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Prometheus (2012) by Ridley Scott (Director), Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof (Writers)
Review by Ernest Lilley
20th Century Fox  ISBN/ITEM#: B005LAIHXQ
Date: 24 June 2012

Links: IMDB Record / Movie Trailer / Show Official Info /

In the much anticipated prequel to Alien, a pair of archeologists discover ancient carvings around the world which lead them to believe the not only did aliens (big human looking ones) visit Earth thousands of years ago, but that they left their address and would like us to come visit. Which we do, in a trillion dollar spaceship with a full compliment of science types, some gritty spacers, a few mercenaries, an ice princess, soulless robot, and a few surprises in the fridge. Having traveled a long way they waste no time checking things out from orbit, but head down to look for something interesting. What they find is a beehive like structure in a valley, so, despite fading daylight, they mount up their ATVs and zip over for a look. Unfortunately for them, these people have serious impulse control issues. Soon they've opened a can of alien pod spore whoop-ass, which makes things much more interesting for the folks wandering around the tunnels looking for a way back to the ship.

As in every successful Alien movie, there's a heartless company stooge (Charlize Theron) and a soulless company android named David (Michael Fassbender), neither of which have exploring the wonders of the universe on their minds. The corporation is the Weyland Corporation, and its founder sent the Prometheus out to get some answers about life, the universe, and everything, though not quite because he's excited about the wonder of it all.

Soon, the perky young woman scientist that was so excited to head off to the stars and find the ancient aliens has good reason to come to the realization that might have saved them all all a lot of grief if she'd had it a bit sooner.

"...we were wrong....we were so wrong."

We could have told them that.

Prometheus may not be the best science fiction film ever made, though it's actually pretty good once you get past your expectations. On the other hand, no film sparked as much discussion about science fiction among so many, and this is a good thing.

For months Director Ridley Scott teased audiences with a space epic trailer that was nothing less than awesome this spring before bursting the full film onto the (really) big screen this June. Unfortunately for movie goers, the fully gestated film wasn't exactly what we'd hoped for.

It was clear from the trailer that this was going to be a prequel, or the start of a 'prequelogy' for the Alien franchise, even before we saw the cavern full of alien pods and Geiger influenced sets. Unfortunately, like Lucas before him, the time elapsed between the original movie and the prequel(s) gave them too much time to think about what they wanted the movies to mean, causing them to lose touch with what they actually were about.

That's a pity, though it could be worse. So far I haven't heard any talk of reissuing Alien and Aliens with new digital special effects and subtly switched scenes to fit into the new vision. Though that may come.

Still, Prometheus actually has a lot going for it, though some of it's unintended.

Intended: The look and feel of the film is awesome. While I'm looking forward to watching it again on my home system, the film deserves to be experienced in IMAX 3D with a THX sound system online to rock the theater. The special effects are very special, and the look and feel of the human tech it terrific. Since this film is set before the later films, the designers are faced with the challenge of making the tech look as cool as possible, while not making the previous film look pathetic. Paramount's Enterprise series failed at this task, but Prometheus succeeds admirably. The score is very solid, and every bit as good as it was in the trailer. The creature work, sadly, was uniformly clunky, though that might just be intentional. The aliens in the film may not be supposed to be the same as those in the later films, but earlier versions. As it is, they look a lot more like octopus than gooey velociraptor.

Unintended (we hope): The humans are uniformly too stupid to live. Except possibly Chalize Theron's character, the unfeeling mission commander / corporate stooge, but she's not the movie's hero. The film industry has a perverse agenda when it comes to rational thought, which it really seems to hate. The more dire the circumstances, the more the film rewards emotionally driven actions and penalizes rational thought. That's not a universal truth, and the reasons for it are understandable anyway. Films are made to engage audiences, which are, by and larger, young, romantic, and inclined to believe that meaning well will be rewarded in the end. Films are still fairy tales, but it's no longer clear that the morality play element connects to any actual sort of morality. Often the message here, and notably in many science fiction films, seems to be that the more you know, the less good it does you.

In science fiction films, science is more likely to be the cause of the problem than the solution, which frequently comes from an everyman character. Here, the human race is saved from alien infestation (that's not really a spoiler, since they're still around in the next film) not by a scientist, but by a heroic space-truck driver. Sure, I got choked up too.

In all the Alien films, the corporation funding the expedition knows something terrible is waiting for their explorers to find, but have lied to them all about the mission. Ironically, the same is true of the movie itself. The studio knew that they couldn't see a high concept film about searching for meaning in the universe by seeking out the beings that created us, one that seeks to challenge our religious beliefs along on the one hand and our own attempts to create intelligent life on the other. High concept science fiction draws low numbers at the box office. So instead they did what the corporation in the film always does, hide the truth inside something much more exciting.

In the end, the joke is on them, because we would have gone anyway.

In fact, now that the truth is out, I'm kind of looking forward to the next movie.

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