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Prometheus – review

A female figure in silhouette stands before an enormous statue of a humanoid head. Text at the middle of the poster reveals the tagline "The Search For Our Beginning Could Lead To Our End". Text at the bottom of the poster reveals the title, production credits and rating.Ridley Scott is one of the Godfathers of the modern Science Fiction film genre.   In 1979 his Alien scared the pants off its audience, and 1982’s Blade Runner stands as one of the crowning achievements in the genre.  So when he announced that he was heading back to the Sci Fi realm, fanboys (myself included) rejoiced, and could not wait for the outcome.  To say that Prometheus had a lot of weight on it before its release is an understatement, and the marketing plan launched almost a half year prior to its release only amped that up.

It’s kind of been up in the air wether or not Prometheus is part of the Alien Quadrilogy, or a prequel, or has nothing to do with it.  Let me just say that there are some things that point towards Alien, but the film itself stands on its own.  Anything that does point towards those films, or gets you caught up in the thought of those films, is actually a hinderance to this film in my opinion.

Prometheus begins with a space expedition to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.  Actually we might be sent to a different galaxy, but that isn’t explained that well, nor is the reason why we are sent to a specific planet light years away.  We are just told the privately funded expedition is sent there because of some cave drawings found on earth from different cultures thousands of years ago.  We saw some paintings, they point to the beginnings of life, and that configuration of planets looks like the drawings, so a man named Peter Wayland (Guy Pearce in a really bad old man suit for some reason) spends a trillion dollars to go there…um ok.

The crew is put in a two and a half year stasis until they reach the planet. Weyland wants to contribute to the understanding of the people who created earth and the human race, and he believes this planet which has been proven to have an atmosphere close to earth has the answers.  The crew includes Meredith (Charlize Theron), the head of Weyland industries, Elizabeth and Charlie (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) the archeologists who found the cave drawings, Janek (Idris Elba) the captain of the Prometheus, various other crew members,  and David (Michael Fassbender).  David is an android, much like Bishop from the Alien films.  David was programmed for a specific mission while aboard the Prometheus by his maker Peter Wayland.  This mission may not be the same one that the crew has.

I don’t want to go to in depth with the plot here, because doing so would reveal a lot of spoilers.  The crews mission is to find out the mysteries of this planet they’ve landed on.  There is a specific reason they came here, and unraveling all of the clues is the entire reason for the film.  They are searching for the origins of mankind, and they believe all of the answers lay here.  Of course they encounter many strange things while they are there, but most of the time they just walk around and look at stuff.  The film begins to feel very long winded at times.  It has a very slow place, and the film attempts to make up for that near the end, but it’s at a consequence.  The biggest issue I had is David’s intentions, or reasons for the things he does.  Two things in particular make absolutely no sense at all, and with not much going on I was stuck with his character in my mind during the entire course of the film.  Why?  That was my thought, and I could not shake it.  Why does he do the things he does?

The acting is perfect I must say though.  Noomi Rapace is slowly becoming one of the great leading ladies in Hollywood.   She went from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, to Sherlock Holmes, to this, and she was spot on as the timid, yet quizzical archeologist, and Fassbender is great as always once again.  The acting cannot catapult this in to the territory of great films this year though, and that’s unfortunate.

Now I’ve heard rumors that the film was set up for a sequel, and I would actually be more interested in seeing that, because the film does leave a ton of questions unanswered, and that was the ultimate problem of the film to begin with.  The film continually drags on while little pieces of information are fed to us, but all of these other questions arise in the meantime, and almost none of them are attended to.  In the end Prometheus suffers from a poorly written script…period.  It’s a great idea that is never fully realized, and I have to think that there exists a directors cut from Scott that reaches the 3 and 1/2 hour mark, much like his film Kingdom of Heaven. There are to many inconsistencies and head scratching moments that occur during the course of the film, but it looks fantastic.   Ridley has made an amazing looking science fiction film.  He just needs help with his follow through.

Grade: B-

6/13/2012

****Spolier and further questions on Prometheus****

Upon seeing Prometheus I was left some what disappointed and more importantly left with many questions regarding the plot, and particularly the motives of the android David.  David poisons Charlie who soon impregnates Elizabeth with an alien baby.  My biggest issue is why he would do this?  I watched the original Alien a week after originally writing this review, and the answers may lay within that film itself.  Ash, the android aboard the Nostromo in Alien does things that do not make logical sense either, but it’s because he is programmed by the company who placed him on board.  We can guess that Ash and David are only going by orders, and if orders are to find alien life, and interpret these findings in order to find the evolution of life in general, then that may account for the irrational behavior.  David may have been programmed wrong, or poorly, which could cause him to harm those that he is on the mission with.  This is something that was done better in Alien, but David is most likely an earlier model of Ash, and is most likely not programmed as well.

Second of all the alien ship that the crew of the Nostromo come upon at the beginning of the film is most likely the one that Elizabeth steals and takes off with at the end of Prometheus.   Before being infected, the crew of the Nostromo enters the alien ship and comes upon “The Space Jockey” that we see in Prometheus. The crew quickly leave once they realize the distress call is actually a warning call, perhaps the same warning that the crew of the Prometheus were given. One of the crew members is attacked by a spawn of the alien, and now the whole crew of the Nostromo are in danger.   Now as I’ve said before I would be very interested in seeing a sequel to Prometheus that explains where Elizabeth goes, if she meets our makers in their home world, and how that ship (or a ship looking exactly like it) ends up on that planet found by the Nostromo.  There are a lot of unanswered questions, but it’s clear that is intentional, and not every question should be answered in a film. (aka whats in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction).

This doesn’t necessarily make Prometheus a better film, but it does help to explain the motives of some of the characters and fill in some of the gaps as to where the overall franchise, or two halves of the franchise, are headed.