Movie Review – Prometheus

2012 Twentieth Century Fox

Three and Half Star

PrometheusThirty four years after Alien was released Ridley Scott returns to the universe he helped create with this kinda sorta not quite maybe a possible prequel. Much has been said about the wishy washy nature of the story already and since I wasn’t there I have no freaking idea what the original intent was for this movie. I have heard that this was originally supposed to be a direct prequel to Alien but who knows?  So as it stands it’s a standalone semi-prequel that tells us a little more about the race of big space jockey dudes and their horseshoe shaped spaceships.

Prometheus begins on a primitive and lifeless Earth as a big grey muscular guy with abs of steel and wearing a diaper drinks a nasty looking concoction and then precedes to disintegrate. Fast forward millions of years to 2089 A.D. and we are introduced to some archaeologists who have made an absolutely fabulous discovery in Scotland. In a cave they find a painting of stick figures pointing at a group of stars. Bitchin stuff. We jump forward again to the year 2093 as the research vessel Prometheus makes it way to the very group of stars the stick figures were pointing at.

During a show and tell session it is revealed that this same star chart has been recorded in artwork from seven ancient civilizations so an expedition is planned to see what’s so damned exciting in this particular star system. Like all similar expeditions throughout the history of cinema this does not go according to plan and the shit really starts hitting the fan and everything else in range.

Prometheus is a film of great ambitions that sometimes hits the target but other times trips and falls flat on its face. While trying to delve into some deep thoughts on life, creation, and whatnot the story gets a little too silly and some of the characters come across as really idiotic and implausible. On the plus side this is an absolutely beautiful looking movie with some impressive set and costume designs and top notch special effects. The music score by Marc Streitenfeld gives the production a nice sense of wonder and discovery, something that is missing from many science fiction movies. The cast is filled with very talented actors who, with two exceptions, manage to elevate their somewhat underwritten roles to something better than they probably should have been.

This is one of those movies where it seems a great deal of tinkering was done in post production and it gives the story a herky jerky feel to it and makes you wonder what the original intention was. Prometheus is an amazing attempt at making something a little more thoughtful and ambitious than the average movie and even if it fails to reach the heights it could have I still applaud everyone who worked on it for trying to rise above the usual drivel.

The good:

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Noomi Rapace is really good as Elizabeth. She has gorgeous eyes and great cheekbones too!

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Michael Fassbender is fantastic as David. His slightly condescending attitude towards the clearly inferior humans he serves is balanced nicely with his obvious respect for Dr. Shaw. Very interesting character.

Visually stunning movie. I love the set designs that mirror many aspects of designs used in Alien.

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Amazing visual effects. CGI is finally evolving past its awkward early years (in some cases at least).

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Awesome ship designs. Maybe they should crash them together? That would be cool!

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Yep it’s cool!

The not so good:

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Why have Charlie take his helmet off and risk possible contagion? How hard would it have been to put a throwaway line in there about scanning for nasty things? It made these supposed professionals look like a bunch of idiots yet again.

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Shortly after returning to the ship Charlie starts whining and drinking clearly disappointed in what they found. It’s not like they explored the whole complex and discovered all its mysteries at this point. This makes Charlie look shallow and pretty immature.

The characters of Fifield and Millburn are pathetic. It seems like they wandered in from another movie entirely. Their actions appear to be random and directly tied into whatever the screenplay needed them to be in any given scene. They are what I refer to as puppet characters and their actions don’t seem plausible or real.

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Very professional and believable biologist. Not!

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What the hell were they thinking with this character? He looks and acts like a total idiot. Worst character I have seen in a long time.

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This thing reminds me very much of a cobra. You know one of those dangerous and venomous snakes most people try to avoid. Its head even opens up like the hood of a cobra.
So what does this biologist do when he’s near this potentially dangerous cobra like thingy? Why he talks baby talk to it and see if it wants to cuddle. Stupid!

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The so called science in this movie is a joke. After examining this head for all of thirty seconds they decide to send an electric charge into it and end up blowing it up. The characters display all the patient of children who have just eaten a whole box  of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bomb cereal.

his scene is another example of rushing and skipping details. It looks like the machine merely staples the outer layer of tissue together while neglecting to repair any internal damage. Elizabeth will be dying from internal bleeding shortly. The sequel will be very short.

This scene is another example of rushing and skipping details. It looks like the machine merely staples the outer layer of tissue together while neglecting to repair any internal damage. Elizabeth will be dying from internal bleeding shortly. The sequel will be very short.

This looks like the stupid backwoods cousin of the alien we all know and love. Not a fan of this design.

This looks like the stupid backwoods cousin of the alien we all know and love. Not a fan of this design.

Random thought and observations:

The Engineers are an interesting race. They obviously were a highly advanced race before we even existed and yet they seem to cling to ritual. I would think a truly advanced race would have grown out of such silly things.

The fact the Engineers created life on Earth allows for both a creationist and evolutionary theory at the same time. That should piss off quite a few people.

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So Captain Underpants here drinks this goo…

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…and his body breaks down into its DNA building blocks…

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…that get swept away in the river and seed the Earth. Now life evolved over millions of years on Earth. Was this some kind of super DNA that was coded in such a way to map out the entire history of evolution so it would culminate in the creation of humanoid beings? If so why are we not really tall ripped bipeds with black eyes? Or was it all just an accident?

Interesting to compare the technology available at the time Alien was made with the tech we have now. Look at the differences in display screens:

Displays

The graphic designs on this display are easily recognizable to any fan of Ridley Scott’s movies:

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The giant squid monster at rest…

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…strangely resembles a certain other organism seen before.

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This looks familiar as well.

Despite what many people think this movie takes place on a planet known as LV_223 not LV_426 or Acheron as seen in Alien and Aliens. The climate is clearly different and was unlikely to change that much in thirty years when Alien takes place. Planets don’t transform themselves that drastically in that incredibly short period of time.

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See it says LV_223.

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Six similar representations of the same group of stars weren’t enough? They needed to wait until they found the seventh to get all excited?

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I heard a lot of comments about how stupid Vickers character was in not running a different way when the alien ship is crashing…

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…lets see you try it when a massive ship is rolling toward you and things are exploding around you and you aren’t sure which way the unevenly shaped ship may go.

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Shaw rolls out out of the way…

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…but still almost gets crushed. She is only saved because the ship was caught on a rock leaving a slight space between her and certain death. It’s easy to second guess things in a movie when we’re sitting safely in the theater or a home.

So after thirty four years here we are with an explanation as to who the big space jockey seen in Alien was.  Not on the same planet of course but the same race. How does all this fit in with Alien? Well it doesn’t really. We know only that this race of Engineer’s is made up of a bunch of morons whose bio weapons keep getting the better of them. We learn nothing of the ship from Alien and besides the dorky looking chestburster and alien at the end of this film, the Engineer’s, and the horse shoe ship there are not any real connections.

The deleted and alternate scenes:

There is a longer version of the scene where the Engineer is released from the sleep chamber. There are subtitles explaining what David and the Engineer say to each other and Weyland has more lines giving a clearer view of what he was seeking. I would have kept this scenes in the movie personally.

There is an alternate scene of the mutated Fifield that has a different makeup design than the one used. I prefer the unused design.

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