Prometheus

Right from the beginning when we’re introduced to a muscular humanoid creature, the poetic mood of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus seems to openly recall 2001: A Space Odyssey. His own Alien is clearly a reference point as well. Regardless of assertions to the contrary, this is clearly a prequel to that 1979 classic. But while he may reference other works, Prometheus is a wholly intoxicating hybrid all its own. The events fully take advantage of the fear of the unknown coupled with the joy of discovery. It brilliantly exploits the dizzy excitement of what it would be like to explore a foreign planet. Many stories have mined this territory, but few are able to do it with such a grandeur. There is a tremendous imagination at work here. The world that Scott has created is something both ethereal, but still rooted in credible fact. Prometheus is the work of a master. While his contemporaries are often corrupted by an overreliance on special effects, Director Ridley Scott isn’t seduced by such blatant displays. Sometimes there’s a majesty in what we don’t understand over a physical manifestation of CGI. That’s not to say he doesn’t have an eye toward the visual. Some of his pictures are the most stunning ever photographed. But Scott knows there’s beauty in the quieter moments that question the deeper profundities of life. Sometimes within silence therein lies a mystery.

Prometheus is home to a crackerjack cast that flawlessly breathes soul into the dialogue. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) represents the believer, in faith in a higher power, She’s recalls the tenacity of Sigourney Weaver in the original. Her husband, Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is impressed by more scientific explanations. Together they’re scientists as part of the crew of the Prometheus ship. Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is the cold pragmatic who monitors the expedition. She’s sent as an employee of the Weyland Corporation who is funding the trip. Also on board is Michael Fassbender as the android David. We are made aware of this immediately so it’s not the revelation that it was in the previous incarnation. He’s utterly fascinating, a scholarly genius who is an expert with languages that happens to idolize Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. His apparently latent ego is a deliciously frightening development.

I was absolutely riveted to the screen every second throughout the entire film. There’s one particularly gut wrenching scene involving a pregnancy that might possibly be a new high point for tension. It’s a cover your eyes moment that compares favorably with that scene in Alien. You know the one I’m talking about. As the narrative unfolds there are cerebral questions raised. If the final act doesn’t quite answer all ideas proposed before it, that’s more of a tribute to the script’s judicious lack of spelling everything out. Did you really expect to have the eternal debate of Creationism vs. Darwinism answered? The cast is equally adept in engaging our emotions. They strike the perfect balance of Hollywood charisma, but still acceptable as the academics they would have to be to qualify for a mission like this. The visual splendor that follows from all this is an engaging combination of the intellectual sci-fi of the past with the modern technological advances of today. It’s a heady mix.

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42 Responses to “Prometheus”

  1. Splendid review. I’m so excited to see this tomorrow.

  2. The one piece of dialogue that rubbed me wrong was when he used the word “Darwinism.” Only creationists use that term. Well, mostly creationists.

    I loved the movie, and I’m probably going to see it again before it’s out of theaters.

    • I had heard mixed reviews and after disappointments like Snow White and the Huntsman and Dark Shadows I was expecting the worst. It was so nice to see that it was actually, you know, good!

  3. Wow Mark – it seems this has become our new “Artist”!! First things first – a very well written piece as always. While we agree that it was a visual masterpiece – I simply can not see how you felt the performances (apart from Fassbender) were anything to write home about, and not see how horrible the script was!

    We went through this on the podcast so no need to repeat it here – but for lighter reading – one of my friends (Richard) who has occasionally jumped on the podcasts makes some good points on our Facebook page:

    Look forward to some debate on BANG!!

    • Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t reach the same artistic heights that The Artists did for me, but I did enjoy it….a lot. Movies can be a very a visceral experience. Sometimes the emotions are captured in a way that the mind is not. Prometheus was this type of film. Avatar, which I liked a little less than Prometheus, is also that kind of film.

      There’s no point in justifying the performance because you either like them or you don’t. I loved the characters. Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green were characters the audience could take sides with, Charlize Theron was the human villain. They served an important purpose. Nobody gave an Academy Awards type performance but for a popcorn film like this, they did their job well.

      We’ll have much to discuss in the BANG show 😉

  4. i havn’t seen this but an excellent review mark. i liked these lines:
    “Sometimes there’s a majesty in what we don’t understand over a physical manifestation of CGI”

    “Did you really expect to have the eternal debate of Creationism vs. Darwinism answered?”

