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A Few Words About 'Prometheus' (And They're Not All Good)

by Sergio
June 6, 2012 6:07 PM
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Yes the rumblings you’re heard about Prometheus are true. It is a disappointment.

Of course it’s an understatement to say that Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year, let alone the summer. And from the first opening minutes it’s obvious that it wants to be a Serious sci-fi film, with a capital S.

It’s filled with big ideas and thought provoking metaphysical concepts, despite the fact that most of them have been recycled from numerous other sci-fi films from the last 50 years, giving the film a “been there done that” feeling of déjà-vu.

It’s undoubtedly ambitious and being a Ridley Scott film, it is, naturally, impeccably mounted, gleamingly photographed with jaw dropping art direction. Also Scott’s use of the 3D photographic format is constantly inventive and assured. The film never “flattens” out as most 3D films, like The Avengers, tend to do. Scott’s superb visual sense of framing and composition is constantly challenging the viewer’s eye.

The main problem though is that the film never fully fleshes out any of its grand concepts and grandiose ideas. Either they’re not fully developed or left not fully realized. Instead they're left just dangling, waiting for some sort of completion or resolution that never comes.

Add to that the film’s basically underdeveloped, one dimensional characters, including Idris Elba, and what one is left with is a gorgeous looking curate’s egg. Something which is not all good or bad, but frustratingly stuck in the middle. Yet it’s no doubt very pretty to look at.

In the film, a team of scientists and geologists travel to a distant planet to explore whether a race of extinct human-like inhabitants at one time visited earth thousands of years earlier. This is as the result of evidence found in ancient artifacts and cave drawings by primitive civilizations discovered in various places around the world by geologists and archeologists, like Shaw played by Noomi Rapace (the original Lisbeth Salander).

Also on board are an android (Michael Fassbender doing C3PO by way of David Bowie), the ship’s captain (Elba, with the least convincing Texas drawl you’ll ever hear), and Charlize Theron as the cold, ruthless head of the space mission, representing the company who owns the ship, among other nondescript members of the team.

Once they arrive and explore the planets, they find the ruins, and evidence of that advanced, human-like civilization. However, of course things quickly begin to go awry as secrets and obvious hidden agendas are revealed to the crew, with naturally death and destruction following in its wake.

Unfortunately, the film can’t hold the various concepts and ideas together in a satisfying, structurally sound storyline, resulting in it getting very muddled and haphazard, by the second half of the film. Gruesome deaths (including a bizarrely gory and fascinating surgery sequence), chases and monsters pop up everywhere, making for a confusing, unsatisfying mess.

What is left is basically an unofficial remake of the first Alien film, also directed by Scott, but without its iconic monster who doesn’t figure into the film at all except an awkward, last minute desperate cameo appearance, aimed more to satisfy the Alien fans.

Even worse, as the heroine of the film, Rapace is woefully underwhelming. Instead of having a compelling and unique character such as Lisbeth Salander to work with, her character Shaw, is a more ordinary and unimpressive character who, for a large part of the film, tends to fade into the background.

However illogically, without any previous evidence in the film, she unexpectedly turns during the last 20 minutes of the film into another Ripley (memorably played in the Alien films by Signouney Weaver). Unfortunately Rapace’s tiny frame and her lackluster presence pales significantly against Weaver’s tall, almost Amazonian, more aggressive  Ripley.

And as for those wondering how Elba fares in the film, he does O.K. considering he's not given much at all to work with. Just another faceless cog in the machine. It's fair to say that I think we all can guess what happens to him in the movie, but I won't tell you how or when, except to say that something does occur halfway through the film that almost certainly seals his doom. What this is, I won't say, except that you'll know what I mean when you see it.

What one is left with in Prometheus is a good looking film of missed opportunities, which will no doubt disappoint and frustrate a lot of people (it'll surely have its defenders though, explaining how we missed all the really important messages in the film that don't exist).

Though it’s not even remotely as bad as the disaster some might claim it is, and has some good moments in it, it could have been a whole lot better.

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  • AccidentalVisitor | June 8, 2012 3:02 AMReply

    Hey, Sergio, I had thought that you were definitely more in the "just entertain me" camp. But if I got you mixed up with someone else then that's my bad. No offense intended.

  • James Evans from the CG | June 7, 2012 9:04 PMReply

    Well now chief, I think it's uh safe to say that I'm just gonna go head on and uh skip this one there too, which now makes about uh zero movies I'm excited to see this year in actual theaters.

  • Michael Jones | June 7, 2012 7:50 AMReply

    With all due respect, Mr. Mims, was it necessary to spoil as much as you did? At least for me, I liked anticipating whether or not the Alien was going to appear in the film. That's gone now. I also know now that Elba's character is doomed, so there's no suspense there either now. I take your opinion of the film to heart, though I still plan to see it. Just wish you hadn't revealed so much.

