Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dez Reviews 'Prometheus,' 2012

I will go ahead and reveal the worst kept secret of Ridley Scott's Prometheus - it is a prequel to the Alien franchise. Scott has been evasive on the subject for months, but it clearly is. The mysterious ship that they explore in the beginning of Alien is finally explained, as is the iconic alien voyager in the chair. There are other connections that I will not spoil.

But that is the main problem with Prometheus. If you are familiar with the Alien series, and Alien (Scott) and Aliens (James Cameron) are two of the greatest sci-fi films ever made (with the follow-ups being among the worst), then what was once original, shocking and innovative has now become rather rote. It's all here: a large crew so they can mostly get picked off in gruesome ways, a dark and spooky place to explore that allows for dangerous creatures to jump from the shadows and attack, the nefarious corporation with the hidden agenda, the "company man" aboard who knows the "real" mission (except here it isn't the smarmy but great Paul Reiser of Aliens, it's the icy hot Charlize Theron, yet she doesn't even know the real, real nature of the mission), the unsettling android aboard with questionable motives and loyalties, the rather unconventional births, and the strong female characters that Scott is known for. The problem is that I could have listed those elements about Alien or Aliens before even seeing Prometheus. Perhaps this is somewhat fresh for a younger generation not raised on Alien, but it has become comfort food vs. a bold new dish for the seasoned moviegoer. Also Scott leaves much unexplained. I don't mind that in sci-fi, but this feels less like innovative, thought-provoking filmmaking and more like lazy storytelling.

There are two things about Prometheus that largely save it, though, and still make it a worthwhile sci-fi film. First it is absolutely stunning visually. One of the most beautiful and grand sci-fi film I've ever seen. I saw it in a small, rundown theater without the 3D, so I can only imagine it in an IMAX theater. Secondly, the performances are good. Michael Fassbender is especially good as the calculating android David. Ridley Scott seems to specialize in this type of sci-fi character. David sits alongside Ian Holm's Ash from Alien, Lance Henriksen's Bishop from Aliens (although James Cameron directed Aliens), and the replicants from Scott's Bladerunner as androids or replicants who dangerously long to be more human. Noomi Rapace is good in the other specialty role Scott pioneered, the strong unlikely female action hero who is not obviously an action hero in the beginning, but must fight and adapt. While it is impossible to match Sigourney Weaver's iconic Ripley from the Alien series, Rapace does a good job.

Worth seeing, but it falls short of Alien and Aliens, while improving greatly on the rest of the Alien progeny.

*** out of *****


Anonymous said...

the problem with prometheus is that is makes absolutely zero sense. there are gigantic, gaping plot holes all over the place. i will agree that the film looks stunning. i saw it in 3D. i cannot imagine the film being interesting in 2D, though. prometheus also puts a nail in the coffin of the argument that post production 3D is as good as real 3D. it's not, and it's not even close. i will never see a post production 3D movie again.

so, while i enjoyed seeing prometheus because it had some interesting things going on and the 3D looked outstanding, i cannot call it a good movie. it was basically the opposite of Avatar...decent acting and dialogue, but a horrible storyline, whereas Avatar had horrible acting and dialogue but a cohesive storyline. james cameron is also better at 3D than ridley scott.

oh yeah...dont discount david fincher's alien 3. it's my second favorite in the series, behind aliens. AvP is actually fairly entertaining as well.

paul mcd

Dezmond said...

But Avatar was completely derivative, plotwise. It was Dances With Wolves in Space. Dude, Alien is the masterpiece in that series. Aliens is very entertaining.