Mania Review: Prometheus -

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Guy Pearce
  • Written by: Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts
  • Directed by: Ridley Scott
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: Prometheus

Space as a mirror...

By Rob Vaux     June 08, 2012

 Fans have eagerly anticipated Prometheus largely because of its relationship to the original Alien and because of the questions it promises to answer. For over thirty years, we’ve wondered about the identity of the space jockey, the purpose of that sinister ship, and its connection to HR Giger’s beautiful, horrifying extraterrestrial. Rest assured that Prometheus answers those questions… or rather, allows us to infer the answers with a reasonable amount of confidence. And yet it’s not strictly a prequel, in that it doesn’t tie in to the storylines presented in the Alien films. It’s set in the same universe, it utilizes a similar structure to the original, but it has a different agenda on its mind. That turns out to be a remarkably good thing.

Specifically, it details the quest for our origins, and the very scary corners of the universe to which that quest takes us. A scientist couple discover a series of coordinates spread across ancient hieroglyphics from half a dozen Terran cultures. With a generous grant from the Weyland Corporation (which might grow up to become the Weyland-Yutani Corporation if it isn’t careful), they lead an expedition into the reaches of deep space to locate those coordinates. What they find should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the previews.  There’s something no one can hear you do in space… and the same principle applies to primordial planets containing colossal inhuman structures.

With veteran director Ridley Scott at the helm, Prometheus functions most effectively as pure spectacle. I haven’t seen a film this hauntingly gorgeous all year, augmented by the director’s obsession with detail and the careful mapping of every possible inch of the environment. The ship itself is sleeker and more elegant than the intergalactic tramp steamer from Alien, yet it comes from the same basic design school. (The connection is impressive, considering that real-life effects technology has advanced by three decades, but the same universe has regressed by quite some time.) The planet they land on displays a similar technique, slightly more inviting than the one in Alien, but full of considerable peril nonetheless.

As for the inhuman structure they find, it bears Giger’s expected hallmarks, including one room that fans of the series will most definitely recognize. Scott plays up the designer’s disturbing sexuality, both in the subtle visual cues and in the film’s more overt perils – one of which becomes an absolute showstopper of body horror. Prometheus also joins the bare handful of films that actually make effective use of 3D, and if you can see the film in IMAX, I urge you to do so. For pure eye candy, the film simply can’t be beat.

It does equally well in the realm of philosophical musing. As with Alien, Scott turns to H.P. Lovecraft for inspiration, positing a cold and unfriendly cosmos that spawned us more as a mistake or an afterthought than for any grand benevolent purpose. So eager is our desire to meet our makers that we never stop to consider whether our makers want to meet us… or whether such a meeting will drive us mad. Scott offers no definitive answers here, leaving us to deliberate and debate amongst ourselves. That alone puts Prometheus head and shoulders above most films this year: interested in engaging us intellectually rather than coddling us with shallow narrative comforts

The theme finds more overt manifestations throughout the film, mostly in the android David (Michael Fassbender), who serves the human crew the way an enlightened child might. He routinely muses on the relationship between creator and created, while the flesh-and-blood parents and would-be parents on board provide considerable data to chew on. If you’re familiar with the series, you can guess that David has more than simple service in his programming, but to say more would be telling.

Suffice it to say that the deeper context helps drive Prometheus past a few narrative kinks that hinder it from time to time. One of the big showstoppers appears seemingly free of narrative logic, and other moments arrive more out of the need to keep things moving than any sensible means of telling a story. Though unfortunate, it doesn’t derail the film’s impressive strengths. Scott follows a pattern similar to Alien’s, complete with a welcome heroine (Noomi Rapace) who makes fine company for Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. Prometheus expertly advances the implications from that earlier film, coupled with unsettling body horror, incredible visuals and a sense of the genre’s possibilities that only a true master could grasp. Not everyone will like it – it defies too many expectations and the prerelease hype sets the bar higher than any film can match – but that division will only add to the conversation around it. Regardless of its box office performance, Prometheus has a long life ahead of it, as we ponder, puzzle and discuss the ideas it delivers to us.


