Prometheus (2012)

In the year 2093, a group of scientists travel to the far end of space, hoping to uncover the origins of humankind, and are surprised by what they find. [COPIOUS SPOILERS FOLLOW]

This prequel to Alien (1979) does a good job of tantalizing its fans with bits that link the two films, but might have been a more interesting movie if those echoes were more faint. Showing us the alien at the end was too blatant, for instance. (Also, oddly, the film starts to set things up so that the Engineer will be where the crew from Alien finds him, and then doesn’t follow through.) Prometheus suffers slightly from having a less streamlined narrative than the original. The focus is a bit diffuse, creating a bit of a stop-start rhythm. Exposure to the dark liquid leads to too many different results, and there are too many characters with different agendas. The movie also sacrifices credibility at times, having its characters behave in unbelievable ways in order to move the story forward. It made no sense for Milburn to exercise so little caution when faced with the snake-like life form. Shaw’s self-surgery also strained credibility, as did her ability to engage in vigorous physical activity immediately afterwards. Janek’s suicide mission wasn’t properly built up to, which made it hard to swallow. Having trouble believing in what the characters do might be one reason why none of them are memorable.

These are obstacles in what remains a compelling, inventive, solidly entertaining story. And the film is gorgeous to look at. Director Ridley Scott hasn’t lost his painter’s eye, or his talent for creating mood and generating suspense. He successfully conveys the thrill of discovery, and deploys his (often gory) special effects smartly.

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2 Responses to Prometheus

  1. Greg Mcd says:

    I couldn’t have said it better. I was beautiful to look at. I saw it in IMAX and it was jaw dropping. However, like you said.. some of the ways the characters acted just fell completely outside the normal human experience. The other thing this movie lacked for me was empathy for any of the characters. I didn’t like any of them on a personal level. I mean we all loved Sigorny Weaver and cheered as she kicked alien ass. Here though, all the characters were either too professionally greedy (science above all), stupid (hey look at the cute alien snake thing), or economically aloof (yes we own the company and if you all die so be it).

    However, this is a movie I think fans of the Alien series or Sci-fi in general should see. It not bad, it just not compelling. If you see it with someone you will come out talking about it and have some “serious” discussions about what it all means to earth, humanity and the future.

    • clauditorium says:

      To be fair, the “professionally greedy” and “economically aloof” qualifiers also apply to characters in the first two movies. But those movies managed to make those aspects interesting. As you said, there was no one to care about in Prometheus.

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