Sunday, October 26, 2014

MR Prometheus

Movie: Prometheus
Directed by Ridley Scott 
Release date 2012
Genre Science-fiction film
Country USA/UK

Prometheus is totally not an Alien prequel, at least that's what Ridley Scott kept saying all the time to everyone.

The film was originally born from an idea James Cameron and Ridley Scott had back in the early 2000s, right following the release of Alien Resurrection. Since exploring sequels had all been done to death by that time, they instead toyed with the idea of making a prequel to the series while working both together for the first time in the franchise.

They had a general outline and some first ideas for the story which would revolve around the whole shady conspiracy theory of the "ancient aliens", that whole idea that was inspired by Erich von Däniken's 1968 pseudo-scientific book Chariots of the Gods?. Those same theories about an ancient race of alien explorers that supposedly helped mankind that found their way into Paul Anderson's Alien Vs. Predator film.

Despite AVP all but killing Scott and Cameron's enthusiasm for the franchise, Ridley Scott would end up wanting to revisit the series and renew his interest in the project, even if AVP had all but "kill[ed] the validity of both franchises in [his] eyes".

Thing is, Ridley Scott was not interested in making a prequel to the Alien series anymore. So writer Jon Spaihts made this entire script with no allusions to the Alien films. The movie was originally titled Paradise (which might end up - or not - being the title of the rumored sequel at some point). The story could take place in the same world (or not), it could just as well take place before or after Ridley Scott's Alien. It didn't need to clearly taking place in the same universe, it was debatable and left to the intepretation.

When the time was finally right and Ridley Scott finally up to the challenge, the production was started in 2010. And it's at that time Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof was brought on board to "smooth things over" as they say in Hollywood. Which really means in this case that he was brought to help make things simpler for the audience (making sure the story made less sense...), turn the movie more action-oriented, ditching most of Ridley Scott's more outlandish ideas (he wanted to make it clear these "Ancient Gods" also had more direct impact on our societies, like one found his way on Earth around 2000 years or so ago, yet, being the real explanation behind Jesus for example) and making sure the protagonists lacked any common sense to explain how things would turn out for the worse. Oh, and he also made sure to bring back the fact this was an Alien prequel more clearly (including a forced cameo at the end of the film).

The movie opens with a strange mysterious giant grey-skinned humanoid walking around on what appears to be Earth, generations ago. Our Dr. Manhattan grey giant is seen drinking some kind of mysterious black goo (strangely pretty similar to the "Royal Jelly" from the Aliens comics if you ask me, right down to its same random occasional "effects"). Which seems to break the creature's DNA down and kickstart a strange mutation of sorts... who ends up dissolving into the nearby waterfall...

What appears to be the origin of mankind!! (That is, of course, completely ignoring anything we know about how evolution works... or any of the other living species on Earth... and don't get me started on how our DNA's supposed to be a complete match for these creature, despite looking nothing alike.. but that's asking too much from this pretty dumb film, as we're only getting started here..)

From this point forward, our story follows this couple of young archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway, in 2089 A.C.

Having just identified what might really be an old star map in Scotland - correlation is quickly easily made between all these various unconnected ancient cultures, and an expedition is mounted to go explore those very same coordinates in outer space. Could an ancient alien race be responsible fro the origin of mankind, some "Engineers" of sort? Probably guiding and leaving hints of their work through our civilizations behind. Where did I hear that before?

The Weyland Corporation (yes, part of that same later Weyland-Yutani Corporation) funds this expedition to the distant moon of LV-223. A crew of colorful but quirky scientists and workers is signed and all embark aboard the Prometheus spaceship in the search for adventure!

A synthetic, David, is kept awake to monitor everyone's status during the expedition.

What follows are plenty of shenanigans as a cartographer gets lost, a biologists plays with a visibly dangerous indigenous snake-shaped alien creature, both getting infected in the process, Shaw who couldn't get pregnant gets impregnated with a giant alien squid from the infected sperm from her fiancée Holloway that was infected by that same black goo above by David. The dudes that got lost turn into some sort of Xenomorph-like creature (foreshadowing the future Aliens we know and love), complete with semi-transparent outer skin. There's a lot of stuff teasing the inevitable outcome throughout the movie.

