6.08.2012

David Plays Basketball With His Alien Buddy.

PROMETHEUS (2012)
Image from screenrant.com.
I'll be the first to say it. This movie couldn't disappoint me if it tried. It was directed by Ridley Scott. It had chockfull of actors I admire. But best of all, its a movie about aliens and robots, which I can never get enough of. For this reason above all, I am completely unreliable when it comes to reviewing this movie. There were aliens and they fucking kill shit. There were robots and they reprogrammed everything my brain told me I should believe about robots. Put a fucking fork in me. This movie could have been called David Plays Basketball And Rides A Bicycle With His Alien Buddy For 3 Hours and I would have been completely and utterly content. But wait, there's more. With spoilers galore. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Robots in space. Win.
Truth be told, Prometheus doesn't exactly cover a lot of new ground. It wouldn't exactly be a stretch to call Prometheus the slightly-watered-down sister of Blade Runner (1982). With aliens. It coaxes out all the old questions: where did we come from? Why were we created? What happens when man comes face-to-face with his maker? However, these are questions I'll never get tired of revisiting, especially while space-octopus-monsters are skull-fucking the all the redshirts in the bunch.

Ridley Scott is, of course, a big name, especially when it comes to science-fiction. And it just so happens, he's got a lot of big names supporting him. Time to run down the list. Logan Marshall-Green played the radical scientist, Charlie. He's a great actor and too often pushed to the sidelines, so it was good to see him get his moment as the frenetic scientist. Don't even try to recognize Guy Pearce. Don't. Charlize Theron was brilliant as the straight-backed, no-nonsense Meredith Vickers. Ruthless and furious, Meredith is a force to be reckoned with. The character herself was great, steeped in personal issues that matched up nicely with the overall current of the movie (humanity vs. robots). My only issue with her character would be the moments when the words coming out of her mouth seemed to fit a little too nicely with the theme (namely, "father"). Still, her chemistry with the other actors was great, particularly up against Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba.

Rock on, Mumbles.
Speaking of. Idris Elba. Gotta love that man. His character, Janek, was--hands down--one of my favorite parts of the movie. Not to mention, probably the most human character in the entire film. He was a cool, down-to-earth cat with a good sense of humor. I need nothing else. Well, except possibly a riveting crew to support him. I'd like to give the film the benefit of the doubt. I saw it at midnight in IMAX 3D. Maybe I was overwhelmed. Maybe I was too busy hyperventilating to catch the names of the deckhands. However, after the brilliance that is the bromance in Alien (1979), I was expecting much of the same here. And I got it. In short, scattered bits and pieces.

I get it. I do. Ridley Scott has an entire fucking world to build here, he doesn't have a lot of time to spend on the spaceship family. Still...an epic, intellectual mindfuck in space will always be an epic, intellectual mindfuck in space. But it's a little hard to separate the humans from the robots when the passengers don't ever seem to have real ties to one another. The emotional connections and bromances between the different characters could have worked well to up the ante, but instead we get a lot of individual characters doing their own thing, completely oblivious to each other. Maybe I just need more foreplay than the average audience member, but I wasn't getting my anticipated warm and fuzzy feelings from any of the characters' relationships.

On the other hand, who needs warm and fuzzy feelings when you can have extended sequences of David the robot? Michael Fassbender wins again. David completely stole every single scene he was in. End of story. Part the credit goes to Fassbender's acting skills. He's proven it before and he proves it yet again--this guy can handle anything you throw at him. He's a fucking powerhouse. And David is a lot of character to carry. He's a robot, but not the kind that sits around and waits for commands. He has an inch of curiosity, pettiness, and betrayal. All-too-human emotions that look terrifying in the hands and heart of a robot.

Looking for foreign object in male patient? Go for the uterus. 

Now for my girl. Noomi Rapace. If I hadn't previously named her BAMF Of The Week, she'd be flaunting that title right now. Talk about a badass chick. There is so much badassitry in the character of Elizabeth Shaw, I had to make a list to keep it all straight:
  1. Despite being a scientist, she's kept her cross and (partly) her religion. I don't care one way or the other about religious characters, but it breaks the mold of the angst-ridden, nihilistic scientist. She straddles with world of the physical and the spiritual, and does it all in a logical manner. Kudos. 
  2. Her husband/boyfriend/whatever dies in a fire. She's despondent, but she hasn't lost her singular reason to live. 
  3. She performs a c-section. On herself. To get rid of a terrifying alien baby.
  4. ...And doesn't go maternal on the evil little thing, like 90% of thoughtless women heroines who think with their women-parts. 
  5. She's just had major surgery, but she pushes forward. Like a boss. Even though everyone sees her groaning in the corner and clutching her stomach and doesn't lift a hand to help her. Damn "woman problems."
  6. Alien? Maker with buyer's remorse? Fuck trying to go Chuck Norris on these bitches. Instead, she uses her smarts and kills two birds with one stone. 
  7. Everyone's dead? No matter, she's still got a job to do. 
  8. Of course, it probably helps that she gets to spend the rest of her life with Michael Fassbender's head. C'mon. 
In short, Elizabeth Shaw is the shit. And, after all of that, one of the things that impresses me most is the fact that she's not Ellen Ripley II. Let's face it, Ripley is one of the most badass women of all time. If they wanted to duplicate her, there would be an audience for that. I would have been one of them. But Elizabeth Shaw is her own beast. She doesn't "roll with the boys." She doesn't have guns of steel. In fact, I don't think she wields a gun period (feel free to bitch slap me if I'm wrong). Instead, she uses her intellect and her heart. She isn't butch. She isn't brawn. She's feminine, she's emotional, she's spiritual. And she still kicks everyone's asses in the end. Now let me wipe this drool off my keyboard.

A little more drool.
Of course, before I wrap this baby up, I have to devote a little time to the most anticipated character of all. The alien. 2+ hours? Worth it for 5 seconds of alien scream. All the monsters of this movie (aliens and pre-human humans alike) were, of course, epic and terrifying. I will say this, though: I failed as a moviegoer. I fell for the oldest trick in the book and let myself get caught up in the hype. So when Ridley Scott said Prometheus was going to scare the shit out of me, I was ready with a change of pants. Instead, I got a couple gruesome scenes, but nothing that forced me behind partially-spread fingers. Not quite the scare I'd been holding out for, but solid, exciting creatures nonetheless.

All in all, I've got to repeat myself. It was physically impossible for Prometheus to disappoint me. Yes, there were flaws. But nothing so frustrating that it took me out of the movie. As someone who went into a complete Prometheus black-out a couple weeks before the film to avoid any and all spoilers, this movie packed a lot of surprises and definitely left me slack-jawed and mind-fucked. Now for the inevitable sit back and wait for Prometheus II: A Girl And Her Head. Second screening, here I come.

17 comments:

  1. Good review M. There were plenty of moments that shook me to the core, but then there were plenty of other times where it felt like the film could have done so much more and just ended up being a mildly entertaining sci-fi flick. Maybe I went in expecting something along the lines of Alien and got something not that up to par.

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    1. Thanks! And agreed. It's really, really hard to stack up against a classic like Alien. However, I do like that Prometheus became its own beast instead of really mimicking everything about Alien.

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  2. Considering I gave it a 9 out of 10, it seems I loved it even more than you did. For me, it was everything I expected it to be - a cross between Alien and Blade Runner, but with enough originality about it to stand out on its own. Plus, I thought it was BEAUTIFULLY-crafted, and gripping from start to finish.

    I know you're a huge Noomi fan, but hey, I'm too. I've seen all her movies and I admire her versatility and dedication. I'm so glad Scott gave her a major role. She deserved it.

    Terrific review!

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    1. Time to check out your review! Like I said, I went into complete Prometheus black-out, so I avoided everyone's reviews (even though I saw it midnight in the US...damn early opening nights elsewhere!). Now that I've seen it, I have to go back and search for everyone else's review.

      You've definitely out-movied me when it comes to Noomi. She just continually impresses me, and this is not exception. She so owned this shit. Thanks!

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  3. Looking so forward to seeing this shit in the cinema now! It does, indeed, look THE shit and, especially on an IMAX screen, I imagine it is gonna be so awesome...

    Great review, M! As always.

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    1. Yes! IMAX is amazing. I've got to see it in 2D now, just to watch it without being completely overwhelmed by the awesome. Can't wait to see what you have to say about it!

      Thanks, homie!

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  4. Ridley does do awesome kick ass women. He and Joss should write a film together. I have not seen this yet, so bitch slap me into next month, but I'm trying to go this week. Killer review as always, my sister. And like you, I never get tired of visiting the the philosophy, especially when delivered with robots and space ships.

