Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Movie Review - 'Prometheus'

Finally, I get to sit down and write this review which, by the way, I feel hopelessly under-qualified for. Prometheus, being my 5th Most Anticipated Film of 2012, landed in South Africa on Friday. You may or may not have read some other reviews, and you may or may not have heard people discussing and debating the film. What you should know right now though, is that this movie raises TONS of questions. Can they all be answered? Is screenwriter Damon Lindelof just messing with our minds like he did with some of Lost? Has this affected the quality of the film? Positively or negatively? Ah, so many questions, not all of which will be answered in my review, after the jump...

Prometheus is one of those movies where I followed the development right from the beginning of production. It feels like yesterday when shooting was taking place in Iceland and some of those cool set photos emerged. The film was also the second on my Constellation of Cinematic Anticipation, meaning I followed it extra close. Earlier this year we were bombarded with a marketing tsunami, with seemingly endless trailers, clips and TV-spots to keep us satisfied or irritated. And, by the time the film was released, most people knew sort-of what it was about: Archaeologists discover cave paintings which point to a distant planet, a spaceship is built to travel there and hopefully answer some questions about the meaning of life, the origin of mankind and other issues that have been bugging us humans since the day we started thinking. Needless to say, the crew arrives and things go very badly. The end. Did the trailers and marketing give too much away? Some people have said yes, but I prefer a more liberal approach to marketing and would say no, the movie was just fine despite all the trailers. A trailer may contain quite a big spoiler (and the Prometheus trailer is no exception), but seen out of context it isn't really one at all. 

Back to the movie though. One thing I need to say is that, from a technical perspective, the film is gorgeous beyond comprehension. Please, if you see it, find the best big screen you can. Wow, filming in Iceland and using as many realistic sets as possible (as opposed to CGI) really paid off. I would see the film again just for the visuals. The performances of the cast are another highlight, especially the widely praised turn by Michael Fassbender as the "fastidious android" David. However, I feel that not enough praise has been given to Noomi Rapace's brave and fierce lead performance as Dr Elizabeth Shaw. She was utterly convincing in the role.

Despite all the trailers, I was a little taken aback by some of the plot elements, the most prominent being the fact that the film jumps right into the mission. There is no time dedicated to preparation or anything like that. In fact, the only pre-mission screen time is the discovery of the cave paintings, which we see in the trailer anyway. I'm a total sucker for the big build-up, so some mission prep would have done very nicely in this movie. Okay, the viral marketing provided some clever background information to fill the gaps, but all it actually did was make me want to see even more of the prep. Another noteworthy point: the film is extremely heavy on ideas and philosophy, and therefore maybe a little light on story. More on that below. Does it bug me? Not in the least, but it may irk some viewers.

The primary talking point of Prometheus is all the questions that have been flying around. They deal with everything from the opening scene, to other confusing bits, to potential plot holes, to philosophical meaning and Biblical allegories. As such, any attempt to address these questions would result in SPOILERS, so beware. Also, any attempt by myself to address these questions would result in (1) a waste of time because everyone on the web has tried already, and (2) probable embarrassment. In the circumstances, you can read all about the Prometheus questions on Rope of Silicon and check out some of its biggest ideas at Slash Film, but if you really want to know stuff, read this awesome piece by Cavalorn. It is insanely good, and probably the reason why I don't want to try any answering. Oh, and if you really need more answered, watch this hilarious video from Red Letter Media. Seriously, watch it.

What's the verdict then? Prometheus delivered everything I was hoping for and more: a hardcore, violent, brainy and beautiful sci-fi epic the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time. As an added bonus, the film is guaranteed to stay with you for a long time and keep you deep in thought and debate. It's besides the point whether the mysteries of Prometheus can all be solved. At least that's how I see it. Does it compare to Alien? Uhm, attempting a direct comparison between films separated by 33 years is just stupid. I must add though that the supposed links to the Alien films were wholly satisfying, and it went much further than I was expecting. As for its faults, I won't deny that there are faults, but they had no impact on my enjoyment of the film. In fact, I cannot wait to see it again!

9 out of 10 

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