and the experience he creates is so undeniably enthralling that you can’t look away; this is a director who’s at the vanguard of technology here, but who uses a distinct, rather oldschool approach to keep this epic scope in perspective. Just a truly terrific job from him.

Now, look, the comparisons to Alien will, of course, be impossible to avoid. And of course this one’s going to pale in comparison. Alien‘s the better film, that’s true, but it’s also aided by the fact that it’s already cemented its status as a true classic because it was released over three decades ago, and it’s also helped by the fact that what it did back then was just so hugely surprising and groundbreaking. Nowadays, technology’s at a point in which we seemingly can’t be that surprised anymore. But, the fact remains that Prometheus is a film that, while not as good, is still, I believe, at that same level. And that’s because it creates a truly compelling experience, with a great sense of atmosphere, a truly outstanding cast, amazing technology on display, and a story that presents questions far bigger than we get in theaters these days.

Those questions are a big part of why I loved Prometheus. Yes, many of them go unanswered, but that’s awesome because, come on, this is a film posing questions about the very origin of humanity, something that’s been debated for years and years, and this one’s just adding its two cents into the conversation, and ensuring you talk about it afterwards, even if it’s not giving you a concrete response. The very first scene, which I will not spoil, is just epic and that alone will give you enough fodder for discussion as most other films will in their entirety.

I really won’t go into any more about Prometheus. To spoil the plot for this movie would be sacrilege, and I don’t really want to talk to you about the questions it poses without putting them into context. The thing is, no matter how many people have said this film is a disappointment, I urge you to see it, and to discover that it’s really not. It’s the 100th 2012 release I’ve seen so far, and it’s my second favorite one of them all. How many times have you seen a film that’s all about some truly engaging and deep philosophical questions embedded with these great action sequences, stunning visuals by one of the genre’s pioneers, fantastic horror moments and expert acting? Not very many, if at all.

Grade: A

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2 Responses to “[Review] – Prometheus”

  1. Joel June 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    You’re kidding, right? This film was one of the most disappointing over-hyped pieces of shit this season.

    • ArtfullyBedraggled June 16, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Haha, like I said, I definitely found it far better than many who, like you, were totally let down by it.

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