Prometheus

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Bottom Line: Of what I’ve seen thus far, Prometheus is the best film of 2012.

“Big things have small beginnings.” –Michael Fassbender as David

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris

The cinema has reached an era in which just about every science fiction and horror movie is doing the exactly the same thing. For sci-fi, it’s using brilliant special effects and claiming that’s the film’s plot. For horror, it’s using tactics such as loud music and objects popping out of nowhere, a clichéd leap of faith filmmakers take in hopes of getting a jump out of the audience. PROMETHEUS, though a combination of the two genres, is the polar opposite. Filmmaking giant Ridley Scott prefers to build up on our suspense, minute by minute, and then give us a nice jump so that we, as the audience, don’t feel cheated. To say this doesn’t have mind-blowing special effects would be like saying Whitney Houston didn’t have a voice. It’s defined by its incredible visuals, but it’s also even more deeply defined by its plot.

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Welcome back, Sir Ridley Scott.

PROMETHEUS, set initially in 2089, follows Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), two archaeologists who find an artifact that could lead to the discovery of humanity’s origin. Four years later, a man by the name of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) sets up the USS Prometheus to orbit the moon LV-223, where it is said there resides a race of ancient aliens who could possibly be the original humans. A problem occurs on this mission when the alien race begins infesting on and attacking the nine crew members, and the fate of Earth’s future is in their hands.

“Sometimes to create life, you have to destroy first.” –Michael Fassbender as David

Say what you wish in the debate, but PROMETHEUS is a prequel to 1979′s ALIEN, if not a “quasi-prequel.” The characters do not share the same names between the two films, but they all represent each other. The classic example of a strong female character Sigourney Weaver gave thirty-three years ago is echoed by Noomi Rapace (who deserves an Oscar for her performance), for instance. The facts that the film directly leads up to the original work, the pacing of the two works are exactly the same, and the sci-fi and horror genres are blended in the same fashion, cannot be missed either. PROMETHEUS also acts in the likes of 1968′s influential 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. 2001 raised questions about the future and left the questions unanswered. This much more recent picture raises questions that are slightly more philosophical, related to life itself and humanity’s origins. The plot hints at it, but you wouldn’t expect the film to go so thematically deep and mesmerizing, which is one of the many things that set it apart from a conventional sci-fi/horror film.

“A king has his reign, and then he dies. It’s inevitable.” –Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers

Just as mind-blowing as Scott’s unthinkable ability to raise such pensive questions is the technical aptitude present in PROMETHEUS. I’m not the biggest fan of 3-D screenings. Usually, it’s just throwing in Abraham Lincoln’s monetary face to what I already have to pay and getting nothing more than objects appearing to bulge off the screen. I must say, the film put 3-D to a wonderful use. The first half an hour entailed larger-than-life landscape displays. During action sequences, especially near the end, the shots are careful and lead for a very thrilling experience. The best scenes to experience in this visual enhancement, however, are the scenes with alien organisms erupting from bodies, which put the steady shots to the most convenient use.

“The trick is, not minding it hurts.” –Michael Fassbender as David

As far as I’ve seen, PROMETHEUS is the best film from the first half of 2012. Science fiction and horror have been separately a disappointment lately, as mentioned before; clearly Sir Ridley Scott knows how to break away from his more recent films (ROBIN HOOD, BODY OF LIES, AMERICAN GANGSTER) and successfully reinvestigate his melded science fiction and horror roots that brought his name to familiarity.

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WINNER
Best Sequel/Prequel/Remake/Reboot

NOMINEE
Best Picture; Best Actress (Noomi Rapace); Best Editing; Best Original Music; Best Effects; Best Open Door to a Sequel

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  1. I liked Prometheus, but felt it was a little disappointing compared to some of Ridley Scott’s other science fiction films, Alien and Blade Runner, though both are among some of the greatest films ever made. The film’s greatest strengths are Scott’s directing and Michael Fassbender’s acting. Overall, I wouldn’t compare it to Alien or Aliens, but would say it’s far better than Alien3 and those Alien vs. Predator films. Good review.

    • First of all, let me express that I’m glad you didn’t say it was bad. I recognize a bad movie when my mind drifts off from focusing on the movie to pondering about where the popcorn cornels came from, all on its own. This film excited me so much, I started out with a large bucket of buttered popcorn on my lap, and about twenty minutes before it had ended, I had conquered the entire bucket all on my own, cholesterol and all. I think I caught myself, once or twice, shoving cornels into my mouth like I never had before, but I was probably doing it so much more, for all I know. I was too focused on the movie to keep track.

