Monday, June 11, 2012

Prometheus - 2012

"Prometheus" - 2012
Dir. by Ridley Scott - 2 hrs. 4 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

I think the bottom line with a film like "Prometheus" is whether or not it was a cool film.  And yeah, it was a cool film.  There are essentially two kinds of films: ones that are story-based and ones that are experience-based.  "Prometheus" is the latter, almost by default.  That's not to say that there isn't a story here, there certainly is.  But in a movie that devotes so much attention to its visuals, or to put it another way, sheer spectacle, parsing the film for plot points misses the point.  It's like this: sure, a spaceship lands on a foreign planet.  Is that the point?  No, the point is that the ship looks awesome, and the reveal of the alien planet isn't something that can just be conveyed by telling someone that there were mountains and stuff.  You need to experience the reveal itself in order to "get" what the filmmakers want you to get.

So, what exactly is "Prometheus" about?  I'll sketch that in broad strokes.  A pair of archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover a set of 35,000 year old cave painting in Scotland, which happen to depict something that has also been depicted by other primitive cultures, ones that couldn't have had any contact with one another.  They take that as an invitation to the stars, and ten years later, they head a commercial space expedition shrouded in mystery, with a Weyland Corporation representative (Meredith Vickers, played by Charlize Theron) in ultimate charge.  And then a bunch of other things happen.

I'm not sure to what degree it's a spoiler to mention that this is an antecedent of the "Alien" franchise.  "Prometheus" stands on it's own, and honestly, there's only the most minor of connections made explicit.  As far as to whether or not it ties directly into the other films, that falls into the "I don't know/I don't care" category.  It's been a number of years since I've watched any of the other films, and I'm not watching four films in preparation to maybe glint another line or two out of "Prometheus."  One thing I can tell you is that the visual design sense of H.R. Giger (the artist who's work was the basis of the franchise) is present (and still spooky).

Breaking down the plot or analyzing the acting wouldn't do much good here.  The story hits all the points it needs to in order to get out of the way and let visually interesting or harrowing events to be shown.  If a film is not going to be able to manage to break new ground in terms of story, that's about the best alternative.  What is important is that the story is told with a maximum of visual flair.  Two scenes among many stand out: the initial scene set at a waterfall is spectacular, and there's a computer-generated scene of what appears to be the creation of the universe that is equally breathtaking.  Those aren't the only winners, but without spoiling things (and part of the joy of this film is one visual marvel after another), let me use that word "cool" to let you know that your eyes are going to be very, very happy while watching "Prometheus."

I liked this film a lot.  It's tense, visually interesting, and the run time flew by.  The "Alien" franchise isn't one of my personal favorites, so that wasn't really a factor in my enjoyment.  And I don't think that it would be fair to view "Prometheus" as an "Alien" prequel, as you don't really need to know anything about those film in order to appreciate this one.  If you're going to see "Prometheus," be sure to find the biggest screen in your area that you can.

3.5 / 5 - Theatre

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