Thursday, August 2, 2012
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green
It took me a long time to actually write this review. In general, if I hate a film, everything I have to say about it sort of gushes out in a textual babbling brook of semi-coherent rage. I've given it a lot of thought in the last month or so, and it's fair to say that if I don't actually hate Prometheus, I certainly dislike it.
I think the only things preventing me from hating it are as follows:
--The stunning appearance of Michael Fassbender, who is fabulous in everything. His role as David, the android everyone knew had to appear in the film, saves it from being completely terrible. His performance is nuanced - childlike, curious, excited, cold, sympathetic, creepy. He was also part of an incredible viral campaign that is more successful than the finished film.
--Noomi Rapace gives the best performance she can, considering the limited, flawed material she had to work with. After The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, she gives the sort of demanding, physical performance audiences have come to expect of her.
--The Giger artwork that was unused in the first Alien film makes a welcome appearance here. If you still have the chance to see this film in a theater, it is worth doing so only to see his forbidding, strangely erotic landscapes.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Prometheus, as everyone already knows, was intended to be a prequel to Alien and a return to the series for director Ridley Scott. Penned in a hurry by Lost writer Damon Lindelof, Prometheus follows two scientists, Shaw and Holloway, who manage to secure funding from the Weyland Corporation to track their findings to a very distant moon. They believe humanity has alien creators, which they dub the "Engineers," and that they reside on this moon. They find evidence of a species they believe to be the Engineers, who seem to have died from a mysterious epidemic. When a major storm approaches, they are forced to discover what killed the Engineers and find the reason humanity was created.
I don't intend to give away any spoilers with this review. Aside from a variety of small, nitpicking issues that I won't bother wasting the time or space to address, I have two major concerns with the film. First and foremost, the two main characters are religious scientists who eschew evolution. A film about a religious scientist (or a pair of them) could be incredibly successful and thought provoking with a well written, developed script that asks interesting questions. Prometheus does none of these things and expects us to accept that two scientists allegedly at the top of their field (archaeology) are not only motivated by a passionate belief in a creator, but are also a romantic couple. The use of science itself is also extremely troubling, as Holloway, the male half of the partnership, does little but complain or sulk during his screen time. Shaw makes up for this by carrying the emotional weight of the film and doing all the science imaginable. All of it, despite the fact that she is an archaeologist, not a trained biologist, geneticist, geologist, etc. About the only thing she doesn't do is physics. Maybe that will be in the deleted scenes.
The second issue I have with Prometheus is the absolute waste of secondary characters, side plots, and a total failure to discuss or explore character motivations. Not a single character, except maybe Shaw, is given any sort of decisive motivational factor that feels developed. We learn she's religious because of her father, but not why that has so thoroughly impacted her career, why Holloway puts up with these shenanigans, or why the Prometheus's crew is able to choke it down. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. To fully discuss the wasted characters and incomplete plot elements, I would have to reveal spoilers and, more importantly, I would have to waste more time writing about this disappointing, mediocre film that pales dramatically in the shadow of all of its predecessors. Yes, even David Fincher's Alien 3.