Prometheus

David: "Why did your people make me?"
Holloway: "Because we could."
David: "And how would you feel if your makers said the same to you?"

I'm a diehard fan of the Alien franchise. I've seen all of the movies more than once, I've read some of the comics, played some of the video games, I've even read several of the novels... wow, I'm a geek. Anyway, to say I was looking forward to this movie is a bit of an understatement. Especially when the marketing campaign was so strong. We had some absolutely stellar trailers and two awesome viral videos. Plus Ridley Scott was directing again (I would've been more excited with James Cameron coming back, but he's stuck on Pandora).

And yet, somehow I managed to go into this film with an open mind. I don't know exactly how, but I did. I knew that it wasn't going to have much to do with Alien, and I'm glad I was prepared. Because although this was a really solid film with a lot of really incredible things going for it, it really wasn't a prequel at all.

As a fan, you need to go into this film with the foreknowledge that it is more of an original story than part of an existing franchise. It most definitely exists in the Alien universe, but almost doesn't use the iconic monsters at all. It does, however, explain how the Alien came into being, and who the Space Jockeys were (that's the giant elephant-like corpse found in the derelict ship in the first Alien movie). I'm not entirely sure that was background information I needed, but I think the results were good enough to warrant their existence.

There were a few problems with the film, most notably the score, which felt like it belonged in a different film. The movie had the same tone as the Alien movies, but the soundtrack was so different that it didn't feel like part of the franchise. I understand wanting to do something different, but background music plays such an important part in the feel of a movie (imagine Star Wars without the music). The music in Prometheus was just off, and a couple of times it actually broke the scene for me.

Secondly, there seemed to be some editing issues. There were a few moments of improper build-up and confusing action. There was an attack at one point that I thought was one thing, but after it sunk in it turned out to be something else entirely. There were some relatively pointless character moments. Most of the time character-building is great, but it becomes a little shallow when there's no pay off for that character. A couple of plot points seemed to have no purpose, either.

And there were a lot of nameless characters that were there strictly as cannon fodder. This is fine most of the time, a monster movie staple. But the first Alien was so intimate, and every character had a purpose as well as a well-developed personality. In Prometheus, there were only a few primary characters that got any significant screen time. So when those background characters die, and some primary characters as well, you don't feel anything for them.

Now that I've talked about the negatives, let me say those are just nitpicks. For the most part, I really enjoyed what Scott pulled off here. The primary characters were all portrayed wonderfully. Specifically, Michael Fassbender as David, a fastidious and fascinating robot that rightly deserves a place alongside Bishop and Ashe (from the first three Alien movies). Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers) also did a great job playing a character that was an absolute mystery. She played the obligatory corporate mouthpiece, but her performance felt like she could've possibly been a machine. Maybe even an experimental model with emotions, or a precursor to Call (from Alien Resurrection)? I can't answer either way, but I liked that ambiguity. It was reminiscent of Blade Runner.

Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw) also did an outstanding job as the lead. She had a natural goodness to her character that made her instantly likeable, even though it was obvious that she was driven by her work to the point of zealotry. She did well through all the action, and you felt the pain she had to endure. More importantly, the character was smart, and made some really fascinating choices. Idris Elba (Captain Janek) also did a good job with a relatively limited character. I just wish they had given him a bit more to do other than pointless banter and broad stroke heroism.

I really didn't see the end coming, which was a nice surprise. I won't say who lives and who dies. But I will say that it mostly kept me on the edge of my seat. Prometheus was really good, but not amazing. It could've been a brilliant as a standalone film, but because of its connections to a franchise as large and as beloved as Alien, it felt a little disappointing. I don't know if they made the right choices with this movie, but I commend them for at least having the courage to try something different.

3 out of 4 creepy humanoid faces carved into stone.

[Warning: Comments may contain spoilers.]

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

3 comments:

PlatinumRosebud said...

Allo, Billie.
Good review. I agree with your comments on the music; it was quite off. Wasn't a great movie, but it tried to go there. :) Mostly, I enjoyed watching the film, too.

Matthew L said...

I watched this film with a group of friends who decided to make the night a double feature of Charlize Theron movies (Prometheus and Snow White). :)

Overall, the movie was visually stunning and I was entertained. Afterwards, I was of two minds with this movie. The overall feel of the movie was good as was the tie-ins to the Alien franchise while still remaining its own movie at the same time. And I liked the David character the best as he was the most interesting.

But when looking at the individual parts, the movie falls apart for me. There were several, several illogical missteps by the characters that just didn't make any sense. You can call these nitpicks or whatnots but they still brought the movie down for me.

Like J.D. already brought up, we learn that there's a crew of 17 on this ship but we hardly meet half of them, so knowning that the majority of the crew were basically "redshirts", I didn't really care about them.

Other things like the biologist going up to the "alien cobra" like it was some sort of pet or the decision to open the bay door to let the missing geologist in without any precautions especially after already finding the biologist's body and seeing what happened to Charlie, sorry both of these incidents just made me think these are some of the dumbest people on the planet.

So I guess my verdict is that there is a good movie here but it's very flawed in my mind in certain aspects that detract enough for me to make it just an okay movie, i.e. I enjoyed it enough not to have regretted seeing it.

How's that for a somewhat lukewarm reaction. :D

Henrik Bennetter said...

I'm sorry to have to say this but I feel somehow cheated. I wasn't hoping or expecting this to explain how the Alien universe came to be but since it so closely tied in to it...what the hell!?
It feels like this movie tries to be so much more than it achieves. It aspires to be this mythical tale of good and evil and just falters. I ahve no idea who the engineers where/are or what they were trying to accomplish.
Also, being a "thriller" - I was not thrilled. Not once did I feel scared or even discomforted. This was bland and like I said very disappointing.
Having said that - Noomi and Michael where outstanding!
But the whole Peter Weyland thing - totally dropped. Actually felt like they dropped the ball on so many plot points. Shame.