Thursday, June 14, 2012

PROMETHEUS: Burns His Fingers

So my wife and I went to see PROMETHEUS last night, a movie I've been eager to see for a while now.  I figured from the imagery that it would be a "prequel" to the original ALIEN of 1979, which was a SF/Horror masterpiece and is still regarded as one of the scariest movies ever made.  The previews and commercials weren't giving away much, which I assumed meant that there was that much more behind the curtain for me to see  in the course of this much-anticipated sizzling summer super-film!

I was wrong.

I don't want to spend much time on this or ruin it for anyone who still wants to see it, but if this were a one-word movie review, that word would be, "disappointing".  Or maybe "let-down".  Or even "tease".

The premise is nice and promising and as the movie goes it does build steam and suspense.  It's good and creepy with some gory alien attacks and such and sets up a cool mystery with the discovery of other-than-human corpses thousands of years old with holographic replays of them running for their lives from some unseen attacker.  It asks all these great questions and has you asking more.  What it doesn't do is ANSWER THEM.  My biggest complaint about this movie is that it has the potential to do so much and never really does much of anything.  Most of the mysteries it creates are never solved.  There's all these questions you ask yourself and wait and wait for the cool revelations that answer them, and they never come.  The movie ends with a lot of ambivalence.

The visuals and acting and direction is all good stuff though.  Some of the characters are cool and interesting, some are cardboard cut-outs -- which you'll have, you can't have all 17 members of the crew be well developed, sometimes just the few quirks they add in gives all we need for unimportant characters.  Then again, some seemed semi-important with no development other than the expected stereotyping.  But don't get me wrong, it's a very cool movie experience...  as long as you don't mind being disappointed by the end of it.  We saw a 3D showing because the next 2D was an hour away.  Wouldn't recommend it.  The 3D effect is pretty damn cool, but you're effectively wearing sunglasses in a dark theatre: all the brilliant colors and crisp digital images and gory details of the movie get blurred down a shade, robbing you of some visual treats.

Another complaint I have (which is another question not quite answered) is: Is this supposed to set-up ALIEN?  If so, similar to the Star Wars prequels which tried so hard to, years later, go back and match up puzzle pieces so they align with original situations that were never intended to be lead-ins in the first place, the end of this movie leaves a mess that doesn't quite match up with the original movie.  Bodies that shouldn't be there, for one thing, and whatever else.  I prefer to think this was just one planet and that the crew of the Nostromo finds another with a similar "oops, we killed ourselves" set-up.

If THAT is the case, though, it leaves yet another unanswered question: did we witness what was supposed to be the unnecessarily complicated and convoluted evolution of the modern Alien xenomorph creature?  The process by which one person is infected so he can share his genetic material with another to create a new creature that infects yet another alien species so that something that looks close to but isn't quite our beloved Alien comes bursting forth...  It's like Ang Lee's evolution of the Hulk, like it goes out of it's way to have so many mutational steps to the process that no Hulk could ever be recreated.  And again, it doesn't all match up.  Which is fine, maybe this is a different strain or leads eventually to the one we know, but that question is posed but never answered.  

WHEW.  I wasn't planning on putting so much rant into this....  I think I'll stop now.

In conclusion, I'd give the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars: should be at least a 4,was hoping for more, but it just refuses to deliver.  If you haven't already spent too much money on theatre movie tickets, wait for the rental.


  1. That is the whole point of the movie, to answer some questions and leave a WHOLE bunch more unanswered.

    I would never go to one of his movies expecting things to be clear, they never have been. The mystery is in those details. He tells the story from what the humans can -see- and figure out, but they never -know- everything.

    You went into the movie looking at it the wrong way. Yes it was a prequel but it was not intended to be answer to everything.

    1. I can see that perspective, Lord Solar, that we only get what the human characters got from THEIR perspective. Yes, that's logical, but as a storyteller I'd hope he (they, really) would sculpt things a little more to let the audience in on some things. What's the point of telling a story if your audience doesn't get it? I'm not saying spoon-feed us; some of the best literature takes a lot of personal work and interpretation to get something out of it. There's value to the puzzle you have to solve yourself in order to get the cookie. But the storyteller should provide enough clues for that to happen. I don't necessarily want everything served on a platter but at least direct me to the kitchen so I can get it myself. (sorry, i tend to mix metaphors... and these all seem to do with food...)
      (And thanks for the comment!)