Despite liking-but-not-loving Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Alien, Prometheus was easily my second most-anticipated film of the year (The Dark Knight Rises is first, of course, because nothing can trump my anticipation for that). And, it was one of my most anticipated films for a reason: Prometheus’s marketing campaign was one of the most teasing, provocative, secretive, and exciting ones to come around in a long time. Immediately, after the first Alien-esque teaser, everybody was hyped. Was it a prequel… or not? What aliens will be in it? And while it isn’t the direct prequel some people had hoped for, for me, it’s definitely the most thought-provoking and one of the most exciting films of the year so far. And while my expectations were high, it definitely succeeded them. Prometheus follows a crew of space explorers who go searching for the origins of mankind on a distant planet. Obviously, things don’t go as planned…
One of the first things that’s been intriguing about Prometheus since the beginning was its cast. Most
excitingly, it had Michael Fassbender, who, in my opinion, will have his popularity skyrocket in the next few months. He’s got a career ahead of him. It made it all the better when we learned that Fassbender would be playing the crew’s synthetic human being (a robot, and a staple of the Alien franchise). So how does Fassbender do? Well, I must say, while I haven’t seen Shame, I can honestly say that this is the best performance we have seen him in. Yes, he was great as Magneto in last year’s X-Men: First Class, but in this film, he walks away with nearly every scene he’s in, all while making it look so damn easy. He’s a believable and incredibly engrossing actor, able to make every single movement in this film precise and defined… well, like a robot. Fassbender delivers the best performance in the film by far, but there’s still more to acknowledge. Idris Elba, as the ship captain Janek, is truly a cool guy in his role and I’m highly anticipating him taking on a lead role in next year’s sci-fi epic, Pacific Rim. Then there’s the stone cold Charlize Theron, much more toned down from The Evil Queen, but perhaps just as menacing as a company employee sent to accompany our two lead scientists. Speaking of our two lead scientists, we have Noomi Rapace of Swedish Dragon Tattoo fame playing the nice, innocent lead girl just fine as well as her slightly rude to the android, kind of cocky boyfriend Holloway, played with a cool vibe by Logan Marshall-Green. Finally, and if you’ve seen the film you’ll get this, there’s a certain actor who goes under intense age make-up to look like an old man and while a lot of people are actually complaining about it, I would say that if I didn’t know which actor it was, I would say he’s pretty unrecognizable.
The plot of this film has been one of much discussion for months, probably because, even though we do have the incredibly secretive Batman sequel coming up, it was definitely the plot we knew the least about. We knew in some way, and in some shape or form or another, it would connect back to Alien. But how? Well, that’s a question I just can’t answer for you. You’ll have to sit in the theater and witness it for yourself. And what a thing it is to witness. While Alien was a claustrophobic, contained, and generally small-scale sci-fi horror film, this film is a sprawling, grand, sci-fi epic about discovery, the origins of mankind and more. More than that, it’s a true “be careful what you wish for” kind of movie, which makes it all the more fun because when sh*t hits the fan, it just gets all the more exciting. And boy does sh*t hit the fan. There are truly some amazingly, nail-bitingly intense scenes in this film, one of which I think will go down in the sci-fi thriller encyclopedia as being one of the most intense and well-done “gross-out” scenes in the last couple of decades. And while Prometheus does have its share of effective, intense scares, it never loses its true epic tone of grandiose, especially in a scene near the end of the film that was intense, epic, and surprisingly heartfelt.
This is epic summer filmmaking at its apex, mainly because it doesn’t only excite and scare, it also truly makes you think. This isn’t by any means an action blockbuster and come to think of it, there aren’t any action set pieces to speak of. However, the whole film has some truly great, dialogue-driven scenes that really make you think about philosophy and creation long after you leave the theater. It’s definitely not for the shoot-em-up audience, but in a sense of ideas and theories, it’s just as exciting, if not more so.
Of course, a major complaint people have about this film is that it doesn’t answer all the big questions it answers. And to quote the most famous movie of all time “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Prometheus answers all the questions it needs to, leaving a thirst for a sequel to develop inside of you while still allowing you to relish in how awesome what you just watched was. And anyways, was anybody thinking… by the end of the film, about the big questions it posed in its first thirty minutes? There’s even a line pointing out that, by that point, is it even relevant anymore? But if you still want to know, I have no doubt that Prometheus, if it gets one (and I really hope it does), will answer the big questions in its sequel that it so rightfully deserves and sets itself up for. If I had some complaints, though, I would say that I wish it took some more time to develop some of the supporting characters like Janek (Idris Elba) or Vickers (Charlize Theron), or even Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) simply because it would allow for more pay-off towards the end of the film. Also, while Prometheus gets really intense, it sometimes seems the intensity pays off a little too quickly, and not as shockingly, as one might hope.
Most of all, Prometheus is an exciting experience, from its sweeping and beautiful opening shots (set to the equally beautiful score) to the final moments, which are just as good. It’s definitely one of the best films of the year so far, and while it seems to be fairly divisive with audiences, I feel it will be one of the most talked about films of the year. Oh yeah, and how could I forget: the film looks amazing. The design, the visual effects, and the stunning set-pieces and ship at the center of the film are all Oscar-worthy and top-notch. This is most definitely the best sci-fi film in over a decade.
FINAL GRADE: A-
FINAL SAY: Featuring incredible special effects and visual design, Prometheus is a dazzling, intense, and grand sci-fi epic that includes a great, noteworthy performance from Michael Fassbender.