June 11, 2012

Review: Where No One Can Hear You – 'Prometheus'

"Big things have small beginnings."

Legendary director Ridley Scott returns to science fiction filmmaking and the Alien franchise he started over thirty years ago. Prometheus is an incredibly ambitious, extraterrestrial cinematic take on the origins of humanity and life.

The filmmaking, cinematography, art direction, design, editing, and world building are all there in spades. The film is gorgeous and you buy into this fictional account of our world's origins. However, the script (co-written Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof) lags in areas where acting and direction raise it up. Character motivations are left unexplained with some cringeworthy dialogue and logic gaps. The themes and technical aspects work where the plotting and story mechanics fall flat.

While the actors are mostly able, the makeup of the crew and their origins or character development are either non-existent or baffling. The miscast Logan Marshall-Green (aka Ryan's brother from The O.C.) is far out of place as one of the driving scientists behind the space exploration. His chemistry with lead and romantic interest Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) is seriously lacking. Rapace holds her own, but is left with increasingly unhelpful motivations and actions as everything falls apart around her.

By far the highlight of the film is Michael Fassbender and his portrayal of David, an android servant. David, both innocent yet nefarious, is a metaphor for humans looking for their own creator. He expresses his own thoughts on his human creators and the disappointment of any meaning to life. Unfortunately, David outshines in humanity far more than all the other characters on their ill-conceived mission.

Prometheus ultimately proves to be an intriguing, if not somewhat hollow, exercise in the further world building of the Alien universe. It raises a lot of questions, many of left unanswered. Scott reaches too far and falls short of the magic of his early work, proving unsatisfying at times yet wholly exhilarating at other points. Visually dazzling and stunning, Prometheus is an interesting filmmaking experiment on many levels. However, its "mystery-as-narrative" and ambitious ideals are far too underdeveloped and are never as engrossing as the world imagined on screen.

Prometheus is a big sci-fi spectacle with allusions to the beginning of humanity and its creation. Its execution far exceeds its limited scope yet overly ambitious, sometimes frustrating reach. It remains, even with its flaws, a admirable return to adult science fiction. Marvel at its construction, but beware of its answers.

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