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Prometheus

2012 film Directed by Ridley Scott.

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The Origins of Humankind....Evolution or Devolution?

  • Jun 9, 2012
Rating:
+4
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. Heck, even comic books, knock offs and spin offs (AVP series) were birthed because the movie franchise truly yielded one of the best (if not the best) movie monsters in a horror film.

I was really hesitant and admittedly a little turned off when I heard that they were making a prequel to the first “Alien” film by Ridley Scott. But hey, then I was excited to know that Scott is producing and directing this quasi-Alien film called “Prometheus”. Scott had created some of the best movies I have seen, and with such a resume, my expectations became a little elevated. “Alien” did ask a lot of questions after all and there lies a lot of area to expand into. I mean who or what was the big dude sitting on a huge ship and how did the acid-bleeding monsters ever come to life? “Prometheus” answers all those questions efficiently and it also asks a lot more questions. Then again, life is filled with questions after all…

                               Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender in "Prometheus."

Please take note, that if you are expecting to see something that follows the tempo and the mood of the “Alien” franchise, you would be both right and wrong. The film begins when an archaeological find in 2089 had been unearthed by Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway. This find may hold the secrets to humanity’s beginnings and therefore it means to be investigated further. Fast forward some time in 2093 and then we find an artificial individual named “David” (Michael Fassbender) is tending to a huge spacecraft by himself. The spacecraft carries a team led by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Janek (Idris Elba), joined by archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). Once they reach their destination, the journey which took several years to undertake, the group opts to explore a huge alien spacecraft as they find both answers and even more questions as to what may be the beginnings of mankind and its the potential destruction.

                         Charlize Theron and Idris Elba in "Prometheus."

                         Michael Fassbender as David in "Prometheus."

There had been a lot of sci-fi films that depict the search for the ‘source’ or what we may call the meaning of creation. At first look, I was almost afraid that “Prometheus” was going to be similar to that “Star Trek” flick when the crew searched for God. Should’ve known better to think that. Ridley Scott and screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof knew what they were going for with their film. It stays true to established continuity in the alien franchise (enter Weyland Industries) and answers some questions. The film captures themes that bring Darwinian theories into its fold as well as asking several questions as to the origins of what we will get to know as “the Engineers”. I am not certain, I feel that this film may open a new opportunity for a new franchise; one that can go much deeper into the origins of the engineers and present several new twists into this horror-alien genre.

It is all about trying to find the beginnings of mankind after all. If we were created, then to what purpose? Who created our ‘engineers’ if such a thing is true? The direction by Scott keeps things tight and focused on the film’s intentions all the more developing its core premise. It does take a little while to pick up and it does a fair amount of foreshadowing in the first half. Ridley Scott has done something quite impressive with the manner that he paced, edited and executed the film, despite its limitations. The characters weren’t necessarily too unique, but I appreciated the way it hung around some hinted elements of spirituality about it. I do have to admit that the film did have some rough spots, I particularly wasn’t too keen on certain areas of the screenplay. I mean, it does have an amount of predictability around it, and some areas felt a little forced particularly on the part of a certain Mr. Weyland (Guy Pearce, Lockout). I felt that it didn’t quite ease its way into that part of the plot efficiently. I bought it, but it just didn’t run as smooth as I would’ve expected Scott to add in that detail. Minor complaints aside, the film is pretty solid in terms of direction and the story is developed pretty well.

                       A scene from "Prometheus."

                       Michael Fassbender as David in "Prometheus."

What really impressed me with this film is the way it displays its visual effects. The set designs and the environment certainly mimic the grand dark designs by Geiger. This time around, the CGI effects are much more cleaner, more solid and definitely could immerse the viewer into its fold. It captures the style in the first “Alien” movie, and yet it looked much more advanced in a different and yet, very similar way. This usually presents a common problem when one tackles a prequel (the prequel looks more advance than the original movie), but Scott was careful not to make things so different that the viewer would become detached from the original. The film certainly looked exceptional, the “Prometheus’” spacecraft designs were very convincing in mimicking and improving on the designs of the Nostromo. The engineers are huge, they stand around 8-10 feet tall and appeared quite intimidating. This was certainly an attempt to present a new stage in evolution.

There are some weird and odd creatures that looked very different and yet the same, as they capture some qualities of the ‘face-hugger’. The creatures have the same acid blood and yet for some reason, they yield a different result. There is something here that can be called in as in ‘evolution’, and it left some questions intentionally unresolved to allow the viewer to dig deeper into the many possibilities of what they have seen. The film had several intense sequences, and once it gets things going, Scott maneuvered the film into slowly going into a faster-paced tone that made for an exciting experience. Yes, there is some blood and grisly images. Some scenes stood out to give the viewer a visual image of dread and fear. This is a horror drama at its core, and so Scott served up restrained and yet gruesome imagery to keep his viewers at the edge of their seat.

