Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review of 'Prometheus'

I just saw Prometheus, on opening night, and I want to get my thoughts on proverbial paper while it's still fresh. Right off the bat, I need to get one thing cleared up: to hell with what the creative team says, this IS an Alien prequel... though in the sense that Knights of the Old Republic is a prequel to Star Wars; rather than directly linking to the events of the original film, it sets in motion some of the events that will lead into it.

Set eighty years from now, the Weyland Company has decided to fund an expedition into the far reaches of space, led by Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Based on hieroglyphs from all over Earth, they've deduced that extra-terrestrials visited humans, in the earliest days of our civilization, and have been contracted the starship "Prometheus", to test that theory.

Along for the ride, are the prototype android David (Michael Fassbender) and Company executive Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), who are very skeptical of the whole enterprise, to put it mildly. The only reason why The Company has even invested the fortune needed for this mission, is because CEO Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) wants to meet his maker, in the final stages of his long life.

However, what the team finds, are that The Alien Engineers -- the Space Jockeys of the original film -- were far from the benevolent terraformers that they had hoped they were. Through various disturbing events, The Engineers' more elaborate creations attack and kill several crew members... and the sole survivor sets his sights straight on Earth.

To give the movie a lot of credit, the mystery is built of very well. While it becomes apparent fast, that The Engineers aren't exactly friendly, the movie takes its time to illustrate the specifics of this diabolical plan. And to be honest, if you thought the original aliens were horrifying, they may have some real rivals with the creatures shown in this prequel -- no joke, my friends and I gained about a week's worth of nightmare fuel, from this thing.

Ridley Scott has always been a director that's been great at finding upstanding actors and letting them do their best, and this film is no exception. All of the parts are wonderfully played, even if Fassbender and Pearce come a bit close to cartoonish super-villainy at times. Noomi Rapace came into the public eye as the ballbusting Lisabeth Salander, in the original Millenium Trilogy, and here she has more than shown herself to be a worthy successor to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

However, the main fault with Prometheus is a rather large one: it's one of those movies that asks a lot more questions than it answers (especially since the particulars of the Engineers' plan, are more than a little confusing). I don't doubt that Ridley Scott would claim that this was intentional, partly because of the promise of one or two sequels to come, but I still have problems with that because the general rule with what is basically the first movie in a new series, is that you have to make it solid enough to stand on its own. Considering that there's no guarantee that the planned trilogy will even remotely come to pass, you can see the problem: the creators may be setting up things that will never be paid off. And even if they do, there's no guarantee that it will be to the satisfaction of the fans (especially after all of the hype surrounding just this one).

According to myth, Prometheus is a god-like figure, who gave humans technology and allowed them to become the advanced race they became... but with all of the unanswered -- perhaps unanswerable -- conundrums brought up by the filmmakers, perhaps Pandora's Box will turn out to be a more appropriate title.

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