Film Review: Prometheus

Prometheus Header 2Prometheus is a gorgeous, thrilling, and creative sci-fi/fantasy that is only a mis-step or two away from excellence.

The hype around the film has reached a fever pitch this summer as movie fans have been anticipating Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi genre and the Alien Universe.  This isn’t an Alien film though and does a pretty great job at setting up another corner of the same world.  A pair of scientists has discovered a message/pattern among multiple civilizations spanning thousands of years and the Weyland Corporation funds an expedition to the corresponding coordinates.  When the crew arrives on the planet the group quickly finds they might be in a little over their heads and that they weren’t nearly prepared for what they would encounter.

The film has been shrouded in secrecy and I don’t want to dip in and spoil anything for you either, but there were a number of excellent set pieces throughout the film.

The film hits a few too many similar beats from Alien for my taste, but there is enough of a spin on the nods for one not really get bent out of shape over it.  There are plenty of original bits as well and Scott and his team might even one up with their homage’s on an occasion or two.  Working great in particular are the film’s opening, the first appearance of a hologram recording, a dissection scene, an emergency surgery, David’s discovery deep in the tunnels, and I could go on with the number of wonderful moments in the film.  The film never really lets up and it’s almost to the film’s determent as we don’t get to stop and meet these characters very much along the way.

If I was to file a complaint against the film, the biggest one would be that a number of character moments in the third act aren’t quite as earned as they hoped since we haven’t spent enough time with them.  The film does a great job setting up a number of the main players in the first act, android David and our lead scientist Shaw in particular, but the film hinges a couple emotional beats on relationships that are never built over the course of the film.  It really feels like a few key character scenes are missing from the film and were removed to serve the pacing, which is blazing, and while it doesn’t kill the film by any means, I wish they were there.  A couple of twists/reveals simply don’t hit like they are supposed to either, but luckily the film doesn’t hinge on these reveals by any means whatsoever.  Scott apparently already has a director’s cut ready to go for this one, not surprising, and I can’t wait to see it as it will hopefully slow things down a bit and give us that character depth that would further enrich the film.  As the film stands now, it is still a hell of good time at the theater as we have seemed to have gotten the summer blockbuster cut; can’t wait for the character cut.

The film works as well as it does not just because of the A+ effects work and impeccably crafted set pieces, but because Scott threw a hell of a cast up on the screen.  Noomi Rapace fairs much better here than she did in her last big blockbuster and gives us a strong lead that is only weakened by the streamlined nature of the third act.  She gets a number of the big moments in the film and takes full advantage of them; I just wish we got a few more scenes between her and Logan Marshall-Green.  Marshall-Green is quite the charismatic presence in the film and he injects a lot of life and energy into the picture when he is on the screen and this looks to be a breakout performance for him.  Idris Elba gives the film another fun character as well playing the ship’s Captain and he gets a number of good scenes with a wide variety of the cast members.    Charlize Theron has the toughest character to play as we can’t really ever get a read on her.  I don’t know if she is underwritten or just left on the cutting room floor, but Theron has enough presence to still put herself forward whenever she pops up on the screen.  Michael Fassbender steals the show though as David as I could watch him roam those tunnels for hours.  It’s no secret my love for Fassbender, but he really is magnificent here. As the monotone android, Fassbender fills David with both humor and mystery that makes him constantly engaging wherever he pops up on screen.  Guy Pearce gets a bit wasted in the film and I feel like he too found himself on the cutting from floor a bit as well; his first scene is excellent though and it is a shame that he gets rushed off the screen.

The film’s effects and 3D are worth mentioning again here as this will certainly be the film to beat in these categories this year.  The creature work, the ship design, the costumes, and the CGI landscapes are all flawless.  Scott uses the visual effects perfectly to suck you into the world and I never doubted it for a second.  There isn’t a bad shot in the film and Scott creates some iconic imagery that stands on its own accord. The 3D is also entirely worth the price of admission as Scott shot and conceived the picture for the medium and it is the best use of the tech since Hugo.  This is a rich universe to play in and I hope that Scott helps guide us into another adventure here in the not so distant future.

Prometheus is mostly great and has the potential to be amazing if there is a director’s cut floating around out there.  Don’t let my wishes for an extended cut scare you off though, Scott throws an impressive and fun picture on the screen for us this summer and it is one that is certainly not to be missed.  Featuring some great acting, amazing effects, and superb set pieces make Prometheus  well worth your time and it never drags for a moment throughout.  Prometheus has some high expectations for many viewers this summer and this one was not disappointed.

Prometheus is an A-

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