Prometheus (2012) rating: so-so

So I saw Prometheus last night. Since I had no expectations I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a good way to go through life. So basically, aliens created life on Earth and scientists are studying cave paintings which suggest a prehistoric alien presence on Earth. They decide the painting are an invitation for humans to go meet their creators, and hop aboard a space ship to do so. It seems in the not-too-distant-future, robots can appear human, long distance space travel is possible, and underwear has been replaced by cleverly wrapped ace bandages. They arrive at the planet only to find the remains of a civilization, apparently destroyed by another alien species. Philosophical questions about the nature of religion in a scientific world trouble the scientists. The crew starts dying. The usual

It would be hard for me to talk about this film and not compare it to the original Alien, so I won’t. Prometheus wasn’t as good as Alien. There I said it. A lot of the appeal of Alien is its simplicity. (Also, in Alien they wore real underwear.) We’re in space, we encounter evil killing machine, we fight for survival, Ripley, last surviving member of the Nostromo signing off. Got it? Good. It’s to the point, the characters are believable and feel like real people, the story unfolds naturally, and it is terrifying. One of my biggest issues with Prometheus was that the plot felt too contrived.

Noomi Rapace, modeling the underwear of the galactic and intergalactic future. It seems technology has taken a step backward in the lingerie department.

It seemed as if everyone had an agenda, although it was difficult to actually determine anyone’s motives, and their differing (and secret) agendas moved the plot along, but the reasons for their actions were never really resolved. There seemed to be a few too many minor characters whose function was never really explained, and a lack of command structure, which is difficult even when everyone has their own agenda, and becomes more challenging as people keep dying, passing control around like a hot potato. It didn’t make sense to me that the entire crew of the Prometheus was woken up and gathered together after spending two years in space and then their mission was explained to them. They honestly couldn’t have done that back on Earth?

But now to the high point. An android tends to chores on the ship. I was delighted that the android was played by Michael Fassbender, although I was unnerved by how blond he was. I still tried to work with it, because I love Michael Fassbender. He has a lot of time on his hands, because the rest of the crew is sleeping, so he kills time by learning alien languages and watching films. My eyes widened with surprised delight to see that the film was Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence is demonstrating how to put out a match with your fingers, and Michael Fassbender is repeating all of Peter O’Toole’s lines, practicing his inflections. He then combs back his blond hair, clearly imitating Peter O’Toole. This is possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I considered leaving the theater, because there was no way the rest of the film could match that moment. However, I hung in there. Later on, as the crew flies over the desert, looking for alien life, Michael Fassbender says, “There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing.” After that, I should have walked out, because the rest of the film was mediocre, and there were no more Lawrence of Arabia references. So I could say it was telling that a brief clip of Michael Fassbender imitating Lawrence of Arabia was my absolute favorite part, but that was so overwhelmingly awesome that it would take a pretty fucking fantastic film to top that.

Michael Fassbender, channeling Peter O’Toole.

So, since I found most of the characters bland and underdeveloped, if not outright annoying (why did Charlize Theron have to be such a bitch? I honestly didn’t know if she was supposed to be a robot,) I had hoped the film would focus on the character of David, the robot, more than it did. It seemed to make perfect sense; the point is to ‘meet your maker,’ to confront your creator and speak to them about your creation. Frankenstein is the modern Prometheus, wouldn’t a robot be the slightly more modern Prometheus? David was created for convenience, and the unsatisfying relationship he has with his makers mirrors the unsuccessful reunion with the creators of humanity. Yet he waffles back and forth between a perfect gentlemen, a sneaky poisoner, a devoted son, and a helpful companion, with no clear reasons for the different actions.

Also, when will scientists learn not to name their ships after mythical creatures? It never ends well. My favorite is the ship Icarus in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Really, a ship going to the sun should be named after the boy who plummeted to his death after flying to close to the sun? And the ship vanishes so you get another one together and name it the Icarus II? Are you really asking for trouble that much? Call it like Success-Ship, or something. Ship-Win. Anything else.

Prometheus, doing what he does.

Prometheus was the fire-bringer, creator of man-kind, who made men equal to gods. Great. But you know what happened to him? He was punished, chained to a rock and had his liver eaten out, every day, for eternity, until he was freed by Hercules. Don’t name your ship after that guy. Especially in a film franchise that is all about alien rape and is filled with uncomfortable penetrations and removals of alien creatures from the human body, don’t compare yourself to the guy who had his liver eaten out. Please. Do us all a favor.


1 Response to “Prometheus (2012) rating: so-so”

  1. 1 Jonathan December 6, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Love it.

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