Threepenny Thursday – PROMETHEUS

21 Jun

**blah blah PROMETHEUS spoilers don’t read this if you haven’t seen it bblaaah**

It’s better fully capitalized, no? I like it when typography affects the way you perceive a title. It’s like I N C E P T I O N. It’s like, whoa, what’s up with that word. Must be important.

I was super excited for PROMETHEUS. Ridley Scott, the Prodigal Director, finally returning home to the genre he pioneered. I mean, dude made Blade Runner. ‘Nuff said.

But you know, he also made Alien.

Now, he goes back to plant another seed in that fertile cinematic soil – set in the same fictional sci-fi universe as Alien, but a hundred years earlier, when mankind decodes an “invitation” from the stars, and follows ancient maps to a remote corner of the galaxy, where the cradle of life itself may exist. The ship they travel on is guarded by an android named David, almost indistinguishable from a human, who watches over them as they soar in peaceful hypersleep across the cosmos. The ship’s name is Prometheus.

I mean, this is the stuff of geek Nirvana. All the elements were in place: the director, the cast, the crew, the writers – even the story seemed perfect. The stage was set for an incredible, terrifying sci-fi epic. It was hard not to watch the trailer and think, by God, this is going to be the best movie ever made.

So: was it?

I’m not going to give you a simple yes or no; this ain’t Siskel & Ebert, goddamnit. But I will tell you what I thought. And you will like it.

It was not the best movie ever made, and it was nowhere near perfect. But it was gripping, and intelligent, and beautiful, and enigmatic. My main problems had to do with the script, actually, which was a disappointment considering who was at the helm. I felt PROMETHEUS didn’t offer a cohesive story – character motivation was thin at best, and man, plot holes off the starboard bow. Plot holes everywhere, Captain.

The biologist, for example, sent light years away from Earth at disgusting expense in order to offer biological insight on as-yet-undiscovered forms of life, treats a newly-evolved horrifying pale wriggling alien snake-worm with the respect and care of a six year old. Oh, you’re assuming a remarkably cobra-like offensive position, intended to warn me not to move closer? Why don’t I coo at you and pretend you’re cute and be somehow surprised when you burrow down my throat and vomit your putrid alien seed into my gullet? For that matter, how did he and the “geologist” gun-for-hire idiot get lost in the first place? The ship has the capacity to display HD livestreams of people’s dreams, and offers huge 3D holographic real-time-generated maps, but possesses no recording equipment whatsoever, eh?

The ship’s captain – played by the ever-capable Idris Elba – had pretty much zero reason to sacrifice his ship, his life, and his crew at the end. He didn’t understand what was going on, and his character consisted almost wholly of the fact that he also didn’t care. But he was all CHAAAARGE, and it was very silly.

Oh nooo! A giant ring-like alien ship has crashed, and is rolling toward us! It is huge and will surely crush us if we do not get away! Maybe we should run IN A STRAIGHT LINE ALONG ITS PATH, INSTEAD OF AWAY FROM IT IN A LOGICAL PERPENDICULAR FASHION?

But – these are quibbles. Many films ask us to suspend our disbelief, and sometimes they can ask a bit too much. But to me, a big part of going to the movies is being able to experience things that aren’t possible, or that would never happen. I just ask that you tuck a believable, relatable human story in there somewhere.

On this score, PROMETHEUS delivers. The cast is stacked like flapjacks: Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, etcetera. All provide powerful, intimate performances, especially the big three. Rapace is awesome as the glass-half-full Elizabeth Shaw, and really pulls you in to her personal claustrophobia, fear, and pain (one particular impromptu-abortion scene springing readily to mind as a perfect example). Charlize, ever-exquisite, has never been icier – her turn as mission director Meredith Vickers is incredibly compelling. You can tell she is desperate to maintain control of every aspect of her life, hiding a fraught, screaming weakling behind a stone-cold exterior. Also, I defy you to tell me this woman would not make an absolutely perfect Samus Aran:

And I can’t say much about Fassbender as David that hasn’t been said already, but here goes: he’s hugely likeable and creepy as shit at the same time. He’s so controlled in his acting, so precise; I can’t imagine how difficult it must be not only to display no emotion, but to regard it with curiosity, like a butterfly through glass. The heeby-jeeby alien parts of this movie are nothing compared to watching David dye his hair to look more like Lawrence of Arabia. Because he likes that movie a lot.


I really enjoyed PROMETHEUS. It was visually stunning, unlike anything I’ve seen. Cinematography and special effects like these make a perfect exemplar of how it’s done right – put this flick next to Avatar and watch your weak-ass justification for liking that movie disintegrate. The music was pitch-perfect, as was the casting, performance, and direction. The problems I have with PROMETHEUS will be hilariously easy to fix with about 20 minutes of added footage and a re-edit, which we’ll no doubt get in the Director’s Cut. This is Ridley Scott, after all. And here, he’s made something very special – I can’t wait to see it in its full glory. As it stands, it’s a flawed, captivating film – fully worth your three pennies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: