I am going to say something at the start that everyone needs to understand. It takes a lot of work to fully appreciate Prometheus. This film is something that many people have been clamoring for and yet at the same time will be shocked to find that they don’t want at all. Expectations get toyed with and as such it is best to see this film at least twice before making your mind up on it. Watch it once without knowing what to expect and then again knowing what it is and you will find yourself judging it less harshly than a majority of the critics who are trying to drag it down. I recently went through the entire Alien franchise in anticipation of this film and now I almost wish I hadn’t because the film in my head was not the film I saw. I should have been prepared for such an eventuality, because each film in the series evolves and never follows the style of what came before. I suppose with Ridley Scott returning we would get something similar in style to the original Alien, but that is not the case. Make no mistake about it, this is the genesis of the Alien legacy. Does it sync up in a nice package? No, but we’ll get to that later.
The film begins at the birth of mankind. We witness our creation out of the sacrifice of space-faring engineers in a scene that is simultaneously wondrous and confounding. Much of the film plays this way. Either things are spelled out too directly, or they are left as questions dangling in the back of our mind. I suspect this has much to do with Damon Lindelof’s involvement with the script. I could be wrong, but if it walks like a Lost duck… We then flash forward to 2089 when future archeologists digging in Scotland discover a cave painting pre-dating anything on record featuring symbols that have been discovered at sites spread out across the earth and multiple time periods with no interconnection of the societies that created them. They all feature a star pattern that our group locates and journeys to in the hopes of finding the creatures these early civilizations worshiped as gods. The team is led by Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace, who has previously failed to impress me but carries herself well here. Her staggered speech patterns that bothered me so much in Sherlock Holmes have been corrected and she feels far more at home delivering dialog as a result. She is accompanied by her colleague and lover played by Logan Marshall-Green who really doesn’t leave much of an impression whatsoever. That’s not too big of a slam because a majority of the cast are faceless ciphers who don’t really give off any defining character traits. The cast is around the same size as Aliens but it doesn’t have the same level of personalization to the cast. We got a real feel for the individual personalities of the marines in Aliens but the crewmembers of the Prometheus don’t give us much to work with. Idris Elba acquits himself nicely, and plays perhaps the most affable and relatable character in the film. Unfortunately he’s not much of a major player in what transpires. Charlize Theron does well but also has a tendency to simply exist in the framework without adding very much at all. The real star of the film is Michael Fassbender, who unsurprisingly steals the film with his portrayal of the android David. This is perhaps the first film in the series that does not hide the android’s nature and as such his mannerisms are far more robotic than Ian Holm’s Ash or Lance Henreiksen’s Bishop. His every movement is calculated and Fassbender imbues him with a sense of methodical unearthliness that truly makes him a wonder to watch.
The film’s story works well. It isn’t as tense as Alien but I do not believe it is meant to be. I also believe that there will be an eventual extended cut that allows several things to fall into place better than they seem to in the theatrical release. The only ones who will decry the narrative flow of the film are those who want it to run parallel to Alien. That isn’t what is in play here. What is in play here is a new series that has a timeline that will eventually sync up with those films. Ridley Scott has said that the ending of this film, which I will not spoil for anyone here, does not line up with Alien. He has stated that there are at least two more films worth of content before the timelines connect ant you see how everything developed from point A to point chestburster. It is best to view this story as something standalone. Something detached from Alien so that what this movie does well is better consumed by the viewer. Trying to compare it to Alien will result in a disappointment. It’s not a disappointing film unless you make it one. Judged on it’s own merit it is a spectacular film, with a few minor flaws. If nothing else it is a technological and visual marvel. The 3D screening I saw was absolutely flawless. One of the prettiest films I have seen in ages.
Essentially, the film is going to be divisive. That is the mark of a film worth viewing, in my opinion. What you take away from the film is largely dependent on what you want to take away from it before you ever set foot in the theater. Like I said, I would recommend viewing it twice. For the sake of your own enjoyment, you should be willing to examine the film from multiple angles. I’m certain I’ll be seeing it more than twice.
I made the horrible mistake of visiting the IMDB boards for this movie shortly after seeing it. I sometimes forget what a cesspool of ignorance and misery that little patch of internet earth is. Nearly every thread was a black hole of negative energy and petty whining. The people who frequent those boards are, by nature, soulless vultures from the bowels of hell whose one purpose in life is to spread malice and discontent like a disease throughout the labryinth of that site’s message board system. Thread after thread of “They Changed This!” or “Watered Down Crap!” or “This Just Sucked!” or any other mindless dribble they could spurt out like warm blood cut from a femoral artery. I mean, good lord…when you hate everything with such fervor what does it feel like to enjoy something? Would your brain explode like that scene in Scanners? I mean, I am sometimes driven to physical pain by some of the shit I read for this site (*cough*Brightest Day*cough*) but at least 80% of what I read leaves me feeling warm and happy and content. Why are some people so prone to fits of teeth-gnashing hatred over stupid, stupid things?
I should probably state that The Losers is a damn fine film. It hearkens back to the action films of the 80’s that didn’t take themselves too seriously. Where everything wasn’t some pseudo-Jason Bourne world where everything had to be grim and melodramatic and one-liners were punishible by death. I enjoyed it about as much as I have any other movie this year, and I think it’s because everything about the movie is done with the intent of thoroughly entertaining the audience. You do not make your villain chew THAT much scenery if you’re not hoping to go so over the top that you didn’t even realize you’d scaled the bar. This is not an art film people. It’s an action flick for the sake of being an action flick. If you’re not on board with that you probably missed all the signs telling you what to expect when you watched the damned trailer. And don’t act like you didn’t see a trailer.
The major complaints seem to be over the changes made from the book to the film, which I’m tired of hearing. The book and the film are two different entities. Where was the outrage over the changes to Two-Face’s origin back when The Dark Knight came out? There was some, of course. But it wasn’t overwhelming. The boards for The Losers are populated with multiple threads for “ROQUE ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE BLACK ****WHARGARBLE***!!!!” or “ZOE SALDANA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AFGHANISTANIANIANIAN!!!!” or other such negligible bullshit. The changes were made to allow the movie to be the movie and the book to be the book. It doesn’t hurt the book that the changes were made to the film. Judge the film on the merits of what is presented in the context of the film, and there is very little to complain about except for some minor stylistic choices in the action scenes and perhaps the fact that Chris Evans is too damned awesome.
I went back and re-read the first volume of the book following the movie and the spirit of the book remains almost wholly intact. The characters on the screen are very much like their counterparts on the page, except for Max who dialled it up to the point that he makes Bond villains uncomfortable. But on a base level, the two are very much alike, with scenes lifted directly from the book to placate those who need everything to be exactly the same all the time.
Here’s the first look at the film adaptation of Vertigo’s THE LOSERS, which looks so damned good that I’m almost afraid that this is some sort of hallucination brought on by a whiskey overdose…
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