Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of Prometheus

Just in case any of you have missed my previous ravings, you should know before digging into this that I LOVE science fiction and horror films. Combine the two into one (think The Thing, Aliens, and several episodes of Battlestar Gallactica) and I am giddy. This love prompted me to wait with baited breath for the release of Prometheus, which put one of Hollywood’s most talented directors back at the helm of a sci-fi/horror film.

With that sad, it saddens me greatly to report that all I could think upon leaving the theater after Prometheus was “what were you thinking, Ridley Scott.”

So, the movie is about Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, some kind of Ph.D. I think. She and her partner Charlie find a series of millennia-old pictograms all over the world that they use to convince the Weyland Corporation to spend a couple trillion dollars sending them on a fact-finding voyage to a faraway planet. They seek “the engineers,” an alien race they are convinced created mankind, and will be able to tell them why. They arrive to find lots of dead humanoid bodies, and a plethora of troublesome little worms hanging out in a big pyramid. And all of the fun just starts from there.

In theory, this is the kind of premise that should make me giddy, but fundamental problems with the film and its script actually just made me frustrated.

First, let’s talk about David, the creepy android capably and convincingly portrayed by Michael Fasbender. Fasbender was great in this role. Unfortunately, it’s a role we’ve all seen before. From 2001’s Hal to the myriad of synthetic people in the Alien franchise, creepy robot man is played out. Add to this that creepy robot man’s motivation to wreak havoc in Prometheus is never explained at all, and you reduce Fasbender to a pointless plot device.

Then there is the fact that the whole “what the heck is going on here” question is answered towards the end of the film in a 30 second conversation between Dr. Shaw and the ship’s captain. This is a man who never left the bleeding ship, and spends the whole film saying “I just fly…” but suddenly and conveniently pops up with all of the answers at the end.

And other than major plot flaws, there is just a whole bunch of stuff that happens that is never explained or just not plausible. David studies ancient Earth languages, which somehow render him capable of communicating with aliens (who have a language that apparently has not evolved at all in a more than a million years). He also has a stunning knowledge of how to manipulate alien artifacts that he’s never seen before. Dr. Shaw has the uncanny ability to literally run around with a massive open incision in her stomach. Charlie has a keen insight into the need for his demise, despite having NO idea that he has purposefully been infected with an alien parasite.

On the good side, Charlize Theron is racking up her “I tried to save this wreck” points lately, and is wonderfully convincing as the cut-throat agent of Weyland Corporation. Noomie Rapace was absolutely fantastic as Elizabeth Shaw. Sadly, these brilliant ladies just couldn’t save it.

Two more months with this script might have cooked it a bit more and made this movie palatable. As it stands, however, my recommendation is to skip it.

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