"Prometheus" Is A Fascinating, Frustrating Must-See

"Prometheus" Is A Fascinating, Frustrating Must-See


Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror

Premise: A team of scientists (led by Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) discover ancient drawings that might uncover the origins of mankind, and set off on a fact-finding mission to a remote planet, where they encounter a threat than could end mankind (and everything else in the universe).

Behind-the-Scenes: Ridley Scott returns to his Alien roots, and the sci-fi genre he's abandoned for the last twenty years.  Co-written by Damon Lindelof (Lost).  Since the project's inception, the filmmakers and marketers have toyed audiences with the "is it" or "isn't it" a prequel to Alien?

The Good: It IS a prequel to Alien, even if that only becomes apparent in the last act.  Scott is a master filmmaker and the visual design of the movie is simply breathtaking.  This one has to be seen in 3D.  Like Scorsese's Hugo, Scott is one of the few filmmakers who does the 3D format proud.  The production design echoes Alien - the technology on display may be more impressive, but the ships, creatures, environments, and more all have a certain Alien-type vibe.  There are a number of individual moments that manage to thrill, disgust, and entertain, all in equal measure.  The standout sequence involves Noomi Rapace (in full-on Ripley mode by this point) and the removal of an alien fetus from her stomach.  Michael Fassbender gives another amazing performance as the Hal-like android, David, easily the most interesting character in the movie.  Idris Elba plays the captain, and comes across as the one actor who would have fit right in on the Nostromo.  The sci-fi ideas at play here are big and important, and even if the movie plays up the mysteries without answering all of them (shades of Lost, eh?), the movie is consistently interesting and manages to inspire multiple theories and endless discussions like few other movies can.

The Bad:  Many of the film's biggest mysteries aren't answered, and the script doesn't provide enough context for you to connect the dots yourself.   There are too many supporting characters that just occupy screen time and are never fully developed.  Many of the characters behave in increasingly stupid ways, which may prove frustrating for some viewers.  Guy Pearce plays the expedition's benefactor, and is caked in old-age makeup so bad, it makes J. Edgar's makeup look Oscar-worthy.  Rapace is fine, but she's no Sigourney Weaver.  The pacing is a little off towards the end, which makes some scenes play sillier than they otherwise would.

Should You See It?:  Yes.  Like it or not, no self-respecting movie fan can afford to miss it.  I already need to see it again.

Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars.

NOTE: There are a ton of great, spoiler-heavy articles out there about the meaning of Prometheus, and theories about its many plot points and mysteries.  Once you've seen the movie, seek them out.  Here's a good starting point.  And here's a helpful graphic.

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