June 7, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

"A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race."

God, I hate sci-fi. I really, really hate sci-fi. In fact, if I was given the choice between watching another sci-fi movie or listening to the entire Justin Bieber discography, I would choose the latter. And, no, I'm not a Belieber.

What makes sci-fi even worse for me is when it crosses over so blatantly, as "Prometheus" has done, into the horror genre. Yes, I know that this is just an "Alien" prequel of sorts and "Alien" was a "slasher in space", but it still ruffles my fur considerably.

You see, if you are going to do good sci-fi, i.e. science fiction, then it should at least have a resemblance to something which scientifically could exist or happen. Just setting a horror/action movie on an impossibly huge spaceship or alien planet does not make it science fiction. Any intelligence behind the science and the fiction has now gone in that scenario, and the result loses the letters to match. Sci-fi is the shorthand for this dreck.

But, of course, I'm not a science fiction fan anyway. For instance, when I heard that Ray Bradbury passed away last night, I thought, "Yeah, I know the name but I've never read any of his books". RIP Ray Bradbury, by the way, but I only know his work through the TV adaptations and a couple of "Twilight Zone" episodes. What does he have to do with "Prometheus"? Nothing, really, except that I'm probably not the only one who saw echoes of "The Martian Chronicles" in it.

The work of Ridley Scott, however, I am very familiar with. I've watched a good 70% of his movies since 1977. Some I liked and some I really didn't care for at all. To cut a long story short, yes, of course I loved "Alien". There's always an exception to every rule.

Anyway, without further ado, let me tell you what I thought of "Prometheus". Yes, I've seen it already, don't hate me, and don't read any further past the next picture if you don't want any spoilers.

Mixing an unhealthy dollop of Erich von Däniken's "Chariots of the Gods" into the same universe as the "Alien" quadrilogy wasn't a bad idea. I saw that coming eventually. I didn't expect it in a movie from the creator of the franchise, but given the same theme about seeking out your creator from "Blade Runner" (1982), I can now see how that happened. Unlike the creationist backstory of "Prometheus", this was simply evolution.

As a firm believer in a Divine Creator rather than the unproven theories of evolution which schools are still teaching their slack-jawed inmates as if they were scientific fact, I was very pleased to see this subject given some reasonably serious treatment on the silver screen. Ridley Scott wimped out here and there with what could have been a very good debate in favour of a Summer action movie, but it was nicely played and has certainly got the nerds talking. Unfortunately, most of the nerd talk has been about all the homages to Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey", but there's no accounting for taste.

I didn't understand all the wiggly worms in a box thing at the start until much later and then I had to think some more about it. I'm still a little bit puzzled (no pun intended) by how a certain Rubik's Cube turned into a Powerpoint projector. I still can't get my head around how Guy Pearce was made-up as an old man and completely wasted in his role. Some things, however, are best left as mysteries when it comes to Sir Ridley Scott's movies. I'll never understand how the electronics were supposed to function in the Voight-Kampff machine in "Blade Runner" or how the Spinner cars were supposed to fly, but I could take an educated guess about all these things, I suppose.

One thing I'll never understand though, is how a team of space engineers, scientists, and, generally, well-trained, intelligent astronauts, could behave as stupidly as the ones in "Prometheus". Decent acting aside, all the characters were dumber than a box of space rocks. Of course, they were only there to die.

None of them really stood out except as clichéd ciphers for the various tropes and action set pieces. Michael Fassbender was pretty good in his role, but he wasn't really any different to any other android in the "Alien" movies. Charlize Theron's role as Meredith Vickers was somewhat inconsistent, but that can be blamed on the script rather than her performance.

The only character who I did like was Lisbeth Salander. Oh, I mean Elizabeth Shaw, don't I? I always thought she made chocolates. Whatever the case, Noomi Rapace can do no wrong in anything as far as I'm concerned. I don't care if she can't do an English accent, she's a very attractive woman and has been chosen for some exceedingly badass roles. Don't believe she's a badass even after "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"? Just wait until you see, in "Prometheus", how she gives herself a surgical abortion without a moment's hesitation and then goes on to be even more badass without needing any recovery time whatsoever! Even the Chuck Norris memes couldn't equal that.

What increased my enjoyment of "Prometheus" was, of course, all the spectacle. Things were huge, spaceships and aliens were enormous, it was all very cinematic. R-rated deaths, improbable monsters, acid burns, flame throwers, big explosions, blood, gore, and slimy stuff... yeah, this was the stuff I've missed about Summer movies for years. Actually, that's not true, what I missed was having a decent story behind it all. I didn't get that here either really or, rather, I did but it wasn't an original one.

Don't believe the other reviewers who say that "Prometheus" had a weak plot. There was nothing weak about it at all. It's exactly the same story as "Alien" and nobody complains about that movie! Let's look at the similaries: A massive spaceship with its crew in suspended animation goes to a planet full of parasitic aliens, they wake up and unwittingly bring the deadly creatures aboard their own vessel, get infected and killed one by one, while, in the background, a creepy android and a corporation with its own agenda put everyone in even more danger, everything gets blown up, self-sacrifices abound, and only a final girl survives. Everyone can now, please, quit their bitching about the plot!

The nerds and fanboys will still be on every message board moaning about the big, black, spidery-looking aliens with three sets of teeth not being in "Prometheus", but who cares? Really, who cares? There weren't any cats in it either. However, there were wormy things, acid-spitting snakey things, a baby octopussy thing, and a great, big squid with loads of eyes and teeth which looked like something out of H.P. Lovecraft's imagination. I see nothing to complain about there at all.

The effects used in "Prometheus" were, of course, incredible. To me, it was a beautiful looking film although, possibly, a little bit too dark in some places and too clean and bright in others. I don't know all the ins and outs of the technical stuff or how any of that stuff was achieved, but, like everyone else, I can imagine that it cost a lot of time, hard work, and more money than I will ever see.

Did I like "Prometheus". Yes, grudgingly, I suppose I did. Will I buy it when it comes out on DVD? No, I won't. Basically, if you already have the "Alien" quadrilogy, you've seen all this has to offer before but with different characters and actors. If you are a huge fan of the "Alien" franchise then, of course, you'll want this too even if it is only for completeness.

Should you go to the cinema to see "Prometheus"? Yes, definitely. No matter how good your home cinema set-up is, you aren't going to beat seeing this movie as nature intended. "Prometheus" is, quite simply, one of the "must see" theatrical releases of 2012. It's just a pity that it was sci-fi.

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