Friday, July 27, 2012

Prometheus (2012) theatrical release

  Few movies in 2012 were as anticipated as Prometheus, a scifi/action/thriller that proposed to explore the origins of humanity and why, as always, we should have just stayed home. I had high hopes going into the theater- after all, this was a Ridley Scott film, the director of Blade Runner, Gladiator and of course Alien (from which Prometheus takes its universe). But instead of another classic I was treated to a two hour struggle between the characters and plot. Neither survived.

  We begin our story in the not too distant future with archeologists Charlie Holloway (Logan Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) spelunking in the old country. [Like others who had not seen the recent adaption of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', I had to Google the actress (who gives a shit about the guy). This was probably the extent of the casting directors vetting as well; bravo sir. Note to self: add Daisy Diamond to Netflix wish list.] Liz has just uncovered the latest in a series of star map cave doodles, which she takes as an invitation by humanity’s creators for a family reunion. No explanation is given for this other than “it is what I choose to believe”. Christ. Is the University of Phoenix handing out doctorates now? Well, this logic is apparently good enough for aged tycoon Peter Weyland (inexplicably Guy Pearce) who backs a space expedition to said coordinates. Flash-forward a few years. The crew of Prometheus, consisting of our archeologists, Captain Janek (Idris Elba), Weyland Corp. babysitter Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), and a bunch of random red shirts has just awoken from hypersleep above their destination. An impromptu meeting is called in the gymnasium to get a few minor formalities out of the way. Things like, who are you people and what are you doing here? Yes, no one, not even the boss, has met the mission’s crew and none of said employees knows what they were hired for. This may explain why we have characters like Fifield (Sean Harris), a geologist who looks like he came along as part of an intricate plan to avoid the authorities, further drilling it into us by remarking he “isn’t here to make friends.” OK, you know what? It’s fine to have eccentric/incompetent characters when say; you’re a group of underpaid miners aboard the Nostromo. But this is, as Ms. Vickers reminds us, a “trillion dollar mission”. could cobble together a better crew.

  After entering the atmosphere, Charles discovers humanities first ever evidence of alien ruins via the tried and true method of looking out the window and pointing. Prize money is then apparently offered up to whoever gets there first as the crew proceeds to trip over each other in an egress scene worthy of Cannonball Run. Upon reaching the structures Charles decides, like a kid who doesn’t want to dress for church, that helmets are for pussies and discards his while encouraging others to similarly expose themselves to unknown pathogens. Because it’s not like a failure to ‘follow quarantine procedure’ has ever bit a space faring crew in the ass... there is science to be done! An alien corpse is soon located, prompting Fifield to inexplicably freak out- claiming this wasn’t in the job description. Seriously? We’ve already established you have no idea what you signed up for. You’re lucky you didn’t wake up with the Weyland Corporation having sown you into a human centipede! Ugh. Also fleeing the scene is Biologist Milburn (Rafe Spall) the absolute last person who should be disinterested in a new life form. Both promptly get lost (despite Fifield being responsible for mapping the ruins) while the rest of the crew returns samples to the ship. With little choice but to spend the night, the intrepid duo decide to camp in the very room they had previously escaped. Evidently deep seated fears only last as long as the writers attention span. Along these lines our biologist soon rediscovers his love of... biology... when an oddly ‘feminine’ looking snake shows up: he tries to pet her and spoiler alert, both crew members die horribly. (Well sort of. There’s a later scene where Milburn comes back as a zombie, but it doesn’t impact the plot, isn’t commented on by the crew, makes no sense and shall similarly be ignored by me). Back on the ship things continue to deteriorate when David (Michael Fassbender), the crew’s outwardly misanthropic android, turns out to actually not like people (surprise!) and singlehandedly sabotages the mission. (At least the screenplay has started to embrace character consistency; motivation is another story.) Things now start to snowball out of control and the movie regresses into pop-up-go-boo mode with some slobbering monsters thrown in for good measure. Old horror standbys are visited so often that it feels like a drug addict exhausted the good stuff and has resorted to huffing the propellant out of cheese wiz cans. Pretty much everyone dies and we are left with enough questions to make the ending of Back to the Future II seem definitive.

  Sadly, a logically consistent screenplay could have salvaged this film and made it excellent. Instead I found out afterwards that Damon Lindelof was hired to overhaul scripts. I'm sorry, but this guy has no idea what he's doing. Did anyone watch the crap that was 'Lost'? Complex plots full of mystery are remarkably easy to formulate if the writer isn't obligated to make sense. Some reviewers say this adds intrigue but really it’s just pure laziness that should never be confused for the cerebral. Is there anything good to say about the movie? Sure. The visuals and set designs were mostly top notch and Michael Fassbender turned in a solid performance, although this may be the natural appeal of eccentric characters more than anything else. Overall, Prometheus was simply fair; probably worthy of a Sci-Fi enthusiast’s time but otherwise disappointing and unremarkable.


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