Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

Note: some spoilers within.

Prometheus is effectively two films, and neither one has the punch to succeed completely. In fact, one falters entirely.

The first two-thirds of the movie ask some big questions and tease us with themes of faith, creation and destruction and parenthood, but none of them are fleshed out fully enough. Much like our introduction to David, the first, and to a lesser extent, second act are deliberately paced and quite thoughtful. There are plenty of allusions and mythic-come-religious symbolism (the flashing cross in Shaw's dream-sequence, though, was an ugly, obvious step over the line), and the gentle pace serves to aid these ideas. The main cast are even given some time to develop during this period. The problem is what comes next.

By the time the third act comes around, everything they've spent the last hour and a half contemplating is totally discarded and we're left with something of a hollow monster-movie. Prometheus is too concerned with, and obviously self-conscious about, its ties with Alien that these ideas aren't given the room to breath that they require.

From the moment Shaw loses consciousness following Holloway's death, the film barely gives a single scene a moment to register. It bombards us with plot points and monstrous abominations. From this point on, the film is only concerned with getting Shaw into that 'other' ship and flying off into the great unknown. Whether this is a problem with the cut we won't know until the inevitable extended edition. What is for sure, though, is that the end falls flat. The much talked about caesarian scene is fantastic, and full of menace, but the blink-and-you'll-miss-it lead up, and the events that follow shortly after serve only to dampen the moment. Within the context of the movie, the single purpose this scene had was to provide a means of despatching the last Engineer, effectively providing a tentacled deus ex machina. The less said about the film's coda, the better: ticking of impregnation by extra-terrestrial is one thing, ending the film on a screaming infant xenomorph is another (not to mention the awful creature design exhibited).

The Lindelof argument is well-worn at this point, but had the script dealt with these elements more resolutely then the film would have been tighter overall.

This is my biggest gripe: the last act is far too muddled and rushed to really have much effect at all. It feels like a cut of a longer, better film, with particular scenes jarring painfully. It could be argued that the film mirrors Shaw's mental state having gone through what she just has, but it doesn't hold much water. Audiences will be left scratching their heads, no doubt. Should we see a 'director's cut', I'd wager that it would be a definite improvement over the theatrical version (obviously the problems at script-level can't be helped much regardless of length), but that is yet to be seen.

To further the scripts problems, much of the character motivation is purely in aid of plot contrivancies, which is a huge shame and tarnishes the great work that some of the other support put in. After venturing into an alien temple, two scientists (one of whom has been mapping the area) become lost, and unable to return to the ship. Not content with being cut off from their crew-mates, one indulges in a spot of reefer, while the other makes pillow-talk with a particularly aggressive looking snake. The parts are played with perfunctory stupidity. On the other side of the fence, though, are Fassbender, Elba, Theron and Green. Rapace is something of a mixed-bag, playing certain moments with an intense believability and poorly delivering others in a questionable accent.

Of course, Fassbender steals the show, but I actually thought Holloway's short arc was a triumph considering his relative lack of screen-time - Charlie's ultimate fate being the singular moment where a character's death meant much at all. Elba and Theron did well with the small parts they had to work with, the former elevating some truly awful material with as much professionalism as she could muster. Small looks here and there, and inflections in her speech sell what could easily have been cookie-cutter (if not worse) as portrayed by a lesser actor. Elba, as the ship's captain, displays the expected world-weariness, but with enough gravitas and wit that it works. If what we've heard with regard to scenes left in the editing room is true, their characters will be better served in the longer cut.

Scripting issues and thesps aside, Prometheus is basically state-of-the-art in marrying digital wizardry with gorgeous practical effects and sets. It is a complete knock-out in that regard, and I doubt a single person will come away without specific images burned into their memories. On approach to the moon LV-223, for example, the Prometheus is a spec against the enormous backdrop of a ringed-planet. On an IMAX screen, sights like this are genuinely breathtaking.