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    1. Damn, if Ridley Scott and Joss Whedon joined forces, I think I would just die. It would have especially worked for this movie, though, Ridley needs someone like Joss to fill in the missing pieces. Ridley Scott could invent the beautiful, expansive world, and Joss could fill in all the character dynamics.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the review! Robots and space ships all the way.

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  5. Good review!

    Loved Michael Fassbender in this. His character should have his own movie.

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    1. Thanks! Fassbender was the shit. End of story.

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  6. M., this is one of the rare instances we throughly disagree.

    *HUGE-ASS COMMENT HEAVY WITH SPOILERS TO FOLLOW*
    (I broke it up in two parts because it exceeded the maximum allowed character length)

    I thought, too, that "Prometheus" couldn't disappoint. I mean, Ridley Scott, Alien, stellar cast, great premise, huge budget to make his vision come to life, ... how could it go wrong? Still, after watching it, I wonder if Scott actually read the script.

    In short, "Prometheus" is a half-assed, unfinished story; it "coaxes out all the old questions", indeed, but explains neither of them. Without a sequel, it makes absolutely no sense - and it wasn't marketed as a beginning of a series. I already feel cheated here. And then there's the awful script.

    To comment on some of your statements:

    "Charlize Theron was brilliant as the straight-backed, no-nonsense Meredith Vickers."

    - All she did, really, was strut around the ship Nazi-sytle. Nothing wrong with Theron, but the characters was:
    a) uneeded; cut her out of any scene, and you wouldn't lose anything.
    b) poorly-written; the only "development" she had was a cringe-worthy scene with her... FATHER! (who also didn't do much at all)

    She has no logical reason to be on board the ship. If all she wanted was to gain control over her... FATHER's... corporation, wouldn't it make much more sense for her to stay Earth-side, and let them go on a crazy mission with little hope of success as it is? If she really wanted to make sure they wouldn't come back, she could have ensured the odds of an "accident" increased.

    "I don't care one way or the other about religious characters, but it breaks the mold of the angst-ridden, nihilistic scientist."

    - I didn't really mind they put the Creationist/religious philosohies into the film. Although I don't consider myself a religious type, I love a good discussion on the topic. But "Prometheus" handled the issue as a 15-year-old aspiring screenwriter would, who hasn't developed the trait of stating things subtly and or skillfully.

    Instead, the religious aspects amount to two things:
    1) Shaw states she found our creators, because she "Choose to believe so."
    2) She flaunts her cross, just so that we wouldn't forget she's a "believer".

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  7. "She performs a c-section. On herself. To get rid of a terrifying alien baby. [...] She's just had major surgery, but she pushes forward. Like a boss."

    This whole scene is insanely ridiculous. Let's look at it, at least somewhat objectively and Noomi-fandom aside:

    David tells Shaw she's expecting an alien baby. Instead of helping her, he drugs her. She wakes up, smacks the staff around, flees into Vickers' quarters and into that All-In-One medical device, gets her abdomen cut, the alien removed, the abdomen stitched back with staples. Minutes after, she can not only walk, but run and jump. No one came looking for her, so she eventually trots back into the room, covered in blood, half-naked, with a staple-stitched belly - and not one person seems to find it necessary to ask her what the fucking hell just happened?! What do they do? They ask her to go outside with them, while she acts as if David didn't just try to do her harm minutes ago - and hours ago after he'd killed her lover.

    Um... what? It would be "like a boss", if it weren't totally, utterly impossible. Unless this was some kind of Grindhouse Prometheus. Then I stand corrected.

    "Instead, she uses her intellect and her heart."

    Ugh, "Prometheus" really had very little intellect, if any at all. You have the biggest expedition in all the history of mankind, and who does Weyland hire? A bunch of perfect incompetents!

    - You have geologists who don't seem even remotely interested in looking at rocks on an alien planet.
    - You have characters acting as guides and in charge of the mapping devices getting lost.
    - The scientists take off their protective suits.
    - They follow absolutely no decontamination & safety procedures.
    - They pet completely alien, and obviously hostile creatures. Three goddamn times!
    - They dip their fingers into strange alien goo, they take alien goo and heads on board by putting them in - what, bags?
    - They don't secure the head while working on it, like putting it in a container or something just in case something unexpected should occur.
    - They conduct experiments without protective gear.
    - They prod the said head with big electro-stimulating needles, like a bunch of teeny girls being first time in a lab with strange devices (while Holloway is getting drunk in the background) Crank it up! No, too much. Down, down! Up again! Oh, wha--- AAAAAAH! *boom*
    - On the same topic, why did they stimulate it all. It's not like the head would come alive and tell them stories. Do experiments that make some sense!