                         A scene from "Prometheus.''

                        A scene from "Prometheus."

The performances were good, but not entirely exceptional. Michael Fassbender (who stunned me in “Shame”) quite nearly stole the show. His was the role of an artificial being, and yet, in some ways he aspires to be more human. Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is your ala-Ellen Ripley lead character and she delivers. Rapace appeared to be well adjusted to her role and she performs quite admirably. Theron did appear to be a little underused and the layers of her character weren’t fully fleshed out in the film. Other characters are what you can call “fodder” but even they had some relevance to the film’s script.

“Prometheus” may not be one of Ridley Scott’s best films, but thankfully his "only pretty good” ones are still a lot better than most films by other directors. Scott is still able to capture the fine essence of a horror drama and he is still at the top of his game. There is a certain method to which he executes this film, and I really liked what I saw despite the rough spots in its script; it is the kind of film that gives more to 'read into' than actually watch. If “Prometheus” inspires another spin off of the “Alien” franchise, let us hope that he is still around to follow through. It served to whet my appetite for more. Thank goodness they didn’t just make another “Alien” sequel and went for a totally different approach; one with its own identity that can certainly present a new franchise.

Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Prometheus: An IMAX 3D Experience." A scene from "Prometheus.''
 
 

 
The Origins of Humankind....Evolution or Devolution?

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June 22, 2012
Well done! A few thoughts...

I have but two points of dissent germane to your reviews. First among these is your charitable assertion that Alien Resurrection isn't awful. It is an abysmal picture afflicted with a wholly moronic script (sporting an abundance of Whedon's invariably fatuous dialogue), poorly-executed action sequences and bad performances from most of the principal cast (excluding Weaver and Flowers). Its excellent production design and handful of good ideas are hopelessly wasted. My second point of contention is that Fassbender did not nearly steal the show; in my opinion, he was fantastic, and far superior to his cast mates.

Though its preceding (and imperfect) continuity to Alien is prominent, I don't think of this as a prequel so much as an antecedent story of indirect relation. Had it ended on LV-427, I'd state otherwise! Note the prodigious height of the alien that ravaged the Nostromo's crew in relation to those smaller specimens infesting the sequel colony - clearly, the genetic influence of the Space Jockey Engineer imparted a discrete influence to its parasite, just as the canine of the third film did its smaller, quadrupedal offspring.

Finally, I admire this script's address of Darwinist theory, depicting varieties of accelerated macro-evolution with some invention...
June 23, 2012
Yes, I can see a lot of folks hating "Alien Resurrection" and it was indeed the worst of the franchise. I made that statement because as bad as it was, it wasn't among the worst movie I've ever seen--I thought 'terrible' can apply to movies such as the drecks which were "Batman and Robin" and "The Darkest Hour". Oh "Resurrection" was bad, but I can appreciate as you've said its production designs can be cool. As for Fassbender, I was just being polite to Rapace LOL!--I did hear that Fassbender and his character's subplot may take precedence in the coming DC cut.

Those are excellent observations and I agree! There is more to this movie that I hope that it will all come full circle. I wonder if that last scene was actually a 'queen'.

I liked that part of it myself. Thanks for the comments!
June 24, 2012
Batman and Robin is horrible, but not irredeemably so: Schumacher did apologize to fans incensed by his rancid effort, and the feature was further granted an excellent riffing by Rifftrax. You're not the first (and, I suspect, neither the last) to bemoan The Darkest Hour, which I'm actually eager to see; what I've read implies that it's Sci-fi Channel fare elevated to national distribution.

Alien Resurrection - not the embarrassing Star Wars special edition screenings - was the great pop cinema disappointment of my teenage years. It was the among the first motion pictures known to me ably promoted by a very good website updated daily with film stills, production details, interviews, etc. (Another site for Imamura's Unagi was also attractive and informative, but hardly so engaging.) You cannot imagine my chagrin upon seeing a handsome production of some sedulous quality, a rather good cast proven capable of much better performances and some good concepts wholly wasted on Whedon's high-school dialogue, predictable plotting, and preposterous scenarios...and Jeunet's incompatible stylism. A quite terrible project, that - for years, I've debated with others who might have executed it satisfactorily in capacities of screenwriter and director.
 
June 12, 2012
I will be going to see this with my Uncle this weekend, Excellent review WP.
June 17, 2012
Hope to hear what you thought of it.
 
June 12, 2012
I'm really interested in seeing this film. Too bad I already bought my stepdad a Starbucks gift card for Father's Day, otherwise I'd take him out to see this. Oh well, I'm sure I can get some of my pals to go see this one.
June 17, 2012
I would really curious what you would think of this one.
 
