Monday, June 4. 2012
Prometheus is, supposedly, NOT a prequel to the Alien movies - it's just set in the same universe and before Alien. Yeah, right.
There is some fun to be had with that: Alien looks very dated with (by today's standards) very low quality graphics, an incredible number of buttons and flashing lights and so on. In fact I blogged about watching it on my iPad and how weird it was. Prometheus, by contrast, has a ship with something that looks not impossible (although expensive and tricky) by today's standards - which makes it look a lot cleaner and more cutting edge than the bridge of a ship that comes after it. Oh well. Obviously the disappearance of this expedition caused the economy to tank and control systems to be completely redesigned.
You will also see, without trying, many character types you will recognise from the Alien films. There's the android of dubious loyalty, the money-motivated company man (or woman in this case), the stoner (although he's a geologist not a janitor) and the hard woman character. In fact, the incredibly hard woman character. It's hard to say much without spoilers but if you remember her medical procedure (you'll know which one) you'll wonder just what she's made of for the last 30 minutes or so of the film. Hard? Wolverine would have struggled to cope with that.
You will, without really struggling, also see a pretty decent sci-fi film despite some dodgy antecedents. There's many a nod to von Daniken for example. But the core story of go to an alien planet on some excuse, explore and die - well it's Alien, Aliens, Pitch Black and the like all over again and it's been long enough since Pitch Black that it doesn't feel like it's overdone and this is well executed with pretty special effects, several periods of ratcheting up the tension and the inevitably high body count.
There's several nods to some existential angst that wouldn't be out of place in Blade Runner - a much better antecedent than von Daniken - but which isn't really drawn out to a clear conclusion. And the rest of the film appears a little muddled at times, mostly because there are too many characters with strong, mostly hidden, conflicting agendas. The team is rather divided on itself but we don't understand enough of why (even by the end of the film) to necessarily agree that their actions made sense in light of their agenda. That's not true for all the characters - the captain is refreshingly straightforward for example - but is true of many. Prometheus is more complicated than a sci-fi/horror romp and perhaps it suffers a little for being complicated without quite paying off the complexity.
ALL of that said, the film may not be perfect but it is very entertaining. It sets up a not completely unimaginable sci-fi premise. It runs a story through that in a way that grips and entertains. It's brave enough to offer brain food as well as eye candy. A good way to spend a Sunday night.
Oh, and it appears Ridley Scott has an eye very similar to mine for 3D. I very rarely noticed it as a problem. I'm not sure it added much to the experience but it didn't detract and I don't recall once trying to look elsewhere on the screen than the bits that were in sharp 3D focus.
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