Sunday, July 29, 2012
“Prometheus” – ncmplet.
Perhaps the biggest question I have is, “why did Ridley Scott feel the need to make an Alien prequel?” Maybe I’m in the minority, but I never wondered where the derelict ship came from or how the aliens came to be. Maybe Scott had more story to tell and it’s been nagging at him for thirty years. Maybe the studio just wanted another Alien movie made simply so they could print more money, regardless of how stupid the films get (see: Alien vs. Predator and its sequel). Regardless, it does not do the job of a prequel – instead delivering a half-told story with holes you could fit a comet through.
(Unrelated note: I recently read a column in which the author complained about movie reviews spoiling movies, bitching about the fact that some don’t have spoiler warnings. This person is an idiot. By their nature, movie reviews are essentially giant spoilers in essay form. Incidentally, this same fool did not mention how most movie trailers contain more spoilers than most wiki pages. So here’s the spoiler warning for that stupid, whiny columnist: NEWS FLASH…MOVIE REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS, INCLUDING THIS ONE. HAPPY?!)
The film begins when a couple of archeologists, Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover cave paintings that depict humans pointing at a cluster of stars. They assume this means that early humans worshipped beings from space and quickly identify the star, believing they have been invited to visit. (Seriously, from cave art they read, “Come on over!”) A short time later, they are on a ship making its way to those stars, hoping they will meet those beings, who they refer to as the Engineers.
En route to their destination, the entire crew is in stasis, except of David the android (Michael Fassbender). David spends the travel time minding the ship, performing hobbies, watching Lawrence of Arabia, basically being creepy. In a smarter movie, he would have been the main character (and one could make an argument that he was), but instead is relegated to a secondary character who we’re never sure is good or bad. When they arrive at their destination, the crew is awakened and briefed to the nature of the mission – to explore the planet circling the star for evidence of the Engineers and the Engineers themselves.
Rounding out the crew are Captain Janek (Idris Elba), Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) – a Weyland Corporation executive sent to monitor the mission, and a bunch of cannon fodder wearing space suits who definitely won’t survive to the end credits. Exactly none of the characters are developed to any kind of level where we would actually give a damn that they might die. Captain Janek is there because it’s a job, Vickers is as cold as any iceberg and may or may not actually be an android, Weyland exists as a hologram until the end the last few minutes of the film, David is an enigma, and Shaw and Holloway are the prototypical colleagues/lovers/unable-to-have-kids couple we see in too many movies these days. You’d think Ridley Scott would care a little more about this problem, but he seems to have focused solely on progressing the film to the point where our favorite acid-spitting xenomorph appears – the whole purpose this film exists.
The ship lands on the planet, the crew explores some ruins, and things start happening that make very little sense. For example, they activate some kind of holographic recording system that shows the Engineers running from something (we never see that something) that we assume to be the xenomorphs, but by the end of the film, we know this can’t be true. So what were they running from? Another example is the crew finding a room with a giant human head and those jars I mentioned, but then finding a cargo hold filled with thousands more of those jars. So what was the point of that first room, other than proof that the Engineers were stupid or bored? Continuing the trend, David collects some goo, adds some to Holloway’s drink; Holloway drinks it, has sex with Shaw, thus passing it to her; Shaw is now impregnated with something we eventually see as a not so great example of a CGI octopus-thing and David examines her, acting like he knew all along that this would happen. I realize there is some context missing there, but it really is as confusing as it sounds.
Perhaps the biggest bwaaaaa moment of the film is when Shaw comes to the conclusion that the Engineers were responsible for humans existing, but had developed a bioweapon (the goo, apparently) to eradicate humans from Earth and were on their way until that certain something that chased them in the hologram killed them all. It’s this conclusion that brought home the notion that we, as an audience, missed something that must have been cut from the film. That, or the clues were so subtle that we’d have to watch the film multiple times in order to catch them. And even then, we still would be asking the question, “so what the heck is the deal with David, already?”
All of these things add up to a film that, while visually stunning, is missing key elements that render the story a muddled mess at best. The characters do things that make no sense, including the time-tested cliché where a character tries to outrun a falling structure in the same direction it is falling instead of simply running sideways. In the end, you will have many more questions, including the most important one – when does the DVD with the director’s cut come out?
Rating: Sadly, I have to recommend you ask for seven dollars back. The visuals are worth seeing, but you need money back for the DVD, since those questions have to be answered and you need to sleep again.