Prometheus

PrometheusSynopsis: Legendary director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) return to his sci-fi origins in this groundbreaking epic adventure bursting with spectacular action and mind-blowing visual effects!

Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace lead a stellar cast on a thrilling journey to the farthest corners of the universe, where a team of explorers aboard the spaceship Prometheus searches for an advanced civilization that may have been responsible for human life on Earth. Instead, they find a dark, twisted world that hides a terrifying threat capable of destroying them… and all mankind!

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Prometheus 8.0

eyelights: the whole set-up. the parallels to ‘Alien’. the gorgeous scenery and settings. the set design. the A/V experience.
eyesores: the weaker third act.

“How far would you go to get your answers?”

I’m no great fan of Ridley Scott. Although he’s left the world a few unforgettable, game-changing motion pictures, I feel that he’s terribly over-rated. The fact that he’s spent the last decade working with Russell Crowe hasn’t especially endeared him to me, either.

So when word came out that ‘Prometheus’ was in the works, I wasn’t especially enthused: The idea of father of the ‘Alien‘ franchise returning to its roots was somehow appealing, but he’s not the same man he was in 1977. We all know what happened when George Lucas did the same.

I skipped it, waited for reviews to come out.

They were decidedly mixed. The overwhelming comment was that it presented many good ideas yet failed to deliver on most of them, leaving the audience hanging. It was considered an intriguing but flawed picture that would only be saved by a sequel. Basically, I didn’t miss much.

Still, a seed was planted and, when I found the DVD at my local library, I picked it up – and then waited for a future viewing. I was in no rush. But the seed was firmly planted, and when I saw the 4-disc Blu-ray set for a really good price, I decided to pick it up sight unseen.

I’m very glad that I did. The “Prometheus’ BD features a delicious 7.1 lossless audio track that no 5.1 Dolby Digital or even stereo track could ever come close to. It was quite simply a most amazing aural experience, completed fully by the picture’s sumptuous visual detail.

‘Prometheus’ is an A/V feast of the gods.

There is pretty much unanimity on this matter. Where critics and fans are divided, however, is in aspects of the plot, which consists of a team of scientists on a two-year space mission to moon LV-223 in the Zeta 2 Reticuli system hoping to find the origins of human life.

The picture blends religion, science and pseudo-science (of the kind found in “Chariot of the Gods?”) to offer up a theory about human evolution that many found underdeveloped. The script is also riddled with purported inconsistencies that has left a lot of people wanting.

Thankfully, I steered clear of reading about the details before seeing the picture, which left me able to appreciate it at face value – to the extent that I  was able to smooth over elements that some people disliked. But I also found my own issues with the picture, 2/3 of the way in.

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

For example:

  • Elizabeth discovers that she is pregnant with an alien life form after having been in intimate contact with her boyfriend, who finds out he’s infected. Under pressure to keep the creature in her womb, despite being in severe pain, she manages to escape and head out to a medical bay where there is some sort of automated surgery pod. She programs it and has it remove the alien from her body.

Firstly, it’s total BS that she escaped. It’s then even worse that no one caught up with her – or that the others found out what she was doing and checked up on her. That she was able to conduct the surgery on herself is ridiculous, but if you add having a creature in the pod with her it’s then patently absurd. That she was covered in blood (her own and the creature’s no doubt) and that she didn’t decontaminate afterwards is total shite.

  • What happened to Meredith Vickers’ perfect escape route, which she had built into the Prometheus precisely in case of an unexpected crisis? I mean, she had a wholly separate ship for exactly this moment, but she didn’t use it! Why the !@#$ not?
  • At the end, when the alien ship crashes, both Elizabeth and Meredith are running away from the hull that is towering above them, crashing down on them. As per any “good” action film, instead of running away from it laterally or perpendicularly, they run away from it in the same direction that it’s going – as though they could outpace it.

This is so bloody stupid that it frustrates the crap out of me each time I see this in a picture (because, let’s face it, this happens all the time in Hollywood films!). At least make one of the two intelligent enough not to do this, for God’s sake! It’s as maddening as outrunning bullets, which also happens all the frickin’ time.

  • David’s still functional after having his head torn off, naturally. It was to be expected, really, even though the power supply is likely in his torso not his head. But he’s able to get in contact with Elizabeth to warn her of an oncoming attack by the alien giant.

Firstly, he couldn’t know this, because he’s elsewhere. Secondly, how could he even get in touch with her? Not that it matters either way, because he didn’t give her enough time to react. Too little too late! Um… so why bother putting this in the picture?

