Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Frank Review of "Prometheus" (2012)

The Short Version? Prequel to [Spoiler]
What Is It? Science-Fantasy/Action
Who Is In It? The Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Æon Flux, young Magneto, Stringer Bell, Leonard Shelby
Should I See It? Maybe.

We are living in an extraordinary time, where computers and practical effects can create and populate whole worlds. Director Ridley Scott is an acknowledged master, coupled with the gorgeous cinematography of Dariusz Wolski, filming a rapturous feast for the eyes by combining technical expertise with sumptuous, unique location shooting. The casting is stellar, and the film must be seen in a theater to fully appreciate its grandeur. With all this epic wizardry on display, you'd think that the creators had made a trip through Oz as part of the pre-production. You'd be wrong, of course, because Prometheus clearly has no heart, no brain, no courage, and never finds its way home.

A pair of scientists convince a mysterious businessman to pay out trillions of dollars in order to visit a distant location in space based on a ridiculous premise that wouldn't hold water in educated or theological circles. Thanks to ADD pacing, the expedition immediately finds evidence of an alien structure, explore it without any significant resistance, and then replay scenes from Alien movies (and for good measure, John Carpenter's The Thing) like a Rocky Horror troupe. Plot and characters are all familiar shorthand recreations. Paul W.S. Anderson directed AVP: Alien vs. Predator, but you could swear he wrote the threadbare, dunderhead pastiche that is the Prometheus script.

Noomi Rapace is a solid enough pick as the lead scientist, but her motivations are slight, and there's no indication that the character as presented would legitimately be strong enough to survive the trials she faces. Logan Marshall-Green is a rude mannequin as her lesser half. Michael Fassbender is fun as the android David, whose scenes consciously cross over into Kubrickian territory that makes scenes not involving him seem paler. Charlize Theron's Meredith Vickers comes the closest to providing either a Ripley or a Burke to the film, but she isn't developed enough to carry the ball in either direction. Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, and Patrick Wilson are wasted as bit players with anorexic personalities.

Characters fail to remain in character, and perform massively, unforgivably uncharacteristic actions. It is never remotely scary, and tension is hard to come by when paper dolls are threatened with a lighter. To call the film science fiction is fallacious, because science requires logic and fact-based theories, and this entire enterprise rests on high definition 3D dream logic. Everything goes completely off the rails in the last act, with about three different endings, each of which shit themselves and rub snot on their own faces. It's pretty gross to see it happen the first time, but by the third it's almost funny, like playing out a lame joke long enough that you laugh through sheer exasperation. The screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is so indefensibly pothead moronic, embracing the movie as pure fantasy is its only salvation, and it deserves to be saved. This is a fucktastic looking film that never bores with a lot of cool elements. I love that Prometheus swings back toward the colorful, arch, Frigidaire sleek B-movie sci-fi that Alien rendered obsolete with a genre-wide to shift toward a gritty, greasy, working class believable future that has itself become such a bore. It's oh so pretty, oh so vacant, but you can't not hit it at least three times. Depending on how much forgiveness you have in your heart for David Fincher's effort, this overreaching popcorn flick is better than any Alien sequel produced in a quarter century, and it's worth seeing just to gaze upon it in awe of its visual splendor and its dreadful failings.

1 comment:

mathematicscore said...

I enjoyed a lot of the broad strokes, and as you said, visually it was stunning. At the end of the day though, it looks like that Lindeloff guy just can't completely write.


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