Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review | Prometheus

Pretty great but keep your hopes low. There are some major spoilers in this review but don't worry I actually obscured them, so it's safe to read. 
Depending on how much you've seen the trailers on a repeated basis, that will set your expectations to a certain degree. With that said, Prometheus is a film that may suffer from the overwhelming hype the film sets out to be. If I had any term to describe a film and how much this disappoints an individual when it did not meet enough of their expectations to a certain extent, it will be a buzz stinger and Ridley Scott's return to the science fiction genre or is-it-an-Alien-prequel is going to be that one example. It may happen to any film and I'm looking at you, The Dark Knight Rises and look people... I know it sounds frustrating when the movie is not like Alien since the trailer makes it look the prequel it marketed for better and for worse, but let be at least thankful that Scott doesn't gives a crap that it wasn't in line with the franchise.

Here's the pitch: in 2089, a team of archaeologists and scientists are investigating the origin of our species (if you're a Creationist and what I've just said offended you, then I deeply apologize) and land on a planet that may have the answer to the most asked question of all: where have we came from? Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) leads the crew that on board includes David, an android taken care of by  Weyland Corporation CEO Weyland (Guy Pearce), his officer Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), Janek (Idris Elba) the team pilot and Charlie Holloway (Logan Green-Marshall), another scientist and Elizabeth's love interest, on board the ship Prometheus where they make a strange discovery that will threaten their survival on their mission.

I have to admit embarrassingly enough that I never watched Alien or the sequels after it and since I'm reviewing Prometheus from the perspective of the guy who never did, I assume that those movies are in a class of their own and so will this be. Though the film shares a lot of DNA with Alien, it also brings elements from Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Oddysey and the very underrated Sunshine where the crew is the last hope for finding out about our existence. The first five minutes is a grandiose gesture of humanity with brilliant wide-angle shots of Earth as a very deserted planet with no signs of growing civilization. The cinematography in this is beautifully sophisticated and given how the camerawork is shot on a RedOne Camera, I would actually tell people that if they want to direct films that are ultra-realistic or dark, that camera is the way to go. The special effects shouldn't be overstated and so is the art direction.
Prometheus is a very jarring film, both use in good and bad use. The great thing about the film is that it raises the question about humanity and our origins to such high ambition and the way that it tilts to an amount of tension which you'll actually get from a science fiction-horror film works. Another part are concepts that comes across very interestingly including the origins of human existence, the relationships between David, the android, and his human counterparts and journeys run by corporations. These ideas though are ambiguous and requires such an open mind to think about it through.

With that being said, what felt strong also felt weak. I don't mind if there's a scene in front of you and ask that you think carefully of what the film is trying to say when it's attempting to tell or reveal any plot. But this is science fiction and the key to all great science fiction is whether the concept would be very understood. Prometheus has all the ideas in the world that they're trying to express, but it has little to incorporate, thus disjointing the narrative. However the film's structure interestingly transform from a human exploration journey to a survival-of-the-disturbed story, but ultimately goes into a loophole of itself. Though there are several tense setpieces which are nods of Alien, it leans to a point of the plot cheating itself.

Also strong and weak simultaneously were the cast and characters respectively. While all of the performances are fine, none of the characters seemed interesting and the fault comes from Damon Linderbof's screenplay. There's too much focus on the entire cast and either they're only there for screen filler or they're just stock characters. We got Idris Elba as the strong accented captain and Charlize Theron as the cold, isolated corporate supervisor who, might I say is the only interesting when she literally open fire to someone who may betray the crew. Noomi Rapace felt too vulnerable as the main leader of the group and her husband, played by Logan Green-Marshall, the poor man's Tom Hardy is pretty bland. I can't believe when I say this, but I actually looked forward when two of the characters died while searching in the cavern that is leaking with black ooze. They had the worst dialogue of the film and I laughed twice, out of intention. E.g. - when the two guys cannot communicate with Idris Elba, they're too dumb to know what's a glitch. I felt disappointed that Guy Pearce only had five minutes of screen time as the megalomaniac corporate boss Weyland and there's some interaction between him and Theron that confuses me because at one point she's talking about how bureaucratic and power hungry he is but at the end she calls him "father"?
But I cannot overstate Michael Fassbender because if there was anything memorable about the film, it is his mesmerizing performance as David, the android designed by Weyland, that makes him a revelation, equal with his performance from Shame. He captures what it feels to be someone who is not physically human where he's not only immortal and doesn't age, but he's altruistic and loyal to the crew, more like the calmer HAL 9000 from 2001 and little like the droids from Blade Runner. However, he would then have to poison Marshall's character whether it's based on the anguish that he can't get along with humans or whether it's based on his scientific purposes. So would he be the antagonist? And what lifts him up are the scenes where he discovers a lost spaceship that presents a simulation of the universe and that was just breathtaking. Fassbender invests himself in David perfectly and I haven't seen a science fiction character this fascinating and well acted without error since Sam Rockwell in Moon.

The final 15 minutes though may leads up to a sequel and  even if they show a stinger where the alien is the alien from Alien, I am looking forward to the what's inevitable. And if I can give a little description of the other alien, it would be that it looked the squid-like monster from Watchmen. But Scott tries really hard to make this a stand-alone film influenced by some of the classics that he has directed and the aim to achieve this is well done, yet it still has to stick with a scattered screenplay that gave us little to care about its characters and lost in tone and muddled with its concepts. And since Fassbender is the major strong point, I wondered whether the film would've been better if it explored more on David's perspective and make him the leader of the pack rather than Rapace. If you go into this movie expecting Alien tie-ins, you'll be destined to disappoint yourself and rather blame Scott, the cast or Linderbof. All I can see is go see it if you will since this is good storytelling in science fiction but don't let it rain on your parade.


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