Wednesday, June 06, 2012

PROMETHEUS - Not Just A Monster-In-Space Flick

PROMETHEUS (sci-fi thriller)
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce and Logan Marshall-Green
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
Time: 122 mins
Rating:  *  *  * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: It is understandable that most people will compare this so-called prequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 scarefest Alien. This would invariably heighten expectations over Scott's return to sci-fi after 30 years, and many would find Prometheus wanting. To be fair, Prometheus is a technogically-brilliant visual feast (appropriately enhanced by 3D) that should delight sci-fi fans who want more than just a monster-in-space film. However, there are flaws in its narrative that are hard to ignore but they should not destroy all the good points of the movie.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Prometheus is a Greek titan who got in trouble for stealing fire from Zeus and giving it to man, putting humans on the same level as the gods. Prometheus, the movie, suggests that not very long from now, in 2093 to be precise, a plausible source of human life will not only be found but reached by corporate space explorers.

It all starts in 2089, when archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) stumble upon a pictogram in a cave on the Isle of Skye. Matching it with etchings found across the globe, they conclude that the drawings form a star map. When multi-billionaire (Guy Pearce) agrees to fund a mission, the two head out into the cosmos aboard starship Prometheus to find an answer to the questions of life, the universe and everything. Accompanying them are an android David (Michael Fassbender), corporate stooge Vickers (Charlize Theron), the ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba) and other expendable shipmates. They stumble across a giant structure buried in the soil. Could this be the key to mankind’s origins?

HITS & MISSES: The presence of the Weyland Corporation - the organisation that funds the Prometheus expedition - links the plot to ‘Alien’ but it is apparent that this is a new story. At some points, I was reminded of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Chris Nolan's Inception. The cinematography by Dariusz Wolski is stunning and so are the set designs.

The cast is excellent, especially Michael Fassbender as a robot with the impeccable manners of an adult but the mischievous instincts of a child. His fair-haired David, recalls Ian Holm's android Ash from the original Alien. His calm and cool demeanour is also reminiscent of the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the pop-culture influences that shape David's behaviour are a clever celebration of the power of the cinema. 

Among the flaws are some characters that are devoid of personality and some who behave irrationally. The reason for this may be that the script, which was first written by Jon Spaihts, was re-written by Damon Lindelof, resulting in the plot being inconsistent, the characters underdeveloped and the dialogue dull. It is evident that Prometheus never intended to answer many of the 'Engineers' ideas that it brings up. Like what he did for the end of Lost, Lindelof settles on feeble spiritual ideas as his story's resolution. The narrative in Prometheus 'suggests' something more spectacular and substantial, but it ultimately fails to deliver on those notions.

THE LOWDOWN: A captivating and dazzling effort on the whole.


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