Monday, 19 November 2012
I cannot blame Ridley Scott for making Prometheus. Can I blame him for wanting to revisit the grounds of two of his most ground-breaking films, Blade Runner and Alien? Should I blame him for dealing again with ideas he dealt with in the past, notably what it is that makes us human, now that budget is no longer a restriction and computer graphics allow for anything to be portrayed on the screen, even in 3D?
I can’t blame Scott for going there. I will, however, blame him for the flawed creation he came up with after going there.
In around a hundred years from now, archaeologists discover several unlinked ancient pointers to a unique solar system in the sky, a system with only one habitable planet. There can be only one plausible explanation: those ancient artifacts are pointing humanity at its maker. With FTL drive already in the history books by the movie’s then, a private enterprise with its private agenda sends a spaceship – Prometheus – to the planet in order to see what the fuss is all about.
On board the spaceship we have captain and crew as well as a collection of scientists to investigate that mysterious planet. The latter include the the archaeologist couple that found the place in the first place (Noomi Rapace, aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Logan Marshall-Green). Oh, and as we had on Alien, there is a very human looking but much more capable robot around (Michael Fassbender).
Prometheus lands on the planet (I would have expected it to stay in orbit and send down shuttles, but never mind) after finding some obvious signs of intelligence. An expedition is sent to investigate, and guess what? In the process of meeting their maker they get to meet their maker. Indeed, what we have on our hands here is a mix of Blade Runner style ideas with an Alien style world. Very Alien style world: Scott is not hiding the fact Prometheus is meant to act as a prelude to Alien not just through its fixation on the female archaeologist as the main hero.
As Alien goes, Prometheus is a semi horror science fiction film. Alas, it is not half as good. Perhaps because we’ve been well trained since, I found proceedings to be terribly familiar. As in, the two scientists that separate from the main group and get lost, what do you think is going to happen to them? There is no possible way you would take a wrong guess with this one. The bells and the whistles are here, with Prometheus being a grand production that is a pleasure to watch and listen to. But the quality? Poor.
I argue it all comes down to the idea at the core of the movie. That idea is that humans are defined by the irrationality of their faith in their maker “despite three centuries of Darwinism” (to quote the film). Apparently, we are striving to meet our makers, we would do everything we can to meet them, and we would believe such makers exist no matter what evidence we have and what we learn about the nature of this maker. That's what gives us our soul, something the robot lacks. Want to hear what I think of this thesis, in one word? Bullshit. Starting from the idea that humanity is the epitome of creation, as expressed in the film’s beginning, to the idea we are driven by this need for intimacy with the maker – it’s all bullshit.
Sadly, the bullshit show that is this high profile mega budget movie served to demonstrate to me yet again why mainstream cinema is, but for a very few exceptions, a waste of my time. Terribly disappointing.
Best scene: Our suffering heroine cures herself from the alien inside using an operation theater machine that analyses and fixes from start to finish. I want one.
Overall: All sizzle with no sausage, Prometheus left me very disappointed. 2 out of 5 stars.