Friday, June 08, 2012
Prometheus may come up short in answering these questions, keeping an excellent film from being a legendary film, but the first hour and a half of Prometheus is spectacular. Archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) find a star map that they believe will lead them to the beings that engineered humans. Led by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a cold Weyland Corporation executive, the Prometheus crew travels to an alien moon not knowing whether or not they'll find those very engineers ... Elizabeth and Charlie, though, are certain that the answers they seek about our origins are waiting for them there.
While some audiences may know Rapace as the Lisbeth Salander from the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film adaption, most American filmgoers will see the actress carry a film for the first time with Prometheus. As the script doesn't delve into the super scientific nature of being an archeologist, Rapace is able to portray Elizabeth as an adventurer willing to take great risks for the sake of answering humanity's biggest questions. As Prometheus progresses, Rapace is believable as a woman making the transition from archeologist to action hero, fully earning her stripes in a particularly harrowing surgery sequence.
If Prometheus gets a sequel, I imagine that Rapace's evolution as an action hero will be similar to Linda Hamilton's from Terminator to Terminator 2: Judgement Day, going from a hero forged by her surroundings to a hero ready to challenge the situation she finds herself in.
While Rapace, Marshall-Green and Theron more than admirably play their roles in Prometheus, it's Fassbender's David who dominates the film. An android who knows more than he's letting on, David is the catalyst for much of the film's action, exerting the necessary push needed to explore the secrets of the world the crew is exploring. Fassbender nails David's mechanical coolness, elevating the character above the rest of the film's characters.
Movies would kill to create the epic scale that Scott has with Prometheus. From the film's opening sequence to the ship's landing to the intricate star map that David discovers, a great amount of care has been put into the look and feel of Prometheus. Scott has delivered a gorgeous film, creating landscapes, spacecrafts and alien ruins that deserve to not only be seen on the big screen but should also be seen in 3D. It's not often that I recommend seeing a movie in 3D, but Prometheus is an exception. The film's look is layered and detailed in a way that makes use of 3D as no film has since Avatar (and Prometheus has a better story).
Scott remains a master of suspense, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats, waiting for something — an Alien xenomorph maybe? — to jump out and scare them. This is where the film falters. After such a great setup and after devoting so much time to building up the quest for the big answers, Prometheus ends in a rushed and predictable way. Sitting in the theater, I could feel my disappointment growing as I realized the film was wrapping up. Prometheus was three-quarters of an amazing film, with with beautiful special effects and the drive to tackle some huge questions.
It's interesting to note that Damon Lindelof is the co-writer of Prometheus. Lindelof is best known as a showrunner of Lost, a TV series many believe failed to deliver on the ambitious mythology that it had built up in its early seasons. (I'm not a supporter of this complaint though.) That very complaint can be applied to Prometheus. Lindelof and Jon Spaihts wrote a script that begins as a movie that completely draws you in, but fails to deliver an ending that is worthy of that beginning.
I gave Prometheus four out of five stars, because despite its ending, the majority of the film will just blow you away. Scott has returned to a world he knows very well and has also quickly turned 3D into a new tool that he can use to illustrate his story. Everything about the movie — the look, the acting, the story — engages the audience. If Prometheus had stuck the landing with its ending, this would be no-brainer five-star film.
Fassbender's David may have had it backwards when he said, "Big things have small beginnings." In the case of Prometheus, big films have small endings.