      As for your assessment that it was disappointing, did you expect it to be an Alien prequel? I’d assume that had the critics not listened to Scott’s statement that it wasn’t an Alien prequel, and instead gone in expecting one, it’d probably have gotten much kinder feedback. Like the “Tomatometer” would be at 94% rather than 74%, probably.

      I can’t say anything about how it compares to Alien3 or Alien: Resurrection. I passed on both those, though I’m slightly curious about Alien3, because it started out David Fincher’s career. He’s not my favorite director, and I’ve only seen two of his films, but he’s still a big name in the directing field of the cinema. As for Alien and Aliens, I wouldn’t say this is quite as good as them, even with those two being as dated as they are. AVP and AVPR…this was so much better. Those two were just plain silly, it’s not even funny. Actually it is, but unintentionally. :) Thanks for commenting, as always.

  2. Wow… after hearing some bad things I am finally starting to hear some good things about this. With us not having a disagreement before (save for Good Will Hunting and Crazy, Stupid, Love), I’m excited to see this next week. This and Moonrise Kingdom are my most anticipated movies of the year. Excellent review. Man, your review makes me wish I was seeing it today. :)

    • I’m so glad to hear I’ve made you that much more anticipated. I just came back from church (I was going to write my review right now, but I woke up early and figured I would be fidgeting throughout church like a wild animal using interesting medication if I didn’t write my review immediately :D–I still feel a bit slap-happy anyway), and immediately after it ended, one of my friends bolted up to me and told me they read my review and begged their dad almost immediately to go see it. So I’m glad I’m getting great feedback.

      Moonrise Kingdom, I actually hadn’t heard of until Mark Hobin reviewed it. I haven’t watched any of Wes Anderson’s films–though I really want to see Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou–so I haven’t really kept up with his work and his future films. However, after hearing Mark give it his first perfect score for a 2012 film (at least I think), I’m anticipating it heavily. My most anticipated films (other than the ones I’ve already watched, which were Prometheus, Dark Shadows, and The Avengers) are Moonrise Kingdom, Les Misérables, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, The Great Gatsby (though after seeing the trailer yesterday at the theater, that one looks like a piece of crap), Snow White & the Huntsman, and Paranormal Activity 4. Though I don’t know if that last one’s actually going to come out. Or maybe the reason the plot and cast are not on IMDb yet is the same as last year’s (and probably the year before’s): to keep it a mystery.

      • I haven’t seen any movies of 2012 yet… That will chance this coming week. It’s hard for me to make it out the theater, especially because I have to bring a parent. So if there busy, or I am, no movie theater.

        I know about that trailer. I wouldn’t loose all hope still. Trailers I have loved have turned out to be bad movies, same the other way around as well. Actually I am going to watch two new movies right now. Goon and It’s Kind of a Funny Story, hope they are good.

  3. Enjoyed reading this. Lately it seems I have to justify why I liked this film. No problem here. I think you loved it even more than I. I’m really glad because Ridley Scott makes the kind of films I want to see more of. Bring on the sequel!

    • Thanks! I love how Scott ended this two ways: one with a conventional narration by Noomi Rapace that led into an inevitable Prometheus 2, blackout, then another following that let into Alien.

      P.S.: I’ve always been pronouncing it (pro mee’ thee iss”), but I was taken aback a bit when I heard my friends this morning calling it (pro” muh thee’ iss). I guess it can be pronounced both ways, but just out of curiosity, how do you pronounce it?

      • Steve Allen

        Dude, you saw the movie and loved it and yet you don’t know how to pronounce its title after sitting there for two hours hearing the characters call the ship by name? This lame, idiotic film deserves your rave review.

        • Umm, thanks for commenting? I’ve actually never heard it called “lame” or “idiotic” before so thanks for treating me to something new. I’ve heard people say it’s utterly disappointing, but not something of that sort of banal, third-grade vocabulary. ;) And if you weren’t so lazy as to read only half the comment, you would see that I was asking out of curiosity how MARK pronounced it. I know, they pronounced it like I had, but I was curious as to if there was anyone else who was calling it (pro” muh thee’ iss).

