Friday 1 June 2012

Review: Prometheus (Spoiler-free)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Prometheus poster

Prometheus (2D) - Spoiler Free
124 mins / Dir. Ridley Scott

It's not really a "spoiler" to say that there are oblique and direct references to 1979's Alien in Prometheus. That fact is what's drawing the crowd, no matter how much 20th Century Fox want to understate the connection. And so, withholding expectations as much as possible, I sat down this afternoon with a nuclear-hot coffee to watch the film that's exciting geeks and civilians alike...

The Plot: In 2089, when anthropologists connect a series of pre-historic cave paintings with a distant star system, the Weyland Corporation funds a scientific expedition to planet LV-426. What they find is an invitation, a warning, and just maybe the very origin of life on Earth…

The Good: Too much for me to take in fully on the first watch. I see that as a good thing, and it's always been an indicator of a great film in the past. The production design and effects in general are nothing short of breathtaking, here. Even the 'old-age' prosthetics are remarkably good, backed up by the mannerisms of the performer wearing them. And as far as I can see, everyone is on great form in Prometheus. You don't doubt any of the characters for a second (although their respect of basic Health and Safety practices is often staggering).

The crew of the ship Prometheus are nicely realised; all rough and ready and full of world-weary sarcasm, which is a sound nod to the crew of Nostromo from that other Ridley Scott film. My only real 'positive complaint' is that I wanted to see more. I could quite happily have watched a version of this that was closer to three hours, and given Ridley Scott's history I daresay an extended version will appear at some point.

The Bad: Prometheus definitely asks more questions than it answers. Certain connections which are suggested (and occasionally used to batter the audience around the head with) don't fit as snugly as your average geek may be wanting them to. In addition to this, a lot of the extra-terrestrial biology on display seems not to run concurrently with 33 years of Aliens sequels and expanded-universe mythology. It's no biggie, but it feels like the film deliberately goes out of its way to step out of line.

There are also whole avenues that feel unexplored. Michael Fassbender's David and Charlize Theron's Vickers are practically screaming for more screentime to get into their motivations. I know that associated promo-material, such as David and Peter Weyland's viral videos, certainly bulks out the background of Prometheus, and I suspect there's a lot more in that vein. But for your average punter in the cinema (who hasn't been geeking out for the last year or so), the lack of that depth could make for a fairly sparse story. And isn't the cinema supposed to be about storytelling? The 'extras' should be just that, not a requirement for understanding the film. [/Reverse Film Snobbery]

The Ugly: According to references all over the internet (but little in the way of actual quotation):
"The Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who plays British character Shaw, worked on set with a dialect coach to help her achieve an appropriate accent. "

Well, I hope the coach didn't get paid. The vast majority of her lines are passable, and then she slides in a Swedish accent that trips the whole thing up.
If it wasn't for flashback scenes of her as a little girl with a very 'British' accent, there'd be no need at all for it to be an issue. Why did you even MENTION this, The Internet? It's like when they tell Jason Statham to do an American accent, or Ewan McGregor an American one. They can't do it, don't waste your time.

Should I see this at the pictures, though?: Undoubtedly. Despite what I've moaned about there, Prometheus is bloody good. I mean, seriously bloody good. Beautifully made and definitely worthy of seeing on the big screen. Just don't expect to walk out of the cinema with all the answers you've been wanting...


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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