Friday, June 21, 2013

Film Review: Prometheus (2012)

2012's Prometheus was said to be a pseudo-prequel to the ever-popular Alien franchise of SciFi/Horror films. Since, y'know, AvP is one of my favorite movies and all, I was seriously hyped to get a glimpse of this supposedly "Not Alien" Alien movie.

That was a mistake.

Don't get me wrong, Prometheus has a lot of awesome cinema going for it. You got explosions, crisp imagery, pretty good acting, decent dialogue. Hot actresses. The cast is nice and diverse, and each character behaves and sounds like a unique individual, regardless of how much of a stereotype they are. The first hour or so is actually all really interesting exploration of both characters and setting, with a lot of awesome development and build up that seriously engages the audience and throws you for all kinds of loops.

And it just keeps building!

And building.

...And building...

That's the problem with Prometheus. It builds. Now I get it, building is fun. World-building in particular is a blast. Unfortunately, there seems to be this trend, and Prometheus is hardly the only offender, of all build. Build, build, build. Rising action, rising action, rise, rise, rise. It's like a roller coaster that keeps going up, always building the suspense. But it never goes down. You just keep going up and up, forever. That shit gets boring after a while. Can you imagine being on that roller coaster? Up, up, up, and then at the very top of the track the train comes to a stop at a platform where some guy tells you "Welp, ride's over, kiddies. Everybody out". That's what it's like when a movie decides it doesn't have to follow traditional narrative form.

It hurts even more when you know that the decision wasn't made for any artistic or narrative purpose, but simply so the studio would have an excuse to make a sequel. Maybe that sequel will even be good and actually tie in all the loose ends, but if that's what they wanted to do they shouldn't have advertised or marketed Prometheus as a movie. Maybe a TV series would have been better, or perhaps its time to revive the old film serial format at a lower ticket price. If film studios want to create long going stories to keep audiences coming back, they need to stop pretending what they're making are actual movies. A movie is a confined narrative, beginning, middle, and end. That's it.

Even franchises like Iron Man, which continue pretty closely off of each other, have self-contained stories for each installment. That's simply how a movie plays out. When I pay, what is in this decade a ridiculous ticket price, to see a movie I want to see a full blasted movie. I don't want to see a prologue and have to shell out twelve more dollars two years later for the middle (and with the recent trilogy trend, probably another twelve another two years later for the epilogue). That's not okay.

Either make a six hour movie if that's what it takes, or make your film in a different medium. And definitely don't pretend it's a movie, and definitely don't price it like one.

Oh man, did that drive me nuts. And it's not the only thing that did, either.

Despite all of Ridley Scott's cries of "This is not an Alien movie!" it is most definitely an Alien movie. At least, part of one. Audiences which haven't seen or aren't familiar with the way that franchise works are going to be completely lost. You really do need that kind of knowledge to understand what's happening, and even with it you're going to be a little in the dark. You get to see some prototype Xenomorph stuff, which is all really cool. I was particularly a fan of the gigantic octopus face hugger. That was sweet. However, there's a lot of other weird stuff here which is never really explained (oh, but I'm sure it will be in the sequel). For some reason one guy who gets acid-blooded to death later returns as a zombie and slaughters half of the ship's crew. There's no explanation for this, and it's just chalked up to be "Alien Stuff". Alrighty then. The Xenomorph here also seems to be able to fit neatly within a corpse while fully formed, which is an utter failure in terms of logic.

Actually, logic is something this movie has none of. Of particular note is Ms. Vickers, the overseer of the mission. She's one of those nearly robot lady leaders who operates in a by-the-books manner despite twisting every written rule to push her asshole agenda. She has protocols for handling situations which she completely ignores, even taking the captain off deck to get her fanny patted. An action which leads to mass confusion for the crew throughout the film. Later on as the alien ship is falling out of the sky, she simply runs in a straight line as it tumbles along behind her, eventually getting squashed to death despite having damn near five minutes to run left or right and get out of the way. It's like she exists in an old video game or something.

Oh, she also has a surgical pod, but it's just for her. Yep. All for her.

Now, the whole purpose behind the Prometheus mission is to reach out into the darkest corners of space to find the Engineers, a group of extraterrestrial beings who created mankind by seeding the Earth with their own DNA (arguably the sacrificial Engineer could have been a reference to the Prometheus of lore). However, despite having raised the human race and giving them maps to locate the Engineer home world, the ETs seem to have decided, some 2000 years ago (odd, thinking about which particular non-Greek religious figure was born right around then), to eliminate us (with the use of the Xenomorphs as a biological weapon). Why is never explained.

Nothing is ever fucking explained.

Agh, this movie makes me so angry. And really what it has is good it just needs to give some fucking answers. I don't dig the money-grabs in cinema lately, and this has been the most blatant example of all. Maybe I'll appreciate this film more when the rest of its collective narrative comes out, but right now this has pissed me right the fuck off. I can't give this movie a positive score, because it's not a movie. However, because it's a high-quality not-a-movie, I can't give it an absolutely shit score, and there are some pretty cool Proto-Alien things. So I'll give it a four out of ten. Maybe I'll appreciate it as a whole when the next one comes out, but I will never be able to appreciate Prometheus on its own. Never.

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