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Movie Review: Prometheus
It’s a week late but I finally got a chance to see Prometheus yesterday. I went with my friend, Nic, as part of day in the city and we saw it first thing before the rest of errands. It was nice, as it gave me plenty of time to think about the movie and talk about it with Nic. I’m not a huge fan of the Alien franchise; I’ve seen Alien and Aliens , but haven’t seen the others in the series (and I’m not counting the terrible Alien vs. Predator). The first film was okay, most of the horror elements lost on my jaded teenage mind, though I enjoyed the sequel more, even if it still wasn’t my favorite. If we want to include Prometheus in the series, which most people agree we do, then it would be my favorite of the films.
I recently heard someone complain that idea of extraterrestrial life creating humanity was an overdone concept, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. Maybe I haven’t read enough fiction using that idea, if anything I’ve seen it a few times in comic books, specifically Neil Gaiman’s The Eternals. Prometheus is the first movie I’ve seen to work the concept and I liked how it was implemented. The movie starts with our heroes journeying to a planet to find our creators, dubbed the Engineers, all with hopes of finding our reason for existing. However, this being a dark science-fiction film by the never too-upbeat Ridley Scott, the answers might not be what they’re looking for.
Right away, I was in love with the visuals. Scott has a marvelous eye for grandiose and beautiful scenery, not to mention the alien nature of other planets. I loved the ship design, the horizons, the maps; it was done with such loving detail that I don’t know how one couldn’t appreciate it all. The creature designs, minus the cameo at the end of film, weren’t as aspiring, most looking like grotesque sea life. I suppose this makes more sense scientifically, but they fall in the unmemorable category, even if they’re frightening at the time.
The characters were a mixed bag, though all well-acted. Charlize Theron was the weakest of the big names for me, which is too bad that it follows her terribly overdone role in Snow White and the Huntsman . We never know if she’s a villain or just a tough girl living in a tough world. Should we hate her or feel sorry for her? Leaving that question open isn’t bad, but the movie fails to define her as a character. Thankfully, she’s not the main protagonist. We have the wonderful Noomi Rapace in the real lead and she does a good job at being our eyes to the whole experience. She’s strong and capable, plus she gets the biggest scene of horror in the film. The scene, I won't spoil, is one I only watched fifty percent of, the other half was blocked by my hands.
Idris Elba is becoming one my favorite character actors out there, having done a great job in Thor and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance . His character in this film, the ship’s captain, is easy to like. He’s the everyman; he doesn’t care about the big ideas of humanity, he just wants to make it home. Michael Fassbender, having owned the screen in X-Men: First Class, once again steals the show as the android David. At first, he was the character I most sympathized with and cared about. However, as the movie went on, his true motives become less agreeable and you start wondering how close to the line of being the real villain David is. Fassbender plays his character with a quiet reserve, giving us brief moments of pain or amazement, all wonderful. Now that Fassbender has played a mutant and a robot, two of my favorite things, he can only top it by playing a dinosaur in his next movie.
Guy Pearce, however is wasted in both character and make-up. I didn't realize who he was until the end credits, but it was a shame to cast him in the role he was given. It didn't payoff for him or the film.
I saw the movie in 3D and I wasn’t as amazed with it at first. Then, I began to realize that the effect was adding to the scope of the whole film. It’s not in-your-face as post-processed 3D tends to be and it’s not as big of a spectacle/ride as Avatar. But all of the ship’s maps and windows, and the moments with the Engineer’s history look beautiful in 3D. I doubt it’s a must, but this would be one of the few films I suggest seeing in more than two dimensions.
My friend, Nic, had never seen Alien, but he only had a few questions regarding Prometheus’ connections to the original film. It adds a bit more depth to the experience, and more tension to some scenes, but this movie stands alone. In fact, the way it ends leaves me much more excited for a sequel to this series than more Alien films. In a way, it’s two films collided; a prequel to Alien and the first of a new franchise, and I was much more interested in the latter. It’s one of the best big-budget science-fiction films I’ve seen in a long time that feels original (for the most part). Prometheus is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a great film with a brain and scares.