Friday, June 22, 2012

Prometheus

Sometimes when I go to see a movie, I immediately want to jot some notes down so I can write a proper review.  In the case of this film, I decided to sit on it.  There were lots of thoughts running through my head, and I was a little conflicted.

Visually,  the film is gorgeous, from its sets to its creature design.  I had no problems with the pacing, soundtrack, or mood.  I enjoyed all the characters and I liked that we got a larger crew with varying levels of importance.  I felt like even those with tiny parts felt real.  I also really enjoyed the story arc.  No, I had no doubts that it was two hours well spent, and that the bloated ticket price I had been forced to pay for IMAX 3D was also worth every penny.

I was conflicted because I'm writing this review in the context of the Alien series, and I don't really know what to tell you, or how to entirely reconcile it in my own mind.  I knew that we weren't getting a straight up prequel and that this wasn't just another Alien film, so I wasn't anywhere near as disappointed as I think a lot of those angry reviewers ended up being.  But I'm still just not sure if I entirely like this new mythology that's been added.

I've seen people nitpick that the technology in this movie is more advanced than in the original movies, and I really hope they were jesting.  When you're talking about films made over 30 years apart, it's natural that you're going to have to update the technology to make sense in what we now have in modern times.  I felt like enough of it still made sense, and I liked that David was not quite as convincingly human as Ash and Bishop later were.  Really, David is probably the most fascinating character of the film.

The main problem with this rather large cast is that we barely got to know a lot of the characters.  I feel like I need a prequel to this film just to fully understand more about the character Meredith Vickers and what her motivations were.  What we did receive was fascinating, but I wanted more.  That could be said for a lot of the supporting characters really.  Damon Lindelof showed talent for building a diverse and complex group through Lost, but he didn't have enough time in this film to tell us all about them.  I just realized that we even get to see flashbacks of Shaw's life, much like a Lost episode.

Further analysis requires spoilers, so you have been warned.

I like the idea of the Engineers creating us and also creating the aliens.  It doesn't make much sense to me that our DNA would be an exact match when they're clearly much larger than humans, but I'll let that slide.  What's strange to me is that they seemed to be suggesting that the creatures we saw here are predecessors to the xenomorphs; at least that's what I assume that final scene was all about.  So we're supposed to believe that either the snake or the giant octopus eventually evolves into a facehugger, but that the chestbursters/xenomorphs only have a few cosmetic differences.  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

By the way, this doesn't mean I didn't love seeing  those creatures.  I loved the snake-like creature, and I loved the way the biologist reacted to it.  There's a part of me that would think a brand new life form is adorable too, though I probably wouldn't stand so close.  Also, I may have gotten giddy when it went after him.  What can I say, there's a part of me that's still siding with the creatures, regardless of what they look like.

The scene where Shaw cuts the alien creature out of her was just a fantastic piece of film.  Wonderfully tense and squirm-worthy.  Another wonderful tense moment is when they wake up the Engineer and face him for the first time.  They are all so desperate for answers, and the fact that he immediately attempts to kill them all is kind of beautiful to me.  It reminds me a bit of Dr. Frankenstein being confronted by his monster for the first time, as the Engineer seemed to have no real interest in interacting with its creations.  Of course, his real feelings are left up to our own interpretation, as the survivors are left still not knowing why they were created or why they were going to be destroyed.  Personally, I'm of the opinion that we were only meant to be hosts for the xenomorphs to begin with - a sort of intermediate species to help facilitate the growth of the weapon.  But the beauty of it is that you can decide whatever you want here.

Also, I know I'm not the only one who gasped when that chair rose from the Engineer's platform, right?  While watching the original Alien I was wondering where that creature had come from, and it was pretty cool to get an answer, even if this isn't the same chair or spaceship. (I've seen people say this was spoiled in the trailer, but I guess I missed it.)

Prometheus is not a perfect film by any means, but I still think it's a good one. I've read lots of analysis since I originally saw it, and I'll admit I can't disagree with a lot of the problems people had with the film in terms of its unanswered questions and strange motives of the characters.  But I still think there's enough good here that I can overlook it.  In terms of the series as a whole, I think I would rate this behind Alien and before Aliens for me, though I'm not sure it's entirely fair to judge it by those merits.  I  think it belongs in a class by itself, and feels much more like a different series in the same universe.  Which is in contrast to another series that was forced together with this one just for the sake of having a little fun.

Oh, did you think my marathon was over?  Nope!  But before I look at the crossover films, I'll be taking a look at the Predator series.  Predator is up next!

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