Further, the film absolutely oozes atmosphere. The brooding score, while ineffective at times, does its best to convey the marvels that the crew comes across. The first scene of the film, a wistful fly-over some incredible terrain before our first encounter with the alien race that apparently birthed us, is lifted with a beautiful musical flourish and genuinely had me in awe. The repeated journeys to the temple (granted, a little meandering on the script's part), gradually uncover more mysteries and wonders. There wasn't a moment where I didn't feel, at the very least, intrigued with what I was seeing. In its finest moments, Prometheus really does have you feeling like one of the crew.

There are issues, for sure - huge, fundamental issues - but the thing is, weighing all those things up, I can't help but love it. I've already seen it twice, and I plan on going once again before the end of its run. Whether that shows a lack of character on my part, for so easily being swept up in the grandeur, I don't particularly care: it's a fucking science-fiction movie by Ridley Scott and I'm a nerd.

#1 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

Note: some spoilers within.

Prometheus is effectively two films, and neither one has the punch to succeed completely. In fact, one falters entirely.

The first two-thirds of the movie ask some big questions and tease us with themes of faith, creation and destruction and parenthood, but none of them are fleshed out fully enough. Much like our introduction to David, the first, and to a lesser extent, second act are deliberately paced and quite thoughtful. There are plenty of allusions and mythic-come-religious symbolism (the flashing cross in Shaw's dream-sequence, though, was an ugly, obvious step over the line), and the gentle pace serves to aid these ideas. The main cast are even given some time to develop during this period. The problem is what comes next.

By the time the third act comes around, everything they've spent the last hour and a half contemplating is totally discarded and we're left with something of a hollow monster-movie. Prometheus is too concerned with, and obviously self-conscious about, its ties with Alien that these ideas aren't given the room to breath that they require.

From the moment Shaw loses consciousness following Holloway's death, the film barely gives a single scene a moment to register. It bombards us with plot points and monstrous abominations. From this point on, the film is only concerned with getting Shaw into that 'other' ship and flying off into the great unknown. Whether this is a problem with the cut we won't know until the inevitable extended edition. What is for sure, though, is that the end falls flat. The much talked about caesarian scene is fantastic, and full of menace, but the blink-and-you'll-miss-it lead up, and the events that follow shortly after serve only to dampen the moment. Within the context of the movie, the single purpose this scene had was to provide a means of despatching the last Engineer, effectively providing a tentacled deus ex machina. The less said about the film's coda, the better: ticking of impregnation by extra-terrestrial is one thing, ending the film on a screaming infant xenomorph is another (not to mention the awful creature design exhibited).

The Lindelof argument is well-worn at this point, but had the script dealt with these elements more resolutely then the film would have been tighter overall.

This is my biggest gripe: the last act is far too muddled and rushed to really have much effect at all. It feels like a cut of a longer, better film, with particular scenes jarring painfully. It could be argued that the film mirrors Shaw's mental state having gone through what she just has, but it doesn't hold much water. Audiences will be left scratching their heads, no doubt. Should we see a 'director's cut', I'd wager that it would be a definite improvement over the theatrical version (obviously the problems at script-level can't be helped much regardless of length), but that is yet to be seen.

To further the scripts problems, much of the character motivation is purely in aid of plot contrivancies, which is a huge shame and tarnishes the great work that some of the other support put in. After venturing into an alien temple, two scientists (one of whom has been mapping the area) become lost, and unable to return to the ship. Not content with being cut off from their crew-mates, one indulges in a spot of reefer, while the other makes pillow-talk with a particularly aggressive looking snake. The parts are played with perfunctory stupidity. On the other side of the fence, though, are Fassbender, Elba, Theron and Green. Rapace is something of a mixed-bag, playing certain moments with an intense believability and poorly delivering others in a questionable accent.