  5. I am so glad some one liking this movie. This and Moonrise Kingdom are my most anticipated movies of the year. Seeing them next week. Just got through writing and reviewing Trust. Excellent review as always Mark.

  6. Fantastic review. Yours is actually the first one I read that doesn’t say it was a disappointment. Hope I like it too. It opens here next week!

  7. Very much agree with your review here. Glad to see someone else out there enjoying it as much as I did.

  8. I feel like I’m in the minority of people that quite enjoyed the film despite some of the flaws. Great review, Mark!

    • It’s gotten pretty good reviews. I have heard a lot of disappointments though. It’s not perfect but I was more than entertained.

      • I’ve been holding off on reading any reviews until I had seen it, so most of the reviews I was reading were from midnight release attendees that seem to have let hype get the better of them. Now that I’m delving into reviews of a more level-headed nature they are more favorable.
        I was certainly entertained all the way through the film. Obviously it raises a lot of new questions, so hopefully there will be more to the tale.

    • It totally sets itself up for a sequel. I’ll be watching if they do. Ha ha.

  9. What a great sci-fi movie. I thought is was beautifully shot and very eerie. Special effects were awesome. I was on the edge of my seat, a lot. Didn’t care that it was a prequel. Stood well on its own.

  10. sanclementejedi Says:

    Mark, while I agree with the majority of the points you made in your review and urge everyone to see this film at the theater, hopefully in 3D IMAX.

    I thought the some of the plot holes and ludicrious decisions by the crew of the Prometheus were a bit hard to swallow. When you consider the high brow questions this film was bringing up, the utilization of crew stupidity as a plot device really turned me off. My local farmers market has tighter quality control, than this crew of professionals and scientists aboard the Prometheus.

    • Perhaps you’re talking about David’s ability to bring aboard one of those large black vases without anyone noticing? That was a bit hard to comprehend. There was the confusion caused by the storm, but still…

      • sanclementejedi Says:

        Yeah, but in addition to that how about the conclusion, where the two female leads run in straight line, whereas if they ran sidewise they would be safe? Or the idea that any of the crew would think it’s a good idea to bring an infected person on board. Or say no one saying anything about Rapace’s emergency C-section or her ability to jump around after severing her stomach muscles? Or the idea that we should open up the hatch when some weird zombie guy is outside, or getting lost in the pyramid when you have gps device on your arm and you are the one that just mapped the structure, or treating a cobra like alien as if its a kitten?

    • Maybe I’ve just encountered the wrong types of people, but I’ve seen real people (policemen, doctors, pilots, etc.) act in ways that made these people seem smart. As far issues that required a suspension of disbelief: as long as I was willing to accept the ludicrous idea that they could fall asleep and re-awaken on a far away planet, everything else seemed acceptable within that world.

      • sanclementejedi Says:

        thats another thing where are the giant beards? Charlton Heston would not approve 🙂

  11. Great review, I definitely think Fassbender made the movie for me. I think part of my issue is that my expectations were raised a bit too high for my own good, but that’s what makes hype a double edged sword I guess.

    Also I’m curious to see if Ridley Scott signs on for the sequel. After all he didn’t sign on for Aliens after he directed Alien, but i suppose those two were separated by a longer amount of time. Lol, maybe James Cameron will take the reins again

  12. atothewr Says:

    I finally got around to seeing it and I will write a review today for it. Tough one to write because I’m not really sure where I stand.

    Great review as always, but I am not getting the love and praise for this movie.

    Maybe it was like you said in the comments somewhere on here that it was a different kind of film than what people were expecting. I think that is what sunk it for me. With the trailers and the way it was set up I really thought this was going to have more Alien related stuff in it. If you sell it like the original then you better deliver like it as well. Maybe the extended cut (which is coming out) will grab me more.

    • The more I reflect on this film, the more I like it, but it’s definitely getting a mixed reaction. One thing’s for sure. People have been endlessly discussing it since it came out. That counts for something I guess.

  13. Brent F. Says:

    Did you see it in 3D? It was one of the best uses of it. He added depth in a wonderful way it wasn’t all about in your face aliens. I was horribly disappointed with the writing and editing. Very disjointed and the characters were so inane. The only character I really enjoyed wa David thy should have made him the lead not the scientific duo. The odd thing is my Alien fanatism is going to make me watch it again. I want to love it so badly lol

    • I think 3D exists so Hollywood can charge more money for the identical film. It’s a cash grab. I loathe the format.

