Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prometheus


Prometheus... this is another example of a trailer completely selling me on a dark, intense movie that I wasn't initially aware of. Being a big movie buff, I had heard that Prometheus was coming out this year. I knew it was supposedly some kind of prequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien" movie. However, prior to seeing this trailer, I had absolutely no desire to even seek out this film. Once I watched the teaser, I immediately got excited for this movie's release. I even went back and watched the original "Alien", as well as "Aliens" for good measure. Based on everything I had researched beforehand, this movie was supposed to unravel the Space Jockey's mysterious origins (the fossilized creature sitting in the pilot's chair before the crew discover the eggs). Ridley Scott has been insisting that this isn't going to be an Alien origin story. If you are expecting to see the creation of the xenomorph, get that out of your head. This movie is closer to a spin-off than an actual prequel, though we do get some answers about that elusive Space Jockey.

The story begins with a small group of scientists in Scotland, excavating an ancient cave and finding the last piece of the puzzle they've been looking for. The next scene is on the space vessel, Prometheus, where these scientists explain that they are seeking the creators of mankind. Pretty big theme to be taking on, right? Particularly when they were supposed to be focusing on explaining the history of the Space Jockey. The remarkable thing is, however, that though this movie veers off in a totally new direction, it isn't necessarily a bad move. Damon Lindelof, famous for his contributions to "Lost", wrote the screenplay for Prometheus, and at certain points you can sort of tell. The story is tackling ginormous themes, not least of which is the actual title of the film (referencing the tragic character from Greek mythology).

Despite the enormity of the project and the unrealistic expectations that must have been thrust on this film, it's surprisingly satisfying. Not only do the themes feel fully fleshed-out, but the characters are interesting, the conflict imposing, and the mystery intriguing. This film has plenty of spectacle, and may be the most beautifully captured piece of cinematography since INCEPTION. The problems that I have with this movie are partly its connection to "Alien", but also with the complex narrative. I've already praised Lindelof for his great writing, but he also has a tendency to indulge in mystery and neglect the revelations. I'm sure he's trained himself to do this after years of working on "Lost", but it is somewhat unfulfilling in a movie universe where the story has to feel self-contained.

On a slightly unrelated note, Ridley Scott has talked openly about his desire to make the film R-rated, though he also admits to making another cut for a PG-13 rating. The end result is honestly a coin-flip. I don't think this movie is any more intense than The Dark Knight, but there are some more disturbing images that aren't often seen in PG-13 movies. But never mind that, this movie is exactly what I was hoping for when I saw the trailer - really dark and really intense. There are a few scenes in particular that will have you squirming in your seat and, conversely, unable to keep your eyes away. This movie is very good, and I definitely recommend it to fans of sci-fi with a touch of horror. I give it a solid three stars.

PROMETHEUS is rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.