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VTGamehendge 6/8/2012 12:05:17 AM

Just got home from seeing a midnight screening.  I haven't read the review yet, so I may have more to say.  But for now I'll simply say that this movie certainly is epic.  And it presents even more questions than it answers.  I would definitely agree that Prometheus really is in no way a prequel to Alien.

irockdiesel 6/8/2012 12:11:11 AM

I agree with you for the most part, but I felt it left more questions than answers.  Maybe they'll make a sequel to this one.  Regardless, it was still good to see... and again, not everyone will like it. 

VTGamehendge 6/8/2012 12:16:51 AM

After reading this review I will whole-heartedly agree with one thing in particular:  not everyone is going to like this movie.  I can honestly say that it wasn't exactly what I expected.  And the hype and anticipation surrounding the movie really do set the bar extremely high.  I thought it was a great movie though.  But again, not everyone is going to be thrilled by it.  I think for the most part the people who end up not liking it won't like it because it simply isn't what they expected it to be.

In other words:  IT'S NOT ALIEN!


thegypsy 6/8/2012 12:25:04 AM

 i dont know if is or is not a prequel i just saw it as well and i agree it is epic i saw menny points of the alien movies in this but i gess all the questions raised will be answerd if and when they make a part two


VTGamehendge 6/8/2012 12:35:03 AM

Hehe, does "menny" mean the same thing as "many?"

extzero 6/8/2012 12:46:37 AM

 Just got done watching, Uhh it sure did have a lot of Alien aspects to it if you ask me

extzero 6/8/2012 12:48:47 AM

 Just got done watching, Uhh it sure did have a lot of Alien aspects to it if you ask me

VTGamehendge 6/8/2012 12:55:01 AM

It definitely shared some aspects, especially the environment and the visuals.  But story-wise it really didn't have much in common with Alien.  The biggest connection between the two was of course at the very end of the movie.  I had a feeling that this was going to be the case, however.  I kinda figured that it really wasn't going to have any real direct tie-ins with Alien.  And in order for it to actually be a prequel, it kinda has to be a lead-in.  This certainly wasn't a lead-in to Alien.  At the end it actually ended up going on its own separate tangent.  It's set up for an entirely new film franchise.  I do see this perhaps eventually leading up to afull-fledged Alien prequel, though.  But for right now it's an entirely different animal.

galaga51 6/8/2012 12:58:18 AM

I do not see how this isn't a prequel... except for where something died, which I chalk up as an error.  If you want a xenomorph chasing Ripley for it to be a prequel, then it isn't.  If you want a film that plays as a lead-in in regards to the company, the derilict ship, etc., etc., then it is... or at least, I sure felt I was led to believe that.  In fact, somewhere long ago, I believe Scott finally admitted it was a prequel.  But whatever... the connections are there.

I liked it and I'm glad I saw it in the theater, but I was far from blown away.  There were some definitively scary and memorable moments for sure... scenes that had me thinking about them such that at one point driving home I realized I was only doing 40 in a 55.  But then there were some editting errors (e.g., David's hair mousse) and some areas of poor writing that made me wonder why certain things were more complicated than they needed to be.  

One thing that was better than I expected was the 3D, and usually I'm quite the naysayer.  After the first 5 to 10 minutes or so (several cuts from deep focus to near focus), either I became accustomed to it or it just became less noticable.  Either way, I made it through most (not all) of the film without being distracted by the 3D and if you are a fan of 3D I would recommend it.  However, if the trailer is any indication of the finished product, I would NOT recommend seeing Spider-Man in 3D.  Everything looked like flat pieces of cardboard set at varying depths.

SarcasticCaveman 6/8/2012 12:58:42 AM

Saw it tonight...very out for Ballsack Snakes!!!!

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