      For me Prometheus was an emotional response. I just got caught up in the wonder of it all. It captured the excitement of what it would be like to explore an alien planet and on that level it was fascinating – very easy for me to enjoy. I do believe a lot of things are answered if you watch the film closely. For example, why David does what he does, makes perfect sense to me. Does it answer all the questions it sets up? No, but that promotes a lot of interesting discussion.

      • Brent F Says:

        Emotional response is a def yes for me. That and David are the only reasons that make me want to come back. The emotional response is mostly due to the cinematography and visual feel. I don’t mind having questions at the end as The Sound of My Voice evidenced. Most of the plot questions were actually answered for me. My main issues were his lack of logical development of characters. It was like everyone was schizophrenic. I can’t believe how mad I was at the male archaeologist after he had a pity party when the aliens were dead. Dude you have all this amazing tech and remains to analyze. I was so happy when David innoculated him. I just hope the bluray will hav a directors cut that will bring a bit of redemption to Scott.

    • I didn’t feel Charlie’s disappointment at the dead aliens equaled a pity party. He was temporarily discouraged which makes sense. He stopped looking for the moment because that storm came. After it had passed he was going to go back out and continue to study what was there.

  14. (Spoilers)
    I finally saw Prometheus this weekend and I have mixed feelings about it. I was entertained throughout, but at the same time I felt the characters were so awfully cliched that you could have swapped them all out for high school character tropes and you would have just had another Scream. (that breakfast scene where the scientist introduces himself to the rebellious mercenary character was just awful- really, who let this guy on board?).

    It’s a one trillion dollar expedition but upon awaking the characters don’t seem to know each other? That’s like Neil Armstrong sitting on the launch pad next to Buzz Aldrin and saying “Hi, what’s your name?” Then when they arrived they didn’t seem to have any coherent plan. Didn’t anyone plan this trip? The logic behind this expedition baffled me.

    Then there were all the countless times the characters did something stupid, like take their helmets off, “let’s go touch the weird alien slug”, and the scientist and rebellious mercenary saying “oh we’re going to walk back to the ship alone” part. They all deserved to die through absolute stupidity. Each death was just so obviously telegraphed to the point where there was zero tension. I found David the android to be the only really interesting character, though I did like the late addition/reveal of a new crew member on board.

    I think I’m at odds with you on this one Mark. At first I walked away having enjoyed the film, but the more I think about the more I like it less. It had some good ideas, and I think it did manage to capture that feeling of mystery and exploration well, but the characters and/or script were just not written well.

    • “At first I walked away having enjoyed the film, but the more I think about the more I like it less.”

      Then don’t over analyze it, my friend, and just enjoy it. I don’t know why so many people are upset that they don’t like this film. People flock to the Transformers films (which are execrable by the way) and then have a problem with a science fiction film that explores intellectual ideas like where we came from.

      The whole idea of traveling to a foreign planet after sleeping for two years is already ridiculous. THAT makes no sense. Why accept that idea but not the idea that a human being might behave in an irrational manner? Science fiction and Ridley Scott are like peanut butter and jelly to me. They go together perfectly.

      • I suppose I’m disappointed in the characters themselves. There were a lot of “no, don’t go in there!” kind of horror movie moments and I just wanted the characters to act smarter. The only person who wasn’t stupid was Stringer Bell from the Wire.

        Your point about the cryogenic chambers/sleeping for two years fuels my point further though: if they really signed up for the crazy expedition, requiring them to be away from friends and family for such an exceptionally long time, you’d think they would have planned this whole mission out a bit more! Why would they have the orientation film (with the holographic Weylund) AFTER they arrived? Ok, you’re right- I need to stop overanalyzing it all!

  15. So glad everyone finally realizes we aliens created humans! Hope humans can finally like us!

  16. Intoxicating, yes!
    One of the most thoroughly enjoyable SF movies seen in recent yrs.
    Didn’t get into th characters – knew perfectly well that they’d be killed off!
    Gut-wrenching scene? Found it to be my only major gripe of the movie – honestly, a big complicated machine & she knows exactly how to operate it? Come on!
    If it was me, I’d b creasing & cursing th Instructions for over an hour…. before realising they were all in Japanese
    Cheers!

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