Of course, Fassbender steals the show, but I actually thought Holloway's short arc was a triumph considering his relative lack of screen-time - Charlie's ultimate fate being the singular moment where a character's death meant much at all. Elba and Theron did well with the small parts they had to work with, the former elevating some truly awful material with as much professionalism as she could muster. Small looks here and there, and inflections in her speech sell what could easily have been cookie-cutter (if not worse) as portrayed by a lesser actor. Elba, as the ship's captain, displays the expected world-weariness, but with enough gravitas and wit that it works. If what we've heard with regard to scenes left in the editing room is true, their characters will be better served in the longer cut.

Scripting issues and thesps aside, Prometheus is basically state-of-the-art in marrying digital wizardry with gorgeous practical effects and sets. It is a complete knock-out in that regard, and I doubt a single person will come away without specific images burned into their memories. On approach to the moon LV-223, for example, the Prometheus is a spec against the enormous backdrop of a ringed-planet. On an IMAX screen, sights like this are genuinely breathtaking.

Further, the film absolutely oozes atmosphere. The brooding score, while ineffective at times, does its best to convey the marvels that the crew comes across. The first scene of the film, a wistful fly-over some incredible terrain before our first encounter with the alien race that apparently birthed us, is lifted with a beautiful musical flourish and genuinely had me in awe. The repeated journeys to the temple (granted, a little meandering on the script's part), gradually uncover more mysteries and wonders. There wasn't a moment where I didn't feel, at the very least, intrigued with what I was seeing. In its finest moments, Prometheus really does have you feeling like one of the crew.

There are issues, for sure - huge, fundamental issues - but the thing is, weighing all those things up, I can't help but love it. I've already seen it twice, and I plan on going once again before the end of its run. Whether that shows a lack of character on my part, for so easily being swept up in the grandeur, I don't particularly care: it's a fucking science-fiction movie by Ridley Scott and I'm a nerd.

#2 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10560 posts) -

It's definitely odd in how "all over the place" (for lack of a better term) the quality is, but I have to agree in that overall, I definitely enjoyed it. Not as much as you did, but I don't regret seeing it, and I definitely want to see what happens in the inevitable sequel(s).

And I have to say that I think David is the best android since Data in Star Trek TNG. I hope the sequel has a heavy emphasis on him, and whether his actions in the first were him following orders, or if he, er, lost his head metaphorically and went robot-crazy (like HAL in 2001).

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#3 Posted by Galiant (2181 posts) -

I loved it too. Definitely going to see it again.

#4 Posted by Turbo_Toaster (954 posts) -

I loved and hated it at the same time and I'll be seeing it at least two more times. It's a strange way to feel about a movie lol

#5 Edited by NTM (7286 posts) -

Ha ha, wow. Yay for Prometheus threads I guess. Something I haven't said in any of the other threads, but I really liked the Space Jockey. He was big and bulky, and walked like he had nothing to be afraid of, very intimidating indeed, and then the monster gets him. I thought the film was very good, and I'll definitely be getting it on blu-ray/3D. I think, even though you may have problems with some of the story elements, the film was still interesting and was almost always entertaining. It's really making me want to get a new home theater system and TV in my room. I went into the film expecting something somewhat different, but I was glad I came out thinking about it a lot and mainly just not being disappointed in it. I'm still thinking about it actually. I don't know, the problems in it just don't bother me that much. Oh, and never mind, this is a blog, not a thread. Yay for Prometheus threads and blogs.

#6 Edited by Wampa1 (627 posts) -

@GetEveryone: It's as soon as Shaw is escorted in to meet the special guest appearance it fell apart. They never once mention what just happened to her and just start killing characters incredibly quickly. I agree that it definitely felt like Scott was pressured to make it more of an "Alien" prequel than it was ever design to really be.

(Though I totally love they use some bits of the Alien theme for Weyland's score)

#7 Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@MooseyMcMan said:

It's definitely odd in how "all over the place" (for lack of a better term) the quality is, but I have to agree in that overall, I definitely enjoyed it. Not as much as you did, but I don't regret seeing it, and I definitely want to see what happens in the inevitable sequel(s).