  • Ok | June 7, 2012 9:06 PM

    Serg aint spoilt nuthin you aint seent in the trailer.

  • AccidentalVisitor | June 6, 2012 7:30 PMReply

    " (it'll surely have its defenders though, explaining how we missed all the really important messages in the film that don't exist)." Seriously? The film is getting mostly positive reviews and mostly good word of mouth and the people saying such respectful things about it are unlikely to try to persuade anyone with the "some people just don't get it" argument. Rather they (at least most of them) will claim that the film delivered the thrills, actions, frights and glorious special effects they were seeking. In other words they were looking for a good time at the movies and found it in Prometheus. They don't care about any high-minded ideas and frankly, Sergio, based upon most of your reviews of TV and movies you don't either. You have made the case before about wanting to be entertained, not about wanting to be absorbed in high-concept storytelling. I would have thought this was a type of high-class popcorn movie that you could enjoy...unless of course you came in with extremely high expectations.

  • CareyCarey | June 8, 2012 1:08 AM

    *LOL* Nawl Sergio, don't put that on me. Although I agree that AV's characterization of your needs and desire do not ring true, and I have said I view movies as entertainment, however, I love nothing more than getting lost in "high-concept" storytelling. Now, of course I have no idea what AV considers as high-concept, but I love being engrossed in a well told story. That's not to say that I cannot be entertain by light and fluffy movies. I do it all. Did I like Avatar? Yes. Did I like Albert Nobbs? YES! Did I enjoy The Avengers? Yes I did. Did I thoroughly enjoy Glengarry Glen Ross and The Talented Mr Ripley? YES! Can I laugh at Big Momma and Madea? Yes I can. Was Pariah just okay? Imo, yes.. just okay. Can I pass on entertainment such as "Think Like A Man? YES I CAN! . To my defense and that of Sergio's, high-class popcorn movies have to bring more than pomp and shine. They have to engage all my senses (ie, sight "visual imagery", hearing "music score & great dialog... humorous, witty or drama", touch "move me emotionally") and the popcorn has to be hot and buttery.

  • Sergio | June 6, 2012 7:38 PM

    I never said that. You're confusing me with CareyCarey

  • Helluva | June 6, 2012 7:29 PMReply

    He must've hooked up with one of the women on the ship...time to die lol...

  • AccidentalVisitor | June 6, 2012 7:21 PMReply

    Well, he's certainly likely to last longer than 48 minutes that's for sure. And based upon some spoilers I stumbled across I can guess why Sergio thought his fate was sealed and if I am correct about this I must say it is bit of a silly and predictable reaction on Sergio's part. After all the captain was almost surely written as a default-white character and was undoubtedly going to go down even if a white guy was playing the role.

  • bondgirl | June 6, 2012 7:21 PMReply

    I suppose we should've known when Charlize was cast. This chick's 0-3 in underperforming films...Young Adult, Snow White, and now this. She should fire her management team. BOMBS AWAY!

  • ska-triumph | June 7, 2012 3:42 PM

    Actually when you look at the budgets and guestimate the P&A of the two previous films you've mentioned - plenty of good websites already estimate PROMETHEUS' total box office by looking at the international numbers so far - these films wouldn't be considered "underperforming." Now if you meant "underwhelming" - as in, "I've seen these films and they all were half-baked/incomplete" - then I'd understand. But with her performances being admired, Ms. Theron is clearly getting back in the game; not every (Oscar-winning) actress can boast two tentpole films in one summer.

  • Nicole | June 6, 2012 7:10 PMReply

    @The Black Police:

    Are you asking if Idris dies or if he makes it to the end before he dies? Because Sergio told us his fate: "...that almost certainly seals his doom."

  • Nicole | June 6, 2012 7:22 PM

    @The Black Police:

    Ok. Well, I'm pretty certain this means he will die. Now how close to the end, I have no idea. But doom usually means death. And since Sergio had the post asking if Idris would succumb to the "brotha rule"...I'm certain he dies. He probably "gives his life to save mankind". Bleh.

  • the black police | June 6, 2012 7:15 PM

    Well, I'd like to know how long after the middle and this momentous event does he live. And with "almost certainly" I still hear some ambiguity. I just want the raw thruth.

  • Nadine | June 6, 2012 6:56 PMReply - I called 48 minutes in and the second to go... I'm just sayin'.

  • Sergio | June 6, 2012 7:00 PM


  • anonymous | June 6, 2012 6:52 PMReply

    Spoiler ALERT!

  • Jeni | June 6, 2012 10:41 PM

    Exactly! Between this and the Hollywood Reporter's write up, I don't get why reviewers are feeling the need to give away key plot twists...SMH.

  • the black police | June 6, 2012 6:46 PMReply

    So did Idris live to the end or not?

  • the black police | June 6, 2012 6:59 PM


  • Gregory | June 6, 2012 6:48 PM


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