          P.S.: What the hell is wrong with you? This is your first visit to my blog and you decide to use that as a chance to insult me? Go back and read some of my other reviews if you didn’t like this one, for crying out loud!

          • Steve Allen

            If “lame” and “idiotic” are too banal for you, let me suggest it’s also ponderous, pretentious, derivative, inconsistent in tone and feel, etc. I know you love the film and you can go ahead and enjoy it, but I found it fairly worthless. I am reading your other reviews and in some cases we share likes and dislikes, but not on Prometheus. I will say I love the poster art for Prometheus, Godfather Part 2, This Is Spinal Tap and Lost in Translation. Keep watching and writing and I’ll keep reading.

            • I was about to congratulate you for being able to use a thesaurus, but it seems you have your head straight since when you insulted me. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

              • Steve Allen

                Those are not synonyms for “lame” and “idiotic,” but “lame” and “idiotic” are sufficient short-hand for Prometheus’ many offenses. (i.e. a thesaurus would not have allowed me to cheat my way through the reply.) I hoped for a lot and was very disappointed, not because it didn’t serve up chestbursters and face huggers but because what was begun by Scott as a taut, intelligent, sophisticated exercise had become twisted into something overly impressed with itself and unaware that it essentially subverted everything that was beautiful and purely cinematic in the “universe with which it shares the ‘DNA’ of the Alien series,” or however Scott/Fox choose to spin it.

                • So what you’re saying is you thought it was too self-important?

                  • Steve Allen

                    I don’t mind a film that is “self-important” yet has the chops to back it up. But when you purport to ask “deep questions” yet can’t adhere to the most minimal sense of logic (internal or otherwise), it’s not worth my time to go along for the ride. On that note, you seem to position Prometheus as superior to 2001 by actually suggesting the former is the more “philosophical” of the two. Forests have been sacrificed in exploring the continually rich questions that remain unanswerable in 2001 and I doubt one millionth of that time and brain power will be devoted to thinking twice about the “meaning” of Prometheus. At least not until the next installment, where I’m sure we’ll all be left scratching our heads about how we got from here to wherever the filmmakers resolve is the next level of incomprehensible b.s. masquerading as profound.

                    • Steve Allen

                      Anyway, I do appreciate your passion not only for the film but for cinema in general. Just because I may feel some of your opinions are misguided doesn’t make you wrong. It’s always good to have a forum for discussion, and I thank you for your blog and the comments section. Like I said, keep writing … and we’ll see if 43 years from now people are comparing the next ambitious science fiction project to Prometheus or 2001.

                    • Thanks. :) On my review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, it was brought to my attention that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was met with negative reviews when it first came out. I never would have guessed, because a) it’s one of my very favorite films (probably in my top ten) and b) it’s been named a classic dozens of times by dozens of people and film officials. Anyway, I’m well aware that Prometheus has been a disappointment to some, but I’d predict that at some point in time, the general opinion will change greatly. I doubt it will be looked back on as something as stunning and inventive as 2001: A Space Odyssey (not that this isn’t in its own way), but I can certainly see it being renowned as a science fiction classic.

                    • I didn’t intend to make if seem as if Prometheus were superior to 2001. Maybe it was the context in which I used it, but I don’t think it being more philosophical implies or denotes that it’s better. I’d give them both an A+, but 2001 is better. It’s been a long time since I saw that 1968 classic, so it might be me not remembering it raising questions that were the most philosophical, per se. 2001, as I remember, raised questions about what the future would entail, whereas Prometheus raised questions about our creation. Thank you so much for your comments, by the way. I really appreciate them!

  4. Definitely enjoyed Prometheus. It’s a thinking person’s sci-fi film in the beginning, with a fair bit of action thrown in towards the end. Think my brain would have fallen out if I didn’t have that break towards the end.

    Prometheus is getting so unfairly treated and reviewed with reviewers wanting to compare it to other of Scott’s work, which I guess is a natural thing to do. But looking at Prometheus in it’s own light – it’s an excellent sci fi film.

  5. Great review man. First off, I totally agree that this IS a prequel and the visuals are astounding. I’ve often spoke in a negative way about this film but that doesn’t mean to say I didn’t enjoy it. I did! I just expected more and found the material a bit flimsy with underwritten characters. I just wish Scott had found a better script in the 30 years he waited since Alien. It’s not a bad film but it’s certainly not the classic I was hoping for.

