I’m not sure how best to describe how I am feeling right now after sitting through this marathon of movie going experience. It is the first time in a very long time that I have written on this blog, however after watching the film by Ridley Scott, I feel compelled to do so. There is a lot that works really well in this movie. The story it is trying to tell is so grand, and the universe it aims to create is one rich with mythology and intrigue that you can’t help but be captivated by the world presented from the opening frame (similar in some ways to the chills I got from the opening frame of Avatar). What brings this movie down from the stars however is the fact that in creating such a story, failing to treat the many aspects of the story adequately prevent any aspect of the story to achieve greatness. The failure of “Prometheus” is that the piece of pie it decided to bite off, one rivalling other great science fiction films from yesteryear, was too big to chew, and it ends up spitting a lot of the story out in an incoherent way, leaving a bitter-sweet taste in the movie-goer’s mouth (pardon for the extended metaphor).
There are moments of greatness in the movie. Seeing David (Michael Fassbender’s character) meander through the titular spaceship, as the titular spaceship meanders through space, is fun and brings one back to other great science fiction moments in history (read 2001 A Space Odyssey or Moon). Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw is reminiscent of Ellen Ripley, the lead protagonist of the other great Alien movies (the original and the original sequel), and perhaps the singular reason why those movies were as fantastic as they were. She brings with her this real-world identity thrust into the outrageously dangerous. The moments shared between Noomi Rapace’s and Michael Fassbender’s characters are the best in the movie. The movie, unlike other Alien movies does not focus exclusively on the aliens, but rather on the human (and cyborgian) elements that make up characters. Other characters are not treated with the same level of detail, despite the fact that many of them are supposed to play large parts in the story’s ultimate significant messages.
The significance of the story becomes many things at that point. It becomes a story about the quest to find one’s maker, the search for life, redemption, answers, and reasons why. Near the end of the film, the story adds elements including the meaning of mortality, the nature of human existence, and circle of life. The movie is true in a way, there is no true archetype that humans actually fall into, and attempting to capture or sway the variables that make up human existence into easily recognizable buckets is foolhardy. The movie however is a movie, and to forget that it is trying to tell a story within a limited time period means never really telling any story to completion, or even making progress on any arch at all.
This is a movie that could have benefited along this one issue from two very different angles. The movie could have been more refined in its story-telling, choosing certain areas to focus on, and personally, it could have blown any one of those stories out of the water if it had attempted to do so. The second option that could have been undertaken, to maintain the level of depth and richness that this kind of story so deserves, is to make it a true epic, and not feel confined to a 2.5 hour limit. The story is there, there just wasn’t enough time to tell it.
I can say that at the end of the movie, I did enjoy it, and would recommend it to see in theatres. I saw it in AVX (essentially IMAX 3D). It was definitely a well-filmed movie. I would however implore people to suspend their high expectations if they have them while going into the movie. I had knew that I would have high expectations for the movie had I watched the trailers and viral videos that were released in the marketing of the movie, so I decided to forego those, and jump straight into the film without any outside influences to generate hype. Internally generated hype is a lot easier to suspend than hype that is drilled into you through images and media with the intent of selling you the movie. Instead, I would suggest going into the theatre with an open mind, clear head, and you will be pleasantly surprised by a highly enjoyable drama with elements of science fiction, horror, and just a tad of comedy (Idris Elba steals his scenes).
Highly recommended, just not for the reasons why you think it is highly recommended.