Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus

I would like to say two things before I begin this review...
     1. I went for an encore viewing of the National Theatre's Frankenstein (aka The Modern Prometheus) last night so if I get a little heavy-handed with ideas and symbolism, forgive me, my brain is slightly overloaded right now.
    3. If you are thinking of having kids, have just had a child, or treasure your uterus in any way shape or form, this might be a tough movie for you to see, so please go in forewarned.

I'll attempt to keep this review spoiler-free and keep my in-depth analysis for the post-review write up (which will either appear right above or below this post)

In a summer packed full of highly-anticipated movies, Prometheus was at the top of the list for many people, I'm sure.  Ever since Ridley Scott said he was going to be directing a sci-fi film again, the speculation began, mostly circling around the idea that this was an Alien prequel.  As soon as casting was completed and production had begun there were leaked photos from the set, film blogs setting loose wild rumors and fanboys anticipation reaching peak levels as it was revealed that Charlize Theron would be doing naked push-ups (it's just a link to an Entertainment Weekly article, so simmer down boys) at ComicCon last year.  Attached as a co-writer was the right side of the Lost superbrain Damon Lindelof.  The higher the level of talent, the higher the expectations, and Prometheus was quickly turning into an all-star team in the Pop Culture Pub Trivia.
Does it live up to its expectations?  For me, not entirely, for some, it might.  Is it an Alien prequel?  For all intents and purposes, yes.  I'm not sure why Scott attempted to evade that question so often.  In the simplest terms, it's an origin story.  It's an origin story in the same way that Frankenstein is an origin story.  It's the story of the origin of man, the origin of alien, the origin of everything.  And here in lies the biggest problem with Prometheus:  there's just too much going on.
If you've seen the teaser trailer below, you might have an idea of what you're in for.  Just for fun, watch the Alien trailer right after it, see if you can sense any similarities...assuming you have full use of your senses, I'm betting you will.





Yes, indeed, Scott is attempting to recapture that all encompassing, pop-culture changing awe and fear that the first film inspired, but there are two problems with that.  The first problem being that movie audiences are far more sophisticated, at least in terms of what to expect from a movie now.  I'm not talking about actual human maturity, considering that I was sitting behind a couple who actually couldn't stop making out the entire time, but I'm talking about the sheer shock value level.  You could get much more of a shock out of a 1979 audience, who perhaps didn't have shelves full of dvds and weren't spoon fed horror as a genre while growing up.  Today's audience has a "been there done that" cynical mentality even just going IN to see a movie.  You better PROVE yourself, and I will say, in some scenes Scott does that. The second problem is that, where Alien worked because of its intimacy and claustrophobic nature, Prometheus feels just slightly bloated.  The crew size, the ship size, the planet, the galaxy, everything is just so gigantic that it's difficult not to feel detached on some level.
The story begins with two scientists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, and HOLLA LOST FANS -Charlie and Josh Holloway?!) who are futuristic archaeologists.  In 2089 they discover yet another cave drawing depicting specific star coordinates.  It turns our that these stars only align with a galaxy that's 2 years travel distance away.  I am not well versed enough in astrophysics to actually know, or for the purposes of this film, care whether this detail is a realistic possibility.  The fact is, the next thing you know, an android named David (Michael Fassbender) is walking around in his flip flops, taking care of the ship and everyone aboard while they're in hypersleep, filling his time by dying his hair Lawrence of Arabia blonde (colonization as a theme, anyone?) and shooting hoops while riding a bicycle (ok I was impressed by that).
Once their destination is reached, Holloway can't wait to get inside that giant alien dwelling and get his hands dirty, despite everyone else's well-founded hesitations.  Needless to say, several things are awakened that put the crew in danger and make the initial belief that those star maps were an invitation for man to discover their origins, pretty much null, void and strangled by both their own hubris and the largest facehugger I've ever seen and ever care to see.
The production values are incredible.  I will say here, I only saw it in vanilla 2-d, but I have no complaints for the cinematography department.  The costumes, and sets are amazing to look at as well.  But as I said before, there are just so many characters and so many paths that veer away from the main story, in addition to the numerous heady themes attempting to be introduced that it all becomes a bit muddled and eventually I  just thought it ended up relying on the good old-fashioned horror movie ending.  If you're a horror movie fan, you'll dig it, I think.  It's grotesque and gory and absolutely terrifying in parts.  If you were looking for sci-fi explanation, you'll be left with questions at the end.  There's just too much ground to be covered.

I plan on continuing my in-depth analysis of the film in my next post, but I'm afraid that to continue on as part of the "review" I would ruin too much for those in the "haven't seen it yet" audience.

Overall: 3.5 out of 5.  If you're looking for the scares, they're there, and the movie is truly a wonderful spectacle, but if you're looking for a cohesive story, re-watch the first two installments of the Alien series.

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