Friday, June 8, 2012
Welcome back, Ridley Scott. It's been 30 years since you've picked up your space gun. Though, you've made some great films in between that time, you've managed to leave a HUGE imprint in the sci-fi universe (pun intended). And yet, you've only made 2 sci-fi films. But what you've managed to do with those 2 films, THAT is why we, as nerds, eagerly awaited your return to the sci-fi arena.
For some, this will be a minor disappointment, for others, it will be a major disappointment, and well, for me, it ruled. Everyone going into this film has their brain set to their own nerd setting. Whether it's that they want a straight-up Alien prequel, a return to sci-fi for Scott, a gory space film, whatever. I just wanted it to be GOOD.
What Ridley and company managed to do here, I enjoyed A LOT. For those of you who are unaware as to how we got where were at, a quick crash-course. 2009, Avatar was released. The 3D and the world Cameron created was so rich and awe-inspiring, that it gave Ridley Scott that itch to do sci-fi again (which is a complete reversal than what happened from 1979 to 1986 when Cameron took over for Scott on Aliens). Ridley Scott said that after Avatar, he was dying to do a science fiction film again. Enter: The Alien Prequel. After a few drafts of the script for the Alien prequel were made, Damon Lindelof was brought on board, and what he turned the script into, it was veering off the "Alien prequel" path, and into "original idea" territory. So from there on out, it was said that it was no longer an Alien prequel, but more so a sci-fi film with the Alien DNA. Okay, class dismissed.
Let's get into plot of the film. A crew of 17 scientists travel to a planet (or moon), after discovering a half-dozen cave drawings in various locations on Earth that all point to a specific star-map. The reason for their expedition? To find human's engineers. Now, therein lies one of my favorite aspects of this film. It's ambition. And it's not a pretentious science fiction blockbuster. It's Ridley Scott. It's a film that IS something entirely different than the robot-dick-punching blockbuster fare we're used to. The film dances on the issues of fact and faith, science and religion. And that can be an issue for some, but for most it's admirable. It's not afraid to ask those questions. But it doesn't necessarily answer them either. There's a line from the movie that sums it up perfectly. David (an android played by Michael Fassbender) asks Dr. Shaw (Noomie Rapace), "Do you still believe in your god now?" (or something along the lines of that. And he asks this after they discover the DNA of us (humans) and them (the engineers) are a match. And to which she replies, "Well... Who made them?". And THAT is the single thread that ties this film together from beginning to end. And the vagueness of the answers we get to the questions were asking is what helps and hurts the film.
Obviously, with any film, you still want a sense of mystery to be prevalent. Because by the end of the 2 hours, if you get answers to all the questions, it's there. Fact. Set in stone. Nothing else to discuss. But when you get a film like Prometheus, the discussion could go on for hours and hours on end, without a single explanation given. And that is why Ridley Scott is a genius in my eyes. He doesn't just throw something in there to have it there. Case in point: The Space Jockey. When you watch the first film, Alien, you see the Space Jockey for maybe 3 minutes of the film. Who is he? Don't know. Why was he there? Fuck if I know. When did he get there? Fuckin got me. What happened to him? Shit. Absolutely NOTHING is explained about the Space Jockey in that film. But Scott already had his backstory and reasoning for being there mapped out. Time-jump 30 years: Prometheus. Ridley Scott basically saying, "Here. Here's your fucking answer.". BUT... In the nature of a Ridley Scott science fiction film, it leaves you with MORE questions.
The characters. I have been reading a couple reviews, and there are a lot of complaints about the characters. And I can see why. But, that doesn't mean I didn't care for the characters. The way I would sum them up is that they're "more than serviceable". They were not characters you'll be quoting left and right, but they were neither cardboard cutouts. Im content with them. But there is always that exception. And that exception was Michael Fassbender. Each Alien film, as you may know has an android. Alien had Ash, Aliens had Bishop, Alien3 had... Wait, do you care about Alien3? Anyway, Prometheus has David. And if I had to choose one element from Prometheus that DID hold up as well as Alien and Aliens, it was David. Fassbender played him with such charm, yet at the same time, he was nailing the portrayal of an android perfectly. But that charm that his character had also translated to "wait, can you trust him?". And characters like that keep you guessing through out the course of the film.
The visuals. If someone walks out of the film, and you hear them say the film lacked in plot points and characters, eh, whatever. But you hear a single complaint about the visuals. Find the nearest battle axe and/or chainsaw, and murder that person. The visuals in this were phenomenal! And Im not only speaking of the CGI, Im speaking of the incredible to-scale sets. What most directors do wrong in gigantic films like this is that they RELY on CGI. Not only is the CGI in this some of the best I've seen, but there is no reliance here. Certain sequences you're going to have to resort to CG. But when a scene calls for a set to take up most of the sound stage, that is just plain awesome. And the marriage of CG and practical is almost seamless.
The 3D. Not only is the 3D really fucking good in this, but some of the hologram scenes in this are like nothing I've ever seen. One scene in particular is a holographic/dream sequence. And the sequence itself is nothing special, but the way the visuals are designed, HOLY FUCK. I highly suggest watching this in 3D. And another benefit, it was shot in 3D. I saw this twice, once in Real-D 3D and the second in IMAX 3D. Both have trade-offs. Real-D 3D, for me, is a lot better than IMAX 3D, but with IMAX, you get the bigger picture, which is a HUGE plus. But you also have to be seeing in the g-spot of the theatre, which is center/center. If you can't make it to an IMAX, no biggee, you'll get better 3D in a regular theatre, but be sure to watch it in 3D regardless.
Unfortunately, with a film like Prometheus, to write a non-vague review, you'd have to spoil a lot of scenes (or all), and Im not going to do that. I dont even want to mention scenes you've seen in the trailer, because a lot of those aren't what you think they are. But I will say this. There is one scene that is NOT in the trailer (well maybe just a quick shot), but it is AWESOME. Though, it might give you a stomach ache.
All in all, am I happy with the film? Yes. I like this film VERY much. Am I a LITTLE disappointed? Maybe a little, but I need to let it settle and get a few more answers through discussions to really make my final judgment call. And I would like to see a sequel to Prometheus, but there is a lot of time between the end of this film and the beginning of Alien. And that brings me to what the writer Damon Lindelof said, "This has the DNA of Alien, but it is not a direct prequel. If Alien is X through Z, Prometheus isn't A through W.". Meaning, the sequel to Prometheus isn't Alien. It would be Prometheus 2.
Posted by Guts Spill at 4:50 PM