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Friday at the Movies: Prometheus Review

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So technically this has nothing to do with video games, and in the past I tried to avoid off topic articles, but then I realized I own and maintain this site and can therefore do whatever I want.  As a result, here’s a movie review!

Not another prequel.  That’s all I could think when I first heard of Prometheus, which started life as a prequel to the movie/series Alien.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Alien and the series that followed, but prequels always exploit countless plot holes, look so much better than the originals that supposedly happened after said prequel, and origin stories such as this are doomed to disappoint.  Fortunately, this isn’t as much a prequel as it is a separate story that crosses paths with the Alien series and holds its own when considered a standalone film.  I need to be very clear when I say this because it seems few who went to the movie this weekend seem to understand it: this is not intended to be a prequel to Alien nor is it part of the Alien series despite having many obvious connections.  In fact, this was a great sci-fi romp that is recommended for most film fans other than those seeking an Alien film.

On the surface the plot entails a pair of scientists who think they have discovered the organic creators of human life, including what planet they can be found.  With the help of a rich company’s sponsorship, then embark on a mission to discover these beings.  What they discover is far more than they bargained for and for some reason no one imagined the dangers that obviously await our travelers. I can appreciate the simple but far from unique setup for a movie of this type, but it’s not really a thriller as much as it is a social commentary on the responsibility of creation.  In short, it’s more Blade Runner than Alien.

As the plot progresses we are faced with a slew of questions and unexplained events that – sorry to say – don’t necessarily get answered.  Those that prefer complete thoughts will undoubtedly be frustrated with this type of storytelling and I can personally say its somewhat irresponsible of the writers to present information that is either hidden for a potential sequel or merely arbitrary.  On the other hand this is nothing new for Ridley Scott or the films he creates, so in a way we should have seen it coming.  Unlike Scott’s other films, however, the movie suffers little pacing issues and maintains progressive actions during its surprising more than two hour length – normally Scott fills us with suspense or exposition for more than an hour only to give us an intense close.  Also the film ends with what almost appears to be an incomplete thought, like someone beginning a sentence only to get side tracked and complete a different story.  This accounts for the obvious Alien connection that held responsibility for the genesis of this project and further proves that the lines between the concepts were not clearly drawn.  I felt the connections to that series were unnecessary and held Prometheus back from realizing its true theme – although I must admit that if everyone from critics to crew had been mums on the Alien connection it would have been an interesting discovery when first watching the film.

Don’t let these hang-ups hold you back too much, though, because Prometheus is solid sci-fi storytelling at its roots and the plot holds deeper concepts and meanings.  A fine example deals with the juxtaposition of an android David (Michael Fasbender) getting treated horribly by its creators who are seeking their own creators in search of some sort of validation.  No such treatment should be expected based on the example we see, but humans nonetheless feel that they matter because of some odd sense of self worth.  Concepts such as these are why I love seeing films by Ridley Scott – and yes, I’m aware he doesn’t write many of his films, but the projects are still hand selected, I assure you.  Additionally the art direction holds surprising variety for a planet that is basically a shell of a world and the cinematography is perfect for capturing exactly what we need with the action sequences.  Fassbender and Theron tend to steal the show from the other players as leads, which I assumed would be scientists Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green).  It’s too bad because I loved Marshall-Green inThe O.C. and was really hoping his performance here would net him future projects, but I didn’t see anything dynamic.  Rapace on the other hand delivered a solid performance, but the script never really gave her a chance to demonstrate true reliance – there is one scene of strong independence, but it is immediately replaced by her being yet again the weakest link.

I hate to sound like the filmmakers when I say this, but curb your expectations and go into Prometheus with an open mind and a desire for science fiction – if you do this the film should not disappoint.  If you are looking for some epic beginning or closure to the overall arc of the Alien series you are doomed to hate the resolution, mostly because the focus of the film shifted to no longer telling that story.  Still, the movie is set up to tell at least a few additional tales so who knows, this may be the start of another successful franchise.  As for the Alien series, isn’t it best we let that sleeping dog lie?

Written by Fred Rojas

June 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

One Response

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  1. Good review, I really enjoyed this film, I saw it in 3D. I can’t wait for the sequel when they get around to making it, I heard that Ridley Scott enjoyed making this movie and he would look to do sequel.


    June 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

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