June 12, 2012
Nice! F wants to see this one...or Madagascar 3 LOL. I realized I hadn't been on here in a while or read any of your reviews and here ya are- awesome as always with some insight on a movie we wanna see.
June 17, 2012
thanks! a couple I know didn't like the movie (they are also so into each other so I dunno LOL)--so it kinda proves what I thought at first. If one is expecting a horror movie like "Alien" and if they may not like the different tempo and story, you will hate this one. It is very different. I guess I should see "Madagascar 3" one day. Thanks for stopping by, Sam! you are awesome.
June 28, 2012
We actually both loved it. A co-worker of mine said we HAD to see it in IMAX 3D and usually I don't fall for that stuff but, I decided to take her word. We weren't sorry at all! And Woo, it is you who is awesome :)
 
June 11, 2012
Thanks for the thoughtful review. The question banging about in my head is ... What's going on with the script? What's happened to all the good scriptwriters? Are they in hiding, or aren't they being allowed to stretch their wings? A Director's Cut sounds promising.
June 11, 2012
Thanks for the read. That is one question that also bothers me. Well, the script here was written by Lindelof who also co-wrote the TV series "Lost" while Spaihts was responsible for that bad horror sci-fi flick "The Darkest Hour". The screenplay had some rough spots and I do believe that it may be because the movie had to be edited to 2+ hours. Oh, thanks for the follow! following you back! welcome to the site!
 
June 10, 2012
Nice review, William. Looks like we're pretty much on the same page on this one. I really wish the script had been stronger. It would've elevated the movie from being just very good to being truly great. Oh well, let's see what happens with the sequel. Scott had better get a move on with that - he's not getting any younger!
June 10, 2012
Yeah, pretty much we had very similar things to say about it. The flawed script kept it from becoming truly awesome, but as a cautionary tale for man and their scientific discoveries, it was effective enough because of the way the direction structured it. Did you hear that there is a director's cut that is 30 minutes longer? I hope it will do to this movie what Kingdom of Heaven Director's cut had done to its theatrical release.

Scott is indeed showing his age somewhat. How come the great directors all appear to be retiring at the same time?
June 10, 2012
Yeah, I saw an interview with Scott last week where he said there's a possibility of a Director's Cut of Prometheus at some point. That was surprising as he'd previously been saying that the cut that would be released in theaters would be the final cut. Maybe there was some last minute editing (I did wonder what happened to the "Prometheus has landed" line, as heard in the trailers). Still, I'd be really interested to see an extended cut. As you say, if it's makes as much difference as it did to Kingdom of Heaven, then it could turn the movie into something very special indeed. :)
 
June 10, 2012
excellent review. You are a kick ass writer. Very glad you didn't have John's experience. And it is all about experience. So subjectively...a person's cinematic experience.
June 10, 2012
Thanks, Joan! The script certainly had its weaknesses, but as a whole it was a fun experience. I imagine that this would've been awesome in 3D. Did you two see it with that added flair?
June 10, 2012
yep. The 3D was excellent. I'm surprised they're showing it in theatres without it.
June 11, 2012
I chose to see it without the 3D enhancement. Usually I get really distracted with those glasses unless I am watching a 3D animated movie. What movie are you two going to see this coming week?
 
June 10, 2012
This one is a little "iffy" for me; I liked the original Alien but didn't like the sequels, and I don't get excited with movies that are to be so far into the future; I'm really picky with Sci-Fi stuff for some reason. This would be a good rental for me though, so I'll catch it then. Great review as always Will--you're so good!!!!!
June 10, 2012
This is more horror drama than actually being the scary experience the original was. Scott is not going to use the same trick twice. You did not like Cameron's "Aliens"? Thanks for the read.
June 11, 2012
Yes I liked Aliens; I'm not much into SciFi stuff anymore as I used to be, but this one I would like to see this as a rental.
 
June 09, 2012
Nice review. I think this is one of Ridley's best since Gladiator. This and Kingdom of Heaven DC. I'm really curious about the Prometheus DC. I heard it's 30 minutes longer so... can't wait.
June 10, 2012
The tempo of this film is similar and yet different to "Alien". It caught me by surprise and yet I found a certain freshness to it all. I love Kingdom of Heaven DC and Black Hawk Down, they are two of my faves from him.. I was a tad disappointed with Robin Hood. 30 minutes longer? whoa. I am interested. I bet it may be a different movie. I do have to see this again, since the people sitting next to us kept getting up.
 
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More Prometheus reviews
review by . June 09, 2012
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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 …
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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 …
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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 …
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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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