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Prometheus

2012 film Directed by Ridley Scott.

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Scott approaches greatness again, yet...

  • Jun 21, 2012
Rating:
+3
Exiting a screening of Ridley Scott's ludicrous, inexplicably acclaimed sword-and-sandal epic twelve years ago, I vowed never again to pay for the trial of enduring one of his movies. Both then and now, most entries of Scott's filmography following his first three miraculous features are at best underwhelming. Though he's never demeaned himself by defecating Baysian action tripe as his sibling Tony does so often, Scott has turned out an appalling abundance of fatuous genre pictures: derivative, bloodless crime dramas (Someone to Watch Over Me, Black Rain, American Gangster, Body of Lies); obnoxious, misguided feminist concessions (Thelma & Louise, G.I. Jane); visually sumptuous yet dramatically empty and woefully inaccurate period adventures (1492: Conquest of Paradise, the aforementioned Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood); worse of all, a pair of clumsy, painfully unfunny comedies (Matchstick Men, the abominable A Good Year). However, Scott's two early works of science fiction cinema are not merely among the finest of that genre and deserving of their tremendous popularity, but also admirable assays of filmic horror and crime. What's more, the veteran director's recension of these classics is quite the opposite of George Lucas' bungled Star Wars revisions: his director's cuts of Alien and Blade Runner are exemplary, absterged of objectionable elements and seamlessly subsuming previously cut footage that augmented both films' subtexts and impact. Better still, neither were intended as replacements for their theatrical antecedents.

Scott's shrinking yet devoted fanbase has defended the aging filmmaker for decades; when engaging one of his fans in argument, one can always concede that an oeuvre of three great works and at least fifteen resounding artistic failures yields not so bad a ratio by current standards. Considering this substandard output in addition to to two abysmal latter Alien sequels (Joss Whedon being at least so responsible as Jean-Pierre Jeunet for the abject idiocy of the last, despite his inarticulate falsehoods otherwise), can a divergent precursor of the venerated first picture generate sufficient interest among its enthusiasts? On the strengths of the Alien director's cut and promise of some notable assembled talent, this reviewer revoked an oath of a decade and two years prior, and justifiably so. By its faults, Prometheus is denied indisputable grandeur, yet its colossal proportions, magnificent conceptual scope and assiduous realization may well instill some awe in even the most jaded cineast.

In rural Scotland of 2089, a pair of archaeologists (Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green) discover a peculiar cave drawing depicting a star map identical to others unearthed at numerous locales across the planet. Having identified a location specified in these ancient illustrations, they embark on a journey of two years to a small, distant moon courtesy of the superannuated CEO (Guy Pierce, nigh-unrecognizable beneath elaborate makeup) of a massive corporation (Weyland, precedent of notorious, interstellar, terraforming conglomerate Weyland-Yutani). Under the inflexible authority of a frigid mission director (Charlize Theron), the crew of spacecraft Prometheus (so christened to reflect its mission's exploratory ambitions) is comprised of its captain (Idris Elba), two pilots (Emun Elliott and Benedict Wong), a medical officer (Kate Dickey), a biologist (Rafe Spall) and geologist (Sean Harris), and the aforementioned archaeological pioneers. Secrets extracted upon and within the planetoid provide unimpeachable evidence of mankind's origins, exceeding expectations and dashing hopes of benevolent higher intelligence elsewhere in the galaxy.

None of Prometheus' philosophical themes or physiological implications are reconciled or addressed satisfactorily - a limitation that both compliments and impairs its audacious narrative. Those seeking an exposition concerning the species of Alien's space jockey will undoubtedly be wholly satisfied. Perhaps the movie's best aspect is a retention of mystery: to provoke its viewers' imaginations, it presents at least so many questions as answers. Readers of Lovecraft will hardly find its otherworldly enigmas and adventuresome dread especially novel; At the Mountains of Madness and Dune are perhaps its most cognate literary equivalents and influences, from which screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof owe a heavy debt to Lovecraft and Herbert for their historied fantasies of alien ecology, biology, technology and culture traced from inception to apex to ruination.

