Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prometheus

Once you get over the idea that Prometheus is a prequel to Alien, the film improves immeasuarably. As long as you remain stuck on the notion that you're going to see the setup for how the 1979 film began, you are doomed to disappointment. Cast out your demons of longing, take Prometheus on its own terms, you'll enjoy the experience much, much better.

Prometheus tells the tale of a group of researches out looking for God. Well, they call Him "the Engineers" but the quest for God is explicit. It seems that Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her main squeeze Charlie Holoway (Logan Marshall-Green, future victim of ickiness) believe they've found proof of Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods and convince a gazillionaire to fund a trillion dollar expedition to find where they came from, both humans and our creators. They go, they find, horror ensues.

Prometheus has all of the visual splendor you expect from a Ridley Scott film. It's a feast for the eyes, both in terms of production design and cinematography. The visual effects are, in a word, flawless. The soundtrack by Marc Streitenfeld is both a homage to Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien and a beautifully original creation. The acting is uniformly good, with both Michael Fassbender (as the deliciously creepy android David) and Charlize Theron (as the deliciously cold corporate overseer of the expedition) being standouts.

This is not to damn Rapace with faint praise. She does an excellent job finding her inner Ripley and completely sells one particularly brutal scene. That said, in comparison Fassbender is almost transcendent in his role.

Almost.

The film's major problem is a lack of focus. The cast is too large. You lose track of who is getting dissolved, eaten, impregnated, torn apart, etc. Because you can't keep track, you stop caring, focusing all of your energies on Rapace, Fassbender, and Theron. Fortunately, that mostly pays off.

The more serious lack of focus is the plot itself. There's just too much of it, too many Big Ideas, too many concepts, notions, speculations, and on and on. It's as though they said, "Oh, that's a great idea" and just threw it in, whether it could readily tie in with rest of the film or not. Some are really intriguing, but they're left flopping on the floor, begging for a chance to live.

Alas, no, not this time.

Which is not to say that Prometheus is a bad film. It's quite good, with moments of suspense and horror that rival anything you've seen. It's just far from the masterpiece you suspect it might have been.

Fear not, however, because it plays best as a reboot of the Alien franchise, providing enough fodder to feed a slew of sequels. I can't wait to see Prometheuses...

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