Now on to the other gorgeous looking blockbuster with Charlize Theron coming out this month. The decidedly more anticipated one, especially among those who know its origins and what movie it shares a universe with. But can anyone really know what to expect going in to Prometheus?
Prometheus deals with a team of scientists, funded by a shady corporation (is there any other kind?), who make an expedition to a distant planet after discovering cave paintings that may reveal a type of being, dubbed “Engineers” by the explorers, who may have been instrumental in creating humanity. Once there, everything is not quite as harmonious as they were hoping and things quickly escalate into a menace that may spell doom for us all.
First of all, kudos to director Ridley Scott and writers Damon Lindelof and John Spaihts for choosing to do a movie that touches upon such big questions. Asking about things like the supposed truth behind the creation of life, what that means for someone’s faith and how an artificial human/cyborg would look at this are all really interesting story concepts and provide some brain food in addition to the regular fare.
Granted, it is a summer blockbuster first and foremost (the story plays closer to a regularly trope-ish horror movie than anything brazenly new) and I meant it literally when I said it just “touches upon” them. But that’s far more than I can say for most movies coming out in this time-frame.
Such a daring story means there can also be some stronger graphic content, and while the movie isn’t a straight gorefest, to say it has its moments would be a disservice. There were certainly a few wince scenes here and there in the first half, but there comes a specific moment in the second half where I found myself genuinely overcome with a mix of anxiety and disgust. The scene in question is just such a concoction of several different phobias and is meant to hearken back to the chestburster scene in the original Alien. I honestly felt this scene was worse. Seriously, your heart will drop.
|This guy. He’s really good.|
But that is a testament to the strength of the cast that I was still so invested at that point. I’m pretty sure by now Michael “I know we’ve had our differences” Fassbender can do no wrong. Just trying to get a lock on what his maliciously (or is he?) youthful android, David, is thinking could suck you in and keep you guessing for hours.
In the beginning, I was just accepting of Noomi Rapace’s lead character of Dr. Shaw. But as shit started to go down, and her character started to suffer more, she really sold it and you started to root for her. It’s probably good that she got Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows out of the way first, to let this be her real feature.
Likewise, Charlize Theron plays a tough but understandable executive, a subdued performance on the opposite end of the spectrum from her recent Evil Queen role and Idris Elba continues to stand out in the supporting roles he’s given.
The only cast member that didn’t do it for me was Logan Marshall-Green, or as I’ve heard him referred to as, the 99 cent Tom Hardy. He’s supposed to be one of the more important characters, but he isn’t given much more to do than be a dick to David, get excited, then depressed. For being someone who is supposed to be integral to the story, they don’t really differentiate him enough from the other cannon fodder on the ship.
To make another comparison to Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus is also eye candy. Whereas Huntsman seemed to flourish on broad strokes, Prometheus is very detail oriented, but just as visually appealing. It’s a signature of Ridley Scott’s films and what makes this movie so haunting.
Whereas I praised the story before, it is also the film’s biggest weakness. The problem comes in when the writers have to make sure their origin of life picture is also an Alien prequel. Actions and motivations start to blur and many questions don’t get answered when the two have to be combined.
The absolute biggest problem with Prometheus is plot points that don’t make sense. One character does something significant; it is never explained whether it is by mistake or on purpose. If it was on accident, they don’t do enough to show that it was, indeed, not intentional. If it was on purpose, it is never explained why that character would do that in the first place. It feels like they forgot to leave out that last puzzle piece for us to put in place. That is, until we see what this action leads to in the end. Then it becomes clear it needed to happen so the filmmakers could fulfill their contractual obligations.
Many people are expecting this to be of the caliber of Alien. Such expectations probably won’t do anyone much good. Alien is a slow build whereas Prometheus dives right in (surprised as I am to say it, I thought it actually could have used a bit more breathing room between certain scenes). In fact, objectivity is the best way to go with this one. Watch the movie and then see what it’s similar to, instead of the other way around.
Despite voicing some of my displeasure at certain story elements, I much rather prefer a movie in which the story issues stem from overreaching rather than not doing enough. Prometheus has its share of flaws, but is still visually beautiful with great performances and thrilling sci-fi elements that work. Most importantly, it sticks with you after you’ve left the theater.
By nature, not everyone is going to have a similar reaction to it, but I really dug Prometheus, enough so that I look forward to watching it again in theaters. It’s one of this summer’s must sees.