May 19, 2017

Blu-ray Review: Prometheus (2012)

"A return to form for the series."

(aka The Prologue)
Release Date: In theaters now.
Country: USA
Written by: Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts.
Directed by: Ridley Scott.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce.

In 1979, Alien was released to mixed critical reviews. In 1982, Blade Runner flopped. Today, both movies are considered seminal works of Science Fiction, and they changed the way genre movies were made in many ways.

I mention all of this because Prometheus definitely seems to be polarizing audiences and critics alike, much in the same way.

This movie is so... complex, I suppose, that we can't talk about certain things beyond this point without diving into SPOILER TERRITORY. This movie, love it or hate it, will spawn plenty of discussion, and there are just some things we can't leave unsaid at this point. It would be impossible to fully dissect and discuss the movie and its themes in a simple review like this, but we will try to cover the important bits.

DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED.

*This review was originally written in 2012. 

Way before the Nostromo found LV-426 and the Weyland-Yutani Corp. decided that colonizing it was a grand idea, the Prometheus was sent on a trillion dollar expedition to LV-223 to meet their makers... literally!

A small crew of scientists believe that they have found the "Engineers" of human life via cave drawings, and decide that it's a good idea to go and seek them out, because they obviously want to meet us. Long story short, they make the trip to the distant planet of the Gods, find a bunch of dead space jockeys and a shitload of Black Goo that fucks everything up, and they end up realizing that they just should have stayed home.

"MY GOD, WE WERE SO WRONG!"
Prometheus is a gorgeous movie to behold, with over 1300+ FX shots and some set pieces that will amaze. We were immediately sucked into the world and enjoyed every minute its visceral experience. Ridley Scott knows how to craft a movie, both visually and aesthetically, and he's done so here in his usual good fashion. Prometheus feels more like Blade Runner than an Alien film in that its themes are buried in quiet subtext, and left for us to suss out on our own. Not much is blatantly given to us with this movie, and we're fine with that.

Story-wise we enjoyed the movie too, though a lot of fans seem to be of the opinion that while it all looked great, that the narrative was a mess full of unanswered questions and messy plot holes. The characters were weak in some ways and parts of the script were fairly vague... and we're not understanding all of the backlash.

Sure, we had questions that went unanswered, and others that we haven't quite reasoned out the answers to yet, but most of it was there for the taking, if you knew what to look for (at least we think so.)

"A KING HAS HIS REIGN, THEN HE DIES. IT'S INEVITABLE."
We'd be remiss if we didn't give some love to Michael Fassbender here. Sure, it seems as if the whole world is all up on his acting dick lately, singing his praises as one of the best actors around, but that's because he really is. Here, he plays David magnificently, and in a quiet and subdued way, he carries the movie.

We're big fans of Idris Elba here at THC, so aside from the odd accent he had going on, he was great to watch too. That guy is seriously underused in Hollywood, and we hope that changes soon. Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace were good here as well, although it's interesting to note that Theron's heartless bitch of a character was more appealing to us than Rapace's misguided good girl. More on that issue later.

HE'S SO CURIOUS!
There were definitely nods to Alien and Aliens to be found here as well; we even got a "we are leaving!" at one point which made us smirk. This movie operates on a different level than the others that it predates though; this is the mythology of the Alien stories (that so many have come to love over the years) unfolding before our eyes on screen. It's the cause to the later movie's effects. It is precursor more so than prequel. Still, we get versions of face-huggers, xenomorphs, chest-bursters, space jockeys... there are definitely connectors to the other films to be found here.

AND THEN THERE'S THIS LITTLE GUY...
What you have to understand about Prometheus, is that it is not an Alien film. It is a precursor to the world of the Alien films, and a part of their continuum, but precursor is the key word here. This movie is about creation and destruction. It's about insignificance and grandeur. It's about evolution, which we actually see happening before our eyes throughout the film, in different ways and on different scales; we see an Engineer on some planet (perhaps Earth) ingest a black goo which causes him to break down and reform on a molecular level, and the dispersal of his new DNA essentially creating life as we know it; we see a worm become a space cobra, which then jams itself down one of the scientist's throats, which then forces him to evolve; we see a single drop of a black genetic goo begin to mutate a man who then has sex with a woman, thus impregnating her, which leads her to "give birth" to a creature which ends up besting the Engineer which created its "mother"... it's some pretty crazy circle of life type of shit going on here.

SPACE COBRA!
David the robot illustrates and continually reinforces the point of the movie pretty well: Why did the Engineers create us? Because they could. Why did we create Synthetic life like David? Because we could. Why do they want us dead after going to the trouble of creating us? I don't know, maybe we disappointed them? Why do we destroy the things that we create? Because it's in our nature.

When meeting the Humans that it created, the Engineer is enraged to find that they themselves have engineered a life form, and so it rips the head off of what it most likely considers an abomination. Is it because we created synthetic life that was more efficient than we are, and the Engineer was jealous that did it better? Who knows, but it sounds reasonable to us.

Evolution isn't perfect and precise, and for every one being that evolves successfully, there are scores that do not. One of the best things about this movie is that we get to see evolution succeed and fail, sometimes both at once. It's an imperfect science, as illustrated here, and in that fact we get the Engineers purpose.

All of it, courtesy of the Black Goo, of course.

