Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Prometheus (2012)

Seen: On blu-ray on our projector set-up, borrowed from the Tisch Library at Tufts.

My first movie of 2013 was one of the more polarizing films of 2012, as I recall anyway. So many of us were super excited for Ridley Scott's return to the world of Alien, but after many disappointed reviews I just sort of let its theatrical release pass me by. But now here we are. Prometheus. In the future, archaeologist/biologist/explorer/doctor(?) Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend (husband?) Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) think they've discovered an ancient alien race that came to earth and essentially established humanity, but then abandoned us for no good reason. A dying man finances their exploratory mission to a faraway planet where they hope to learn more about these superior beings and their motivations, but only terrible things await their team. Only. Terrible. Things.

With a strong cast, elegant and grandiose visuals, many dollops of mindfuckery, and a tantalizing connection to everyone's favorite space horror (no, not Jason X, you big dopes, ALIEN!), Prometheus has a lot to recommend it. Unfortunately, the script is all over the place and even the film's positive elements can't keep it on track. I liked the characters- especially Charlize Theron's tough-as-nails Meredith Vickers, who spends the entire movie sneering and it's intoxicating. Michael Fassbender stands out as creepy robot David, all soft-spoken voice and dead eyes and uncertain loyalties. The setpieces are spectacular, the creature design is awesomely gross, and the technology is fun. Rapace's whole self-abortion scene is hard to watch but at the same time totally badass, she rapidly takes control of a terrifying situation and it sort of defines her character for the rest of the film.

At first I liked how ambiguous the plot was, since it forced me to ask questions and challenged my assumptions, but as it went on the pieces moved further and further away from each other, and the developments of the final act were all pretty much expected. And then the actual ending doesn't feel like an ending, it feels like a transition to a new act, so it's extremely unsatisfying when the credits roll. There are some fresh and interesting ideas in this film, and yet Scott and Co. barely touch the surface of their concept. I know it's long enough already, but it could have used another hour to continue the story, or at least a little more resolution leading into sequel territory. I mean, this was basically the first half of a movie. It's not a full story, so it's ultimately unfulfilling. It's not that I didn't like it, it's that I needed more to make a complete story. Scott throws all these half-explained (or completely unexplained) elements at us and then forgets about them, or maybe he's just saving them for later. It's no surprise Damon Lindelof worked on the script, since there are definitely those infuriating Lost-ian tactics at work here, only without the lovable characters keeping the audience grounded.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Daaang I don't know, I mean Alien makes the most sense, right? So you can try to glean the connections? Otherwise for more psychological space horror you could do Event Horizon.

PS What the hell was with Guy Pearce as the old guy in the ridiculous prosthetics? I mean, why not just cast an actual old guy unless you're going to show him young at some point? I kept expecting a Peter Weyland flashback or like a fountain of youth or something?

2 comments:

  1. It seems like I saw so many articles about either Lindelof or Scott or whoever trying to explain this movie after it came out. That certainly tells you something.

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  2. My reaction to Prometheus was really similar. I was totally with it for the first 90 minutes or so. The last act was entertaining, but something felt off about it. There were a few moments where an important scene appeared to be missing. Characters also acted erratically. Even so, it's a gorgeous movie and has a lot going for it.

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