Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
If science fiction films have taught audiences anything, it’s that finding signs of an ancient alien civilization and mistaking evidence of their existence for a welcome message is a bad, bad idea. So when scientists on a archeological dig to determine the origins of humankind think they’ve found a key to the puzzle, it’s off to space we go in director Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. As you can imagine, some of them will find that decision to be, in hindsight, dumb.
The film is a prequel to the Alien franchise but Scott made the correct decision in essentially creating a standalone piece. Canonical elements to the other films are respected and it gives fans new information but unlike the poorly received prequel of The Thing last year, this isn’t meant to catch us up to the first movie. This could be the beginning of a whole new franchise and if they’re anything like Prometheus, I’ll be as a giddy as a kid on Christmas morning.
Spoiling plot elements seems rude so it’s hard to say much more than what I already mentioned about the scientists other than that they’re funded by a wealthy corporation/benefactor, jet off to a distant planet and run into more than they bargained for. I would even recommend avoiding the trailer as it shows a few major events that I was happy not to know about because I waited to watch it until after the movie was screened in its entirety.
The cast is well chosen, sporting the likes of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba. They and the other actors all created a perfect combustible mix and root the fantastical events in characters we can relate to, or at least understand. Rapace is especially impressive, bearing the same power and will to survive of the franchise’s pre-established heroine, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). With this new character, Scott has now created two of the best examples of strong female roles in cinema; women who haven’t lost their femininity but who aren’t afraid/unable to take charge and show off both brains and brawn.
The effects and production design are absolutely terrific. This is even more impressive because although it’s inevitable that a movie released in 2012 is going to look shinier than one from 1979, the technology didn’t feel like some ridiculous leap forward (I’m looking at you, Star Wars prequels). And set just 80 years from now, aside from the ability to travel great distances in a state of stasis and the complexity of android technology, most machines and methodologies employed feel like perfectly reasonable extensions of life as we know it today and fit into the world of the other films which chronologically take place afterwards.
One key element that has to be mentioned is the 3D. I hope you’re sitting down because this marks the very first big budget extravaganza that uses 3D so effectively that I’m going to say you’re cheating yourself if you don’t shell out the extra bucks for those tinted lenses. The 3D is completely immersive (almost too much so for this scaredy cat) and sucks the audience into the events. This is what Avatar should have been and anyone who thinks they’ve seen great big budget 3D film will realize what they were missing before. I really can’t stress enough how much audiences should avoid 2D versions and instead opt for the third dimension. It actually elevates an already very good movie into an experience actually worth the inflated prices people are forced to pay these days.
With all of that said, and not wanting to start spoiling events in the film, what I can say is that fans of the franchise should not miss seeing this (in 3D on the big screen). Prometheus surpassed my expectations and delivers a great story, tense action, amazing effects, and excellent acting. It’s everything you want in a science fiction film, the best summer movie by far, and easily one of the best movies of the year up to this point; somehow bucking recent trends and continuing a film series with dignity, integrity, and excitement. Hopefully, this kind of artistry and consideration for creating a movie not dumbed down to the lowest common denominator will be rewarded and incentivize studios to keep backing projects that have more than the requisite elements to make marketing the product as easy as possible. Hey, I can dream right?
Prometheus hits theaters on June 8, 2012 and is rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.