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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Prometheus Review (2012)

All major spoilers are found after the review simply highlight them blank section after the review to read.  Feel free to discuss the film and any spoilers in the comments section - just be sure to put the word SPOILER in caps before you reveal anything.


This film does contain plenty of scares, gross-outs and chills, but it also proposes many questions, forcing you to engage your brain, rather than turn it off.  Sure, it is not flawless - few films are - it is a good discussion piece and an entertaining one at that.

A movie trailer can be a film's best friend or its worst enemy.  A successful trailer can attract an audience that would never have seen the film in the first place, leaving them satisfied.  An unsuccessful movie trailer can mislead audiences as to what genre the film belongs in, unbeknownst to the audience reveal spoilers that would have been enjoyable had they not been seen already or most often it oversells a mediocre film, raising expectations to an a attainable level.

How many times have you heard someone say, "all the funny/scary parts were in the trailer" or "the trailer showed the whole film?"  Well thankfully, neither are the case here.  The Prometheus trailer came out of nowhere; shrouded in mystery, had amazing sets, incredible levels of tension, a little known cast and a name that no one besides those with a firm grasp on Greek mythology had heard of.  It was awesome.  It quickly becoming a must see trailer of the upcoming summer season.  (You can watch it here if you dare.)

Everything seemed to set this up to be a success story of the summer.  Then something went wrong, people were leaving the theater disappointed with complaints like: questions weren't answered, it was too confusing, it was just another one of those movies.  In the case of Prometheus it was both benefactor and victim of its own killer trailer.  

As the credits started rolling I had a similar response... but then something happened, I soon found I could not stop thinking about what I had just seen.  I contemplated the ending as I walked to up the escalator, then some more as I walked across the lobby.  I forgot about it for a little while as I was being screamed at by a lady accused me of hitting her with the theater exit door (who in their right mind stands behind a door?!?)  Not long later I continued thinking about it while I ordered my Mexican food.   The deep thought resumed later that evening as the said Mexican food gave me terrible stomach pain (and then some.)

My gut reaction was to be letdown, but the fact that is resonated with me so long proved the film and trailer's effectiveness to sell the film correctly.  This was a thought-provoking film, not a thought ending film - which is why I really enjoyed it.  The film proposes many questions, from the scientific to the theological.  Sure some of those questions were left unanswered, but look what happens when the questions are answered, the conversation switches from what the film may have been saying to you saying how much the film sucked (i.e. The Matrix sequels and the Star Wars prequels.) 

In an attempt to not spoil I will lightly touch upon the film's more thought-provoking aspects at the end (you have to highlight it to to read it.)  Instead I will cover several of the other admirable elements to the film, from the acting to the beautiful and often haunting sets, that deserve some attention.  Overall the film is quite tense, we follow a team of space explorers that have followed a map they feel was left for them to hopefully meet our creators.  We do not know where they are going or what to expect when they arrive.  Each and every corner provides another series of questions and some increasingly creepy surroundings.  Which leads me to the visuals, the film creates stunning environments, some haunting, some beautiful.  I saw it in 3D (other than a few scenes this format does not add much) and was impressed with how quickly you forget you are watching studio sets and believe these environments and technology exist.

The cast is well lead by the scientist, Elizabeth, (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Noomi Rapace) and her android co-explorer, David, (Michael Fassbender) as a wonderfully portrayed android - not quite human, not quite robot.  Both provide fine performances on opposite sides of the exploration - one dedicated to the finding the answers of man's origin and the other seemingly in a mission of his own.  Fassbender's performance is the standout of the film.  Unfortunately, Charlize Theron's is not - she is given little to do other than bark out orders and stare at video monitors... an unrewarding role.

This film has much more to say than a trailer can contain.  It is not a mood piece as so many films in the same genre are - by that I mean, we are not supposed to be satisfied with just knowing we are going to be scared, questions arises, twists occur and you do get plenty of seat squirming, gut twisting scares and gross out moments.  I recommend you see it.  8 out of 10

For those of you that have seen it, here are a couple discussion points (SPOILERS) highlight below to read.  You have been warned.

If you have seen this film you should realize one thing for sure it is not your father's Alien movie. Yes, for those that missed it or are unfamiliar with the film series, this is a quasi-sequel that creates back story for a franchise that focused on a more visceral than cerebral response.  This film does contain plenty of scares, gross-outs and chills, but it also propose the much references questions noted above, forcing you to engage your brain, rather than turn it off.  Sure, it is not flawless - few films are - it is a good discussion piece and an entertaining one at that.

Some of the questions we are left to deal with are directly related to the world of the film, while others transcend beyond the film itself.  

Some of the questions left open by the film:
Why did the engineers turn on humanity?
Is the clue of 2000 years a reference to the time of Christ?
Why did they create man in the first place?

There are plenty more, feel free to discuss them - these are just a few that stood out to me.  The last one is the most perplexing, not just in the realm of this film, but also in life.  

A great exchange occurs between one of the explorers and David the android: 

David:  Why we do you think your people made me?
Rick:    They made you because they could.
David:   Can you imagine how disappointing it would be to hear the same thing from your creator?

These are the types of questions the film asks?  The answer you choose to believe may come from inside you, your religious beliefs or from science.  Which is correct?  Is there a correct answer?  

Another question that popped into my head that will not go away is just because (if you believe) our creator/engineer has made us, are we naive to believe that there needs to be an unconditional love for us?  Can/will our creator someday decide to wipe us out - through natural disaster, by putting power in our hands for a self-inflicted destruction or like in this film and the less successful Legion, will the engineers return to wipe us out by their own hand?  

It may be unfortunate that this film is so connected to the Alien series.  It really in no way needs it, other than to possibly obtain the financing needed to produce it.  Otherwise the connection only creates a certain level of expectation for Alien-esque type action/effects that are great, but not necessary to allow this to succeed.  If the inevitable Alien standards were not going to make their required appearances the film may have been free to venture even further.  I am sure for Alien fanatics this additional back story is a welcome treat, for those not familiar with the series some scenes will provide a different response.

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