Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Prometheus (2012)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Author

A film epic in scale is reduced to a mediocre action flick by sloppy execution.

How realistic is this high-priced scientific expedition? To begin with, there’s no way a long-term expedition into space would be comprised of characters so antagonistic towards each other for no particular reason. Think about how carefully they selected astronauts for shuttle missions. For a trip exponentially more expensive, they’d be exponentially more careful selecting compatible personnel, even if it was a privately funded venture. Once they get to the planet, there’s no way they’d immediately land on it, immediately run off the ship, and immediately throw off their helmets to breath the air. A real scientific expedition would be time-intensive and methodical, with measures taken to mitigate risk at each step.

Compare with Cameron’s Avatar. A much more fantastical story, but presented in a much more plausible way.

In this one, they charge forward and take unnecessary risks that jeopardize themselves and the mission as a whole. When most of the drama results from blatant and unrealistic disregard for the most basic security protocols and reckless abandonment of scientific method, we stop caring about the characters. They deserve what’s coming to them for acting so foolishly. And when we stop caring about the characters, we stop caring about the story.

How could everyone be so non-chalant at the discovery of an ancient civilization no a faraway planet? And non-chalant about the discovery of ancient life forms? And non-chalant about the discovery of current life? This is the first movie of the series, and presumably, humans in this timeline had never seen aliens before. Yet here they are, and it’s no big deal.

Lots of questions. Who were the white aliens? Why were they so mad at humans? Why were they targeting Earth? How and why did they create the aliens? Why did the first scene show them selflessly seeding a planet with life when the rest of the story shows them as angry and vengeful? Are we supposed to be content with not knowing any of this and patiently wait for sequels to have those questions answered?

Great effects, though putting a few more dollars into the effects budget to keep the helmets from fogging up would have been even better. The action is decent, but things jumping out at you and sudden loud noises are the cheapest way to scare people. Does Ridley really have to stoop that low?

The scene of David watching the movie and bleaching his hair has some shots with bleach in his hair and some without. A really sloppy continuity mistake that could have easily been fixed in editing. And Vickers having implied sex with Janek? What was that about? It served no purpose for the story.

Rapace is good. Fassbender is kind of interesting but, given his questionable intentions, is not a character we’re really drawn to. The others are all stock characters with little depth. Pearce is given way too much old man make-up. The white aliens were pretty cool, but like I said, it would have been nice to learn a bit more about them.

And why the ambiguity about whether or not it’s a prequel? You gotta go one way or the other. Saying that the movie has some things in common with the Alien franchise but isn’t really a prequel is non-committal and weird.

Ridley skimps on story and character development and cuts corners elsewhere. His movies are epic in scale but not epic in execution. This seems to be an unfortunate trend to Ridley’s work.

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