6.17.2012

Movie Review: "Prometheus" (Mature Themes Discussed)

Any movie that has to live up to as much hype and built-up anticipation as Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" is going to meet with some very critical eyes, many belonging to people who have been die-hard "Alien" fans for decades.

What we have to remember, however, is that Ridley Scott warned audiences that "Prometheus" became its own stand-alone movie, and it isn't necessarily closely connected with the other Alien films. Although the story in "Prometheus" chronologically occurs before Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo ever encounter LV-426, Ridley Scott was telling the truth - it isn't really a prequel.

Michael Fassbender as the android David marvels at an advanced navigation system

Going into the theatre, what I desired from "Prometheus" was that it would hold up to the same critical theory that can be virtually endlessly applied to the four Alien films. "Alien," "Aliens," "Alien III," and "Alien: Resurrection" are as much about Ellen Ripley the heroine as they are about the Xenomorph and the looming destruction of the human race. All four Alien films deal with themes of the monstrous feminine, rape/penetration, gender, motherhood, etc., and they can be dissected to the same degree as Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, The Once and Future King, The Catcher In The Rye, or any other canonical text. (See: Alien Woman.)

However, I realized that "Prometheus" is dealing with entirely different themes, and therefore I will have to look at it in a different light than I see the "Alien" films and appreciate it for different reasons. With computer animation taking over many special effects that would have been created by hand thirty years ago, the art form now lacks some subtleties that would speak significantly to the intended themes. For instance, the "tendons" in the Xenomorph jaws in the early Alien films were constructed from shredded condoms and the slime was KY Jelly. When you consider that the Xenomorph represents penetration and that what makes the creature so horrifying is that anyone - male or female - can be raped and impregnated by the Xenomorph species, it is hard to chalk up such a detail to mere coincidence.

Beautiful special effects and settings

So, no pun intended, but "Prometheus" is an entirely different animal. I was mistaken to try to compare it in any profound way to Ridley Scott's "Alien," and so was anyone else who tried to do so. I found the film to be entertaining, well-paced, and worth the price of admission, and I would recommend it to any science fiction fan. While I wouldn't go so far as to call it a masterpiece, it didn't disappoint, and there are many exciting scenes. "Alien" fans will be pleased to know that H.R. Giger came back to work on this film with Scott, so, fortunately, the familiar yet ever terrifying aesthetic of the old Alien films is present in "Prometheus." I'll break down for everyone what I thought were the pros and cons of the film.

Pros:
-Solid dialogue that doesn't make you cringe
-Satisfactory acting, especially on the part of Michael Fassbender, whose performance as the android David rivals the creepiness of Ian Holm's Ash in "Alien"
-The film was entertaining.
-Doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence by answering every question and tying up every loose end

Cons:
-The audience is forced to heavily suspend disbelief while watching Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw sprint around and leap through the air after undergoing major surgery, and there is a lot of faux-science throughout the film.
-Audiences may feel that the film is a little unfocused due to how many different types of creatures it introduces and how rapidly it introduces them. Again - one must see past the vague faux-science of the movie and just enjoy the special effects.
-It wasn't very suspenseful.

Noomi Rapace plays archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw

On a side-note, I do not consider myself a light-weight, and I have never, ever almost passed out in a theatre, but the scene that gave "Prometheus" its R rating broke my record. (Warning: If you follow the link, you will see spoilers...) In all honesty, the scene didn't even display as much gore as the procedure does in real life, but watching surgery has never been my forte, and it required at least five minutes of deep breathing to retain consciousness. It probably didn't help that I made myself watch all of it, because I didn't want to miss a single frame of the first Ridley Scott film set in the "Alien" universe in thirty years. It also didn't help that I've made a habit of indulging in my local theatre's frozen Junior Mints before every movie. I'm starting to feel a little woozy again right now, so I better sign off... Go see "Prometheus!"

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