Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron
What is undeniable about Prometheus, is its visual beauty. While the content of Ridley Scott’s films are very hit and miss, visually, he is one of the finest directors working in film. This is an epic vision which absolutely stems from the man who gave us such classics as Gladiator, Blade Runner and this film’s distant relation, Alien. This film is filled to the brim with hauntingly beautiful images and like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, this is a film which you can take still shots from and hang up to appreciate as individual paintings. The cinematography, is suitably expansive, with each scene being lit and staged immaculately. The art direction is also something to behold as Scott’s crew actually built many of the constructs on camera, a refreshing and commendable approach for a film of this ilk and scale in this modern, CGI age. The costumes and visual effects are also of note and if there is one piece of aesthetic which fumbles, it is the old man make-up for Guy Pearce (More on that later) Scott is also fantastic at creating an atmosphere and the tone established throughout the film is one that strikes a balance between wide eyed wonder, cynicism, mystery, horror and thriller. The film is also very well paced and while some expecting a more action heavy film may find the first two acts to be slow, boring and to drag, I found them to be the film’s strongest movements. Despite being a visual masterpiece, the visuals are not the only reason to see this film.
This is thoughtful and thrilling science fiction. While many have criticized Prometheus for failing to provide a satisfying resolution to the questions it asks and ideas it posits, it is important to remember that such ideas and questions are rare for a film of this scope. It is admirable and refreshing to see a movie of this scale with such ideas, aspirations and scenes of genuine horror. If you’re a fan of science fiction, not only will you appreciate every frame of Prometheus from a visual standpoint, however you are also inclined to appreciate the film’s ambition and the fact that this is one of the few if only films this year, that instigates genuine and interesting debate, not just over its plot, but its ideas. Prometheus is the only film this year that I have seen 20 minute analysis videos of on Youtube, 4 page articles with hundreds of comments, analyzing its themes and quoting the Bible while doing so. Just because this movie doesn’t provide the audience with all the information some think they may require, does not mean that it lacks depth. Prometheus asks big questions to which there are no big answers. As somebody who loved Lost, I am one who can tolerate, revel in and live with mystery. I enjoy the fact that I am watching and reading intellectual discussions and debates about this film and I look forward to discussing certain scenes, lines and expressions and what they mean with my friends. There are few films that cost this much which give such food for thought and even if you don’t think they capitalized on some ideas enough, you must appreciate and acknowledge that they are there.
Reading about what was cut from the film, what is in early drafts of the script, what people are interpreting from certain images, is half of the fun of this film. However, this is not necessary to enjoy the film on a first viewing. As mentioned earlier, visually, Prometheus is a film which demands a big screen viewing and a Blu-Ray revisit, however along with some thought-provoking ideas, there are great performances to accompany them.
Michael Fassbender has over the past two years become many people’s favourite actor in the business and this film is another example of why. As the ship’s android David, Fassbender steals every single scene he is in and arguably the entire movie. Despite playing a robot, he has more charisma and screen presence than any other actor on screen. With his questionable motives, unpredictable behaviour, icy yet emotional demeanor and fantastic dialogue, it is his character who will be the source of much post-film discussion. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Holloway is despondent following a failure to find what he was looking for, so that he could ask why him and his kind were made. David asks, “Why did your people create me?” to which Holloway responds “Because we could” Fassbender pauses, before saying, “Imagine how disappointing it would be, to hear the same thing from your creator” His character is an inherently fascinating one, being an android, however he is also a walking microcosm of some of the film’s themes and ideas. He is a character walking amongst and working with his creators, seemingly aiding them in their search to find theirs. He has a piece of knowledge that these human beings will never attain, yet he does so at the expense of human emotion, or does he? Fassbender’s performance and the emotions he does or doesn’t decide to show, will be fascinating to analyze on repeat viewings. David is arguably one of the more fascinating and well realized characters in the entire Alien series. He also has what is arguably the film’s wittiest, funniest yet darkest line.
Noomi Rapace is also great in the lead role of Elizabeth Shaw, being the most grounded and real character in the film. Her drive, belief and spirit is a relatable, likable trait and when she says, “It’s what I choose to believe” it speaks for the whole film. Big underlying themes of Prometheus are choice, will, faith and belief. As many aspects of Prometheus are left ambiguous and to interpretation, it is reasonable to suggest that the entire film itself is, what you choose to believe. Her unbreakable faith is also a fascinating aspect of the narrative. When Holloway asks why she stills wears a cross, knowing that it was these, “Engineers” that created them, she responds by saying, “And who created them?” her character’s arc over the course of the film and what her character must deal with, along with where she is left in the narrative is one that deserves and will receive much thematic analysis. There is one particular scene in the film which will most likely be refereed to as THAT scene by those who see the movie, where Rapace must deal with this film’s equivalent of the infamous chestburster sequence in the original Alien. It is a disturbing, gory scene that is refreshing in its existence yet rightfully repulsive in its execution.
Idris Elba makes the best out of a small role, while Charlize Theron is even more robotic than the robot in a role that is rather one-note yet perhaps by design in a, is Deckard a replicant? way. However moving away from spectacle, ambition and performances, Prometheus does have some flaws. Casting Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland in this theatrical cut appears to be a completely unnecessary decision, leading to silly looking old man make-up. One hopes that in an extended cut there are flashback scenes involving a younger Peter Weyland, however if not it must go down as one of the more bizarre casting decisions in recent memory. Why cast an actor as great as Guy Pearce and then cover him with cheesy make-up and cut his scenes? The film also could have been a bit tighter towards its third act and a little more ruthless with its characters. However the film is arguably at its weakest, when it is being what it was, then wasn’t, then kind of was...an Alien film. The fact that Ridley Scott said you would need two more films to get to Alien and that this film doesn’t take place on the same planet, is something that seemed to elude some people. My problem is not that this film doesn’t directly lead into the first Alien, but rather that the connections to Alien feel slightly forced and crammed in. I can’t help but imagine what a Prometheus film would have been like, if it was merely the same universe as Alien but didn’t feel the need to lay groundwork for that particular film. I am particularly referring to the ending scene. While the final scene is admittedly very cool and slightly chilling, it only carries meaning and significance if you are knowledgeable and a fan of, Alien. It didn’t seem like the apt final scene and conclusion of this particular tale. The Alien connections also serve to lead many to unfairly constantly compare Prometheus to that film, forgetting some important things. Alien wasn’t the pinnacle of character development either and one of the reason’s for the existence of Prometheus is the fact that Alien also had many unanswered questions.
Overall Prometheus is one of my favourite films of the year. I admire its ambition and its symbolic, thematic depth which is sadly rare from films of this scope and ilk. I found the film to be a visual treat and to contain one of the best performances of the year so far through Michael Fassbender. The unanswered questions were a positive rather than negative for me and if there is an area where I think it stumbled and what I could have done less with (Ironically what most could have done more with) is the connections to the Alien series. Yes there are ideas they could have capitalized on more, yes they could have given us boatloads of exposition and yes it could have been a direct prequel to Alien. But for what it is, Prometheus is the kind of big, gory and thoughtful science-fiction that isn’t coming out of the studio system too often. Having said all that, I don’t want to see a sequel for Prometheus, like one of its characters, I would be happy if this film left us all still searching, ambiguity is good and necessary...that’s what I choose to believe.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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