Friday, June 8, 2012


In every magic act, it isn’t enough to make something vanish; you have to bring it back. In every juggling performance, it isn’t enough to juggle ten bowling pins; you have to catch them all. Such is life in the movie-making business. It isn’t enough to introduce plots, characters and mystery and keep the drama in the air; you have to reveal the mystery and catch everything that’s airborne. Perhaps no other film compares to that analogy as much as PROMETHEUS; Sir Ridley Scott’s much-anticipated return to the ALIEN mythology he created in 1979.
Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her lover/colleague Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are explorers who believe they have discovered clues to the origins of mankind on Earth. They hitch a ride on the Prometheus, a spacecraft owned by the Weyland Corporation and overseen by Vickers (Charlize Theron) and the artificial person David (Michael Fassbender).

PROMETHEUS sets itself up as a thinking-man’s science fiction film. It wisely, and effectively avoids the routine of humans arriving somewhere with monsters running around, and instead sets the stage with many, many questions; some philosophical, some scientific. As the plot progresses forward, the mysteries are revealed piece-by-piece, while opening up new ones.
And this is where PROMETHEUS begins to stumble. For every mystery solved, half-a-dozen new ones emerge, and not all of them are answered in full by the time the film wraps. The many mysteries the film poses in the beginning are addressed well, but it’s the new ones that are not fully developed. There are plenty of WTF moments that do not come full circle, and the film is very much an effective juggling act only for as long as the bowling pins remain in the air.

While Sir Ridley is weaving a narrative mess, he still manages to create a visual stunner. PROMETHEUS is a visual revelation, and proof that digital projection is here to stay (piss off, 35mm). There is exquisite detail in the awesome landscapes, and the heavy use of CGI is never intrusive. Sir Ridley’s has crafted a very good looking film with excellent pacing, good scares, and plenty of tension to make anyone squirm.
The somewhat-large cast gets whittled down in a hurry, with only a few scattered moments for any of them to develop. Noomi Rapace seems to get the most work, but never really sells the character. She is never given enough time to create chemistry with her lover, or tension between anyone else. The show is stolen by Michael Fassbender’s David android, who is very much a complete character and feels like Sir Ridley’s attempt at HAL.

The connection to ALIEN is a bit of a stretch and never fully gets to the finish line. The film only serves as one-half of a prequel to ALIEN, and it is unclear if we are to expect a sequel or to just fill in the blanks ourselves. It makes for a frustrating experience as it doesn’t fully answer the ALIEN questions, but more importantly, it does not address its own. PROMETHEUS hooks you early with the promise of a thoughtful mystery, one that we would have loved to have seen answered.

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