Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: Prometheus

There’s a lot of debate in the blogosphere as to whether Prometheus is an Alien prequel or if it resides in the same universe or if it has some other conceptual meta-connection with the aforementioned film.  Really, that’s all just a matter of semantics, because it is in no way a spoiler to say that there are many connections between the two films.  Television spots and still photos are loaded with iconography that confirms this.  The real debate should be about what constitutes intelligent storytelling?  Because from my point of view, Ridley Scott’s much anticipated return to the sci-fi genre is an example of something that has such lofty aspirations, but fails to ever get off the ground.

The plot focuses on a mission to an unknown destination spurred by the archaeological discoveries by Noomi Rapace’s Shaw and Logan Marshall-Green’s Holloway.  Along for the ride is a rag tag group of scientists, a grizzled captain and crew, and two individuals in Michael Fassbender’s David and Charlize Theron’s Vickers who seem to be up to no good.  The trailers would have you believe you’re in for a wild ride with its techno trance beat, its rapid cuts of explosions, blood, and tense stares, and majestic shots of space, but what you really are in store for is a juvenile attempt to address religion, creation, et al.

The films’ most ardent supporters in the press and in film geekdom would have you believe that the movie successfully broaches the lofty material with the artistic touch of Michelangelo and the philosophical sophistication of Plato and that if you fail to realize that, then you are guilty of lazy viewing, A.D.D., or plain ignorance.  With all due respect, I would counter that the movie is no way this fountain of intellectual and spiritual capital, but more an exercise in lazy writing.  Writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof have crafted a script that poses a ton of questions, but does absolutely nothing to legitimately follow up on that set up.  At some point in the narrative you have to provide something that approaches a set of answers – even in the most vague sense.

The nuts and bolts of the plot has more holes in it than Swiss cheese and for a team of scientists that are purportedly so intelligent, they consistently display poor decision making and at times a complete lack of common sense.  Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Michael Fassbender show themselves well in the film despite mediocre source material, but without a standout performance from Noomi Rapace to bring the cast together and drive the action of the plot, the intellectual shortcomings of the film become that much more glaring.

I really enjoyed Alien and Aliens, and I think Ridley Scott is a very good director (he lost the moniker of great because of Robin Hood, Body of Lies, A Good Year) so I wanted to enjoy Prometheus.  In fact, I would say it was for me the third most anticipated film of the summer behind The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Visually it is a stunning movie, but substance wise it is incredibly lacking.  I have heard from people that the movie demands multiple viewings to digest the message and capture the metaphors and innuendo.  But sadly, I think the movie barely warrants a first viewing; and I can tell you as a well-versed student of literature that when you need to dig incredibly deep to find meaning in a narrative, then there probably isn’t much there.  There is entertainment value in this film should you watch it in the theater or at home, but you won’t walk away feeling at all impressed.

Standout Performance: Michael Fassbender until the third act when things really began to unravel.


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