I saw Prometheus this weekend in glorious IMAX 3D and after the movie was over, I had rather mixed feelings about it. I wanted to really love this movie but I just couldn’t due to some nagging questions it left me with. I also saw some major issues with plot and characters in this film that I just couldn’t easily dismiss.
Before the movie hit theatres, I was already inflamed by the massive marketing over it, specifically the trailers. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve pretty much seen more than 70% of the movie. In the trailer they blatantly show you the climatic ending of the film and some serious spoilers, including the hidden engineer’s ship and the engineer if you pay close attention. This tendency of Hollywood showing everything in their trailers and leaving little surprise and wonder while watching a film for the first time annoys me to no end. This is why I choose not to watch trailers but sometimes this can’t be helped.
What I absolutely loved about Prometheus was the overall design and special effects used during the first third of the movie. It was pure Ridley Scott. The spaceship Prometheus harkened back to the Nostromo albeit more advanced in design and technology (despite the Prometheus predating the Nostromo by several decades).
Watching the corridors, sleeping pods, bridge and other areas of the ship instantly took me back to those days when I watched the original Alien movie. It was like I was visiting a familiar place again, filled with nostalgia and wonder. I was back in the Alien universe and immersed in its mythos and it was a good feeling. The previous Alien movies all had a different feel to them and this is the first movie in which I feel most resembles the original.
Is this a prequel? According to Ridley Scott when asked this question, his reply was simply “yes and no”. This ambiguity led to much confusion and disappointment by viewers of the film who expected to see aliens mucking about, somehow connecting all other movies before it. The way I see it, it’s just another story that takes place in the Alien mythos. It’s not directly tied to any of the previous movies other than to have an artificial human called David (played fantastically by Michael Fassbender), the Weyland Industries mega-corp, and the fabled Space Jockey.
When I first saw H.R. Giger’s wild and strange concept art for Alien, the “space jockey” concept instantly piqued my curiosity. When the crew of the Nostromo from the Alien movie stumbled upon this mysterious dead occupant amidst the thousands of eggs, audiences were always left to wonder who or what this space pilot in the chair was. Prometheus not only answers this question as to who or what it is, but it also introduces more questions regarding this space jockey. Unfortunately, some of these questions are never answered.
This is where I really have a problem with the movie. I don’t mind a movie not tying up loose ends and leaving the audiences to think for themselves and find the answers based on what was shown. It was the blatant introduction of themes and questions and then not answering them that bothered me. In some cases, you’d have to read and piece together information gleaned from web forums, articles and interviews to get your answers and even then what you discover is even more outrageous (the Jesus Christ connection comes to mind. Really. Look it up).
I shouldn’t have to go online to have questions answered after I watch a movie. All the answers should be there right on the screen. Answers should be interwoven in the plot and in the dialogue. It doesn’t have to be obvious, but it simply has to be all self-contained. The script should both blatantly and subtly (preferred) give answers to it viewers. When you have to seek answers outside the very medium, you’ve pretty much lost me. I should note that the script was co-written by Lost co-creator and co-writer, Damon Lindelof. This explains much.
I felt that the philosophical, religious and spiritual questions posed by the characters although thought-provoking, proved to be unoriginal and empty in their attempt to answer those questions. I was more intrigued by the brief conversation with David and one of the scientists regarding the creation of life and God. This discourse was intriguing and explains the rationale behind David’s subsequent actions in the film. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t introduce more of these intelligent discussions between the characters.
David was the only character in the entire movie that was NOT a paper cutout. Michael Fassbender’s performance was nothing short of brilliant. David has his own motivations and sticks to it believably, even if you cannot understand it. You’d have to dig deeper to find out.
The crew had no personality and was just there to get killed. The scientists (this term is used loosely) did some incredibly stupid things in this movie that it just irked me and took me out of the movie. They were not very well written. I was expecting to see smart human beings placed in an incredibly difficult situation and environment, perishing while trying to solve problems.
Elizabeth Shaw (played by the awesome Noomi Rapace) proved to be the only one with a brain (no surprise as Ridley Scott always has strong women in his stories). The most exciting scene in the entire movie involves Elizabeth trying to solve a life and death situation, which proves to be the wildest and hair-raising sci-fi sequence in any film I’ve seen since the original Alien. The set up to this scene was very contrived (introduced in the beginning of film) and her recovery afterward proved to be almost superhuman. Still, I liked it very much.
Another gripe: an unrecognizable Guy Pierce is in the movie as a very ancient-looking Peter Weyland (this aging makeup was terrible). Why not cast Lance Henriksen in the role? This would’ve been perfect!
The ending of the movie was outlandish and leaves it open for a possible sequel. Personally, I don’t think a sequel will be made. In the end, I must say that I like Prometheus despite its shortfalls. This is a world that I never tire of and would love to see more of. I just prefer to see it with better writing.
If you’ve seen Prometheus, please read Rob Bricken’s Prometheus FAQ from Topless Robot website and be prepared to laugh. If you have some time, read the follow up comments. They’re equally funny. Hopefully this FAQ will answer some of your questions and you’ll have a good chuckle or two in the process.
Another site claims to answer all your “lingering” questions at io9.com. There’s a lot of talk about this movie by people trying to “decode” it and explain the plot. In the end, it’s just an attempt to plug up the holes in a poor script.