Sunday, June 10, 2012

Prometheus Has Landed... A Movie Review

When I first heard about Prometheus, I remember the director, Ridley Scott, vehemently stating that the movie was NOT a prequel of Alien series. He kept the story going for awhile, but then finally relented and admitted that it was a prequel. But, after watching the movie, I can understand his point of view. A prequel, in the most basic sense of the word, is just a story that hits the necessary bullet points to allow the starting situations of a previously published story. The best prequels are usually very engaging, but they still only bring about what's necessary. In that sense, Prometheus is not a prequel. The events in the movie do allow for the the rest of the films in the series to come into fruition, but they also build an entirely NEW storyline. The way the movie plays out, it is entirely possible to create Prometheus 2, have it connected strongly with Prometheus and have NOTHING ELSE to do with the Alien film franchise AT ALL.

And I know that's what Ridley Scott was going for because of the reactions I've read online to Prometheus. People walked in with a specific expectation of what was going to happen, and were given something else entirely. Without ruining the film, I can't go into specific issues, but in general the consensus on the complaints people have is that the movie leaves too many questions unanswered. And that is essentially the point. Ridley Scott created a brand new film that is strongly tied to the Alien franchise, but can AND DOES stand on its own. This is why there are so many unanswered questions. Prometheus is the start of Alien AND SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY that just happens to take place in the same conceptual universe.

Speaking of concepts, let's talk about the story of Prometheus. No, I'm not going to ruin it for you. But the broad strokes of the plot are simple to map out. After some bizarre discoveries on earth, a scientific research mission is dispatched to explore a planetary system that could be the home of the creators of humanity. And, of course, when they get there, bad things start happening. The interesting part of the story for me, is the return to the core concepts of Alien. Things like the issues with overly optimistic science, the problems with scientific research without morality, and the dangers of operating with no caution or respect for safety in an entirely foreign environment. Although, I really enjoyed the evolutionary themes presented in the film and the many touches upon the religious aspects of the events of the film. 

To bring this story to life, Ridley Scott assembled a masterful cast. The whole cast was top notch, but my personal favorite had to be Michael Fassbender as the artificial life form (aka android), David. Fassbender's most powerful gift in his acting is the subtle changes he can make in his face and posture which adds whole volumes to his performance. Little flickers of disappointment and disillusionment, minor points of fascination and wonder, turned what would have been a stoic, cold performance to something much more compelling to watch. (I also LOVED the viral videos!!)Knowing the Alien universe, I knew walking in certain things were going to happen regarding David, so the disturbing nature of his performance was to be expected. But having that knowledge just made me enjoy Fassbender's portrayal all that much more!

The real surprise for me, in terms of casting, was Noomi Rapace, who plays Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. I was unfamiliar with her before this film. I had heard that she was the original Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish "Girl With Dragon Tattoo" series. (But I'm not Swedish, so I didn't see them.) She did have a part in the Sherlock Holmes sequel, A Game of Shadows, but she wasn't really showcased in that film, so I really had no idea of what she could do. After watching her in Prometheus, I can safely say that she is a truly amazing actress. In my opinion, she had the hardest role to portray in the film as her character had to journey from the traditional idealistic scientist to hardened survivalist scientist. Portraying someone who's world falls apart JUST as she seemingly is getting everything she wants is a very complex task and Noomi Rapace handles it effortlessly. It was truly epic to watch.

Rounding out the cast were Charlize Theron, who brought what's becoming her trademark intensity to her role as Meredith Vickers, corporate head honcho of the mission; and the always amazing Idris Elba who plays the captain of the Prometheus, Janek. While his part was a small one in the film, he did bring the "every day working stiff" mentality to the film which served to ground the story by showing that effect the search for truth has on the everyday workers.

In end, the thing that I enjoyed most was that Prometheus wasn't a horror film. Like his original foray in this universe, Ridley Scott made Prometheus a suspense thriller, and then added a mystery movie booster. Prometheus is a movie that truly plays with the expectations you walk in with, and holds you at the edge of your seat while making you think that you're going to get what you want, and instead offers you an entirely new product to enjoy.

If you're looking for an intense ride, even if you have NEVER seen any of the Alien films, I would definitely recommend Prometheus. It is an Oscar Calibur film!

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