"BIG THINGS HAVE SMALL BBEGINNINGS."
The main flaw we had with Prometheus was its characters, and particularly Noomi Rapace's Shaw. Shaw pretty much embodies the misguided notion that we humans need the answers to everything, or else life is nothing but an empty, pointless void. She believes that not only did some crazy Space Gods create us, but that they left crude cave drawings behind for us to find, as an invitation to come and find them. She doesn't stop to think that maybe our creators don't want to meet us, or that doing so could shift the balance of creation in terrible ways. She doesn't even once consider that the drawings were a warning and not an invitation. She believes, she wants, but she never gets.

Even after everyone around her dies, including her true love, she still has to know "why?" As an illustration of the foolish nature of human curiosity, and the fact that we believe ourselves to be above all other life forms, she is frustratingly accurate. She even still insists on wearing her cross when she all but knows that there's probably no point behind it anymore. Why? That's how we're built.

"HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET YOUR ANSWERS?"
The only one who makes much sense here is David. The robot basically tells her that the "why" of it all is irrelevant, but what does he know, he's just a construct that we made. Then again, what do we know, were just constructs of a different sort, that the Engineers made.

I cant help but think that the Engineers are just constructs that a higher life-form made for their own purpose, and I am truly curious at what that could mean. The possibilities are endless. Then again, maybe my human mind isn't made for understanding such concepts. I still want to know though. I feel like I need to know.

Like David said though, it really is irrelevant.

"Oh God! I can see forever!"
The Internets are filled with a crazy buzz of questions about this movie that seem to have no answers. Are the answers there in the film, waiting for us to just open our eyes and comprehend them? Maybe. Did Ridley Scott half-ass this movie and leave us in the dark on purpose, or even by accident? Maybe, but we doubt it. We personally think that Prometheus is one of those movies that gives us most of the dots we need to be able to see the whole picture, but it's up to us to connect them.

Here are our answers to the questions that everyone seems to have. We may be 100% wrong with all of them, but we don't think we are. Then again we're human, what do we know:

  • It is a prequel. Not directly, but it is related.
  • The Greek Myth of the Titan Prometheus explains a lot about the movie.
  • The Black Goo seems to be a genetic mutagen that affects different beings in different ways, though it does evolve whatever it touches. Maybe it's the physical essence of evolution?
  • The Engineers create and destroy as they see fit, just like their human creations do.
  • The Engineer at the beginning was essentially giving birth to human life.
  • David is the key to answering most of the movies questions.
  • David put the Black Goo in the Holloway's drink to see its effect; maybe it was a test to see if it would keep Weyland alive, or maybe just to see what it would do. Either way, a test.
  • Janek either learns (in a deleted scene that we weren't shown) that the planet is a weapons dump of sorts, or he pieces it together because he has a brain and experience with such things. I assumed the same thing that he did before he came to that conclusion on screen, and I'm just a guy watching a movie. Weapons dump or not, it's obvious that the planet was a way-station or storage facility of some sort.
  • Maybe the Engineers decided to destroy the earth because we disappointed them, or they wanted to try something new. They are Gods or God-Like creatures after all, can we even hope to comprehend their machinations enough to understand them?
  • Why did the Engineer kill everyone towards the end? Because "Fuck you, I made you, you don't wake me up from my nap and question me!" That's why.
  • Also, he rips David's head off because he's engaged that his creations created something that dared address him, or that they created a life form that was better than the one that he did. Gods are vain. At least that makes a lot of sense to us.
  • Being a Trillionaire probably made Weyland feel as if he were a God in his own right, hence him wanting to meet other Gods and bargain for some immortality. Vanity and entitlement.
  • While we're on the subject of Weyland here, why was Guy Pearce in this movie? We're guessing a lot of his part hit the cutting room floor, and that we'll see it somewhere down the road, but as it stands now, Weyland/Pearce's parts seemed choppy and out of place. There just has to be more.
  • It seems as if the whole movie is a cautionary tale about lesser beings reaching too high above themselves and paying the price for it. Like Icarus.
  • There are also, like it or not, some Religious undertones (and maybe even commentary) present here. It's fitting, since Shaw is motivated almost solely by faith and the need to know everything about life and creation.
  • Hell, Shaw admitted herself that she was barren, and yet through the magic of the Black Goo, she finds herself preggers. Virgin birth, anyone?
  • You really want a mind twister? Movies.com did an interview with Ridley Scott in which he had this to say regarding the Engineers and why they might want to destroy us: "But if you look at it as an “our children are misbehaving down there” scenario, there are moments where it looks like we’ve gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, "Let's send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it." Guess what? They crucified him."
  • Remember that according to the Bible, God flooded the Earth once because people pissed him off too. It's really the same theme being explored here.

YOU SHOULD HAVE HAD THIS THING MAP OUT AN EXIT ROUTE FOR YOU!
We loved Prometheus, though it is fair to say that it may have left a bit too much open to interpretation for the person to fully embrace. It's as gorgeous as it is flawed, but for all of its flaws it is a smart movie that makes you think. I will really have to see this again, hopefully in an extended-cut form, before the truth about what this movie is or isn't truly sinks in, but as of right now we are still one of the lovers of this movie.

I personally think that the "missing answers" that most of the haters are complaining about are right there for us to see, but we have to look hard and interpret them as we will. That's something that I don't mind doing during a good movie. I can understand how some folks hate it though. Kinda sad.

Down the road this movie may become an A+ classic in our minds, but as of right now it's a solid B+. Either way, we need to see this one again now that our minds are totally hype and expectation free. You should go and see it too.

B+

Prometheus is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

http://amzn.to/2rmF38i

Oh Charlize...

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