The minds behind Prometheus set all of us up for a bit of a disappointment. The perfect storm of natural hype and viral-marketing created hype that slowly built over the last five or so months left very little room forPrometheus to meet expectations.
The excitement really began all the way back when sci-fi fans got word that Ridley Scott, director of two of a small handful of sci-fi films that could be in the discussion for the greatest of all time in Alien and Blade Runner, would be returning to the genre after quite a long absence.
Not only was he returning to the sci-fi genre, but he appeared to be returning to the same world that he helped create in Alien.
The next several months saw a series of viral videos that introduced audiences to characters and corporations, and a series of increasingly descriptive trailers that oddly enough seemed to distance themselves fromAlien.
Make no mistake, Prometheus IS related. Whether it is a direct prequel or more of a tangential one is debatable, and it might even require the seemingly inevitable sequel to be able to fully connect the dots.
Whatever the case may be, it would be accurate to say that I was more than a bit let down by Prometheus, but that might make it seem as if I didn't enjoy any of it. There is a lot to really like about the film. The unfortunate part is that there is also a lot to be frustrated with.
Prometheus basically asks the ever familiar question of where did we come from? We learn early on via our protagonist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her lover/exploring partner Charlie (Logan-Marshall Green) that the answer of who created life on earth appears to be some sort of other worldly being.
The pair has uncovered a series of remarkably similar cave drawings that both literally and figuratively point to the sky, and that were created over a span of thousands of years.
Now, financially backed by the shrouded Weyland Corporation (whose ulterior motives might as well be written across its eponymous owners' forehead), the pair venture into space upon the massive Prometheus space ship in search of the planet the ancient maps directed them to.
The remaining crew is large enough that we aren't properly introduced to each member (17 people is what I believe is what we are told), but most notably it includes David (Michael Fassbender), the requisite human-like android, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the unfriendly Weyland Corp. representative, Janek (Idri Elba), the at times uninterested captain, and a pair of geologists (played by Sean Harris and Rafe Spall).
To describe the plot much further would be to ruin whatever fun this script provides the viewer, but needless to say they aren't prepared for what they find.
Lets start with the positives shall we. First and foremost is the fact that Prometheus looks incredible. To downplay the visuals would be unfair as they are a major part of the film, and an obvious focus of Ridley Scott's.
I saw this in IMAX-3D and I highly recommend paying the extra money if you're going to see this one in theaters. Scott joins the likes of Scorsese and Cameron as filmmakers who recognize that if done properly, 3D technology can actually enhance a movie.
When shot in 3D and not post-converted as an obvious attempt to boost box office numbers, 3D provides filmmakers with a legitimate depth exploration tool. I think the highest praise I can give to Prometheus' use of 3D is that aside from the clunky glasses I was wearing, I wasn't always aware that I was watching a 3D movie. It absorbs the viewer into the expansive world that has been created without feeling the need to become gimmicky.
I would undoubtedly describe the visuals as the strongest aspect of Prometheus, followed closely by Michael Fassbender, who basically owns the screen.
The acting across the board is good to varying degrees (there are some serious issues with the way the characters were written which I'll get to momentarily), but Fassbender (like we've come to expect) is really on another level. His mysteriously creepy David is not only the most fun character to watch, but perhaps the most important as well.
Rapace is good as well, and is passionate yet tough beyond belief as she follows in the footsteps of Sigourney Weaver's now iconic Ripley from the Alien franchise. Elba and Theron, unfortunately, are more than a bit inhibited by how their characters are created on paper.
Since I've already touched on it, I'll get to my gripes with the script. Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof have created a story that asks incredibly lofty questions, yet seems more than satisfied just shrugging its shoulders when it comes time to answer them.
Part of this comes via the unsatisfying nod to a potential sequel, but there is more to it than that. So much about what we are given doesn't make sense (some little annoyances, others big plot holes) and the pair doesn't really seem to care. It goes beyond ambiguity.
We watch an entire film and actually know less at the end than we did 10 minutes into it. Several characters are basically given one trait and are never really developed past that point, others break character from one scene to the next, and Fassbender's David and Elba's Janek have seriously unexplained motives.
Further, some of the dialogue is really clunky and unimaginative, particular in one semi-big yet predictable reveal that left me laughing.
One of the things that made the first two Alien films so unnerving was this incredible tension that was created almost throughout. That tension is virtually gone here, save a couple of moments that I would only describe as kind of tense.
Instead, Prometheus just kind of throws things at us. We know things will happen, they happen, and we move on without the audience ever having to twist at all. What we do twist at is some of the gore, with one medical procedure easily taking the cake in that category (which is also likely the most tense sequence in the film), but it really isn't anything that we've come to expect.
I understand that this isn't the original Alien, and that perhaps Scott and his screenwriters goal wasn't to replicate the mood or tension of his original film, but when you voluntarily create so many connections and put us back in that same world (and at times, what seems like that same space ship), comparisons of this nature are inevitable.
When you go into a sci-fi pic of this nature, you expect to have to leave your logic at the door.Prometheus takes this to mean that they can basically get away with anything. But there is a line between suspended disbelief in terms of explainable on a modern scientific level, and something that just flat out doesn't make sense even in a made up world. Prometheus unfortunately crosses that line.