Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: Prometheus "Found"? HAH! me and my puns... thoughts on the new Ridley Scott film.


It’s been a long time since Ridley Scott took a step in the sci-fi genre, but this is still a name that carries a lot of weight. This is the man who brought us “Bladerunner” and “Alien” so this isn’t exactly a little deal for genre fan-boys like me. This is one of the big guns, ladies and gentlemen. So I’m going to set my expectations a little high, which may or may not wind up knocking the film a little. Just so you know where I’m coming from with this review, I was expecting to be blown away and left the theater simply happy. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a little short of the expectations I originally had.

First off; what this film does well it far excels at. Visuals are stunning, the designs are fantastic, and Scotts sweeping cinematography does put you on another world with a completely alien environment. We can almost feel the chilling cold of this harsh environment; a desolate wasteland of dust and craggy rocks covered in shadow. We’re introduced to some interesting concepts, by no stretch new ones in the world of Science Fiction… but stuff that doesn’t get explored nearly enough and with nearly the kind of horrifying depths this film almost seems capable of. But remember that I said “almost” because we’ll get back to that later. Also, there are some really good performances… Noomi Rapace is very engaging and obviously put a lot of thought into her performance, displaying signs of depth and subtlety to her character that goes beyond some of the direction in this film. Equally engaging was Michael Fassbender in the role of David the Android, whose AI seems nearly advanced to the point of experiencing genuine emotion. There are 17 members of the crew, but none are nearly as fully realized as these two leads that carry the majority of the film.

The starship “Prometheus” is an exploratory ship funded by the Weyland Corporation (From the Alien movies) that is sent to track what may be the source of humanity on a distant planet. Two archeologist have found a series of maps spread throughout different cultures which offer detailed instructions on where to find the planet. Once on the planet, the crew finds a dome structure that contains the remains of an ancient alien race slaughtered by some unknown incident. And what follows are some horrifying discoveries regarding the birth of man, the intentions of our “Engineers”, and precisely where the familiar Xenomorphs came from. The film nearly succeeds on broaching the subjects of “Faith”, creation, and generational conflicts. But this is where “almost” comes into play…

The film abandons the heady subjects about half way through and becomes little more than another “survivor” girl slasher film with cgi-monsters. It simply stops playing with the concepts that make it interesting and starts traveling down traditional tropes with careless abandon. We’re introduced to one-dimensional characters surrounding the two primary leads. A very small number of other characters are given only a few additional lines of dialogue to flesh out their personalities. They may as well be listed Victims 1-10 for all the depth they bring to the film. We don’t really get to know anyone and so every death just feels flat and there’s so little emotional connection. Half the monsters feel extraordinarily unnecessary, more like FX works thrown at the screen to see if anything stuck rather than pushing the plot forward by any degree. One particular scene just irritated me and served as little more than an opportunity to slaughter roughly half the crew in a single scene. And don’t get me wrong, because I love films of this sort… but it felt like a nearly 180 degree spin from where the film was taking us.

I did really like it, however. I do recommend it. And it is absolutely a great experience.

4 out of 5.

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