Cinematic Releases: Prometheus Review #2

We thought that Prometheus deserved more than just one review. J.G. Barnes now presents us with his take on the film:

Prometheus is the most thought provoking film I've seen in several years. Since I've left the theater my mind has been relentlessly reeling with ideas, what-ifs, hows, and whys. This isn't a deeply philosophical film, though it certainly touches on some sensitive subjects, yet it's the fiction alone that is just so profoundly fascinating and endlessly deep.

And yet, Prometheus is not a masterpiece.

If I had to give you an answer now, I would say that Prometheus is certainly not the milestone that Alien is...but it could be one day. Given the inevitable fan dissection over the course of the next several months or several years with repeat theater viewings and blu-ray releases, Prometheus could very well rise to a massive cult status not dissimilar from the likes of Blade Runner; another Ridley Scott film that was not a major blockbuster when it first released, yet subsequently went on to become one of the single most important sci-fi films of all time.

So, then, why is Prometheus not the brilliant slice of cinematic perfection we were all expecting? Well, the writing, though tantalizingly subtle, does have its very small share of clich├ęs. A couple of the characters are of the classic 80's action-horror sort and it's far too easy to point and predict who's gonna die and who will survive. You know their fates literally the moment these characters open their mouths.

The writing, again, is subtle, but a little too subtle in one particularly disappointing way for me. Just when you thought the film could have dropped some interesting philosophical bombs on the viewer, the characters only mention these thoughts in passing and rarely revisit them in meaningful ways. Once you get the swing of the moral fulcrum of the film, you really start to wonder why they don't give the viewer more to chew on, seeing as this certain philosophical debate is at the very heart of Prometheus. Perhaps, like Chris mentions in his review, much of this was left out of the theatrical cut to squeeze it down to two hours, because this film deserves three...and I'd watch four.

The other pet peeve of mine is deliberate foreshadowing. "Oh, by the way, Character B, I swear I'm not talking to the audience, but I thought in this awkward moment that it was pertinent information for you to know that this futuristic piece of machinery does this very particular thing that seems mundane now, but don't think about it or bother yourself with that because it's not foreshadowing at all. I promise." Puh-leez! This kind of crap is like slamming on the brakes. The whiplash immediately rips me out of the experience.

 Let's move on to the action segments or suspense scenes or whatever you want to call them. One scene in particular was a little ridiculous and the rest were just not gripping or intense enough for me. They're good scenes, just not great. With that said, however, these "scares," while not necessarily gruesome and intense, make up for it by prying out more intriguing questions and alluring answers. Trust me, if you possess even the slightest leniency to inquisition, these scenes will be on repeat in your mind for days afterward, screaming to yourself, "What does that mean?!"

Prometheus was shot natively in 3D using RED Epic cameras shooting at 5k at 120fps. What this means to the layman is that this film looks absolutely stunning in 3D. Scott is known for having cinematography
with immense depth and distant shots where the camera is set far away from the actors. The 3D does a Ridley Scott film good. Very good. If you can afford the extra few dollars, 3D is the only way you should be watching this film. Scott's immense sprawling shots of vast landscapes that stretch to the horizon, or a dank corridor that twists a hundred feet beyond the actors, or the severely cool holographic CGI that speckles every scene in intricate ways both big and small. This film is a true spectacle in the visual department and 3D just makes it so much more engrossing and colossal.

So far this year, Prometheus is without a doubt in my mind the best looking film I've seen. It will most certainly be an Oscar contender for visual effects, and just maybe cinematography. The shots are drop dead gorgeous and huge. The set design, special effects, and CGI blend into and complement each other in ways that few films achieve. It's acted especially well by a solid cast of some of my absolute favorite actors. Everyone gives a well above average performance. The overall tone feels exactly like an Alien movie should. This is unmistakably a Ridley Scott addition to the Alien franchise and one of the best films you'll see this year. But don't get your hopes up too high. Do your best to keep your expectations firmly in check. Prometheus is loaded with faults, inarguably, but I have a feeling it's going to get even bigger and even better with time.