And I have to say that I think David is the best android since Data in Star Trek TNG. I hope the sequel has a heavy emphasis on him, and whether his actions in the first were him following orders, or if he, er, lost his head metaphorically and went robot-crazy (like HAL in 2001).

@Turbo_Toaster said:

I loved and hated it at the same time and I'll be seeing it at least two more times. It's a strange way to feel about a movie lol

It's for this reason that the film aggravates me so much, and I can't decide if I'm justified in liking it as much as I do. It is a real hodge-podge of ideas and they're all executed to varying standards. Hopefully, if there is a sequel, the writer's won't feel so obliged to clumsily write in Alien references.

Really hoping for that extended cut at the moment.

@Wampa1 said:

@GetEveryone: It's as soon as Shaw is escorted in to meet the special guest appearance it fell apart. They never once mention what just happened to her and just start killing characters incredibly quickly. I agree that it definitely felt like Scott was pressured to make it more of an "Alien" prequel than it was ever design to really be.

(Though I totally love they use some bits of the Alien theme for Weyland's score)

Yeah, this is basically where I started to have a problem with it (though, the scene where she finds out she is pregnant shortly before this is seriously underplayed and fizzles a bit).

Everything do to with Weyland, including his awful appearance near the start, was unnecessary. I'm of the mind that, thematically, he was totally useless. David has already been set up as the Prometheus character, so why not just complete his arc. As it is, he's pushed to the side and instead they write in a the character who has all of 2 minutes of exposition before his death. Utterly dismal.

@NTM said:

Ha ha, wow. Yay for Prometheus threads I guess. Something I haven't said in any of the other threads, but I really liked the Space Jockey. He was big and bulky, and walked like he had nothing to be afraid of, very intimidating indeed, and then the monster gets him. I thought the film was very good, and I'll definitely be getting it on blu-ray/3D. I think, even though you may have problems with some of the story elements, the film was still interesting and was almost always entertaining. It's really making me want to get a new home theater system and TV in my room. I went into the film expecting something somewhat different, but I was glad I came out thinking about it a lot and mainly just not being disappointed in it. I'm still thinking about it actually. I don't know, the problems in it just don't bother me that much. Oh, and never mind, this is a blog, not a thread. Yay for Prometheus threads and blogs.

Oh, don't get me wrong: I loved where they were going with the story, I just have issues with the way it was ultimately handled and tied up.

(I thought the design of the Engineers was great, too - really brought to mind classical greek statues ala David -plus their armour is badass)

Hopefully come the home-video release we'll get the extended cut that's been alluded to. Regardless, it's a brilliantly entertaining movie even with all of its flaws.

#8 Edited by NTM (7286 posts) -

@GetEveryone: I was just commenting, it wasn't really a reply to anything you said, but yes, I agree about everything other than how it was tied up. I have no problem with it exactly, except for the part when Shaw's done with the c-section scene, it pretty much isn't even talked about, and it's as if no one even noticed it, or cared.

#9 Posted by NTM (7286 posts) -

The only other thing I disliked was that some of the characters and moments weren't realistic. I thought whenever Holloway said to Shaw "baby", it was a bit unbelievable.

#10 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

, we are on almost exactly the same wavelength. I will add that, were the coda cut from the film, I might have actually loved the ending, as without that coda the menace of Shaw just planning to hurtle a ship full of the black ooze at the Engineer homeworld is far more believable; the final shot would also be gorgeous, rather than a callback.

It's a frustrating film, but I really do like it quite a bit. And I absolutely love moments of it.

#11 Edited by leebmx (2227 posts) -

@GetEveryone: I agree, it looked great and I wanted to love it. But when it got going it was just far too stupid. Too much unneccessary cribbing from Alien when it just needed to be its own movie. Horribly rushed and clumsy plotting, rubbish characters and it fell into the trope of every bad horror movie by needed its characters to act totally out of character and stupidly to keep the story going.

Why does the geologist try to tickle an alien?