    • I actually thought it was as much a classic as I thought last year’s The Artist was. I mean, there’s no way in hell it’ll win Best Picture, especially since neither of the first two Alien films were nominated, but had they been, there could’ve been a chance, I think. Either way, it depends what it’s up against this year. I thought the script was great, unlike you, but it wasn’t one of the brightest highlights that I could find a good place to mention in my review. By the First Law of Film Criticism (supposing there is one :)), I can’t say you’re wrong, but this is one of our notable disagreements.

      • Lol. I think we have disagreed more on Titanic. ;-). As I say though, there are lots of things to enjoy here and this is certainly no Titanic. I gave it 3 stars which I think is still a good rating. I often see 2 1/2 stars out of 5 as average and this is above average. In fact, I actually considered rating it higher but couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment when I left the cinema.

    • I thought I’d share with you the most scathing review I’ve read of Prometheus thus far:
      http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/ffc/2012/06/prometheus.html

  6. I need Friday to get here already! Dying to see this!

    • Watch it expecting an Alien prequel, and I guarantee you, you’ll enjoy it. There haven’t been many who have enjoyed it as much as I did–from the top critics, probably just Roger Ebert and that Richard Roeper–but if I had to guess what grade you’d give it, I’d say four stars. Possibly even higher.

      • I’m really hoping I’ll enjoy it. I don’t want my expectations to ruin the fun like they sort of did with The Avengers. I haven’t seen Alien yet :O but I’m renting it tomorrow so I can be well-prepared.

        • I’m a bit confused Fernando: you hated Blade Runner, you haven’t seen Star Wars, you haven’t seen Alien, yet you claim to love sci-fi!? Quite seriously, Prometheus is one of the only prequels you CAN enjoy without having seen the initial one. It’s essentially a work of it’s own. However, it explains Alien, so I would recommend that first.

  7. martin250

    good review, although i haven’t seen many movies this year, this is the best i’ve seen so far.

  8. atothewr

    Finally got around to seeing this one and I have to give this one more of a negative than a positive. I would give it a C which for me is probably three stars out of five. I’m going to be working on a review for it later on today which is already tough to write.

    I honestly left the theater not knowing what I felt about it.

    After thinking about it I have come to the conclusion that Ridley Scott really dropped the ball with this one. I honestly don’t see the Alien connection or the prequel connection at all. I went back and watched Alien just after this one and Ridley did not do a very good job of tying it back to the first Alien movie. There are a lot of plot holes from film to film.

    I was honestly expecting more Alien stuff in this one and maybe that hurt it for me. They sold the trailers like Alien and used characters from Alien, but there wasn’t much of that creature in this one. It just left me flat in the end.

  9. atothewr

    Forgot – love the poster by the way. Great review and very well written.

  10. I’m just glad we aliens weren’t the only evil ones in this film. Humans can kill too!

  11. It’s so refreshing to see someone rate the movie so highly, I gave it 9.6/10 and while I wish deleted scenes were kept in the movie and certain moments were longer, the film was really fantastic and the worthy prequel to Alien. I can’t believe how many people are b##ching about the script – I did not see any plot holes, just creative writing which forces the viewer to think of answers for himself. While I wouldn’t agree Rapace is Oscar worthy she was certainly wonderful, as was Fassbender.

    • When I say something along the lines of “Oscar caliber” or “Oscar-worthy”, I don’t mean that an actor/actress is guaranteed to earn a nomination, but rather that he or she should. Noomi Rapace delivers every last ounce of an award-winning performance, but there’s no way in hell the Academy will so much as nominate her. Why? They’re too biased. It’s clear that they could care less (or, rather, COULDN’T care very much less) for comedies, and they’ve proved that although they may even nominate science fiction Best Picture nominations (this has happened for several sci-fi classics, including Star Wars, E.T., Avatar, District 9, and Inception), they truly consider the genre more universally suitable in the special effects realm.

  1. 1 2012 in Review « Cinemaniac Reviews

    [...] Favorites of the Year… Alexander Diminiano: Chico & Rita, Haywire, Moonrise Kingdom, Prometheus, Titanic 3D Alec Muzquiz: Argo, End of Watch, The Grey, Prometheus, Seeking a Friend for the End of [...]

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