  • On that note, the notion that the alien giant was still alive and completely unharmed after that explosion and crash is patently absurd. Ok… let’s say he’s either tough as nails/indestructible or got lucky. Fine. That he came back just to beat the crap out of her, and found her immediately in all that chaos still defies logic.
  • Further adding to the scene’s lack of credibility is that Elizabeth gets out of it with ease: by using the creature that’s running loose to do her dirty work for her. A cliché, I know, but it’s nothing compared to the fact that she was able to open the door just as the alien giant stood there, and that the creature was right there and willing.

And that it won (and here I mistakenly I thought that the alien dude was tough!)

  • The picture ends with Elizabeth doing a final journal entry. But then, after the fade out, the picture fades in again only to show us a first generation xenomorph coming out of the alien giant. Talk about redundant and totally unnecessary! The picture would have been better without this bloody throwaway. We got the point of the picture: these events are the source of the xenomorphs. Thank you. We didn’t need to see the damned creature to know where it came from. And, anyway, it was too big for the alien dude’s frame. Plus it looked a bit weird. Frankly, it left me incredulous instead of awing me. It was a cheap thrill, nothing more.

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

Yes, some people will call the things that bother me about ‘Prometheus’ trivial, in light of all the metaphysical questions that are left unresolved. But, frankly, I wasn’t too bothered with those. Either I didn’t find them that novel (and, thus, not too challenging) or I could justify the gaps somehow.

I was discussing this with a friend of mine because these complaints say something about modern North-American audiences: they need to have everything spoon-fed to them. They need to have everything explained to them in detail, leaving no aura of mystery and/or no room for critical thinking.

The original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy didn’t explain away the Force. It was just “an energy field created by all living things” that “surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”. For the prequels, we were told the pseudo-science behind it, thereby ruining the magic, stripping away the mystery.

Similarly, the original ‘Alien’ didn’t tell us anything about the xenomorph (where it came from, what it wanted, …etc.). It just was. It was a killer that was devastating the crew of a small cargo ship. We didn’t need to know more. In fact, it’s this lack of information that helped created the suspense.

Sometimes there’s nothing more compelling (or scarier) than the unknown and the unpredictable.

And, to me, there are some pretty terrific aspects to ‘Prometheus’, such as the many parallels to the original ‘Alien’ picture – from the moment the ship is out in space, to the waking up of the crew, to their landing on the alien lands, to their finding of the hidden alien ship, to the weird containers littering the ground…

…which are akin to the xenomorph eggs.

One could easily criticize Ridley Scott for carbon-copying his own film. I can’t really defend him, but I liked seeing those elements from a brighter, less sinister and gritty perspective. A lot of the anxiety built into this picture rests on the connections the audience makes with ‘Alien’, something I quite like.

I also found the pacing surprisingly good for the first half of the picture, before it picked up and eventually turned into a break-neck thriller: it took the time to set up the characters and plot and to build and unravel the mystery behind the alien complex and its dead inhabitants.

Even as it left a lot of information undisclosed, for us to decrypt and/or wonder about.

The cast is also uniformly excellent. For some reason, everyone talks about Michael Fassbender as David, the android, and he was certainly memorable, but the rest of the cast is so solid it’s impossible to fault them in any way. ‘Prometheus’ was graced with a formidable crew indeed.

So, all in all, I was surprisingly pleased with this one; it mixes awe and wonder with a devilishly sinister touch. Granted, my expectations were low going in, given the consistently mixed reviews and Ridley Scott’s record, but it did a heck of a lot more right than wrong.

Still, I suspect that audiences will be discussing ‘Prometheus’ for a long time – especially if they don’t feel satiated by its upcoming follow-up, now due in 2016.

Date of viewing: December 27, 2014

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2 responses to “Prometheus

  1. I never understood the bashing this got upon release. I loved it. What did people want? Another episode of Sigourney Weaver, running around cramped corridors with a flame-thrower and a cat, on a ship thats about to auto-destruct!? Not me. I thought Ridley made an intelligent, thought provoking piece of sci-fi. I’m certain it will find favour, over time.

    • Holy crap! That’s such a good idea! For ‘Prometheus 2’, they should have one of Ripley’s ancestors running around with a flamethrower! That would be box office gold! 😉

      Yeah…. people just want more of the same. Hence all the remakes and sequels. They want a sure-fire good time, an easy way to be entertained. The less choice the better.

      I think that Ridley Scott did fine with ‘Prometheus’. I hope that you’re right and that, with time, it will be reconsidered. 🙂

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