If Scott has demonstrated any expertise, it is indisputably that of a filmmaker whose fabricated worlds are conferred the most exquisite detail and immersing quality. A skilled illustrator, he draws nearly all of his own storyboards and has interacted successfully with no small number of design and effects luminaries. Here, the photography of Dariusz Wolski (likely the most unremarkable competent DP of his field) is typically faultless and drab, but he was wisely chosen - his invariably muted hues complement this story's foreboding ambiance and environments. However, Arthur Max's production design and the efforts of the extensive art and effects departments bore terrific fruit. Prometheus boasts enormous, spectacular sets, most of which are visually astonishing and entirely credible. Although the titular vessel features many design elements first seen in its utilitarian successor Nostromo as designed by Jean Giraud, Chris Foss, and Ron Cobb, its more advanced navigational interfaces and investigative apparatuses may be attributed to its specialized purpose - one hardly considered by the crew of a cargo tug! The extraterrestrial interiors are gargantuan, redolent of millennial inertia, supreme advancement and unimaginable peril. Most wondrous of the many discoveries therein is the activation of an elaborate, projected galactic orrery of three dimensions, as beautiful as suggestive of boundless purpose. Original creatures designed by Conor O'Sullivan, Carlos Huante and Neal Scanlan under Max's supervision are hardly so innovative as those of H.R. Giger (which are featured throughout), but nonetheless intelligently conceived and appropriately gruesome. Janty Yates' attractive, lithe spacesuits grant the cast comfortable mobility, but introduce at least one question of continuity: why were those of the Nostromo's crew so cumbersome?
Should this production be faulted, blame must be assigned to its aural elements. Marc Streitenfeld's score is lush, lovely and not at all intrinsically obtrusive, cleverly quoting Jerry Goldsmith's classic Alien score at least once...but it's overused in almost every scene by Scott, who's apparently forgotten the provocative effect of silence so efficaciously exploited in his great first few flicks. Worse, the sound design is evocative but too prominent - chewing, vomiting, squirming, slithering, pounding noises are both too loud and prevalent, and silly besides.

While I can readily accept Ridley Scott as a movie maker who routinely cultivates visual splendor, I cannot assent to the absurd notion that he is or has ever been an actor's director. Few directors of any credibility have coaxed so many awful performances from so many actors, many of whom were otherwise reputable. At the early peak of his powers, Scott wisely afforded the best performers available to him (Keitel, Weaver, Hurt, Hauer, et al.) carte blanche with fantastic results. Were he still so inclined, and more great Anglophone actors available to him, Prometheus wouldn't be burdened by so much overacting. If Rapace imparts no great depth to her role, her histrionics in two scenes of harrowing suspense do distinguish an otherwise unexceptional adequacy. Unfortunately, her partner in excavation and romance as portrayed by Marshall-Green is too vulgar to receive seriously, which leads one to ask why he and his interdisciplinary male colleagues comport themselves like frat boys rather than scientists. Worst of this lot is hammy Sean Harris, as angst-ridden as a teen following the confiscation of his iPod and bedecked with red mohawk and facial tattoos. No geologist known to me appears or postures so, and if Scott, Spaihts and Lindelof deem this a legitimate means to bestow personality to their cast, they've descended to Roland Emmerich's low standards. Despite some rather stupid dialogue assigned her that she delivers well, Theron is convincingly malefic as the mission's authoritarian ice queen, and certainly more memorable than the remainder of the ship's crew. I'm not yet entirely convinced that Michael Fassbender is the savior of the western world in light of its contemporary dearth of great screen thespians, only because my exposure to his potent talent is limited to two very fine Steve McQueen offerings. In this franchise, his performance is second only to that of Ian Holm's as requisite android of the mission, and every bit so nuanced. Fassbender's cunning, unfailingly polite robot is cool (never stiff) in imitation of human behavior (especially Peter O'Toole's Lawrence), and subtly expressive of amusement, offense borne and an understated hint of contempt. Perhaps the script's greatest profundity can be evinced in the contrast of Fassbender's relationship with his creators to they with theirs.

Despite its flaws, Prometheus provides its viewers a fine, richly mounted cinematic undertaking commendable for its prodigious sights, stimulating exploration of eternal themes and at least a couple of very good performances. It is unnervingly suspenseful, if very seldom frightening. Possibly its very worst failure is a shift from morbid fascination to contrived heroics during its final twenty minutes, in which plot holes abound. In lieu of an ominous, ambiguous denouement, Scott cheaply spoon-feeds his audience selfless victory by explosion and closure suggesting the possibility of a sequel.

Lovecraft's intrepid characters guided his readers to worlds both known and enigmatic, witness to outlandish auspice and atrocity. Those most fortunate among them were left traumatized, while his hapless were devoured by either what they sought or far worse beyond. By confronting the cosmic unknown of a titanic scale, Scott aspired to create a legend; in suggesting that humanity may intervene meaningfully in its affairs, he fell far short.

Perhaps it ought have been titled Icarus.

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September 10, 2012
That's a lot of reading to try to figure out what you liked/disliked about one particular movie (I think it would have been more appropriately split into a review of the director, about whom you have much to say, and a review of the movie itself)! Nonetheless, I think I got what I came for. Thanks.
 
June 28, 2012
What a detailed review, it sure shows a lot of thought and work.
 
June 22, 2012
Outstanding! :D Fantastic! :D Yaysies! :D

Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! ^-^

♥ Annusya ♥
June 22, 2012
BAAAAWS
BAAAAAWS

You are a baby goat!

