There is a lot to go over with this movie, so let’s get started.
First of all, it is quite the ride. The intensity is so nerve wracking at times, with some of the best executed shots in the history of the series. The movie doesn’t work slowly like Alien, but quickly like its sequel, whilst relying more on how quickly Alien worked at its end. You’re not sure if it’s a cheesy action adventure like Aliens, because it definitely carries the burden of grief and terror that Alien has (only not as well). Part of this is because of its well used 3-D. Yeah, imagine that. A movie actually being better in 3-D. The mist clouds everything around you, the holograms and projections are right in front of you, and you truly get an interesting perspective of the world. Unlike Avatar, where the 3-D brought you right into close up objects like flowers and beasts, Prometheus was very open, and too open for comfort. You felt as if you were soaring or shivering at times because of how well done this three dimensional setting is. When you do see things close up, you see them as the characters, whether it be through their cameras on their helmets or through their own eyes as they observe obscure objects and peculiar oddities. I love how the film doesn’t try to shove the 3-D aspect in your face every second, as it allows you to breath a lot of the time on the ship itself (which is, of course, named Prometheus). When the film wants to set a tone, it sets a tone. When it wants to show off its capabilities, boy does it ever.
The world that surrounds these characters is a world that does not define them. They define themselves. It’s one thing to just have bold characters who aren’t afraid of entering a strange planet’s atmosphere, and it’s another to have characters who are bold in so many ways. Elizabeth Shaw is hooked on her faith in God and her faith in her project. Her boyfriend is fully supportive of her project and he even has his own two cents. Janek is there to have fun and be the captain he strives to be. David is an android that couldn’t care less until he actually visits the planet. I could describe each character but you get the idea; the idea being that there was some phenomenal acting in this movie. In an order of fifth best to best, let’s quickly take a look at our heavy hitters. Number five is Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers, a cold hearted witch that is surveilling the mission to make sure it is up to speed (for her taste, anyways). Number four is Idris Elba as Janek, an insane pseudo cowboy that is there for the thrills whilst being there for the team when he has to be. Number three is Guy Pearce with his camouflaged performance as the founder of Weyland himself (the company in charge of the mission), as he is oh so withered and frail but full of determination. Two is Noomi Rapace as the main girl Elizabeth Shaw, with her performance that lingers on as strong and calm until she snaps, and suddenly the world around breaks with her. The one that stole the show is Michael Fassbender as David. There is absolutely no other person that could have been an android being Peter O’Toole being T. E. Lawrence better than this guy. Hands down the performance of the year so far, David is cynical yet whimsical, dashing yet menacing, curious yet conniving, and just oh so captivating. If there is anything right in the film making world, this performance will get its recognition during the awards season, and if not, shame on all of them.
WARNING: PLOT ANALYSIS, SPOILERS HERE, SCROLL DOWN
Each character of the five I listed has at least one moment that is simply breathtaking, either involving discovery or struggle. There are some scary moments that moved me, and that’s quite a rarity, including Shaw’s surgery on herself and David’s change of heart near the end of the film. I loved so much of the film and yet it irks me that I cannot rate it higher than what I have given it. The reason is the plot and story. The basis is pretty cool. Done before, but not like this. It’s not the masterpiece of this kind of story, either, but it didn’t feel dated. As I said, each character goes through heart breaking and mind blowing moments, even outside of the five I mentioned. This is definitely a moving film. However, what links up these moments can either be paper thin resolutions or complete avoidances. There are moments where I couldn’t figure out why the story moved on so quickly. Take the part with Ford where she gets attacked and the sole purpose is on Holloway being sick. It’s like she wasn’t even there. The main, unavoidable problem is that a lot of the characters, especially those that are not played by big named stars, ended up being causalities just to rank up a kill count. You don’t even care for some of them, as they say they aren’t on the mission to “make friends”. Why should we care if he gets killed?
The next, and probably biggest yet most intriguing, issue with the story is the ambiguity and open ended nature. There are so many questions that were not answered, and this threw many people off, including myself. That is until I waited along the end of the credits and noticed this at the very end. https://www.weylandindustries.com/timeline
This site made specifically for this movie has so much information in regards to the movie, and it makes sense as to why a lot of it wasn’t explained. Then you look back at the viral videos and understand that they weren’t just to promote the movie: They were plot points. David’s want to feel emotion in his viral video explains his want to feel by acting like T. E. Lawrence or by getting even with Holloway. Shaw’s curiosity in her viral video, whilst feeling ignored and miniscule, is definitely a theme that echoes in the film, even when she tries to stay strong, and you learn just how much more important the mission is to her. On that website, you learn about the star system they discovered, the way the planet they visit works, how David was created and how his prototypes work, and oh so much more. As this film was written by the writer for Lost, Damon Lindelof (I didn’t know this until the end of the film), it makes sense why there is so much tying in outside of the film itself.
However, that aside, a lot of the questions still are not answered. How did Shaw have super human strength each time she woke up? If David wanted to feel feelings and discovered them through anger, why didn’t he feel grief as well if he got irritated by Holloway so easily? Why and how did the engineers make those weapons, and what the hell are they? These could be on the site as well, but for now, I have not seen answers to them.
The plot does have its great feats, such as not going the cliched science fiction route of having gadgets that appear for a very short time. I’ve always hated that; when science fiction directors just want you to believe “it’s science fiction” is a great excuse for every miniscule and pathetic contraption used for a millisecond. In Prometheus, you think this will happen a number of times, until these gadgets get used consistently and are beneficial to the film’s story. However, even with the outside sources clearing up many aspects of the film, as fantastic as this is, I cannot say it helped the film. Well, it did and it didn’t. I’ve raved about how much I love the environments in some of the Alien films, especially the first one. Creating these trans media connections definitely helped expand the world, and once I discovered this, the film definitely went up a few points. Scott and Lindelof definitely took one of the biggest loves fans had of the first film and they tried to experiment with what they could do, especially in an internet based world. I think they succeeded so well. However, it also hurts the film because the film relies so much on these sources. Had I not stayed for the credits, I would not have known about so many things and intricate details in the film. As cool of a concept as it is, it should only work as a bonus and not as an essential compartment to the story, especially if people don’t stay for the credits. I mean, it will probably go viral (I’m helping, clearly), but still. The point is the film should have answered its own questions, not our own research, especially when the film is so invested in asking big, deep questions and having so many of them. This hurts the film, especially when after all of this there are still some unanswered ones.
The bottom line is that Prometheus is an incredible experience. It does have moments of cheese and slight pointlessness, but they serve as a means to catch you off guard once the film hits full throttle (think X Men-First Class). When the film isn’t being more questionable than it is exciting, it is gripping. If you want to see the film for its story, you must do your work (whether you like it or not) or the film will fall a bit flat. If you want to watch it for its actors, you will not be disappointed. If you want to watch it for the experience, I don’t think you are prepared.