Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prometheus Review (Cue scary whirring sound)

Ridley Scott is an old man.  At the fragile age of 74, he's been enjoying the benefits of AARP for 24 years now, longer than I've been alive.  So I was a little skeptical of Prometheus to say the least.  The guy hasn't touched the Alien franchise since the original in 1979, and with his previous flick being the widely panned Robin Hood, things were starting to look a little grim.  We've all seen what can happen when a director returns to what made him famous after he ages and accrues a bigger budget (...The Phantom Menace...), but Prometheus turned out to be a spectacular film with breathtaking visuals, a good amount of suspense, frightening monsters, and cool ball things that map out a cave (trust me, they're cool).

Prometheus is a sort of spiritual prequel to the Alien series. While we get to see some of the stuff that was left unexplained in Alien, ultimately it doesn't have a whole lot to do with the other films.  In this movie, a crew of specialists is sent by Peter Weyland (played by Guy Pierce in god awful old man make up) to a distant moon named LV-223.  Led by archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, perhaps best known for playing Lisbeth Salander from the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and her partner Charlie Halloway (Logan Marshall-Green), the team is essentially trying to determine the answer to the heavy-handed question mankind has always asked itself, either while gazing at the stars or watching an episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman: 'where did we come from?'

Right off the bat, this film just looks gorgeous.  I highly doubt we're going to see a better looking sci-fi film this year.  Especially after having an Alien movie marathon, with Alien: Resurrection being the freshest in my memory banks, this is everything you could hope for.  The production design of the actual ship, Prometheus, is just right, and all the stuff on the planet and inside the alien structure is very atmospheric and will knock your socks off.  Plus the creatures are original creations, which is great because you'll have no idea what to expect going in, heightening the probability of you shitting your pants in fear.

The cast is remarkable as well, with the stand-out performance being Michael Fassbender's scene-stealing role as David, the Lawrence of Arabia-watching android.  Despite being a robot, he brings the most humanity to the film. His character knows he is superior to the humans on board the ship, yet he still yearns for their respect - it's a very interesting performance much different than the androids of previous Alien movies.  Noomi Rapace, our "Ripley" this time around, also holds a strong presence, but isn't as sympathetic as Sigourney Weaver's character, if simply because Ripley was just a blue collar worker forced into her situation - a lot more sympathetic than a researcher who kind of already knew the risks involved.

This will likely be one of the most controversial movies of the summer. This journey to find the origin of man balances science and religion in a smart way, and tries to define exactly why humans are so hell-bent on finding the answers to the universe, even when attaining that knowledge may prove dangerous. Written by Damon Lindelof, the head writer of Lost, this script has his fingerprints all over it. Full of symbolism and seeming "dead ends" in the plot, it is sure to spark just as many arguments as the Lost finale. He dares to leave questions unanswered, with only hints and nods as to how the puzzle fits together by the end (here is a great blog post explaining some of the more cryptic parts of the film).  Whether or not there is one solid "plan" or not (or a will-be sequel to explain more), I think the after-movie conversations and the journey itself are rewarding enough that it doesn't matter.  Sure there were things in here that weren't perfect (such as Guy Pierce's terrible old man makeup, and some spoilerific details involving the aliens that I won't go into), but I was captivated by this movie from beginning to end; I hope that future sci-fi movies take notice and dare to be this challenging on their audience.

Rating: A-

Whirring sound.


  1. I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said. I've been defending this movie to people non-stop. It's by far my favorite movie of the year, and I think it is the best sci-fi movie of the last 25 years. Seriously. Because it does what a sci-fi movie is SUPPOSED to do: Challenge us. Plot holes aside (and that horrible makeup), I love this movie more than anything.

    1. Hm...what about The Matrix or Terminator 2? I won't deny how great Prometheus turned out, but I think that it may be a little hyperbolic to call it the best sci-fi of the last quarter century.


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