Black goo? Is this The X-files?
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see two movies. Both were called Prometheus and each lasted about an hour. The first movie was clearly a Ridley Scott joint – epic in scope, beautifully shot and offered insightful challenges to the way we think about our origins as a species.
The second movie wasn’t fit to sniff my balls.
So let’s talk about what I liked first. Ironically, if you’ve read some of the feedback/reviews about Prometheus, it’s a rare instance where most critics (and the wider audience) have been right on. The first half’s brilliant – a clear homage to such fine films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, the first ‘Alien’ (a masterpiece by the same director as Prometheus) and Solaris. The film opens with a haunting, beautiful shot of an ancient earth as our planet is quite literally seeded by a space-faring race of giant humanoids (not entirely dissimilar from ourselves). It sits alongside the prehistoric opener of 2001 as one of the most imaginative and beautifully rendered sequences ever conceived for a Sci-Fi film. From there, we’re introduced to David – an android who carefully watches over a crew of 17 not too far into Earth’s future. As David, Michael Fassbender completely owns the film. The universal praise being heaped on him for this role is both fair and deserved….he utterly changes what we know about him as an actor (which, to me, hasn’t been a whole lot) – and delivers a performance that is both charming and laced with an eerie malice. Expect Oscar contention for Best Supporting Actor.
We are the Blue Man Group!
From there, we’re introduced to the rest of the crew: notably, a scientist (Dr. Shaw) played by Noomi Rapace who actively tries to reconcile their journey to meet their creators with her own strident faith. We also meet others including Shaw’s boyfriend (who looks a lot like a slimmed down Tom Hardy), the captain of the ship (aptly portrayed by Idris Elba) and the corporate comptroller for the mission (an icy Charlize Theron – as if there were any other kind). The rest of the crew are utterly replaceable and don’t factor into anything worthy of mention other than they are predictable gooey cannon fodder.
I won’t go too much further into the plot. For one, the trailers gave away far too many of the movie’s most exciting moments. But second to that, the film does raise some interesting questions along the way…most of which it utterly fails to answer before the credits roll. And so, that’s what I’d rather focus on – because the second half of the film utterly fails to deliver on the many promises of the first half. It’s like two different directors approached the project….and one of ‘em had fucking Campbell’s soup where his brain should be.
There’s a point in Prometheus where everything changes. And that’s the storm sequence. Up until this halfway point (and including that terrific storm), everything has been amazing. Absolutely ballsy, smart sci-fi fun. Good tone. Good atmosphere and solid acting.
The acting turns to shit. The dialogue quickly becomes inept (with only the occasional reprieve). And the actions of the cast become inexplicable. They literally do things in the movie contrary to the very nature of man. And that’s why the film fails us as viewers. And I don’t entirely fault Ridley (though, he owns the bulkshare of the blame as the Director). Prometheus has many of the same problems the TV show ‘Lost’ had. It poses large questions…then squanders them by diving deeply into inane subplots, far-fetched scenarios and ultimately decides to abandon logic or the need to examine even the most titular answers to the questions it posed in lieu of spectacle. And why the comparison to Lost? Because Prometheus shares one horrible thing in common with that bit of overrated primetime crap: the writer. As the scribe, Damon Lindelof bends the movie Prometheus wants to be over his desk, and buttfucks the clarity and bravery out of it. The second half proved to not only be charmless, but almost boring despite all the action on screen. I don’t mind a movie that doesn’t sum up everything neatly – but to abandon your film’s intent and coherence and just start arbitrarily adding things (including worm-snakes, zombies, ancient aliens and a giant squid) doesn’t make a film any better. The truth is, Prometheus would be best watched with no sound…that way, the viewer could be enraptured by the gorgeous cinematography and outrageous creature effects; but not get bogged down by little things like plot and substance.
FEAR THE JAR!
Why Ridley Scott allowed half-assing on the script is beyond me. There was a great movie somewhere deep down….and while the idea of a Space Jockey (Engineer) tale seems niche and trite, if done right, it could’ve been outstanding. But the decisions of the second half are utterly bewildering…and raise questions about the veracity of accusations made in the past that The Rid is only as good as the script he’s filming. And I have to painfully admit, that criticism may be totally correct. He’s a visceral director…but didn’t have the chops to rescue this project away from a two-bit overrated hack who can’t finish a story.
Prometheus’ greatest failure is its own ADD. It wants to tell a grand story – but then loses focus (or turns chicken shit), and instead gives us crashes, gooey slime and a forgettable bombastic score meant to tell us when we should be in awe or frightened.
I’m pissed. I can’t deny it. I wanted this to be great – Ridley Scott has done some of my very favorite films….but this flick was, at best, a minor entry in his portfolio. The painful fact is shitty sub-B horror like Event Horizon feel tighter (they may not look as good…but at least they push through a single thread before letting it fray into utter chaos). And the actions of the cast never challenged the logic of the movie.
The real plastic man.
Prometheus? It has scientists petting hissing snakelike monsters, a Captain who seems to placidly watch when all hell breaks loose, a woman doing Olympics-level gymnastics shortly after an intrusive surgery (complete with belly staples), and a role played by a young Guy Pearce that’s supposed to be a 93 year old man (bewildering because they could’ve avoided the horrific makeup and just used an old person which would’ve been effective…there was no reason to have a notable actor in this minor cameo). And these are just a few of the plethora of moon-sized problems. I’d go on but would spoil what little cheesy B-movie fun exists.
But, I can’t pretend there are no pleasures – as I mentioned before, the first half is wonderful; and for that alone, I can recommend a watch. The movie’s gorgeous…but like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader, it’s empty headed, somewhat fake and probably full of Tony Romo’s cum.
2 fists out of 5 for a great beginning that was squandered during the second half.