I have come late to the Great Prometheus Debate so I am going to abstain from a full-fledged review since everyone has their opinions well hardened by now and is dug into their trenches on either side of the front.
I didn’t hate the movie. Whatever its flaws, it’s a real movie with real thoughts behind it and an attempt if nothing else to make it look original and unique. If I were reviewing it, I would give it seven stars out of ten. Or maybe six.
So given that I’m not going to review it, I’ll limit myself to two thoughts:
1. At what point did “how much cool stuff does it have” become the standard for a movie, rather than whether it works as a whole? The fanboy/late-Tarantino era clearly is much responsible for this; it’s under their sway that the idea of storytelling, creating authentic characters and real related experiences went out the window in favor of “blowing our minds.” But it would be nice if folks could remember there was a time when the two were not mutually exclusive. You could have lots of cool stuff, and that cool stuff could work in the service of a story. I refer you to the works of John Ford to get you started on that.
2. In these days when we have all become idiots, intellectual complexity is determined by how much ground one can cover in the time allotted, rather than how well one covers it; it’s become about breadth rather than density. Storytelling is an allegorical medium. Out of all the things that have happened and could happen on Earth, we choose this one very tiny fragment because it represents something larger, rather than trying to tell the entire story of human existence. The challenge then is to pack as much meaning as we can into that little representative slice. To use John Ford again, he could show one regretful glance between two characters that told the story of decades of a relationship, filled with longing, anger and regret, which in turn told you a dissertation’s worth on the conflict between duty and feeling, the place of the individual in the larger whole. But since we’re all texting during movies now, we’re incapable of taking them in at that level. To convey that this is important, a film or tv show has to cover thousands of miles of territory, making the plot as contorted as possible. Contorted = complex = intelligent in the contemporary lexicon. Or as the Aaron Sorkin school has taught us, mentioning Big Issues is the same as or better than having something to say about them. Cocktail chatter has become the essence of depth. There was a lot of cocktail chatter in Prometheus. And a lot of needless complexity. In the words of my friend Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
But there was, in fact, a lot of cool stuff in it, so I can’t write it off completely. It has however, been a long time since Ridley Scott told a great story and I’m ready to give up hope.
The new trailer has more exposition in it than the entire first Alien film. A lot of the effects do indeed look very cool, kinda. Actually some of it has a sort of cartoony, Phantom Menacey feel to it. Charlize being mean and Michael Fassbender being weird and roboty will be fun. But overall, it just looks the opposite of the original - which was stripped down, nuts and bolts, claustrophobic terror. This one looks like this big fancy imagineered world with a lots of great cartoon set pieces and an overdeveloped premise that will take way to long to set up then probably get completely confused and/or dropped halfway through the film when it finally becomes them running away from a bunch of monsters. Who aren’t half as scary as the one lone unseen beast crawling through the tunnels of the rickety old Nostromo.
Looks cool..I guess..But like those scary siren noises, that only takes you so far.