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Movie Review- Prometheus

Last night, after many months of waiting, I watched Prometheus on the big screen. And it was a big screen. I watched it on IMAX(3D).

Twelve hours later, I feel I can give my take on what I saw, and I will try to be as impartial as I can .

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The Story

Well the movie starts in 2089 on the Isle of Skye, where two scientists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) make a discovery of great significance. They find wall paintings of some 35.000 years old, depicting men worshipping some bigger "men" who point to some constellation. Supposedly this has been seen elsewhere and then the movie cuts 4 years in the future (2093) in deep space, as we see the craft named "Prometheus" travelling with only one person awake. That person is not actually a person but a robot, called David (Michael Fassbender). Soon after the ship reaches it's destination and everybody wakes up, with Meredith Vickers (gift from gods, a.k.a. Charlize Theron) being the first, showing signs of "woman in control".

Everybody assembles in a room very quickly in the storyline and with the help of futuristic holographic imagery, we see a very old Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) giving them the hows and whys from 2091. If you haven't watched any of the viral videos before, or can't make the connection with the original Alien/Aliens/Alien3/Alien4:Resurrection, Peter Weyland is a very rich and powerful man, owner of the Weyland corporation (Weyland-Yutani in the originals) who funded the expedition of Prometheus. He gives the floor to the two scientists, Shaw and Holloway, who show the crew (and viewers) that the same painting has been found in various places on earth, dating each time back to different eras and civilizations that could not possibly have anything to do with one another. Conclusion: throughout the history of mankind these "bigger men" we're worshipped and they showed this constellation as a guide for humanity to follow(?). And so they did follow, after having mapped the coordinates to a universe with a similar sun and they're heading for the only planet in that system capable of sustaining life.

So that's pretty much the story.

How was it:

Design/Sound/Set/Costume/FX

I must start by talking about the creative/optical aspect of the movie. It is flawless and probably one of the most astonishing results in the history of cinema. I am going to watch the movie again in a normal screen, just to determine the impact of the IMAX/3D elements (and then I'll watch it again on 3D!!).

Truth is, the 3D/IMAX experience really worked on this film. Not that it had a lot of Spider-Man moments (just watch the trailer on 3D and you'll know what I mean), but everything just felt so goddamn HUGE and grandiose! I honestly don't think they will have as much impact on a normal screen, but I will have to check up on that soon.

Nevertheless, artistically, the movie is epic. The level of detail in the production, set design, planet, space craft, costumes, non-human species, is just overwhelming. The art of Prometheus is a pure creative achievement and all the elements, digital and non-digital are so well combined and intertwined that made me a part of this movie, a part of this story and world. Add sound design to that and you have a ground-breaking result in the sci-fi genre and cinema in general. Not trying to spoil anything here, but for example, the scenes with the navigation system (once you see you will know what I'm talking about) left me with eyes wide open, all my feelings exposed and heart pounding. I literally WAS there. And that gave me goosebumps as I hate space. I am the person that would not jump first in the possibility of space travel. So for me, the feeling was intense and terrifying, and the movie on that account worked for me. It made me feel the anxiety and stress and fear following the events told.

It is quite an achievement to create a sci-fi movie, with so many CGI and non-CGIFX that does not take you out of the movie and back on your seat. I never felt like taking a step back and going "man, this is unreal, it's only a movie". All along the way, everything I saw was so tightly tied together visually, that I kept sucking it in like much needed oxygen.

The only hiccup is Peter Weyland as an old guy. The make-up is really bad. David Lo Pan's make up from Big Trouble In Little China was far more convincing, and that was back in 1986.

Cast/Acting

Throughout the internet I've read several review by fans (better source than "critics"). All of them agree on one thing. Fassbender is brilliant (once more). He plays the robot David so convincingly well that you MUST watch this movie and then Shame back to back, just to believe that it's the same actor. From playing a very human person, to a very "unhuman" one, and he does both terrifyingly well. I just look at performances like these and get so inspired. On a 90% most people also agreed on Noomi Rapace's great delivery for Elizabeth Shaw as well. I agree. I never felt this performance was anything but spotless and both actors deserve AT LEAST Oscar nominations.

But the rest of the cast is a bitunderdevelopped. The actors are good, and most of them have shown how good they are (eg Idris Elba, Theron, Pearce) but their characters do not allow much work to be done. They try their best with they're given, but they're not given much.

And that brings us to the major problem with Prometheus. The script.

