‘Prometheus’ – Smart Director, Dumb Scientists

Ridley Scott was smart to not market Prometheus as a prequel to Alien, because that’s exactly what it is. Not in the cinematic “all your questions are answered” shoot-cut-wrap sort of way, but it does cleverly give fans of the original the easter egg they’ve been waiting for.

Scott is smarter here then he’s been in a long time, presenting you with special effects that make Battleship and everything else from recent years besides District 9 look like they were shot a day after computers were invented. Scott has also not lost his talent for creating the same tension for the audience that his characters are experiencing.

Scientists to be exact. Two in “charge,” though not as much as they’d like to be. Then a captain, medic, pilots, an overseer, an android, a geologist, a botanist, and a few others. 

A crew of 17 total on the aesthetically Mass Effect-approved ship, Prometheus. From the noteworthy to the vaguely familiar, all play a part that you will not have trouble remembering, though sympathy may not come so easily.

The most “human” of the bunch is captain Janek (Idris Elba), who smokes cigars while decorating a miniature Christmas tree and seems incapable of losing his cool, even after deaths and a parasitic invasion. Even Charlize Theron’s typical role as the tough-as-nails funding manager Meredith Vickers is necessary amidst so many loose cannons.

Loose cannons like the couple behind the expedition to a far away planet in the not-so-distant-future (2093), Elizabeth Shaw (the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), who are bright-eyed and naive about humanity’s beginnings.

The “Engineers,” the true inspiration of the journey, are equally loose. Superior beings, whom Shaw and Holloway believe have left a map to find them through the ancient civilizations of earth.

Then there’s the other guys. Body-invaders, snakes, space jockeys. You saw the trailer, you know what I’m talking about. Poking around in a nest of foreign beings with a minimal thought-process never goes well.

And in that lies my issues with the sympathy you need to feel, but can’t. You want these people to “know better,” to not touch every suspicious object in the vicinity. Haven’t they ever seen a movie? Maybe not Scott’s 1979 classic but surely SOMETHING. You don’t need media to possess common sense, do you?

You’d think Scientists or even geology nerds (a mohawked Sean Harris) would be wary of oozing tubes and dead bodies.

I can’t feel sorry for someone who practically commits suicide, it’s a waste of time. Thankfully there are worthwhile people involved in this highly suspenseful story.

Michael Fassbender as the stiff-bodied robot David, is brilliant in all his mischievous glory, and Rapace’s Shaw is to die for, not always in her decisions, but her amazing ability to weasel out of seemingly inescapable situations.

Scene after scene, Shaw prevails. And in that sense, she is like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. The cross around her neck and bizarre desire to discover new things after nearly dying multiple times is the difference. Ripley would leave, when Shaw would (or could) not.

An oddity is the casting choice of Guy Pearce as Weyland. Pearce spent five hours in makeup to portray a man who must be around 40 years his senior. The aging prosthetics are not realistic nor was the way he moved despite extensive research. I am baffled as to why a real, age-appropriate person wasn’t utilized.

At least Ridley Scott and writer Damon Lindelof give you what you were waiting for. The thing you actually forget about while you were sitting in your uncomfortable theater chair – the “DNA” it shares with its predecessor.

Regardless of mostly non-relatable characters with flawed reasoning, don’t even try to tell me that you wish you hadn’t gone. I’ll spit acid into your space helmet and crawl away faster than you can say “Thelma & Louise.”

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