Why do they open the bay doors again after seeing what became Holloway?

Why does Shaw tell no-one about her alien baby self-caeserian?

Why does Elba and crew plough their ship into the Engineers ship without even questioning Shaw's command?

It was a bad horror movie bad with a $200million dollar budget and great art direction

You mention the Linelof argument and the scenes left out - what are they?

EDIT: What was that scene at the start supposed to show?

#12 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@GetEveryone: You mention the Lindelof argument and the scenes left out - what are they?

Agreed on all your misgivings, I just can't help but like it.

With regard to the Lindelof comment, I meant that people have been focussing on the scripting issues and attributing them entirely to Damon Lindelof, the writer who made changes to Jon Spaihts original script. Given that Lost's (for which he was a lead writer), entire premise was set-up around an eventual pay-off that never came, critics have been quick to point out his attachment to Prometheus and lay all of its problems at his feet. Whether they're right or wrong I don't know. I haven't read the script and I'm not privvy to the changes he made.

The scenes that we know have been left out are an extended fight between the Engineer and Shaw (which would probably serve to make the ending less anti-climactic, though Scott has said he felt it diminshed the big bad) and a moment between Vickers and Captain Janek after she toasts Holloway. If the extended cut is made up of smaller, character moments like the latter, you can bet the pacing issues in the last act will be remedied somewhat. Scott said, in a recent interview with Collider, that the original cut was ~2:27 and a possible extended cut would run about the same (ie. 20 minutes longer than the theatrical version). Given how much a single minute of footage can contain and serve within the context of a film, that really is a game-changing length.

#13 Posted by morrelloman (606 posts) -

Dude, I was laughing at this movie at the end. It was a *racist* deductive piece of crap. A waste of Theron. And probably the worst movie I have seen in theaters in quite some time. I do however agree that it could have benefitted from being longer because then maybe it would have given it time for something to actually happen.

#14 Posted by LastNinja (281 posts) -

@morrelloman said:

Dude, I was laughing at this movie at the end. It was a *racist* deductive piece of crap. A waste of Theron. And probably the worst movie I have seen in theaters in quite some time. I do however agree that it could have benefitted from being longer because then maybe it would have given it time for something to actually happen.

Racist?

#15 Edited by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@morrelloman said:

Dude, I was laughing at this movie at the end. It was a *racist* deductive piece of crap. A waste of Theron. And probably the worst movie I have seen in theaters in quite some time. I do however agree that it could have benefitted from being longer because then maybe it would have given it time for something to actually happen.

Um...

Granted, the 'white-across-the-board' Engineers could be read a certain way, but I don't think it's intentionally racist. In fact, if we're going to be as reductive as that, it could just as easily argue that it was makes a point about the importance of diversity given we've evolved to have different races, blah, blah, blah.

Also, different strokes for different folks. Plenty of people enjoyed it, and I reasoned pretty well why I liked it despite the glaring problems.

If Prometheus is the worst movie you've seen in theaters for some time, then you've been very lucky in your cinema going, friend.

#16 Posted by leebmx (2227 posts) -

@GetEveryone: Thanks for the reply - after my first post I did a websearch and found an article about how Prometheus is tentatively supposed by two films with a follow-up to come involving Shaw's flight to the Engineers planet - i'm guessing this isn't news to you but here is the link anyway http://collider.com/prometheus-2-sequel/172444/ I don't know how seriously I could take a film in which Shaw travels the universe with a talking head in a bag.

As for the extended cut it would be interesting but so much of what is wrong with the movie is stuff that is in it rather than things which have been left out, among the worst being the scene when the geologists meet the alien. I can't see it improving much.

#17 Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@GetEveryone: Thanks for the reply - after my first post I did a websearch and found an article about how Prometheus is tentatively supposed by two films with a follow-up to come involving Shaw's flight to the Engineers planet - i'm guessing this isn't news to you but here is the link anyway http://collider.com/prometheus-2-sequel/172444/ I don't know how seriously I could take a film in which Shaw travels the universe with a talking head in a bag.

