Friday, June 8, 2012

Prometheus Film Review - Homo Sapiens are too Curious

Rarely is a hard core science fiction film not good enough for me. In fact, it is my preferred cinematic genre, followed closely by espionage films. My anticipation for Prometheus hit the highest of heights because of my love of the 'Alien' universe that goes back to my teens in the early 80's. So if you're looking for a fangirl of this series, you found her. Ridley Scott was very careful in trying to tell us that Prometheus was not really a 'pre-quel' to Alien, but it was in the same universe. Scientists venturing off into space in search of the truth to how humans on Earth came to being, was the reason why a ship was built and called Prometheus. That sounds nothing like Alien, so I accepted that and just waited to see it. I saw it in 3D at the Curzon Cinema Soho in London a week ago and I thought it was amazing!

There are 17 people on board the ship headed towards the moon of a large planet where Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Halloway (Logan Marshall-Green) directed Weyland Corporation to go to, as they found signs from ancient humans pointing to a series of stars as our origin of creation. Elizabeth is a very religious woman who lost both parents when she was very young, so she is possessed with trying to find the truth to life, and who created us and why. She's so focused that it's a little irritating, and she's a bit hasty in her actions. Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers is the manager on board the Prometheus and she is curt and prickly. In contrast, the captain of the ship, Idis Elba, who is underused big time, is very laid back and cool.

Rounding out the primary characters is Michael Fassbender as David, the android. There is about 5 minutes of screen time near the beginning of the film that is solely about David. It reveals that he's the only one awake after over two years on the ship headed towards their destination, while everyone else is asleep. What does a robot do all by himself for such a long time? He watches movies, particularly 'Lawrence of Arabia' where he fancies Peter O'Toole, learn more languages, plays games... basically, improving himself and trying to find his identity beyond being an artificial human. Can you imagine being a machine that looks human and is self-aware and wanting to BE human? David is stronger and smarter than humans, and nearly indestructible, but yet, he may not have a soul, and that bothers him. As the rest of the crew wakes up, they have a meeting which explains their mission and they set off for the planet.

Michael Fassbender as David, spellbound by what he uncovered.
The pacing of the film seems a bit too fast for the heavy theme of the movie; the evolution vs creation theories could have been explored a bit more. I kept up with it, but it may lose some people in how quickly it developed. Once the crew lands on the planet, soon enough, the wild adventure begins. I am able to avoid major spoilers, which will help in keeping this review short. But one thing I want to say is that David is shady... he is under direction to do things that may not be in the best interest of the crew, but for the corporation. And through some of these deceptions, you wonder if he is reaping a child-like form of pride in being sneaky. Michael's ability to subtlety humanize this android in the closest way it can be human is testament of his skill as a great actor. What David does to Halloway makes you wonder if it was to meet his secret scientific objective, or out of spite due to the disrespect he has been shown. This is just one of several moments where you wonder if David is adopting true human emotions. You don't know if you're rooting for David, or want him to fail. He's very mysterious and sarcastic, but very discreet and suave.

In the second half of the film, Noomi's character goes through an outrageous physical exercise that makes you wonder how she'll be able to recover from it. I had to look away from the screen for half a second. The moral of Prometheus is that sometimes, there are things that we are not meant to know, find, or understand. Period. If you cross that boundary of the unknown, be prepared to pay the consequences. The old adage of 'curiosity killed the cat' can be applied to the humans here in their unrelenting quest to find the truth. And in this situation, the truth is horrifying and a dreadful mistake uncovered. Many deaths soon occur due to the disturbance of things that were in deep hibernation for eons. The visuals of Prometheus are absolutely spellbinding in 3D. It is most noticeable during the scene when David unlocks the computer command station upon the alien craft (image above).  Ridley Scott used 3D smartly in Prometheus, and in this case, it beautifully enhances the viewing experience. Some of the dialogue was cheesy, but not enough of a distraction to disrupt my enjoyment of the film.

Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw, rightfully scared of something horrible.
The final twenty minutes is complete mayday chaos and was incredible for this sci-fi geek! There's no going home for anyone, and they know it. The special effects of the creatures were unique and disgusting, and yes, CGI is used, but come on... really, in most films this is the best way to create otherworldly creatures. However with that said, Prometheus, for me, lacks the true hard-core, abated breath, dreadful fear that many of us experienced with Alien, but that is OK, because there is still enough drama to give you pause to wince or look away in Prometheus. The ending is a cliffhanger that opens this new franchise into a sequel. The plot holes in Prometheus that reviewers have complained about, could easily be answered in a sequel, and I reckon the movie was written that way to do so.

Sci-fi films are genre films that do not have a very wide audience, especially R-rated ones. But do yourself a favor, especially as a Michael Fassbender fan, go see Prometheus and decide for yourself. I will see this for a second time, maybe a third while it's in theaters. This will allow me to catch things that I have missed the first time around. Like how Ridley Scott mentioned, there is Alien DNA in Prometheus, but don't go to see Prometheus, expecting an Alien movie, this is not what it is... but you will get an Alien-esque treat near the end.

Grade: B+


kt said...

Thanks for your wonderful, insightful review, Simone! I really want to take a moment to especially thank you and all of the Fassinators who have now seen Prometheus for their care—and indeed kindness—in working so hard to keep the suspense in the viewing for those of us who have yet to see it (today for me---finally!! :) One of the things I value and so appreciate in this fandom is the very real depth of community we find in one another.....This is a network of extremely intelligent, thoughtful people whose opinions and analysis beautifully and repeatedly convey by example that great minds can and do think alike---yet can and do also diverge in our opinions from time to time. But our greatest strength as a unit is our consideration to do so with only the utmost respect for one another. It’s frequently challenging for me to check-in and properly comment as much as I want to on both the blog and pinterest due to working full-time, running a small business, and volunteering a number of hours every week…it’s frustrating to not always be able to join in on all the great discussions. But I do stop in at least every other day or so to catch up on what I’ve missed, and just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who contributes here for all of your awesome work in making FF a community of special people I’m proud to be a part of. Fassinators ROCK!! =D

Simone said...

After you have seen Prometheus today or sometime this weekend, please go to this link at Cineblend because it is a ***SPOILER*** filled breakdown of key plot sequences that may help some people put the pieces together of this great film. It is food for thought and it can help us with our discussions about Prometheus.

Thanks kt for your enthusiastic support for FF, I too feel that we all have created a beautiful Fassinator kinship here at FF! xoxo

émilie said...

Thanks Simone for your review and the link, I'm going to read it right now (I'm not afraid of spoilers anymore!)And of course, I share kt's opinion on FF :D

Dionne said...

It's finally here, I get to see Prometheus! I've been reading spoiler free reviews, and I just read your, Simone. I'm so excited, it's unfortunate that Idris was underused but I'm glad Fass did a wonderful job.

Hupsakeek said...

It feel so good to be amongst fellow fassinators. I endorse kt's words. Thanks for the link Simone. I haven't read it yet, but I embrace everything that helps to fill in the blanks. It's difficult to find the time but if everything works out then coming week I will see Prometheus for the second time!

Dionne said...

I felt that the film had a lot of unanswered questions, I know there's to be a sequel so maybe that's why...

Fassy was phenomenal, Idris was perfect, and Noomi was great.

I felt some of the other actors weren't as strong as these 3 ^.

I give it a B-

Veronica said...

I definitely plan to check out the spoiler filled site above when I’ve got some down time. I like not having everything spelled out for me, which is probably why the open-ended-ness didn’t bother me as much. I do agree that several of the characters/actors seemed underused, especially Idris. I can’t wait to see he and Michael together in “12 years.” I was wondering what everyone thinks of the use of 3D in Prometheus...I enjoyed it and thought it was well done as well as seamless. What does everyone else think?

Sidra said...

Nice review Simone!

Although I figured you'd automatically give it an A+++ +++ :D

Simone said...

Oh no Sidra, regardless of Michael being in a film, I will not be biased in giving his film an A/perfect score if it didn't merit it.

With that said, I just saw Prometheus again for a second time, with three other friends, and although I got a better understanding of a few things, my rating still stands. It's still a great film no doubt! I can't wait to own the Blu-ray (this film is going to make me buy a blu-ray).