Film, Film Reviews

Prometheus: Like Watching a Huge Bonfire

June 8, 2012

An hour  before midnight last night, I stepped in to a 505 person capacity IMAX theater to watch the premiere of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Although I was an hour early, the theater was already about 60% full, and by the time the movie started, there were nary, if any seats open.

So as the lights dimmed and film rolled, it felt as if we had all just strapped in to a journey far away from this little rock called earth.

As has been my habit, time and time again, I must recommend the 3D IMAX experience. Although at first the screen seems like it is absolutely too large, that is all forgotten as the first scene begins and it feels like you are literally flying over the water toward a marvelous waterfall… as a spaceship hovers above.

It is incredible.

It is not unlike staring into a large Promethean bonfire (if you will), where each flame is capable of hypnotizing you for a moment, before your attention is drawn by the next flame, and the next, and so on…

Following the aforementioned scene, we get a close up of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (played convincingly by Noomi Rapace). I don’t know if it is the massive screen or the 3D effect, but I could actually see the pores on her face. And then the follow-up shot is of a grand, marvelous landscape somewhere in Iceland. Amazing scope.

And the rest of the movie follows suit.

There are details that are brilliantly shot. And these are followed by incredible vistas or amazing CG. The scale of the film is breathtaking.

Michael Fassbender as David in Prometheus

But is the movie any good?

It is extremely ambitious, and it delivers excitement almost at every turn. There are tense moments all throughout, and the acting is top notch. As much as I’ve tried not to jump on the Michael Fassbender bandwagon, it is undebatable that he is in top-notch form as android David.

Charlize Theron (she’s a beauty, ain’t she?) portrays a very rigid and mechanical character (Meredith Vickers), but she does not miss a step. Idris Elba dominates the captain’s seat (Janek). And the rest of the cast fills the gaps fairly well. In other movies, stock characters can sometimes be a distraction or detraction from the on-screen hijinks, but not so in this film.

Oh. I still haven’t answered the question.

But I don’t have to. If one is determined to find fault, there may be some to be found. Plot-wise, there are a few inconsistencies that seem a little odd. I’d rather not give away story elements, but the point is, there are a lot of things that are happening, but not a lot of follow-through.

Ok. For example, shouldn’t there have been video logs or even sound logs of some weird stuff that may have happened earlier to a pair of stranded scientists? Why send an unarmed search party without consulting that first?

Well, because then it wouldn’t be as fun later on…

In spite of some of these strange choices, the story still moves along briskly. After all, there is a lot happening at once and it would be fairly difficult to dwell on only one element.

Prometheus - Noomi Rapace

There has been some critique of the film’s thematic approach toward the origin of life. It is quite clear early on that this is a question that is being explored. However, the movie doesn’t get lost in a lot of philosophizing, and its treatment of that question, in the long run, is inconsequential. (Sort of.)

Much like most discussions on belief, these topics tend to spiral out of control without much room for a middle ground. In this regard, I am glad that the film doesn’t try to deal with it directly.

What we are left with is a proper summer blockbuster. It is smart, but not too much. It is compelling, but not overwhelming. Good sci-fi is hard to come around, so we’ll take what we can get.

Next up, let’s see how Ridley does with Blade Runner 2. Yeah, that one’s happening. (I am all in so long as he gets Admiral Adama, err, Eddie Olmos back somehow….)

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1 Comment

  • Reply The Power of Prometheus: Drawing Lines in the Sand « In Harsh Light June 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    […] after its debut last weekend, In Harsh Light colleague Mario Munoz discussed his experience with Prometheus.  One particular segment of his review strummed a few of my ever-discordant epistemological nerve […]

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