Monday, 11 June 2012

New film - 'Prometheus' (seen in 3D)

I went wanting to like this. I really did.  But what I got was disappointment.
Before getting down to specifics, I freely acknowledge that I am around two generations older than the target audience, so my perspective will inevitably be skewed from a direction the source at which the film makers are not aiming.

Okay, I've always got to grin and bear it when I see spacecraft audibly rumbling across the screen. (I believe that the only science fiction film which recognised that there is no sound in space was '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Surely, after over 40 years, it's more than high time that another film bit the bullet and attempted to depict reality?) But I tried to overlook this and not let it get in the way of my 'enjoyment'.
I found the first hour of this film, frankly, tedious. The dialogue alone was more than tedious, it was occasionally risible - and not just the pseudo-scientific gobbledygook. Even 'normal' conversation was bland and unimaginative.
  Then in the second hour we get a series of grisly, sometimes ingenious, deaths - accompanied by ear-splitting sound effects and crashing, distracting music - and all brought about with no purposeful progression.
   I am an admirer of the original 'Alien' film from 1979 - with the qualification that its most suspenseful section for me is the first 3/4 hour. As the alien creature metamorphosed into a larger being I found the scare factor proportionately decreasing. Even the final section with Ripley (plus cat) alone against the alien didn't compare with what preceded the iconic 'meal scene' and the scenes immediately following it. But what this original film did have throughout was a clear sense of direction and movement towards a climax. The plot was simple and easy to comprehend - and it had shape, which 'Prometheus' lacks.
      Now - splitting hairs again. If the crew of the spacecraft had woken up after being in cryo-sleep for over two years, where had been the starting point? Certainly not Earth. Even travelling at the speed of light it takes over four years to reach the nearest star - and their destination must, presumably, have been way beyond even that.  (Maybe there had been several intermediate stopovers, to enable them to wake up and return to hibernated state again?)
        And why do we hear later that they are 'half a billion miles' from Earth. That distance would hardly take us halfway out of our own Solar System - not even as far as Saturn when it's at its closest. Was it just a throwaway phrase which we weren't supposed to take literally? Then why say 'half a billion miles' ?- why not say 50 billion, which would certainly have been nearer to where this craft was supposed to have reached? Maybe I'm being too pernickety, but you'd have thought that with such a large budget to make 'Prometheus' they might have been able to afford an astro-scientist, even an amateur, to check on their facts.
    And, by the way, why is it that in all films set on another world, gravity is always at the force of precisely 1g? Well, I suppose that the real reason for this oddity is that it would be too much trouble and too costly to attempt to replicate smaller gravity forces. However, I do look forward to seeing the first film showing human space explorers  trying to get around subject to a gravity of, say, double that on earth. (Already a number of rock-giants in other star systems have been detected with masses several multiples that of Earth.) It shouldn't be too hard to show - and it would be interesting too, with these people getting tired out easily,  lumbering about painfully, where falling objects, which might have been harmless on earth, on a more massy world have become lethal in their velocity....and so on. There is such potential here for original situations . But I fear it could be a long wait to see it happening on screen.             
              Must say that I also look forward to the time when pre-and post operative analgesics, self-applied during continuous consciousness, are so effective as to enable one to function practically normally, even immediately after really major surgical procedure which has literally eviscerated one! The extra-strenuous physical efforts required to engage in a body fight with an alien creature wouldn't present a problem either. Pity I shan't be around to see it.
              The acting I found generally satisfactory or more. (Must admit I was for some time confused by the seeming non-appearance of the wonderful Guy Pearce - then the penny dropped!) I've not yet seen Michael Fassbender give anything less than a good, sometimes remarkable, performance - and this film continues his line of accomplishments. Charlize Theron, who, with her impeccable make-up in the far depths of space - where it's still so important to look stunningly attractive to the other members of her crew - didn't appear to have her heart in the role. (Maybe she too found it all a bit silly!). There was also a number of other names in the cast with which (apart from English Rafe Spall) I wasn't familiar. They were largely pretty good, I thought.
         I did start to derive some satisfaction from spotting the conspicuous nods to other films in the 'Alien' series, particularly the original. But after a while they became distractions that seemed to be grafted onto the screenplay to create an 'in-joke'.

       Overall then, I found 'Prometheus' a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas, some not too bad, some just crackers - but the driving force of the film seemed to me to use it merely as a vehicle to show grotesqueries in non-human and part-human beings, and in manner of violence and death. All so passe! (Sorry, but how does one type an acute accent?)

                   Finally, my rating - and I'm going to be extra-generous here - a 4/10!


  1. It's had mixed reviews but mostly negative so think I'll wait for the dvd

    1. All you'll miss, David, (and stating the obvious) are the grand digitally-constructed sets. I didn't think that viewing it in 3D was a particular bonus, either.

  2. Interesting to see that you walked away from this film with questions, just as I did. In fact, you added to the mix. I am eagerly awaiting the DVD - Director's Cut Release - in the hope that the commentary will answer some of the questions.

    Your nod to Fassbender was appreciated and he alone made the extra money spent for the 3D version worthwhile. If I were rating this movie, I would add a point or two just because of Fassbender's presence.

    1. Paul, I really thought after your remark on my previous blog that you were going to completely disagree with my opinion. It's a personal relief to know that we're not that far apart.
      I wonder if you know for a fact that there is to be a 'Director's Cut' DVD. I'd rather see that than sit through this again. (Alas, the acquisition of a DVD player for me is still not on the cards, for aforementioned reasons.)
      Yes, Fassbender is one of the mere handful of actors who has the ability to lift any film. When he's on screen he's one of those to whom one's eyes are just helplessly drawn.
      Sometimes when I see a film my opinion softens on reflection the following day. This hasn't happened with this one - at least not yet.

  3. After I saw the film I thought it was just I who had all these questions. But you came up with a few which I added to mine. I read a few postings on other blogs and each one of them had questions. I would have guessed that eventually, a Director's Cut DVD would be released. Now, I'm not so certain as I think even the director has no answers.

    1. I think R.Scott and co. reckon they can get away with bamboozling an audience with jargon which they surmise we are too lazy to challenge, and sell films like this one on superficial 'thrills', hoping that we will not see past the shallowness. To a large extent they succeed, while making tons of cash in the process, which is ultimately all that matters to them. But a significant part of the audience is savvy enough to see what they're up to - and, frankly, it's weak 'entertainment'.

  4. I spent months annoying my hubby Greg to death counting down the days until this film was released. After viewing it -- oops, I mean DURING the viewing -- I regretted all the time I spent annoying him. I felt betrayed by R.Scott. I think you are quite generous to give it a 4.

    1. Cubby, sounds like your expectations were higher than mine, which themselves were not exactly LOW. But we agree that it did not fulfil its promise. A sore of lower than 4? Maybe, but it wasn't for me the absolute disaster that you seem to feel, though well on the way to it. No, on second thoughts think I'll stick at 4.