Movie Review: Prometheus
By Matthew Huntley
June 14, 2012
We also suspect something is awry with David (Michael Fassbender), the android who watched over the ship during the crew’s stasis. During this time, he read the crew’s personal memories, learned a plethora of ancient languages, exercised with a bike and a basketball, and watched classic films like Lawrence of Arabia. Although stoic and emotionless, his behavior doesn’t always seem objective or loyal and his motivations aren’t always clear. In other words, he seems to have obtained the characteristics of a human.
The film’s other characters illustrate one of the flaws of the screenplay. They’re made up mostly of stock movie types, including the brave black captain (Idris Elba); the unfriendly and testosterone-driven biologist, Fifield (Sean Harris); and his geeky counterpart, Milburn (Rafe Spall). Unfortunately, all the film’s characters are one-dimensional and underdeveloped. The moment we lay eyes on them, we know who will live and who will likely be tossed aside as a victim.
When Prometheus lands and the crew members start exploring the isolated moon, they find a large structure containing a giant monolith in the shape of a human head. Fifield sends out his handy dandy floating probes to survey and photograph the facility, which reveal…well I can’t say what they reveal. I also can’t say what else the crew finds except it includes holographic recordings of events from the past. Do the recordings suggest something good? Bad? Evil? Fascinating? Any hints and I fear I’d be giving too much away, for Prometheus is a film about discovery, and while the events don’t always make sense to us, they do engage us.
What doesn’t engage us is the standard horror movie fare. The movie has too many of those “gotcha!” moments, most of which aren’t that shocking to begin with. For instance, when one scientist reaches down to touch a slimy creature that peeks its head out of the water, we can pretty much guarantee what’s going to happen next, and when it does, it’s even more disappointing because part of us hoped Scott and writers John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof had outgrown this sort of thing. Scenes like these are boring and obvious, and they don’t mix well with the film’s grander scenes and ideas. We’d rather have the film be about its science and spirituality. Let it thrill us on those levels; not with loud crescendos, screaming characters and gore.
I say this, and yet one of the film’s best scenes finds a character screaming, running and exposing her insides. All I’ll say is it involves a medical breakthrough, a panicking Shaw and an automatic surgery machine. It’s exciting and innovative, and the way the scene was devised and executed makes us anticipate the series’ other possibilities.
Will Prometheus turn into another series? The ending suggests it will, and I’m hoping it does, especially since it has so many questions left to answer. Not that it has to answer them all at once. I’d rather the writers and filmmakers take their time exploring the science behind an intelligent story than racing to deliver sensational fiction.
Many filmgoers have already expressed their disappointment over Prometheus and say they feel cheated by it. I have a feeling they’re over-comparing it to Alien, which is reasonable enough since it’s the same genre, takes place in the same universe and Ridley Scott is in the director’s chair. But I think if you’re able to turn mute the impression Alien left on you and look at Prometheus on its own terms, you’d agree it holds its own and is worth a trip to the theater. I can understand the plot getting frustrating, but surely film’s the technical presentation is something to behold. Did I mention how great this movie looks, even in 3D? True, on the whole, it’s no Alien, but in this day and age, when it’s so hard even for Hollywood veterans to make something original, Prometheus shows they can still create something thoughtful and memorable.