Why I loved Prometheus
Judging from the first reactions to Prometheus I think the PR people did their job a little too well.
There was no way this film was going to meet the expectations those cool trailers and gorgeous posters and viral campaign built up, and exceeding it was out of the question.
Even before I’d read a single review or watched the movie, I was certain a lot of people would react with disappointment. They demanded a new classic, something to immediately bring into the Pantheon of films to be admired, not to say worshipped by film lovers eternally.
What they got was a very good science fiction movie, it was hardly something you easily would label “masterpiece” or “groundbreaking”.
Let the haters feel miserable and cheated. Let them boil in their own stew. I went in with moderate expectations and an open mind and left with a feeling of satisfaction. But then I’m a science fiction fan, not to say geek. To be honest I think it helps quite a bit.
What I got
I don’t usually go into a science fiction movie expecting to penetrate the existential depths like in a Bergman movie, to enjoy smart conversations like in an Allen film or to ponder over socio-psychological dynamics as with Leigh. I don’t expect characters to be multidimensional or develop over time.
- I went to Prometheus to explore some strange new worlds, which is as near as I’ll ever come my childhood dream of becoming a space traveler.
- I went to face truly alien aliens, made with all the effort and skill that the special effects department of today can offer.
- I went to see big things blow up in a big way because it gives perspective on the severity of my malfunctioning washing machine.
- I went to tickle my imagination and get a reminder about all those questions I used to ask back in the days before my life was invaded by trivial adult issues: Why? From Where? Where to? Who else? and What if….?
- Remembering my heroine from the previous Alien films, I also hoped to once again get to see a leading female character who wasn’t there to be a sexy and vulnerable piece of decoration, but who also was capable to take care of herself and other people.
I got all of that and more, including a couple of surprises. I particularly loved the performance of Michael Fassbender as an android and a bad-ass scene with Noomi Rapace which I don’t want to spoil, but you’ll know it when you see it and you won’t forget anytime soon.
It was every bit as spectacular to watch as I possibly could have hoped for. Big, boisterous and unapologetic.
And now, before anyone else will bring up the flaws, I’ll do it myself. Because: yes, the film isn’t perfect.
For instance they have hired Guy Pearce, born 1967, for a role where he’s supposed to be about a hundred years old. So they have to put on a ton of make-up, but make-up only can take you so far. It looks like the mask it is and I just don’t understand why they casted him in the first place. Why not just hire an actor in the right age?
But the biggest problems have to do with the script or the cutting. All of a sudden a character appears out of nowhere. Last time you saw him he was as good as dead in an entire different place and you have no idea of how or why he moved. There are glitches, not to say big holes, which makes me suspect that they film was way too long and the rough cutting lead to that entire scenes were removed. Perhaps an extended future version can make it run a bit smoother.
On a few occasions I cringed when I heard people saying things that were unnatural and uncalled for, with the only purpose to inform us about things we already had figured out on our own. Very clumsy exposition.
But there were also examples of the opposite: some parts remained obscure to me. For instance I still don’t know the meaning of the visually gorgeous opening scene and how it fit together with the rest. (I’m pretty sure though that clever people will explain everything on blogs and forums in the months to come and whatever mystery that remains after that will be explained in the sequel.)
I won’t dwell further on the problems, because there are more than enough of people out there who can point them out. It’s the same with all movies: if you just look close enough, you’ll find plenty.
Eventually the choice is yours. Either you can go to Prometheus, expecting a new Alien classic and become disappointed when it doesn’t deliver that. Or you can go there with an open mind, suspending your disbelief and enjoy the ride of what I think eventually will be the best science fiction movie of 2012.
Finally the eternal question: should you watch it in 3D or 2D? Well, the 3D doesn’t add anything as far as I can tell, but it doesn’t take away anything either. Unlike in the case of John Carter I didn’t notice it and wasn’t annoyed. There is no ugly and distracting viewmaster effect and the characters didn’t look like paper dolls.
In my opinion what matters most is the size of the screen and sadly it seems as if the theatres are doing everything to favor 3D. Given the choice between 3D in a huge cinema and 2D in a shoe box sized cinema, I went for 3D in a big cinema and I recommend you do the same.
Big is beautiful.
Prometheus (Ridley Scott, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5