Prometheus (2012)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
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Overall Rating 66%
Overall Rating
Ranked #187
...out of 14,074 movies
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Connections: Alien

Following a faint trail of clues, the accomplished archaeologist, Doctor Elizabeth Shaw, and her partner, Charlie Holloway, along with a seventeen-man crew, embark on an ambitious, deep-space scientific expedition. Aboard the revolutionary space-exploration starship, USCSS Prometheus, the team sets foot on the rocky terrain of the desolate exomoon, LV-223, in 2093, to investigate the existence of the superior extraterrestrial species known as the "Engineers". But, there, inside a mysterious, complex structure of cavernous dark chambers and an intricate underground system of tunnels, more enigmas await. Now, a terrifying discovery threatens not only the outcome of the bold outer-space mission but also the very future of humankind. Is the world prepared for the answers to the fundamental questions of human existence? --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: July 04, 2012
You know, Prometheus has had quite an interesting development. It was originally announced as an Alien prequel, was subsequently given its origin-based title and announced that it had become a stand-alone project, before coming full circle and being labeled a "quasi-prequel" to the classic franchise. Unfortunately, the film itself is just as tepid.

In 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway have discovered another in an ever-growing list of celestial connections between civilizations separated by thousands of both years and miles. The pair believe that the connections point to an alien race that created mankind, and the evidence is enough for Weyland Corporation to fund a scientific expedition to where they believe these aliens originate from. The ship, the Prometheus, is helmed by Captain Janek, while icy Weyland representative Meredith Vickers is running the show. Also, Weyland has put the first model of their new android line, David, on board as well. After awaking from the two plus year long hypersleep, they locate their planet and descend to its surface. Charlie quickly points out a series of structures that he believes are not possibly natural, and the team suits up and set out. These structures house a large cave, and as the crew begins to map them out, it turns out the cave is actually a tomb. After stumbling upon a security hologram (I guess?), they see the former inhabitants running from something into a nearby vault. Inside this vault are a collection of metal canisters oozing a mysterious black liquid and the corpse of one of the creatures. As it turns out, that creature may be the source of everything they set out to learn.

When it was announced that Ridley Scott was returning to the franchise, I'm sure I was not alone as I prepared myself for another masterfully done claustrophobic horror movie. While Scott sure wasn't pigeon-holed into this style, it was what made the first Alien such a success, so I saw nothing wrong with assuming he'd return to it. Well, I was mistaken. I wouldn't even classify this as a horror. Sure, there's a few creatures running around, but not enough to tilt the genre in their direction. No, this is more of a sci-fi epic if anything, except without the "epic", pretentious pondering in place of the science, and a list a mile long of happenings that don't make an ounce of sense.

As you can tell, the force driving our heroes is the age-old question, "Where do we come from?" It's a noble enough purpose sure, but the whole affair becomes way too much human-centric, especially given the sci-fi setting. It takes away from the sheer vastness of space, and at some point you're going to reach the limits of disbelief. We're a speck, a quark in the universe, and yet Prometheus would have you believe that everything revolved around humanity. The never-ending barrage of Ptolemaic self-importance was just way too much for me. While Scott subverts the theme beautifully with a brief conversation between Holloway and David about his origin, this path stops at brief conversation. It's a deep and philosophical concept in a film that's about as philosophical as "why does nothing rhyme with orange?"

Honestly, I wish Prometheus had absolutely zero connection with the Alien franchise, because once you get past the existential nonsense, the constant throwbacks are more adept at causing viewers' eyes to roll rather than go, "OMG! I remember something vaguely like that in the other films!" which I'm sure was the actual intention. Chief among these decisions is the heavy inclusion of the Space Jockeys. For the two of you who don't know, the Space Jockey is the unofficial name given to the dead pilot in the egg-room from the first movie. He's been the subject of many fan speculations, but the films have wisely remained above that. Well, not anymore. Renamed Engineers, the entire nature of the creature Prometheus offers us is frankly depressing, and their relationship with humans is complaint number one in the last paragraph's domain. It's too much of a coincidence, and their inclusion is just vapid fan wanking. I swear, the whole thing feels more like a poorly written fanfic than a new chapter by professional film makers.

Another thing I wasn't crazy about was the early xenomorphs that are featured here. Again, their inclusion raises more questions then they answer. It's alluded that the creatures were bio-genetically created by the Engineers, which I really didn't have a problem with. The novels and comics have long hypothesized that they were too perfectly deadly to be a force of nature; I actually liked the fact that we were seeing the very origin, the first batch, of the monsters we all know and love. What I did have a problem with was the nature of the creatures. The cobra-looking facehugger / chestburster hybrid thing was one thing. I thought it was cheesy but whatever. No, what I really couldn't get behind was the first true facehugger apparently came to be due to a large addition of, here we go again, human DNA. Except this one is huge because bigger is better, and its implants apparently burst from their hosts as full-grown xenomorphs (see last paragraph). Plus, they've lost the terrifying sexuality that defines Giger's work, and they do seem a bit too far removed from the classic monster considering there's only a whopping twenty-nine years between Prometheus and Alien. While the genetic engineering aspect explains that much evolution in such a short period, it's not nearly enough time for that space jockey to be fossilized like he was. You know, I can respect that Scott didn't want to do a straight forward prequel, but to be honest, delving into the experimentation/evolution of these monsters as they already exist would have been a lot more entertaining, in my oh so humble opinion.

So, never mind the fact that these actors were given brain dead characters and placed in a plothole-ridden and under-explained hodgepodge, at least they did it well. The main protagonist here is Dr. Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace. She rose to fame with the Swedish adaptations of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, which I haven't seen, but given what she did here, I can definitely see her becoming more of a household name in the not-to-distant future. With that said, the strongest performances came from the supporting roles; I really enjoyed Idris Elba as the street-smart Captain Janek, and Sean Harris obviously had a ball as geologist Fifield. Of course, Charlize Theron never fails to please. And Michael Fassbender? Best Supporting Actor may not be out of the question here.

Prometheus could have been stellar. Sure, its place in the Alien franchise is awkward at best, but it's been made clear to us since the beginning that viewers shouldn't actively try and make that connection, but rather look at it for what it is. Too bad that what it is is pretentious and bland. It feels less like a movie and more like a setup for the true feature, the hypothetical Prometheus 2, and this may be the most offensive grievance of them all. 3.5/10.
Lucid Dreams #1: Lucid Dreams - added 07/06/2012, 09:22 PM
I liked it : ) 7/10
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