Postmortem: Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott, even when his films are sort of silly, like “Legend,” look absolutely remarkable.  He has an eye that manages to catch the smallest details, but his ear for nonsensical story beats is not quite so acute.

For instance, while “Prometheus” was gorgeous to look at, but if you give it any sort of consideration, it doesn’t necessarily collapse, though it does get a mite wobbly under the weight of scrutiny.

Whoever Cut This Trailer Deserves Some Sort Of Award Because It’s Awesome

  • Value

While I understand that, seeing that “Prometheus” is no longer in theaters seeing it in 3D isn’t really an option, I thought that it worked well for the movie.  It goes without saying that it was best in situations that were special effects-heavy, like when David accessed the star map of the Engineer spacecraft.

That being said, “Prometheus” is gorgeous to look at, and being in 3D only makes it more visually lush, but it’s hardly necessary.

Verdict:  I have yet to see a 3D movie–many of which are converted in post, as opposed to originally being filmed in the format–that was necessary in that the viewer is somehow missing something if it’s not in 3D.

  • Violence

“Prometheus” exists in the same universe as the “Alien” films (sort of) which means that violence is almost a prerequisite.  That being said, there’s nothing particularly shocking here.

Verdict: Violence goes with an ‘Alien’ film like Americans and firearms, and while “Prometheus” could have used a bit more, you don’t necessarily miss it.

  • Acting

Well done, because no matter how outlandish things get, everyone on screen takes it seriously.  And are there some high-powered actors here, like Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce.

Verdict: Acting matters, and typically for Ripley Scott, he chooses some of the best actors working today.  And he does so not in a Christopher Nolanesque fashion, which means that you don’t have Guy Pearce playing a butler or something silly like that.

  • Villains

There aren’t any villains in Prometheus, per se.  You might think of Meredith Vickers (Theron) as a baddie, but she doesn’t have the gravitas (less do to the actress that the writing) and is more irritating than anything else.  The same thing applies to Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) who for some strange reason finances a multi-billion dollar space mission that he has to sneak aboard.  David (Michael Fassbender) is a robot, and assuming that you have seen the original “Alien” you’d know that robots cannot be trusted because they may initially seem loyal, but the minute their corporate overseers stumble upon something with the potential to be weaponized, they’re going to try to kill you.

Even the Engineer, supposedly the alien species responsible for humanity existing, isn’t necessarily evil more than he simply don’t seem to like humans.  In fact, nothing in the movies says that their intention is even necessarily hostile, though for some pretty flimsy reasons everyone involved with this movie comes to that conclusion.

Verdict:  No villains to speak of.  Heck, even the xenomorph from the original Alien wasn’t necessarily evil in the sense that sharks aren’t evil, despite their tendency to devour anything that will fit in their jaws, including people. 

  • Heroes

Just as there are no villains, there are also no heroes, though the actions of some characters could be called heroic.  For instance, when it’s learned that the Engineer ship, if it escapes, would supposedly take its cargo of mutagenic black goo to Earth, the captain of the Prometheus, Janek (Elba) and his crew, Chance (Emun Elliot) and Ravel (Benedict Wong), rammed it, destroying themselves and their ship in the process, though also crippling the Engineer ship, which crashed.

Verdict:  Beyond the actions of Janek and his crew, no real heroism to speak of

  • Story

The weakest link is unfortunately the most crucial.  The greatest problem with “Prometheus” is that it there are so many instances that make no sense that it becomes an exercise in frustration at times.

For instance Millburn (Rafe Spall) is a biologist, so you’d think that he would know that caution is the order of the day when dealing with terrestrial species, never mind alien ones.  But not this biologist.

Instead he treats it like a a puppy, and paid the price for his stupidity.

Or Fiefeld (Sean Harris) a pot smoking geologist who, despite the use of some pretty advanced mapping technology, manages to somehow get lost despite being in an area mapped previously.

Or David (Fassbender) who for some reason infects scientist Charlie Halloway (Logan Marshall-Green) with just a drop of the black goo that they discovered in the Engineer spacecraft, with disastrous results for Halloway.

Even the Engineer, when it’s revived, is remarkably hostile, for no apparent reason.  In fact, there’s no clear reason why anyone does just about anything in this movie.

And someone needs to explain to me why Weyland stowed away aboard HIS OWN SHIP (or a ship his company financed, at any rate).  The explanation the film gave was that he did so because he expected that the Engineers, who supposedly engineered us, would be able to extend his life.

OK.  I get that.  Now why would he stow away ON HIS OWN SHIP?  If I were him I would have said:   “I paid for this ship, and I want to go on the expedition.  Any questions?  And did I mention that I paid for this ship?

And why, why, why did Meredith Vickers (Theron), when she knew damn well that the Engineer space craft had not only crashed but was rolling her way like an giant horseshoe of death and destruction, run in a straight line?  Unless her goal was to be crushed by the aforementioned spacecraft–which is a real odd thing to want–I just don’t get it.

Verdict:  “Prometheus” as a movie is gorgeous.  The ship looks realistic, and the movie itself is atmospheric and moody in the best possible way, which is why when it, in fits and starts, goes absolutely no where is so disappointing.


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