Oh, and the CEO Peter Weyland was aboard the ship all along! He tries to communicate with these so called "Space Jockeys" that is really just being cranky because he was just awaken. The Engineer turns out to be these giant albino bullies from the beginning, he kills Weyland right then and there while decapitating David at the same time. Don't worry. He's a robot, he'll live to see the sequel (hopefully).

The rest of the movie is really one giant chase scene out of a slasher film as this supposedly intelligent alien turns into your usual dumb silent monster and goes after Shaw at all cost during the rest of the movie while the result from the black goo side-story results in the aforementioned squid infecting the Engineer.

I'm kinda sad by this turn of event and the fact we completely abandon the moody tense first act for this more cliché resolution.

The movie closes on a shot of a new form of "Alien" creature being born from its contamination of the Engineer, a proto-"Xenomorph" if you will...

Prometheus had everything going for it.

The return of this fantastic film director to hard science-fiction and a beloved cult classic franchise being explored from a new interesting angle.

A fantastic cast starring the lovely Noomi Rapace, the always great Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce playing an old man for some reason, the very underrated Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and the great Charlize Theron.

A certainly interesting parallel to old Greek mythology, humanity defying gods (the same myth of Prometheus, "stealing the fire from God" that was the inspiration behind the original Frankenstein story). Plus a nice parallel withs the android David, in my eyes the best character from the entire movie.

The film also has some gorgeous photography, despite a lot of completely computer-rendered backgrounds. Where the likes of George Lucas or James Cameron end up drowning decent pictures with a thousand unnecessary details (see the Star Wars prequels or Avatar), Ridley Scott always had an eye for a gorgeous yet simple art direction. I'd say doesn't even have a thing to shy from the 1979 original classic on that regards.

Also, Marc Streitenfeld and Harry Gregson-Williams composed a pretty decent musical score, if a bit too upbeat in the later part of the film.

The film features some great special effects.

And that's about it.

We were promised such daunting eerie creepy movie from the original trailer that perfectly mimicked the original classic Alien! And then reality hit. And it hit really hard.

Instead of a clever thought-provoking science-fiction story, what we got was an action-fest with gorgeous visuals. Generic and uninspired creatures. The long-mysterious Engineers turning out to be just humanoid creatures.

The movie starts pretty well, mind you. The beginning gets most things right. Right down to the careful and slow pacing. Some gorgeous epic sets (such as the Scotland setting).

This couldn't ever live up to the level of hype a lot of us had.

I was hoping for intelligent protagonists, akin to older science-fiction classics that showed intelligent characters making rational decisions like in the original Alien or John Carpenter’s The Thing.

But you can't have an "intelligent movie" or message and have everyone acting stupid around in your movie at the same time.

I'm probably one of the biggest Ridley Scott fans out there, I loved his old cult classics as well as some of his more recent controversial outings (such as the very underrated Matchstick Men).

Even so I had to say... Prometheus is a movie very insulting to its audiences. Dumbing down the storytelling and completely ignoring the "science" part of science-fiction.

The genre has always been about challenging the boundaries of our imaginations and making audience think outside the usual norms and conventions. Daring the impossible. To ultimately explore ourselves through this futuristic mirror.

But Prometheus here is dumbed down by some of the stupidest plot conveniences and contrivances I've ever seen in order to have things "happen". And let's not even get to the theories of life on Earth presented here...

The movie does a lot of bad. It's wrong on so many levels. The plot, the characters, even its science! It's like the entire film is flawed to a broader dumber audience.

The movie is perhaps only saved by Ridley Scott's unique aesthetic. His careful and minutia attention to the details. Scott's film always have a great style and tone. He's very professional, and the picture here is simply gorgeous.

Do I like the individual aspects of it? Sure.

