Summary: Prometheus is a great and captivating film. The dialogue and a few plot choices leaves room for improvement but overall the story offers an entertaining and thought provoking film. With beautiful vistas and fantastic sets, the movie is easily awesome eye candy.
Following the method I took with the Men in Black series I made an effort to watch the Alien series this week to help catch me up for Prometheus. Now, I had seen Aliens when I was younger but there were still large parts of the movie that I just couldn’t remember and needed to be refreshed on. Alien was a fantastic, albeit slow, movie that created an iconic monster that is easily recognized. My complaints were minor and mainly fell into the spectrum of the movie just being from a different era. Aliens was a lot better in my opinion, however the depictions of the marines was definitely a big detraction from the movie. Although there were two more movies in the series I stayed away from those based on recommendations from a lot of other people who said that they offered very little to the series. I attempted the third, which I promptly gave up on after being bored for nearly forty-five minutes. This helps illustrate the extremely thin line between good and bad Sci-Fi, which I’ll touch more on later.
Having seen both Alien and Aliens recently it brought up some questions about Prometheus. Would Ridley Scott be able to create another iconic movie and monster that would recapture the same eerie atmosphere and keep audience on pins and needles? Would the characters be a significant improvement from Aliens, and of course, where would Prometheus fall in line with the other movies?
Prometheus is a great movie but there are a lot of marks that it misses that keeps it from reaching its full potential as an amazing movie. I want to start with some of my complaints firsts. Although this complaint mainly has to do with the changing style of movies for the current generation, Prometheus still suffers from it. It has a really fast pace which in turn causes some of the reveals in the movie to be way too quick with very little build up. I personally like the build up when it comes suspenseful or discovery movies such as this, but I understand how hard it is to keep people’s attention in today’s movie going society.
One result of this fast pace movie is very little time to get to know any of the characters. Even as a crew of seventeen varying specialists in different scientific fields, this group feels extremely disjointed. We’re shown very little time with them together to get anything more than basic characters relationships out of them. In part this probably also attributed to a lack of individual characterization as well. However, this isn’t to say that they’re all without character. Michael Fassbender wonderfully portrays an android named David who has more development and the most interesting plot than any of the other crewmembers. Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw comes close but Fassbender’s David stole the show.
Although the overall story of Prometheus was fantastic and thought provoking, the individual subplots where cliché and left a lot more to be desired.
A few of examples would be the dating scientists. They had a story line going where the female was infertile but later finds out she’s pregnant with her boyfriend’s child after an alien has infected him. To me the surprise was broadcasted loud and clear as soon as they made any mention of the fact that the female couldn’t have babies. I felt like it had been done way too many times, and even though the characters being impregnated with an alien fetus has been a theme of the movies before I felt like there could have been a better implementation of this plot device. Another subplot I felt way too predictable was with Charlize Theron’s character, Vickers. We’re introduced to the man funding this Prometheus project early on in the movie. It’s pretty clear from the get go that the man, Weyland, favors the android, David, over Vickers who has been a long time employee at Weyland. We’re then shown a lot of exchanges between David and Vickers and it becomes quite obvious that Vickers is the daughter of Weyland, leaving the reveal later on in the movie both awkward and cliché. However, in this case I feel like the dialogue written for Theron’s character was lacking and just added to the already boring subplot. There are few more other examples but these were the main two.
Spoiler summary: The predictable plot points detract from the movie overall and probably could have been implemented a little better to add a fresher feel to the movie.
So what makes Prometheus a great movie? Well like I said, the overall story arc is definitely captivating. We’re all familiar with the big questions we all come to every now and then. Where do we come from? Why are we here? This movie takes these questions and runs with it. Now it might take some to an uncomfortable level, but the movie will propose an answer that will get you thinking. They also do an awesome job of setting up a parallel relationship with the Androids and Humans that helps put a lot of the plot in perspective. I can’t get into too much detail without giving away spoilers but the similarities are pretty easy to follow along with.
