Saturday, June 23, 2012


"Why should the thirst for knowledge be aroused only to be disappointed and a second Prometheus, I will endure this and worse..."
-Edwin Abbott Abbott

Ridley Scott's "Alien" is famously about a group of "truckers in space" who, out of contractual obligations, must investigate an unidentified object deep in space, where no one can hear you scream. Their ship becomes a haunted house, as a chest-bursting alien hunts them down. Here, in Scott's prequel "Prometheus," there is no economic reality but instead a thirst for knowledge and the reminder that curiosity kills. Its scientist, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), and her fellow scientist and lover Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe they have discovered an invitation from an alien species on a far away planet. These aren't simply aliens, but in fact some kind of scientific creators of human beings. Their project is funded by an aging Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), and their crew features a groovy yet hypothesis-providing captain (Idris Elba) and the supervisor of the operation, Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a stern, by-the-book woman, as well as an android (Michael Fassbender), practically in control of everything.

I couldn't help but constantly compare this movie to "Alien," as I should have, and compared to "Alien" it disappoints. Some might argue that it would be unfair to compare the two, considering that living up to the legacy of "Alien" is too difficult a task. But many find James Cameron's "Aliens" to be superior to its predecessor, so the comparison is fair. Whereas "Alien" is one of the most visually stunning films of all time, "Prometheus" often is a mess, overboard in its computer generated imagery, looking like a cheap computer game and not utilizing its impressive sets enough. While "Alien" features one of the greatest casts in cinematic history, only Fassbender provides a comparable performance.

But is "Prometheus" a bad film? Not really. It has its moments and indeed gets better as it goes. It prefers, for better or (more often) for worse, to tackle bigger questions than the conventional horror approach of "Alien." Here in "Prometheus" there are questions on the origin of humans and end of times. Some have complained that there are too many questions left unanswered, but remember that one of the screenwriters is Damon Lindelof, a creator of and screenwriter for "Lost," a show famous/infamous for not revealing many answers. But the questions are unnecessary, as is the teasing of its audience as it hops from enigma to enigma. There are strange holograms. One of the crew members is poisoned. Another is somehow impregnated with some sort of alien; she figures out how to get a machine to perform a Cesarean surgery on her...the absurdities continue.

But as mentioned before, Fassbender is terrific in the film. His character is David, the film's android, and is impossible to ignore, simultaneously serving as an intelligence compass for the crew and yet having a cruel lack of emotion. The only times he does seem to emote are when he either is jealous that he's "not a real boy" or when his fierce loyalty to his master compromises the safety of others.  He playfully apologizes as he seemingly is aware that his actions are making the situations more dangerous. One can find obvious influences from "2001: A Spacey Odyssey," "Lawrence of Arabia" (which David studies), and one would imagine the previous "Alien" films, but Fassbender has stated that he avoided watching those. But other than this, there is not too much else to write about, and it unfortunately feels like a missed opportunity. There are talks of a sequel, but for better or worse, it seems like "Prometheus" should be the final installment and serve as the "Godfather Part III" of the series.

Alien, Prometheus, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Michael Fassbender, Movies, movies, theater, cinema, watch, watching, watches, view,  see, saw, cinema,  film, flick, motion picture


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