June 10, 2012

Movie Review: Prometheus

It looks like Prometheus is creating quite the divide among the movie going audience, and really among the online critic community. I am not one to get in the middle of the squabble, but I will go so far as to say that while the movie is certainly not perfect, I love what it brought to the screen. It is an experience that drew me in, asked questions, and left without really answering anything. I am perfectly all right with that. I found Prometheus to be haunting, beautiful, weird, and sort of what I was wanting it to be. I say sort of because I really wasn't sure what what to expect from it. Sure, there are plenty of odd motivational issues and a muddled narrative, but the overall experience is something to savor.

When I first heard of Prometheus and its potential connection to the Alien franchise I was very much interested in the movie. When I first saw the trailer and gazed upon that footage, it quickly jumped to the top of my list and was easily my most anticipated film of the year. Then the mediocre buzz started to crop up as the release date approached. I momentarily felt concern, but chose to reserve judgment for after I saw it, and rightly so. Now, having seen it, I love the connections to be made with the Alien franchise (however, I believe there could be some debate if this works better as a prequel or a reboot, similar to X-Men: First Class).

Prometheus is a movie that seems intent on asking questions while not really answering much. Generally speaking, I like to see something resolved within the movie's runtime, but this time that does not happen and I found myself to be all right with it. I found that Prometheus speaks to humanity's thirst for knowledge and never ending stream of questions. It is a bigger movie than anything in the Alien franchise, it has an existential feel, a way of looking at big questions like where we came from, who created us, and the real big one of "Why?", while at the same time delivering some great visceral thrills of an action and horror in nature.

The story centers on Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) who is part of a team that discovers a pictogram that appears in various cultures separated by land and time. It is determined to be an invitation. So, funded by the Weyland Corporation, a big expensive expedition is sent out to the star system indicated in the pictogram. So, off they go on what turns out to be a mission to find God and ask him a few questions (not unlike Star Trek V).

All of this existentialism, faith questioning, personality posturing oddness is framed in a prequel that attempts to explain what was original just a seriously creepy bit of set design. You know, the scene in Alien with the big imposing alien thing that came to be known as the Space Jockey. Prometheus seeks to tell us who and what that guy is. Turns out, he could be a big important piece to the human puzzle. We see them, dead ones, a living one, a decapitated one, holographic ones, and it is surmised that we were created by them and then something went wrong.

Love it or hate it, Prometheus looks to give you a lot to chew on. I believe there are more answers there than initially thought, but even if there aren't, there is plenty here to fuel discussions. Everything is, essentially, told from the humans perspectives and a lot of what we believe about the Space Jockey's (or Engineers), is pure conjecture.

The acting is generally pretty solid. I think Noomi Rapace gives a really good central performance, as does Michael Fassbender as David. These are two very interersting characters and are important pieces to the puzzle that is the movie, their perspectives, the way they answer (or don't answer) questions, their motivations, all rather interesting. Other cast members are good but do not have much to do, like Charlize Theron's Vickers and Idris Elba's ship captain.

The look is gorgeous, many thanks to director of photography Dariusz Wolski. There is just so much to look at. Of course, Ridley Scott turns in some fine work here. It is probably my favorite Scott film in some time. It was written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindeloff.

Now, it is far from perfect, it can be nit picked to death, and motivations can be questioned. Still, I found the movie to be utterly fascinating, riveting, and hypnotic. The quality that is there easily overrides the problems. As a matter of fact, the problems that induce questions may be a part of its charm and why it works so well for me. While the characters in the movie are searching for answers, we are simialarly n a journey to put all the pieces together.

Yes, I loved the movie and I suspect it is one that will reward multiple viewings.

Highly Recommended.

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