Rated: Prometheus (2012)

“How far would you go to get your answers?”

It’s been 30 years since Ridley Scott last did science fiction. In the interum, he has become a veteran film maker with a resume of both hits and misses. His focus on edgy visuals has been gradually replaced with a steady focus on characters and complicated multi-layered stories. In other words, his work has matured. Now, Prometheus completes the circle, only this time, Scott’s stab at sci-fi has a full career of experience in a multitude of genres to draw from. He is doing something different, but is also treading on familiar territory.

The same sentiment can be used to describe the film itself. On several layers, the film is often two contrasting things at the same time. Yes, it is a prequel to Alien, but it also isn’t. It doesn’t answer many questions that you might have had about Alien, instead it creates more. The focus is on philosophy, yet it is an action movie too. At first glance, it may appear that the film is teetering on the edge of compromise, but that isn’t true at all. It’s an approach that is used to create thrills, just as Alien used its unsettling pacing and setting to get you to the edge of your seat. By putting the audience in a position between two opposites, the film is forcing you to take a side.

Therefore, if you want a movie to force feed you concepts, you will be dissapointed. It’s complicated and dense, not at all unlike American Gangster or Robin Hood. In Alien, Scott took the cheese-ball B-movie and made it sophisticated. In this film, he is doing the opposite. He takes the sophisticated style of film that he is best known for, and injects it with a brash and edgy terror to break it down. This is a movie that throws things at you from all angles, and if you are looking for clear reasoning behind what is happening you won’t really find it. Honestly. it’s a lot to keep track of, and in stark contrast to the simplicity in Alien. The plot just brings up too many questions, including why the writers chose to use familiar cinematic elements and plot devices stolen from lesser films. But I suppose that is meant to be part of the fun, fitting the pieces together in your head to make sense of it all. Therefore, this is a mature film. Full of sophisticated moral dilemmas delivered one satisfyingly heart-stopping step at a time. If you had any preconceptions, it’s best to leave them at the door. What you will find is a film that will fill your mind with things to think about all on its own.

Story: When the recent discoveries of two archaeologists seems to point to deep space, a rich capitalist takes interest and agrees to finance an exploratory mission. They travel for years before landing on a beautiful, but desolate planet. What they find is a series of seemingly deserted structures. The team embarks to explore these structures, but the motivation behind the mission is no longer as clear as when they set off. As secrets become revealed the question becomes was it worth the price that they will ultimately pay?….Okay (17/25)

Acting: Noomi Rapace channels her best Ellen Ripley as the lead character, Elizabeth Shaw. She puts on a fantastic performance considering the amount of sheer emotional trauma that her character has to go through is quite shocking. Michael Fassbender plays the crew’s faithful android servant, David. Fassbender manages to give David a complexity that most human characters lack. Logan Marshall-Green plays Shaw’s partner and is believable in his excitement for the expedition. The rest of the cast is quote good as well, including Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, and Charlize Theron, although Theron for some reason is the least convincing. Good (22/25)

Direction: The only quibble I have is that this film felt choppy. All of Ridley Scott’s previous few films were lengthy pieces that used drawn out scenes to build up characters and tension. Perhaps they wanted this one to be more stright-to-the-point, which is fine, I’ll just be looking for the director’s cut when it comes out. Otherwise, Ridley Scott’s direction is fantastic. His characters (even the minor ones) are well defined, as is the tone. The action, the suspense, and the special effects are all handled very well. Despite borrowing some techniques and styles from Alien, the film nonetheless has it’s own style and feel. It fits into the overall theme of strange but familiar. Good (24/25)

Special Effects/X-Factor: The special effects are nothing short of spectacular, but what really takes this film to the next level is the cinematography. The film has a clean and crisp feel, as Ridley Scott’s films all tend to have. What’s impressive is that not only is the action in the forground perfectly captured, but the backgrounds are simply astonishing. The film uses a lot of footage of scenery, which gives it an open and vast feeling, unlike Alien which is closed-off and confined. The music is bizarre, much like the music in Alien, but fitting. The big question though, is what does this film add to the Alien series and to science fiction in general? As far as the Alien series, I think that this is an excellent addition. The film itself may not be as good as Alien (or it’s sequel), but it takes the series in a new direction and opens up lots of possibilities for the future. As far as a science fiction film, it is less succesful at bringing new ideas to the table, but is more sucessful in reinvigorating the r-rated Sci-Fi horror genre which has been dead since Event Horizon. Good (22/25)

Rating: (85/100) = B (Recommended) 

  • What’s Good: Ridley Scott makes his triumphant return to science fiction, his direction is as good as it’s ever been, and fans of Alien will be pleased with similar-but-different approach that he takes as homage to that film. The movie is full of exciting moments, fantastic visuals, and a story that gives you something to think about. The cast is definately up to the challenge.
  • What’s Bad: The film doesn’t really break any barriers as far as science fiction is concerned, including a few moments of cringe-inducing cliches, and the plot doesn’t bother to answer any of the questions it brings up.

Summary: Ridley Scott finds his roots and delivers solid science fiction thrills, but some assembly is required.  

My previous review: Rated: Alien (1979)

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1 thought on “Rated: Prometheus (2012)”

  1. Prometheus is absolutely thought-provoking. After seeing it me and my brothers spent hours talking about the basis of humanity and all that it entailed. The movie is centered around mankind’s biggest questions that are used to make us beg for the answers with the matching fervor of Doctor Shaw, herself. As I watched the movie I had to (on multiple occasions) remind myself that “this is just a movie”. But I was wrong in the end. It isn’t “just a movie”. Just like GSP put it, Prometheus is a historical achievement that went where no one else would.

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