Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The search for our beginning could lead to our end

Plot: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes


I had high hopes for this one. Scott returning to sci-fi after the one-two punch of ALIEN (1979) and BLADE RUNNER (1982)? I'm there!!! I saw it in 3D on an IMAX screen and it looked AMAZING!!! Holy crap is this a gorgeous film to watch. It's sci-fi, geeky eye candy. The 3D is fantastic. I will see it again in a few days and when I do it'll be on the same screen.

This isn't the home run that ALIEN was. It's a great attempt but it falls short. There are plot holes that will have you asking questions all over the place and the last couple of minutes is blatant pandering but there are a lot of things going for it. The overall theme of the piece is neat. I really dig mankind's origin and all that goes on with who and how and what they planned to do with their creation. The special effects are magnificent. The "extraction" scene was insanely fun and intense. LOVED it. Marc Streitenfeld's score didn't work for me. I wanted something more mysterious akin to how Jerry Goldsmith scored ALIEN (I'm not saying that score was what was needed but he managed to heighten the fear and unknown of that universe).

I just LOVE the spacesuits and how they're obviously inspired by European space movies of the 1960s.

I enjoyed it but I walked out feeling like there was too much of some things and not enough of others. The characters were fine as were the actors but there wasn't anything really great or real about them. They felt like they were acting if that makes any sense. Remember how in ALIEN the characters felt real and their dialogue, actions and reactions were genuine? There's a part of me that doesn't want to compare PROMETHEUS to ALIEN but it's so difficult to avoid since it's the same director and this is, despite what Scott and others have been claiming all along, a prequel to his 1979 masterpiece. It's flawed but it's also quality science fiction that, like the best of them, gives you lots to think about. I'll feel better or worse about it after I see it again in a few days (after which I'll probably update this with a spoiler section). There's a lot to love about this picture but then there's more than enough "WTF, Ridley, I thought you guys were professionals!" moments that it may be enough to make you feel disappointed. It's not like they haven't hyped the shit out of by this point. Brilliant marketing.


UPDATE 6/10/12: Just got back from seeing it again and this time I wasn't exhausted and sleepy going into it (I first watched it (above) at the Thursday midnight showing immediately following a long gig) and I liked it a little better. I still have problems with it.

The ending with the voice over log, ala Ripley's log entry in the '79 picture, is a sorry attempt to recall that film as is the fight with the 'Engineer' who is then attacked by the alien (a HUGE face hugger) who minutes later has a xenomorph (similar to the one we all love) burst out of his chest and hiss a lot. It's a lame bone being thrown to the fans of the series and it's a cheap ad-on. The film should've ended before that.

Another big bad taste in my mouth is how many of the crew were scientists yet some of them don't come close to behaving like one. Millburn is a biologist and his first instinct upon seeing an alien species is to touch it like a cute wild baby whatever. Really? Of course this leads to his death. I don't mind the latter part but they could have easily come up with a situation where he met the same end without betraying his scientific background. Then there's the biggest offense in Fifield. He looks like a former punk rocker with a brain imbalance that makes him psychotic and unstable (and stupid) yet he's a geologist. Well, at first he says he's security and he's there to protect everyone. It's only once they're snooping around the alien digs that he drops the bomb he's a geologist and he's not going to hang around to get killed. I'm not going to knock the way someone looks and correspond that to how well the can do their job but his personality and instability give me major concern as to how the hell this guy would have been chosen for the mission in the first place. And his reappearance at the ship is just an excuse to have an action fight. It did not serve the plot at all.

Those are the big issues. I can forgive little stupid things like Dr. Shaw & co. being tossed around outside the ship in a 200 MPH wind storm with millions of shards of silicon beating on them without so much as tearing the suits or scratching the clear helmets (yet later they easily shatter during the Fifield fight) because the overall story is pretty damn neat and interesting.

I was wrong about the acting and the score. Seeing it again, I have a better appreciation for the leads and the characters with a stronger liking for just about all of them (Fassbender and Elba being my favorites). I like Vickers's motivation as the neglected child of Weyland. I paid closer attention to the music and I found I really dug it except for the "Awe Theme" (That's what I'm calling it as I don't know it's real title) which is the one that plays (for a total of five times which over-stayed it's welcome after the second time) whenever something on screen has the characters in awe of what's happening (it's the theme that opens the picture). It feels an awful lot like the John Williams "Leaving Home" theme in SUPERMAN (1978). It's not a bad theme but it feels way to close for me to ignore.

Oh, and it hit me this time where I could point to for the inspiration for the spacesuits - PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965), which is funny because that movie had more than enough inspiration for ALIEN (1979).

I still like the picture (in some ways even more so) and I'm sure I'll pick up the Blu-ray someday on the cheap but I feel pretty confident that I won't be able to shake the bits I dislike. Ridley Scott and pals could have had their cake and have eaten it, too, with a few logical, grounded in reality changes that would have still produced a great sci-fi/action/horror picture. He's smarter than that...or at least I thought so.

UPDATE: 8-17-13 - It just occurred to me after watching MISSILE TO THE MOON (1958) that PROMETHEUS is nothing more than a dumb 1050s low budget sci-fi flick with a modern bloated Hollywood budget.  If Ridley Scott had told everyone that when it was released then it would have prevented some of the severe backlash the picture received.

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