Friday, June 1, 2012

Prometheus (2012): A Film Lost in Its Own Obscurity

Ridley Scott's Prometheus have many prerequisites to become a big success. It has a great director. It sports a capable cast. The movie has a cult relative in the face of Alien. It impresses with spectacular well-crafted visuals. The story has a good premise. The narrative is full of surprises and twists. The film has an own (alienated) atmosphere. There is a huge ground for lots of curious discoveries to be expected. Yet, the movie fails to take advantage of all these privileges. What could have turned into another classic movie is doomed by a weak script, plenty of ambiguity and unnecessary (sometimes ridiculous) events and characters.

Prometheus is set in the not so distant future (something not believable on its own having in mind the modest progress of the humanity in regard to space travels in the last decades). A group of scientists discovers clues related to the creation of the mankind, which lead them to a distant planet. They expect to find answers to the important questions about the origins of the humanity. Instead, they find traces of former destruction and an imminent threat for their own existence. The future of the Earth and the human race may also be in danger.

Prometheus is visually stunning. The special effects are very well done and there is not much to be desired in this aspect. As often happens though, 3D is not really needed to make the film better looking. The movie is limited in its location span but this is not an actual problem cause there is still enough space to be explored and discoveries to be made. What limits the film's soaring is that each new secret unveiled to the audience creates a bigger mess instead of answering questions.

Prometheus is not boring and it offers enough unexpected moments but when each event adds to the mystery rather than solving it, the appeal of the movie suffers (at least in the eyes of the broad audience). And I am not talking only about not answering the question of the mankind's origin. Pretty much every other single subplot is lost in obscurity. And what is more bizarre, the lack of distinctness is heavier in the actions of non-human characters. Yes, one can accept all of it by either inventing own versions of the missing pieces of the puzzle or by imagining that everything will be explained in a sequel. But this is not how a self-contained feature film should be done. Even the utterly unnecessary prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy were relatively self-contained and completed on their own.

The acting in Prometheus is generally Ok but there are some strange casting decisions, e.g., Guy Pearce is in an episodic role of a very old man (without any obvious reason for choosing a not-so-old actor). Michael Fassbender as David gives the most memorable performance in a movie that is not supposed to leave enough room for demonstrating great acting. Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron are fine in their parts (as far as the script allows them). The rest of the cast with the exception of Logan Marshall-Green and Idris Elba who have a bit more of a screen presence is almost forgettable.

The movie raises some associations with Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, mainly in regard with leaving most of the questions about the humanity unanswered and the way an artificial intelligence character behaves. Similar to Kubrick's movie Prometheus also offers some great visual effects. Of course, for the fans of the Alien franchise has been thought of as well and there is material for them too.

Prometheus has an interesting story in spite of its numerous flaw. It is not boring and holds your attention most of the time. There is enough to justify seeing it. The problem is the film promises more than it actually delivers and the excessive vagueness spoils its completeness. Prometheus feels more like an episode in a series rather than a separate solid movie.


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