Friday, June 8, 2012

Prometheus - A Review

It was a midnight showing where there were no lines and I could just walk right in, which I found to be refreshing. The beauty of buying in advance for a 3D IMAX event is that you are guaranteed a seat of your choice (mostly) and are spared the displeasure of having to compete with funk-smelling mouth-breathers for a spot that doesn't make the whole experience abysmal. Unfortunately, in 3D IMAX-land those people are still present, kicking up waves of salty body odor and obnoxiously chortling over the whatever it is they obnoxiously chortle about. I was lucky, though, this time around because I was able to avoid those folks and, to my surprise, find that my neighbor was of all things a beautiful girl. One who seemed to hate having her skirt touch her legs while she was sitting so she spent the entirety of the film pulling it back, further and further, towards her body. So, realizing this, I discovered from the very beginning that the night was going to not only be a test of my loyalty to science-fiction but also to my wife. I'm glad (?) to report that I failed neither. (take that skirt-hiking girl!)

Anyway, we were there at 12:01am sporting our spiffy and quite large 3D glasses as the Scott Free animation played. What followed was the film I have been anticipating for over a year and then some. In those first few minutes I realized that my wait was well worth it. I beheld glorious scenery, alien scenery, and then something mysterious and fascinating happened. Nope, I won't spoil it here. All I'll say is that it was pleasing to see what I saw instead of a dark, gritty return to the staple xenomorphs of the Alien franchise right out of the gate.

I'll state this now to make it clear, Prometheus takes place before Alien and in the same universe, but if you go in expecting the same creeptastic gorefest produced by the savagery of the creatures in Alien or any of its sequels then you're going to be a bit disappointed. This is a film about origins and the mystery of life. Mystery is a great word, I feel, to describe what you'll encounter throughout the film. There are many questions answered, if you pay attention, but I think it's fair to say that just as many are raised and left unanswered by the film's end. That's actually okay.

**some spoilers might follow**

The story follows humans who are typically hopeful and endlessly inquisitive, scientists. Doctors Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway have criss-crossed our planet in the years towards the end of the 21st Century, seeking out ancient ruins and tombs to verify a commonality. Each of the different sites from each of the various ancient human cultures contains a depiction of human beings worshipping giants which are gesturing towards a design showing six spheres (corrected from five after my second viewing of the film on 6-9-12). They find, through years of research, that these designs are a representation of a system too far away from Earth for ancient humans to see. Their conclusion, and a welcome one to corporate titan and architect of future Earth's splendour, Peter Weyland, is that the giants are our alien creators and their gesture towards the far distant system is actually an invitation. So begins a quest to find answers and to solve the problems some of the characters find inherent to their human condition.

The characters of the film, mostly the two main scientists, display much hope for the surely positive intentions of our non-human creators. We see what becomes of such hope and how belief can be affected by the sometimes harsh revelation of truth, spectacular truth in the case of this film. Prometheus, like most exceptional science-fiction, is a study of humanity, and our subject for this study is Dr. Shaw. She is the one who believes whole-heartedly that she's seeking out the caring "Engineers" who made us what we are for some special purpose. It is her reaction to the revelations throughout the film that you will focus on. She is our hope in something more.

Apart from the humans of Prometheus is David, an android. Over the years we've come to expect horrible things when it comes to the androids of the Alien franchise. I won't go so far as to tell you what to think or what to expect of David, but I will say that he is the avatar of the Company's true and cold intentions. Michael Fassbender performs wonderfully in this role, altering his speech patterns and the way he carries his body. He splendidly portrays both Weyland's tool and a cold critic of humans which he sees as inferior. David does seemed fascinated by the randomness and unpredictability of humans, though, especially in regard to Dr. Shaw. Their relationship is one of the most interesting in the film.

It's a film with beautiful design, excellent story, and interesting characters. It takes you from the early dreams of ancient humanity across the gulf of space and stars to a world where our creators might still exist. There is mystery and there are unanswered questions. There is horrific darkness and there is brilliant hope. If you see Prometheus you won't be sorry.

I give this, another Ridely Scott masterpiece, a five out of five.

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