    ... need I go on?

    If it were any other director other than Ridley Scott (and perhaps Christopher Nolan), he'd get panned by everybody for such amounts of bullshit in his film.

    Let's be honest, "Prometheus" is a piece of crap with superb visuals and cinematography, an interesting premise, and a great Michael Fassbender (though I still think much of his actions and motivations were random). And I find me angry at myself, because for some strange reason, I like "Prometheus" way more than I should.

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    1. (Ignore the fact that this comment is...weeks delayed. Apparently I suck at life.)

      So I wanted this to be one of those really engaging and awesome back and forths like we did with Sucker Punch...but then I realized everything you said was right. Crap. Alright, let's backtrack...

      I haven't rewatched Prometheus, so I'm working off of information that's about a month old. Still, I'll say this--

      Vickers character was pretty unnecessary. Here's my theory of what happened with her character--Ridley Scott got really fucking pumped about the mirrored symbolism regarding Vickers and her father vs. humanity and our creator. All those variables lining up, yada yada. Anyway, I have a feeling Vickers probably had some great purpose in the first draft, but then a couple drafts later she became an unnecessary character, but by that point Scott was too married to the fact that she has this whole symbolism thing going on that he didn't want to cut her. Granted, once you cast Theron in it, the role is kind of sold. I enjoyed watching the character, I enjoyed her Nazi goose-step. I didn't enjoy the ultimate realization that she didn't have much of a purpose in the scheme of the movie.

      But that was one of my major complaints with the movie--the character arcs. They were nonexistent. If there had been a couple strong, character arcs, I think this movie would've been 1000 times better, instead of getting a wishy-washy critical response. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that in the director's cut, we get a shit-ton more character development. (But on the same token, I also subscribe to the Tarantino philosophy of one movie, no directors "wait, what I really meant was..." cut. But this is Ridley Scott, when you talk about Bladerunner, you're usually not talking about "Bladerunner," 9/10 times, it's Bladerunner: The Director's Cut. Only time will tell on that one!).

      About the religious bits...I honestly can't comment here. I'd have to rewatch the movie and see how they handle that again. I don't remember being overly bothered by it, but just because she was up against and equally blatant God-is-dead scientist lover.

      BUT. This is one thing I have to say about your comment. I AGREE COMPLETELY WITH THE SHAW POST-C-SECTION MADNESS. WHAT THE CRAP? I was waiting for someone to acknowledge the fact that she was hobbling around like something from a slasher film, but...NOTHING. I can deal with David's ambiguous reasons for acting out--that's what I like about his character. He's a robot, it's hard as hell to understand his logic. However, when everyone else stares blankly at Shaw and doesn't say a thing about her being half-naked and stumbling with staples in her belly...that's about when you kind of lose faith in humanity.

      And as for the list...touche, salesman. Touche.

      Though I have to quote one thing back at you: "Let's be honest, "Prometheus" is a piece of crap with superb visuals and cinematography, an interesting premise, and a great Michael Fassbender."

      Alright. You and me. Are officially sitting down and watching Sucker Punch and then Prometheus, back to back. And we're going to enjoy the superb visuals, and then we'll seesaw with being disappointed with the story and tolerating it. The thing was, I admit that Prometheus has a crap ton of flaws. But I enjoyed it. The first time around. Then again, I didn't make THAT much of an effort to see it twice. But, when it comes out on DVD, I'll rent it and see how I feel about it the second go around. And I'll definitely be awaiting the director's cut.

      PS: Grindhouse Prometheus? Holy fuck. This has to exist in my life. Now.

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  8. Shit. I don't have that much to say. Love the fire up there!

    I seriously loved your review, though. Even though Prometheus wasn't nearly as boner-enducing as I would have expected. I agree with Shaft...seems like half a movie. Granted, half of a kickass skull/mind fuck.

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    1. Agreed! Fire is always awesome.

      Thanks! My affection for Prometheus isn't as high as it was when I first saw it, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. I think I'll just watch the first ten minutes of David learning how to be a human on a loop.

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  9. Your reviews are so punchy and you get to the point, that's what people need sometimes! Am a huge Prometheus fan (reviewed it on my blog too) and like reading what other people think about it. Really enjoyed this review and am glad I am following your blog! Would love it if you checked out my blog and perhaps followed back?



    http://amateurreviews25.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed my review! I'll have to check out your review as well. Always happy to meet new bloggers!

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