Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prometheus Movie Review + RMQ

So I obviously didn't see Prometheus in the theater--mostly because there was too much going on at the time and I just missed it. I do remember, though, that this film got very mixed reviews.  I really enjoyed it, and I've thought a lot about why other people didn't. I'll intertwine what I came  up with my review, and I promise I'll stay largely away from spoilers.

So here's the thing: how long has it been since you sat down and watched the original Alien movie? I didn't watch it until I was in college and then mostly just because it's a classic and I'd never seen it before. It's a very slow movie for two reasons.

1) It's old and very dated. We're not even talking eighties, here. 1979 people!
2) It hearkens back to classic, literary science fiction.
Our society has made a massive shift into scifi and fantasy movies over the past few decades. In fact, it's our chief form of entertainment. Because of that, most people don't realize that classic science fiction isn't usually action-packed. Quite the opposite. Literary science fiction tends to have a political agenda and consists of a great deal of introspection. It's often just people in dystopian worlds philosophizing about the human condition. This is the place Ridley Scott's original film came from. It was mostly world-building and statement-making. I mean, sure: it was an action movie, but this was the birth of the action/scifi movie, so it's action content was relatively low. The action Ridley put in was a twist where an alien life form invades a member of the crew and literally bursts out of his chest in front of all his colleagues. Then Scott forces the lone female survivor into a show-down with this horrific alien species.

People liked that. They latched onto it. No one had ever seen anything like that on film before. (Let's play that 1979 card again.)
Then something was done that proved vastly intelligent: the reigns passed to James Cameron, who made a sequel that capitalized on everything people liked. He put in more scifi, more action, more gooey monsters, and some don't-touch-my-kid feminism in a decade when it was a hot subject. He put a fresh-faced Sigourney Weaver (whatever happened to her after that?) in the hot seat again, and BAM! Aliens is generally praised as the best installment of the billion dollar eighties franchise.

Later installments by other directors are considered sub-standard, venturing into B-movie status at times, but the idea has lived on in our collective, cultural psyche.

Enter Prometheus. I think the biggest mistake was in how the marketing was done. Now, understand what I'm saying here. The marketing did NOT fail. It was NOT ineffective. It did, however, give the public unrealistic expectations of what the film would actually be. 

I don't think this was at all intentional, but when rumors began to circulate that Ridley Scott was doing a film that may or may not be a prequel to Alien, people got very excited. Based on how much people love this franchise, how successful it's been in the past, and what Hollywood is doing with re-makes and special effects these days, people thought it would be a grandiose, action-packed, special-effects imbibed blockbuster. And the script was top-secret to boot.

In short, based on the marketing, people were expecting Aliens, but what Scott gave them hearkened back much more closely to Alien.
So how about the movie itself? I actually really liked it. And don't mistake me to mean that it wasn't action-packed. It actually was. A lot happened. I also think it felt a lot like the original Alien movie. Overall, in terms of the theme and message, it was much less a Roland Emmerich film and more an exploration of the flawed way we mortals search for our identity across the universe.

In the film, a team spends two years in cryogenic sleep to get to a planet that may support life. The expedition is based on the finding of two archaeologists that believe an alien race who once visited earth lives on this planet and may be mankind's creators.
It's the kind of thing that might have come off as preachy, but at no time did it feel like the film was claiming it as truth or beating the viewer over the head with it. It was simply presented as what these characters believed. And the characters! Let me just say: they were awesome! They were all so wonderfully human and deliciously flawed that you couldn't help but root for them. Of course nothing is as they expect it will be, and gooey monsters that may or may not resemble our favorite mother figure's arch-nemeses are waiting to use them as hosts, but that's all presented almost as a sub-plot, which makes it all the more intriguing.

It's really about what we as human beings will do to try and grasp our own identity and how flawed most of our assumptions about our creation are. To drive it all home, the entirely of the situation that leads to disaster in the movie *very minor spoilers* is based around a cold-fish of a woman who has severe daddy issues. You don't get more human than that!

Not to mention, the film is riddled with talented actors (Michael Fassbender's angular face was definitely a plus), hilarious puns (Lisbeth anyone?), gooey aliens and awesome planet-scapes.

I didn't get the chance to watch the film a second time (Redbox rental and all) but I really want to. I would recommend watching it multiple times--once for the plot and again to pick up on the nuances, details and inside jokes.

The argument has also been made that nothing was explained (i.e. wrapped up neatly) at the end. This is true, but I saw it more as leaving the film open for a sequel than being sloppy with the writing. And, quite frankly, if they do make another, I for one will be excited to see it.

Did anyone else see Prometheus? What did you think of it? Do you agree with my theory about why so many people were disappointed?

***For my review of Skyfall, check out my other blog. And if you haven't yet, be sure to check out my dystopian giveaway!***

Random Movie Quotes (RMQ)!

Don't know what this is? See the tab at the top of the page.

Yesterday's RMQ was:
Guy: "Allo."
Girl: "Did you just say...hello?"
Guy: "No, I said 'allo, but that's close enough."

That's a humorous exchange between Sarah (played by Jennifer Connelly) and the Worm (voiced by Karen Prell and Timothy Bateson) in the 1986 film, Labyrinth. Alex Cavanaugh go this one. Great job, Alex!

Today's RMQ is:

"Hello Dr. Silverman. How's the knee?"

One point for film, one for actor, one for character. Good luck and Happy Wednesday! :D


  1. I enjoyed the movie, but did have other expectations.

  2. I saw this very recently on DVD and like you, felt the ending was left open for a sequel. My son watched it with us without knowing until the end that it was based in the Aliens world. He really enjoyed it and appreciated it even more when that realization struck him.

  3. I saw it in the cinema and pre-ordered it as soon as I could. I really like it, even though I know that some bits are silly - but it's fun, and it looks nice =) All the technology!

  4. Said by Linda Hamilton as Sarah Conner in Terminator II!
    I knew not to expect Aliens, but I was really disappointed with Prometheus.
    Now Aliens was the perfect science fiction roller coaster ride of a movie!

  5. Good point about old vs new Liesel. I'm always struck by how slow classic films can be. From everything I've heard Scott uses this film ad souther character exploration and it works on the same level as Blade Runner. Slow yes. But powerful.

    1. Phone screwed up my comment
      Good point about old vs new Liesel. I'm always struck by how slow classic films can be. From everything I've heard Scott uses this film as another character exploration and it works on the same level as Blade Runner. Slow yes. But powerful

  6. Love the Labryinth image one of my all time favorite movies! I felt the same way about Prometheus! I love Michael Fassbender in this movie!