Saturday, November 17, 2012

Horror Film Review

Prometheus (2012):  Although not billed as such, this is Ridley Scott's prequel to his masterpiece of sci-fi/horror, Alien.  It's a big-budget, FX-laden movie that a lot people went to see and a lot of critics liked.  I sincerely wish I could count myself among those critics.  Heck, even Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection were better than this bloated mess.  A helluva lot better. 

The plot goes something like this (get comfy, this is gonna take a while)...  Cave paintings dating back 35,000 years are discovered in Scotland and linked to similar symbols found in almost every ancient civilization on earth.  The symbols show humanoid-shaped beings gazing up at a specific star pattern.  Somehow, it's figured out which planetary system it is and a few years later, a spaceship full of humans shows up on its doorstep.  The scientists who did the discovering and figuring are Elizabeth and Charlie (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green).  The ship is the Prometheus.  The whole expedition is funded by super rich and super old Peter Weyland (an unrecognizable Guy Pearce) who, of course, has an agenda other than scientific discovery.  His ice-queen daughter Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is in charge of the trip, aided by David the android (Michael Fassbender) whose own agenda isn't in step with anyone else's.  Cynical and weary Captain Janek (Idris Elba) lands the Prometheus near what appears to be a non-natural structure.  They go in, find the beheaded corpse of a 2000 year-old humanoid alien (they call them the Engineers because they came to Earth and started the human race), a bunch of vase-like containers, and clues that something really bad happened there a long time ago.  A massive storm comes, Elizabeth grabs the head, David secretly grabs a vase, and all but two of the team make it back to the ship.  The two left behind get lost and stumble upon a snake-like critter that, well, does something really bad to them.  It's downhill from there as David schemes to infect Charlie, Weyland schemes to find a way to live forever, and everyone else just tries to stay alive.  Eventually, David finds one Engineer still alive but in stasis.  Once awakened, instead of a nice reunion and polite conversation, the Engineer attacks the remaining crew members and tries to take off in his ship which if full of those vases that we learn aren't vases but weapons, nasty biological weapons.  Yes, I'm sure you've figured out what the "biological" is.  We're told his plan is to return to earth and unleash the weapons.  Why?  Dunno.  Anyway, a big sacrifice is made to stop it and one person survives.  Well, one and a half, really. 

The problems with Prometheus are legion.  I'll start with how bland it is.  It's not scary like Alien.  It's not action-packed like Aliens.  It's not stripped down and gritty like Alien 3.  It's not as interesting as Alien: Resurrection.  It's just...blah.  Each character is utterly forgettable, mostly because none is developed to the point where we care about them (for good or ill).  In the other films, we identified and sympathized with Ripley, were terrified of the double-jawed alien(s), and despised Paul Reiser's Burke.  Those movies, especially the first two, seriously played on our emotions.  This prequel...I could have been an android myself for how it affected me.  And then there's the script.  The whole premise is illogical.  A private company shells out a trillion dollars to fund a multi-year voyage ostensibly to meet those who created us, a totally unprovable theory based on ancient graffiti.  What's worse, there's no bad guy to hate and wish dead until the very end, but by then, you're only wishing death on anyone responsible for making the film.


Acting:  Wooden, stilted, unbelievable performances.  Rapace as Elizabeth tries hard but is overwhelmed by her fellow actors' indifference. 
Story:  It needed a few more rewrites and then polished by someone who understands how sci-fi/horror works.
Direction:  While the peerless Ridley Scott is a damn fine filmmaker, this one got away from him.  There's no focus, no cohesion.  The whole thing felt rushed and unfinished.
Production Values:  Well, there was a $130 million budget to play with.  The Prometheus interiors are well done (especially the bridge) as are the space and aerial shots.  But the underground sets are too dark and one-dimensional.  What's lame?  The fact that it's the end of the 21st century and all they're carrying for weapons are a couple of pistols and flamethrowers.
Gore/FX:  This movie is rated R.  Three reasons a movie gets tagged R:  sex, gore, or language.  No steamy sex scenes, they say "fuck" only a handful of times, and I've seen worse gore on the TV show The Walking Dead.  The FX, on the other hand, are quite good.  As they should be if you've $130 million to spread around. 
Scares:  Oh, they make a half-hearted attempt a few times...and failed.
Ending:  Would you believe the door's left open for a sequel to the prequel?  As for the actual ending scenes...they tried to cram all of the action into the final ten minutes.  It doesn't work.  And the final bit with Elizabeth talking and the thing with David is just plain silly.
Verdict:  Should you see Prometheus?  If all you want out of a film is cool CGI, then sure, go ahead.  Otherwise, go watch any of the other Alien films instead. 

Rating:  2 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment