Sunday, October 20, 2013

Prometheus




Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, Prometheus is the story about two scientists who join a space crew to travel to a distant planet thinking they have found the origins of humanity in this unknown planet unaware of what might really be lurking. The film is a prequel of sorts to the Alien franchise which Scott had started back in 1979 where it explores ideas of faith and humanity in a sci-fi horror setting. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, Rafe Spall, Kate Dickie, Benedict Wong, Sean Harris, and Guy Pearce. Prometheus is a sprawling though somewhat messy film from Ridley Scott.

The film is about these two scientists who believe that an archeological drawing might have the answer into who created humanity as they travel to a distant planet on a ship headed by the Weyland Corporation. What they would eventually find is something else as it causes a lot of trouble as well as the end of humanity. It’s a premise that is simple but since there are things in the story that leaves a lot of questionable gaps as well as the motivations into some of the characters. Driving the story is Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) who is convinced that the drawing she and her longtime boyfriend in scientist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is an invitation to find the answers of human existence as they convince the ailing Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) to help them find these answers.

The film’s screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof does raise questions into what might have existed in another world and were these so-called Engineers the creators of humanity. Yet, the script doesn’t really explain much into who they were and where they really come from as Dr. Shaw, Holloway, Weyland manager Meredith Vickers, and an android named David (Michael Fassbender) all try to find the answers. Yet, Vickers and David have motives that are very different as the latter is programmed by his master to find things where he would eventually tamper with some of his discoveries.

There aren’t clear motivation about Vickers as she is this very ambiguous individual as she is just looking over everything as she’s also being kept in the dark by David. Then there’s the ship’s pilot Janek (Idris Elba) who is the film’s realist who is convinced that something isn’t right as his confirmations prove to be true. It all plays to the element of suspense though its outcome doesn’t really payoff as it becomes very obvious as it’s a major flaw in the screenplay. Even as several characters get killed off and more questions start to emerge about what is inside this mountain they found in a planet.

Ridley Scott’s direction is quite spectacular in the way he presents the film from this opening sequence of an Engineer drinking this mysterious substance only to fall into a waterfall as he is disintegrating setting the stage for what he might become later on. Much of the film is set in mountains as much of the film’s location was shot in Iceland to play into a world that is unique and almost Earthly. Scott’s presentation of these locations do have a sense of wonder as it’s set in the late 21st Century where humanity is becoming more eager to find its origins in a planet that is vast and probably filled with all of those things. Much of the film’s interior settings as it’s all shot in a soundstage play into that element of suspense and mystery where it’s about the characters trying to find out what is inside this mountain.

Due to the script’s shortcomings, Scott doesn’t do enough to build up the suspense where it’s obvious what’s going to happen as a couple of characters encounter some strange alien being that will cause a lot of trouble. Even as it would later play into the elements of the third act where Dr. Shaw has to either hold on to her faith or just accept the truth. Yet, her decision becomes crucial as she is fully aware of what is out there as there’s an added twist to the story which creates more ambiguities to the story. Despite some of the flaws in the story, Scott manages to create a very solid and extraordinary film about the idea of human existence and where humanity comes from.

Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the dark look of the mountain caves where the characters try to observe to the lights inside the Prometheus spaceship all the characters live in. Editor Pierto Scalia does amazing work with the editing from the use of rhythmic cuts to play out the suspense and action that occurs in the film. Production designer Arthur Max, with set decorator Sonja Klaus and supervising art director John King, do fantastic work with the set pieces from the look of the caves and the objects there to the interiors inside Prometheus. Costume designer Janty Yates does nice work with the look of the astronaut suit the characters wear when they go into the planet‘s exteriors as well as the clothes inside the spaceship.

Makeup designer Tina Earnshaw does terrific work with some of the film makeup effects such as the look of Peter Weyland as well as the Engineers. The visual effects by Richard Stammers, Charley Henley, and Martin Hill do brilliant work with the visual effects such as the 3-D holograms that appear on the visual maps inside Prometheus as well as some of the looks of the planet they landed on. Sound editors Victor Ray Ennis and Mark P. Stoeckinger do superb work on the sound to create some amazing sound design to play into the suspense as well as some of the scenes inside the spaceship and caves. The film’s music by Marc Streitenfeld is wonderful for its low-key yet brooding score to play into some of the wonders that is discovered as well as some ominous pieces to play into its suspense.

The casting by Nina Gold and Avy Kaufman is phenomenal for the ensemble that is created as it includes some notable small performances from Kate Dickie as the ship’s medic Ford, Emun Elliot and Benedict Wong as Janek’s wise-cracking co-pilots, Patrick Wilson in a flashback scene as Elizabeth’s father, Rafe Spall as the nerdy biologist Millburn, and Sean Harris as the more wild geologist Fifield who isn’t so sure about what is going on in the caves. Guy Pearce is terrific in a small role as Peter Weyland as this man who appeared as a hologram as an aging man who supports what Dr. Shaw and Holloway are trying to find. Logan Marshall-Green is excellent as Charlie Holloway as a scientist who is also eager to find the answers like Dr. Shaw as he becomes frustrated with the lack of progress in the search. Charlize Theron is pretty good as Meredith Vickers as this cold and distant manager who watches over the mission where Theron is hampered by the script by her lack of motivations and ambiguity which makes her performance a bit baffling to watch.

Idris Elba is fantastic as Janek as this no-nonsense pilot who just flies the ship as he doesn’t think this is going to go well as he also brings some humor to the film with his wisecracks. Michael Fassbender is amazing as the android David as a robot that is eager to please his creator while having the desire to want to be human despite some of his actions as Fassbender is just a real standout in the film. Finally, there’s Noomi Rapace in a remarkable performance as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw as this woman who relies on her Christian faith to believe that there is something out there only to find trouble as she deals with a lot that would challenge her idea of faith and existence as she dares to asks bit questions.

Despite some of the shortcomings and messiness of its script, Prometheus is still a worthwhile and engaging film from Ridley Scott. Thanks in part to some of the themes it presents as well as the performances of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and Idris Elba. It’s a film that has ideas that are compelling while balancing it with some suspenseful entertainment though it is quite flawed. In the end, Prometheus is a very stellar film from Ridley Scott.

Ridley Scott Films: (The Duellists) - Alien - Blade Runner - (Legend) - (Someone to Watch Over Me) - (Black Rain) - (Thelma & Louise) - (1492: Conquest of Paradise) - (White Squall) - (G.I. Jane) - (Gladiator) - (Hannibal) - (Black Hawk Down) - (Matchstick Men) - (Kingdom of Heaven) - (A Good Year) - (American Gangster) - (Body of Lies) - (Robin Hood) - (The Counselor) - (Exodus) - The Martian - (Alien: Covenant)

© thevoid99 2013

5 comments:

Dan Heaton said...

I agree about the shortcomings with the script, which really messed with the third act. The build-up is great, and it's a visually stunning film. It's frustrating to see so much potential fall victim to some obvious tropes.

I also think Idris Elba is mostly wasted, and we miss some important scenes for him that would have fleshed out his character. No arguments from me on Fassbender or Rapace, though. She carries the film and kept me engaged even when the story went off the rails.

ruth said...

Great review Steven! I was hugely anticipating this and though it was entertaining for the most part, overall it was rather meh. I agree w/ what you said here ' It all plays to the element of suspense though its outcome doesn’t really payoff as it becomes very obvious as it’s a major flaw in the screenplay' Yep, too many questions just kept creeping up that the script just failed to answer. I was impressed by Noomi's performance though, she's the 'Ripley' character in this prequel I suppose, though of course what happened to her defies any kinds of logic/reasons (I guess that seems to be the theme of the film in general, ahah).

thevoid99 said...

@Dan Heaton-Yeah, the script had a lot of shortcomings which was disappointing. I wanted more Idris Elba as I think his character was very important as the lone realist who tries to ground everyone and knows what something isn't right.

@ruth-That's one of the things I had issues with in the film. It made me want to ask more questions and it left me unsatisfied as a whole. I'm sure there was more that got cut out as I also think there's potential for a good sequel. Just get rid of Damon Lindelof because he sucks.

ruth said...

Y'know, I can't fathom how Damon Lindelof continues to get work in Hollywood! It's a shame as there are surely better writers who barely got by whilst he continues to get paid doing well, crap.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-I never understood the hype surrounding Lindelof. I don't know much about him other than the fact that he's got a lot of haters and I can see why.

To me, he and Akiva Goldsman are the most overrated and overpaid screenwriters working today. They're hacks. Just like Skip Woods who did an amazing job on that last Die Hard and turn it to shit.