As for the extended cut it would be interesting but so much of what is wrong with the movie is stuff that is in it rather than things which have been left out, among the worst being the scene when the geologists meet the alien. I can't see it improving much.

I'm guessing Shaw will help to rebuild him... hopefully. The prospect of a movie based around this: http://www.veryicon.com/icon/Movie%20&%20TV/Futurama%20Vol.%205%20-%20Heads%20In%20Jars/Futurama%20Vol.%205%20-%20Heads%20In%20Jars-192.jpg is totally absurd.

Yeah, I touched on the geologists death in my review, but as far as I'm concerned it's one of the only awful things in the movie (as well as old man Weyland, which is next to useless from a writing perspective - other than touching on the whole parenthood motif). Like you say, hopefully an extended cut improves what's there, it's just unfortunate that those script issues can't be remedied.

*goes to find terrifying snake to touch*

#18 Edited by boj4ngles (287 posts) -

@GetEveryone said:

This is my biggest gripe: the last act is far too muddled and rushed to really have much effect at all. It feels like a cut of a longer, better film, with particular scenes jarring painfully. It could be argued that the film mirrors Shaw's mental state having gone through what she just has, but it doesn't hold much water. Audiences will be left scratching their heads, no doubt. Should we see a 'director's cut', I'd wager that it would be a definite improvement over the theatrical version (obviously the problems at script-level can't be helped much regardless of length), but that is yet to be seen.

I agree that the Shaw's abortion scene is sort of the start of the crazy train. From here on out, deaths and plot points start getting introduced at an accelerated schedule. You mentioned that this might be reflecting Shaw's mental state. That is exactly how I interpreted things. I actually started to interpret things from a mildly psychedelic perspective. No I wasn't "on" anything. I just mean that the boundary between reality and the mind starts to blur a little bit. Shaw is encountered with scene after scene that are surreal, even by the standards of the rest of the film. Maybe I am reading too much into things, but there were lots of times at the end where Shaw looked like she didn't believe her own eyes. For example, the scene where she meets Weyland. When she stumbles into the room, she can't believe he is alive. I couldn't help but feel that in the moment where she accepted the odd premise that Weyland was alive, it was not at all a rational decision. It was more of an emotional decision. This contrasts with her rationality throughout the first half. Even her explanation of her faith has a rational reasoning behind. She believes, because she chooses to.

Call me stupid, but I didn't realize until the final act that the film is from her perspective. Well, hers and David's. Speaking of Shaw and David, Rapace and Fassbender did a pretty good in depth interview with Charlie Rose last Fiday. It's mostly about them as actors, and not so much about the movie, but Fassbender has a few reveals about David that I thought were pretty interesting.

#19 Posted by leebmx (2227 posts) -

@GetEveryone: Its funny as bad as the film is, there is something utterly compelling about that vision of the future and the alien as a species. As much as I have critised the film I would watch it again tonight if it came on TV.

Lastly I think it is interesting how if they make a sequel which carries on Shaw's journey to the engineers' planet it just makes the Alien some unimportant of shoot of the whole world. It's just a bio weapon which never got used properly but the larger, more important story is about our creation - weird.

If the screenwriters/creators/Ridley Scott had started with the whole story in mind it kind of makes no-sense for the movies to have been released as they did.

#20 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@leebmx said:

If the screenwriters/creators/Ridley Scott had started with the whole story in mind it kind of makes no-sense for the movies to have been released as they did.

They definitely did not do that.

#21 Posted by believer258 (11682 posts) -

@morrelloman said:

Dude, I was laughing at this movie at the end. It was a *racist* deductive piece of crap. A waste of Theron. And probably the worst movie I have seen in theaters in quite some time. I do however agree that it could have benefitted from being longer because then maybe it would have given it time for something to actually happen.

Racist? How the fuck is this movie racist? Please, explain.