Going back to what I said earlier, Michael Fassbender as David is one of the major highlights of this movie. He nails the part as an android down in his movements, line delivery, and even in minor facial expressions. I’m extremely happy that they chose him to play the part, because along with his acting skills and a lot of story dedicated to him, the movie was able to flesh out the role of androids.
They’ve always intrigued me in the first few films but they seemed to just play the part of running analyses on the ship. I wanted more, and Fassbender delivers that. David is a curious and devious android who monitors the crew, and provides support not only on the ship but outside as well. The first time we get to see him the entire crew is in stasis while he continues about life without them. The whole segment of the movie reminds me of Wall-E and it gives a really interesting side on synthetic life. Potential Spoiler: If I had to go with a complaint about David it would have to be that there seemed that as character he flip-flopped a lot. Whether or not it was intentional or a misunderstanding on my part I feel like it wasn’t clear enough in the movie whether he was a good or bad character.
The other two stronger characters were Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw, and Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers. Shaw was the stronger of the two and had more depth than Vickers. We are shown that she has had some minor religious conflicts in her life and is introduced to death at a very young age. This sets up her character nicely to deal with the ‘where do we come from’ plot. Just as Ridley did with Ellen Ripley, he creates another strong female lead, or at least a great foundation for one. I would love to see more films with her as Elizabeth Shaw.
Now Theron/Vickers didn’t have enough time dedicated to her but I would have like to see more. Theron brought a cold and ruthless side to her that created a chilling project director. It would have been nice to see a lot more of her background which I believe would have made a subplot point reveal with her a lot more smoother. There’s a controlling fear that Theron brings that really sells her character for me. It’s a shame that they couldn’t have written a better plot for her.
At the very least, you can walk away from this movie having enjoyed just how gorgeous this movie is. From the beginning we are shown beautiful, breathtaking shots of earth. From green valleys, to rushing waterfalls, the movie paints an amazing vista. Even in the cold, grey laboratories there’s still a sense of beauty in a harsher sense. It’s safe to say that this is a movie I will look forward to watching on Blu-ray, and I can definitely see it becoming the movie that is shown to show off the capacities of Blu-ray.
Although the movie has some disturbing scenes I don’t think it recaptures the same dread and fear that the first Alien did. Nor does it create a monster nearly as iconic as the original Alien monster. I will say this however, we’re given a much broader view of the Alien/Prometheus universe and it leaves a lot of questions open as well as answering a few.
Prometheus is a great and captivating film. The dialogue and a few plot choices leaves room for improvement but overall the story offers an entertaining and thought provoking film. With beautiful vistas and fantastic sets, the movie is easily awesome eye candy. As I said earlier, there’s a thin line between good and bad sci-fi. The Alien franchise is great example of this. With what started out with two genre-changing movies the series quickly devolved into bare bone action fluff with little depth to them and in my experience took away from the first two. If I had to place Prometheus in there it would be in the middle. The film constantly teeter-totters on the thin line of good and bad sci-fi but luckily mostly on the good. There are moments where I’m completely engrossed in the film, and then there are other moments where I feel completely taking out of the film. Mostly these illusion-breaking moments come from badly scripted dialogue, or just little emotional attachment to characters. Thankfully, the movie does a great job of pulling you right back in with a new found sense of mystery in the world and creative futuristic technology that the last two Alien movies seemed to have forgotten about. Scott has laid the foundation for another set of alien movies and I look forward to seeing more. Although I don’t think he has created any new alien as iconic as the one we’re all familiar with he does expand upon the lore of the universe it makes me excited to learn more. I could have easily sat through another thirty to forty five minutes if it would have helped explain a lot more and develop characters more. It would have made the movie feel more fluid and would have solidified as one of the best. Hopefully Scott can fix these mistakes in either an extended cut or future films to come.
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