Did I like it as a whole? No.

It just feels very underwhelming.

It's all kinds of offensive on an intellectual level.

It's a beautiful looking film, I can't say that enough.

But when you come down to it, it's just closer to an old dumb silly scifi B-movie, on a big budget mind you. It's just as cheesy or bad as any of Reb Brown's scifi flicks!

One of these movies were everything only really happen because characters do stupid things.

They're all unlikeable, even our main Ripley-wannabe heroine (despite Noomi Rapace trying her best with what she got), so you just wait to seem them all die. The scientists are incompetent. There's really no relatable charater (besides the ship's captain who's just doing his work at best as he can with a ship full of morons).

It makes this story seem more dull than it could have been.

An entire space-faring expedition is launched on a whim, on very whimsical evidence.

There's no real diplomat or soldiers, any failsafe to fall back on should they ever come into this first alien contact. Just a crew made of stoner scientists?!

And in case you forgot this was part of the Alien franchise, we get yet another Weyland family member in this film. Guy Pearce in one of the worst possible "old person" make-up I've ever seen. I though at first this was maybe so he would get to play a dual role of some sorts... but nope. No younger version of Weyland, this served absolutely nothing.

Shaw and her fiancée are perhaps the worst scientists that I've ever seen in a scifi film. Everyone jumped to conclusions way too easily. No need to be reasonable aboard the Prometheus, entire theories are made out of thin air.

The two guys that mapped the entire place get lost when they were leaving and had wrist consoles to fall back on. Despite even the captain on the ship could easily give them the directions out of there.

It's like the movie is getting more and more surreal and stupid really quick as the story moves forward. One guy is seen getting high inside the suit. They see a pile of dead alien Engineers, that scares them into another direction they seemed to be running from. But then they decide it's the perfect time to chill out near the "death jars" around this dangerous alien black goo...

After getting an alien squid out of her stomach, Shaw has to staple herself and runs like no problem for the rest of the movie. There's a healthcare machine aboard the ship that doesn't recognize the different between male and female (hint hint: old man Weyland is aboard *wink wink*). She ends up walking, running and jumping around during the entire final act of the movie despite the massive dose of painkillers she jammed into her leg and the fact she had just cut a monster out of her. And for some reason Charlize Theron's character doesn't even try getting to her own escapepod despite mentioning so earlier and goes for a lifepod instead? Even if that meant getting killed because she didn't knew what was waiting for her, that also meant leaving the Engineer behind, instead she ends up getting killed anyway for no reason (beside not knowing to run to the side of a falling object).

Prometheus is a movie that makes very little sense through and through.

To make it "appear" smart, it just brings some issues up. But it ends up not exploring any of those really.

It's a pretty but stupid movie.

The same ideas had been done so much better under the same director, back in Blade Runner (the idea of an artificial being having a soul, wanting to meet one's creator, etc.). Those same ideas shouldn't have ever been the point of this movie. It is poorly written and it was huge letdown.

Overall, it's a gorgeous looking dumb movie.

I can only see Give It A Look if you're a fan of the genre or Ridley Scott. But this is absolutely not the best example of either.

Prometheus had so much hype before its original release. I know. I've perhaps over-hyped it myself, no doubt.

While everyone was waiting for a return of clever intelligent science-fiction, instead what we got with Prometheus was a great-looking dumb action film, closer to the mindless extravaganza from the likes of Roland Emmerich instead of something closer in tone to Ridley Scott's earlier work.

And for this, I was immensely disappointed in this film, still is to this day.

Hopefully we can look forward to someday get the proper experience we all were promised to. With news of Damon Lindelof not being involved in the sequel and with some chance some good writer keeping Ridley Scott's ramblings in check. We some chance, they can still get the Prometheus-follow-up/Alien-prequel idea right. Or else, we can turn to another medium and turn to Dark Horse Comics Prometheus comic book series for another look and perhaps a better handled take on the same subject.

I give it:
1.5 / 3 UFOs!

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