Prometheus (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
15Jun/125

Prometheus (2012)

My father introduced me to R-rated films probably a couple years sooner than he should have, but I'll never hold it against him. Why'd he do it? Maybe he was trying to instill in me a love and respect for good cinema. Maybe he was just sick of watching Transformers: The Movie. Whatever the reason, my introduction to the Alien saga sometime in my early childhood began a love affair that lasted most of my elementary school years

As a kid, Aliens was the best film in the series. Nothing could persuade me otherwise. Sure, the first one was spooky, and the third one had those sweet running-on-the-wall shots, but both films had one alien apiece and a bunch of boring talking. Aliens, on the other hand, had about a bazilion aliens and badass space marines and guns and acid blood and the queen alien! It was an 8 year-old's fantasy come to life. I spent many a summer running around with my friends, armed with Supersoakers-turned-pulse rifles and yelling "Get away from her, you....b-word!"

The snow, the prevalent white/grey color palette, her rigid posture; It's symbolic!

But as I got older, I started to refine my taste in film a bit more. I figured out that there's more to a good movie than guns and monsters. I gained a new appreciation for the mostly-ignored (by me) first film. The oppressive atmosphere, the tension, the barely-concealed sexual imagery; I realized Alien was about a lot more than a slasher-film set on a spaceship. I began to appreciate Alien a lot more as a work of cinema, and while I still enjoyed Aliens, it wasn't nearly as interesting to think or talk about. It felt like a sequel that, while still a fun movie, didn't quite jive with the thematic undercurrents of the original: One is a film dealing with the terror of sexual violence, the other is more a good-old fashioned war/revenge story.

Which just about brings me to this here "review." Given my current attitude towards the existing Alien sequel, I had a hard time figuring out how a supposed prequel could be anything but terrible. I mean, how do you create a prequel to Alien? Ridley Scott's answer: You (more or less) don't even try to: You just make try to make a good film.

Prometheus is a film about asking question, but not so much about finding answers. A pair of scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshal-Green) think that they've found the origins of life on Earth on a far-away planet. They manage to convince an eccentric billionaire (Guy Pierce) to fund an expedition to this planet, and so along with one of his aloof executives (Charlize Theron) an advanced android (Michael Fassbender) and a grizzled spaceship crew, they've gone to ask a race of ancient aliens (dubbed the Engineers) the biggest question of all: Why are we here?

Of course anyone who's even vaguely familiar with the Alien saga, the work of H.R. Geiger, or has seen any of the promotional campaign can guess that those answers are probably not going to be the answers they want to hear.

He sees the secrets that you keep when you're...well, you know...

Before I get into the plot, I need to stress something: Prometheus is gorgeous. I think something like the first five minutes are dialog-free, but I didn't hear so-much as a single jack-ass comment. You could hear a pin drop in that theater; Everyone was just entranced by the film. I rarely find time and/or money to re-watch films in the theater, but I'm seriously considering seeing this in 3D while I still can. That said, even in 2D I was blown away by the sense of depth and grandeur.

The first half of Prometheus throws a lot of questions at it's audience: Why are we here? What are the Engineers and did they create human life? What is the purpose of our existence? It's all very deep, very cerebral, but behind every question is this sense of creeping dread. Even before the Prometheus sets down on the alien world, you get the sense that something is very wrong with this set up.

David, displays your sci-fi bog-standard curiosity about the nature of being “human,” and yet there is an underlying malice in his manner; as if every movement, every innocuous line of dialog were secretly a threat. Fassbender is the shining star of this film, hands-down. The intensity that he brought to this film easily rivals that of Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner (and that's no small praise).

The beginning of Prometheus really builds up these deeply philosophical questions. Unfortunately, the second half sort of abandons all these “high-brow” concepts and just starts throwing monsters at our heroes. It's almost feels as if Ridley Scott looked as his watch and said "Shit! We're an hour from the end and we haven't had a monster yet! Better start thinning out the cast!" Things start happening pretty fast, and while I could see how everything came together, I'm a little confused as to how certain cast members figured it all out. Either some of them gained omniscience or 15 minutes of film ended up on the cutting-room floor. Here's hoping for the latter.

Now this picture, no symbolism here. Nope. None. At all. What's a "phallus?"

There are also a few scenes that while they work in the Aliens universe, they just seem out of place for this film. I'll avoid spoiling them here, but I will say that they don't ruin the film for me as a whole, but they do feel very much like unnecessary fan-service, especially the little “stinger” just before the credits. Again, none of it is “terrible,” per say, but it did take me out of the moment.

I usually wait a couple of days after seeing a film before I write my reviews. I don't like writing knee-jerk reviews; I'd rather give my opinions some time to gel. Typically, this makes my reviews far more nit-picky, and often I find that I didn't quite like a film as much as I did initially. Part of me really wants to hate, or at least be really disappointed in, Prometheus, but I can't. There are moments where Prometheus can't decide if it wants to be Blade Runner or Total Recall, but despite this tonal duality I still really enjoyed it. It doesn't make for a good prequel to Alien, but it doesn't seem like it wants to. It's deep, gorgeous and it's not afraid to leave the big questions it asks still hanging at the end.

Posted by Jacob

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  1. And his heart grew three times that day

  2. Sadly, Prometheus failed to be regarded as one of the year’s best films. On a happier note, though, I wound up watching the director’s cut of Aliens again recently and never before realized just how well it works, and how well it really develops the “mother” theme. One of the few times I’ve found and extended cut that really seemed to make the film even better, rather than simply longer.


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