BAAAAWS

*smooches*
*snuggles*
*spins*
June 22, 2012
MUUUUU! :D *paws paws pawwwwsies*

YOU are a baby goat *alsosies*! ^-^

Baaaaaaaaawwwsies

*smuuuchies*
*snugglesies*
*weeeeeeeeeeee!* ^-^

♥ Annusya ♥
 
June 21, 2012
Great observations and I liked your mention of Lovecraft. Your opening paragraph cracked me up--"Baysian action...." LOL! Have you seen the director's cut of "Kingdom of Heaven"? Totally different movie from the theatrical release? I was about to feature one of your recent reviews tomorrow, but this review would be much cooler then :)
June 22, 2012
Well, thank you very much! I've not seen the Kingdom of Heaven director's cut, but I know of it...if you recommend it, I'm willing to give it a spin, as I know how disappointed Scott was with the theatrical cut. Anyhow, you've my gratitude for both further exposure and some delay theretofore...my first draft posted here was by no means up to par!
 
1
More Prometheus reviews
review by . June 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Origins of Humankind....Evolution or Devolution?
1979’s horror-sci-fi hit “Alien” made such an impact and up to this day, the film stands as one of the best horror movies ever made. Its sequel “Aliens” made its focus more on the action and suspense that stemmed from being overrun by the murderous creatures. The second and third sequels while not terrible movies, failed in expanding on the “Alien” mythos and there were times that I thought they were only made to capitalize on the franchise’s popularity. …
review by . June 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
So many have wondered this question and Ridley Scott has decided to try and take the characters in his latest movie on that quest to find where we come from and for good measure brings along his old friend the Alien for good measure.      Scott was the director of the original 1977 Alien film and few films are as awesome looking or as intense as that one.  While other directors took over for other films with different levels of success (or more accurately a sliding scale …
review by . June 11, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Its a good movie, but I expected more.
      Like a lot of things, I heard about Prometheus in passing. Back in April I was talking to a friend about movies we wanted to see this year.  I said the usual, The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers. He said that he wanted to see Prometheus. Not knowing what that was he showed me a trailer. As soon as I saw that curvy Alien ship in the previews, I was HYPED!!!!       In 2089 Drs Charlie Galloway and Elizabeth Shaw have …
review by . June 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
In the run up to its release, there has been much speculation about the exact connections between Prometheus and the Alien movies. The genesis of the project was in 2002, with Alien (1979) director Ridley Scott and Aliens (1986) director James Cameron both involved in the development of what was intended to be a fifth installment of the Alien franchise for 20th Century Fox, but after Cameron bowed out due to studio disagreements and commitments to Avatar, the project stalled. Fox revived the project …
review by . June 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Prometheus' 'Two Jews On Film' Are On 2 Different Planets When It Comes To The Prequel To 'Alien'
By Joan Alperin Schwartz      What if you had the chance to meet the people who created you...And by you...I mean the human race. Could you resist such an opportunity?      Two brilliant scientists, the intense, religious Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the very unspiritual Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) certainly can't.      Not after they discover a series of cave paintings, that turn out to be a star map, left by several ancient …
review by . June 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
True to form, Prometheus overreaches
PROMETHEUS Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof Directed by Ridley Scott Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron   David: Sometimes to create, one must first destroy.   The ship which Ridley Scott’s latest foray into outer space is named for, PROMETHEUS, is itself named after a Greek god. In case you’re unfamiliar, this particular God is not only credited with the creation of man, from clay no less, but also with providing mankind with fire …
review by . June 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Fundamentally, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is about the search for truth and meaning. Under the guise of a 3D science fiction thriller, it begs most of humanity’s most basic spiritual and/or philosophical questions. Why are we here? Were we created, and if so, by who or what? Is there a purpose to our very being? The film does not presume to answer all of the above, although it does leave us with the strong possibility that such truths …
review by . June 08, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
   "The Forethinker"      "The Forethinker" says that if you'll visit this film waiting for Ripley to come out with a flamethrower then your whole experience will get flamed. Prometheus is that one of a kind journey people will love to hate because it won't resemble their Alien fantasies. This wasn't supposed to be Alien in the first place so expecting an acid shell shrouding this godlike body will give you as many rewards as a nutshell …
review by . June 08, 2012
         It is tough to tell what, if anything anyone has heard about Prometheus going into it.  The biggest talking point of the movie though is that Prometheus is a prequel to Alien.  But I suggest you get that idea out from your head.  Any fan of the original will remember how beautiful and spine chilling that movie was.  Alien deserves to go down as one of the best science fiction movies of all time. …
Quick Tip by . June 09, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Space mission to a far off planet in search of the history of mankind's development is met with malevolence. RIdley Scott's long awaited prequel to Alien is chock full of the kind of impressive visuals he is known for. Those expecting a shock out like the original Alien will be left cold, even colder for those wanting an adrenaline blast that was Aliens but for the rest it's an adventure in more ways then one.
About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan ()
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi
Release Date: June 8, 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 124 minutes
Studio: Scott Free, Brandywine Productions, Dune Entertainment
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