Despite both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus is the movie I was most looking forward to this summer. You could tell early on that it was going to be a visual feast, but I was really happy to get back into the Alien universe…and to see new science fiction courtesy of Ridley Scott. Alien and Blade Runner are two of my favorite films, so I figured Prometheus was going to be a treat.
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Prometheus was…meh. It wasn’t terrible, and indeed the visuals were all that I could have hoped for. You’ll never convince me that this wasn’t a considerably better looking film than Avatar. I’m pretty sure that this was the best looking SF film I’ve ever seen. Some of the visuals were breathtaking.
The acting was superlative, all things considered. Everyone was very convincing, and Michael Fassbender just put a few more drops in the vial of Man-I-Wish-He-Wasn’t-A-Wife-Beater that I’ve been drinking ever since I was X-Men: First Class. He was AMAZING in Prometheus; he gave the standout performance in a movie where Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron were all on top of it.
Frankly, I think the problem with this film was in the writing. There were too many cheap attempts to make me think “this is cool.” Fassbender’s David observing the dreams of the crew in cryosleep, and then commenting on it in what was supposed to be a dramatic reveal…but a reveal that ultimately meant nothing. Stuff like that was all over the place.
Then there were the fallacies and inconsistencies, the weird logical leaps that the characters took. I don’t quite get how the scientists in this movie go from “there’s archaeological evidence that aliens visited a lot of ancient cultures” to “and they created mankind.” There is no evidence, prior to departure, to support such a theory. I suppose that’s why they were so heavy-handed with Elizabeth’s (Noomi Rapace) belief in God. She acts on faith, even when there is a dearth of evidence. To make matters worse, she convinces someone to spend a trillion dollars on her faith.
Frankly, this team was the biggest bunch of idiots ever to put on a lab coat on celluloid. (Well, not Idris Elba. He was, unsurprisingly, the biggest pimp in space.) Rapace’s admonition to bring no weapons was utterly cliche. It was like refusing to put lifeboats on Titanic…just plain stupid for no good reason. The biologist reaching out to touch the first alien (lowercase A) he ever sees COULD be interpreted as a guy caught up in the most thrilling moment of his life, but as soon as it hooded JUST LIKE A COBRA (with a vagina for a face), I would think he’d back off. The lot of them taking off their helmets because there was breathable air, especially once they discovered organic material was also stupid. This struck me as a case of writers writing scenes to get to situations they wanted, rather than creating characters and following them through events.
Also, the movie seemed to have a hard time following its own rules. Was this one scientist infected with a wasting disease, or was there a parasite growing inside of him? He shows symptoms of both problems. Why does the corpse of a scientist get up and go buck wild on everybody? Was there a parasite inside of HIM, and if so, WHY HAS THAT NEVER BEEN A PROBLEM BEFORE OR SINCE in this universe?
I have a theory about that, but for it to be true, they should have explained it in some way. The movie implies that SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER the Xenomorphs from the other films are bioengineered WMDs, and there are thousands of canisters of Aliens…just add water. But what if there were OTHER kinds of bioengineered alien nastiness, including an Exorcist Zombie virus? (You have to see it to get that reference.) That would explain more than a few inconsistencies, and would be pretty sick, actually…but that would have to pay off to be cool. That never happens.
Still, some of the set pieces are AMAZING. There is a whole new take on having an Alien inside of you in this film, and the way that it’s dealt with is pretty damn cool. The aforementioned JUST LIKE A COBRA scene was awesome…if you ignore the fact that the scientists were acting like morons.
End of the day, I’m glad I saw this film. Space Opera has no business looking half-assed any more, because Prometheus is GORGEOUS. But man, those special effects were ultimately just a lovely shine on a bit of a turd.