Thursday, June 7, 2012

Prometheus Review

Hello, Internet!  Ridley Scott's long-awaited return to the genre he helped define has come.  His latest film, Prometheus, was a closely-guarded production from the beginning.  Scott wasn't very forthcoming in interviews as to what exactly the narrative of Prometheus would be and what exactly its ties to the Alien franchise were.  What Scott was able to deliver, after being away from the genre that started his career for over thirty years, is a visual masterpiece and gripping science fiction drama that is not without its flaws.

I don't want to spoil anything here because part of the wonder of this film is not knowing anything about its plot.  I was afraid that the multiple trailers and TV spots were giving away too much - in some cases they did, as I was able to piece together the story from the images I remembered seeing, but for the most part I was pleasantly surprised by what was on screen and how the narrative played out.  The basic premise is that two scientists, Elizabeth Shaw (played by the talented Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) find cave paintings all across the earth that have a similar star pattern; an invitation from a higher form of life to come find them in the cosmos.  The two join a diverse and incredibly entertaining crew on board the Prometheus and arrive at their destination after two years in cryo-stasis.  And that's pretty much all I'll say.  The major theme of the film, and the major motivation of our two leads, is finding out where we came from and who created us.  Its quite an interesting idea and a through-line that carries most of the film.  Overall I felt the narrative was gripping and entertaining throughout; I was on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion.

Just about everything in this film just works.  The cast is superb.  For me, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender (playing the android David) are the two major stand-outs amongst a crowd of talent.  Fassbender plays David with a quiet intensity and inquisitiveness that was evocative of Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He is incredibly intelligent and lacks a soul, but is not above cracking jokes at the crew's expense.  I've enjoyed Rapace since the original Dragon Tattoo trilogy and her small role in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  I'm sure a lot of people were comparing her to the iconic character of Ripley from the previous Alien films.  Yes, while she is a very strong and capable female lead, she is able to stand out on her own and put in quite a performance.  There is one scene in particular that was gut-wrenching to say the least, and it all came down to Rapace's performance.

The rest of the cast, as previously mentioned, helps to round-out the film; Idris Elba is beyond entertaining at the Prometheus' captain.  Charlize Theron is the cold and calculating Weyland Corporation supervisor for the trip; she is actually quite menacing in her own way.  Guy Pearce is pretty fantastic as the aged Peter Weyland, with some very convincing old-person makeup (a step up from the sometimes distracting makeup in 2011's "J. Edgar").  The rest of the crew is a mixture of character types that was just plain fun to watch interact with one another.

Prometheus' visual effects, for me, are on a whole 'nother level then most of Hollywood.  At times breathtaking (specifically the intro to the film, during the opening credits) and others, downright visceral; Prometheus is a visual powerhouse that will set your corneas on fire with its dazzling effects.  I saw this film in IMAX 3D.  And I have to highly recommend it.  I thought the 3D was actually implemented very well; it wasn't too distracting and complimented much of what was happening on screen rather than detracting from it.  Just like in 2009's "Avatar," computer displays and holographic images just pop on screen with the inclusion of 3D.

I know I've pretty much gushed over Prometheus up to this point...but its not without its flaws.  For me, the one thing I loved the most I also hated the most - the narrative.  The film raises quite a few questions...and doesn't necessarily answer them.  Prometheus is the type of film that you have to piece things together on your own.  And I like that.  But at the same time I don't.  There are leaps in logic that it asks you to take and if you can't make them then you're probably going to walk away unsatisfied.  It took a post-film discussion to piece together many of the puzzles laid out over the course of the film.  Granted, I quite enjoy when a film sparks a meaningful discussion or debate, but in the case of Prometheus, I think it perhaps was poor storytelling that lead to the various discussions after the credits rolled.  The characters in the film itself don't really seem to know what's going on or why things are happening; therefore, we the audience aren't privy to the expository dialogue that usually accompanies on-screen events.  Certain things happen that just don't make sense at first, but with some thought they make perfect sense and are quite brilliant.  I don't know if most people will go that in-depth with this film.

A big deal was made about bringing Damon Lindelof on board to help write the script.  Lindelof was a show-runner and writer on Lost (one of my favorite all-time shows), a show (in)famous for its not-answering of questions...some questions that were prevalent throughout all six seasons.  Knowing that, its understandable that he wouldn't answer everything during the course of this film; in fact, there is quite an easy set-up for more films to bridge the gap between Prometheus and Alien.  And let it be clear that I'm not trying to make excuses; Lindelof now has a reputation for this and if you aren't willing to accept that, then perhaps you won't be as fulfilled by Prometheus as I was.

If its not obvious I loved Prometheus.  I am very glad that Ridley Scott is back in the science fiction realm (a sequel to Blade Runner is also in the works).  The film is a visual masterpiece that has a diverse and fantastic cast with some truly intense, nail-biting moments.  Its not your typical action blockbuster; in fact, it wouldn't use the word "action" to describe it.  Its more of a suspense/horror/thriller than anything.  So if you like any of those genres, or are a fan of the Alien franchise, I highly recommend you go see Prometheus.  In IMAX.

Prometheus is an incredibly entertaining scifi film that may leave some wanting for more resolutions.

The Bearded Bullet.


  1. Very great to look at and features a spot-on direction from Scott, but it seems like there was too many missed opportunities for this flick to be great. Instead, it just went for ok and that’s what bummed me out. Still, can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself. Nice review Kyle.