Script/Story

Now, the story is really great. And when I say story, I am talking about the whole idea behind Prometheus, things I cannot discuss here as it would unveil all the great mysteries about the movie and spoil it. The story even goes further away from what you see in those 125 minutes. It's a story that gives room to a lot of discussion, interpretation and philosophical/scientific debate. Of course, it's not a story based on true facts, it's all fictional, but there's a "what if it we're true" notion that I choose to explore in my own little head.

The story also involves the "Alien" mythology and films. And here is where things get a bit tricky.

From the trailers it was led to believe that this movie works as a prequel to Alien. We saw the spaceship Ripley's crew found on LV-426, we saw the Space Jockey on that big chair, we saw a room for of urns that immediately screamed for "facehugger eggs". But this is not LV-426 they visit, but LV-223. And this ain't a spoiler. It's there from the start of the film, it's the setting, it's the "hello my name is John" sort of thing.

Ridley Scott said that Prometheus is not a prequel per se, but rather a movie set in the same universe of Alien. So what does that mean? It means that everything is open to interpretation and discussion. There are things during the movie that will make you say "hey, this is not as in Alien", and that's because it's not supposed to be a prequel in that sense, only in the idea. The way I interpret it is like watching a movie about the Trojan War. It's not a prequel to World War II, but they're both in the same universe. Men look the same, and they use weapons on both counts, but they're in different places in time, place etc. Hope you get my drift. But still, this is not a downside to the movie. It's just something that will probably make some people wander off while watching and start thinking about it, trying to put the pieces together and forget about Prometheus. So use this as an advice. Do not try to tie everything you see on Prometheus with Alien.

Yet, the script, which is a different thing to the story, is the downside. The script has many pieces missing first of all. There are points in the story where things happen for no apparent reason, characters act in a way that makes little sense, or others follow a pattern of behavior that is hard to understand. There are people coming into the story way late in the film with not much talking and acting, just filling up the space, yet this would have worked on a different setting, not on a spacecraft where people can't but interact with one another.

For example, in Aliens there are many marines that have practically no lines, or just 1-2 lines. Very early in the film they die. You see the flatlines in the screens where Ripley and the rest are trying to make sense of the situation going down, and you probably start wondering who is Frost? Who is Dietrich? Who is Crowe? Still, all these (dead) marines HAD screen time even briefly and that allowed the viewer to get the understanding of how many where they on the USS Sulaco. So in a way, it makes sense that a military unit has many individuals (that you do see sitting on the table eating or just waking up) and eventually most die. You don't feel like "oh man I wish Crowe had more lines). However, in Prometheus, it's not just that some people have no lines, it's the fact that it takes 100 minutes to realize that there we're more than 7-8 people on the ship.

And then you have those you do get to see often. Apart from David and Shaw, the rest are somewhat superficial and it's hard to feel for them, or hate them, whatever. Theron looks great in her role, but you can't really understand why she looks great. You can't really understand what her character is really about in terms of motivation, drive, agenda etc. Marshall-Green as well goes through some changes that make no apparent sense. While others, the rest of the scientists for example, are not that believable in the way they are portrayed, yet they actors do try. It's just the script that's lacking the tightness of the visual elements.

The script also makes a bit of a mess with the story. As I said, I love the story and idea. I find it far more than intriguing. Yet the script runs around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Even the first scene that for me was absolutely amazing, still makes no sense. And I don't feel it's one of those David Lynch moments where you might have enough clues to figure it out, or you are good to do it on your own. I am afraid we just don't get enough of the story to figure much of what we see.

So that usually means one thing. Extra material. I hope when the Blu-Ray comes out there'll be at least 30 added content. But then again, something tells me that it's just a mediocre script.

So what now?

Don't get me wrong. I LOVED the movie. And the most important thing is that all my thoughts and concerns came after I watched it, when I decided to put everything together and make my inner-analysis. What I mean is that while watching the movie it was just a wild, crazy rollercoaster ride. I never stopped to think twice about stuff, maybe just made a small mental note to self to go back afterwards and dig a little deeper. So maybe I ended up with a lot of post-it notes concerning the script, that doesn't ruined the experience. If the rest of the movie wasn't so good, if it didn't work as whole on so many levels, the script would have probably ruined it completely. Maybe it would have deserved less in the rating. But as I said, as a whole it's a fantastic movie, and the script problems only come into play after the dust has settled. Even then, there's still much to talk about and discuss and analyze, and at the end of the day, I love a movie that makes me want to talk about it.

I definitely recommend getting to the cinema for this one. If possible, catch it on an IMAX and/or 3D screening. Don't go waiting for ALL the Alien answers. Go there open-minded and just let the movie guide you. At the very least it will be one of the most entertaining experiences you'll ever had in a movie theatre.

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Posted in Health and Medical Post Date 12/30/2016


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