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Wednesday, August 08, 2012  

M. Ovie Reviews: Prometheus

Until I finally saw it last weekend, I avoided all press about Prometheus in order to dodge spoilers, but even I know it pissed a lot of people off. Not me, however. That's because I was inoculated against its most irritating traits by extended exposure to two things it shares DNA with: Myst games and Big Brother.

I'm pretty sure that Trash, several permutations of our friends, and I have all slogged through the numerous sequels, prequels, and re-quels of the seminal early-90s PC graphic adventure game. If you haven't, here's how it works: you wander through abandoned but beautifully rendered locations, trying to use sparse clues to piece together the place's tragic history while attempting to operate machinery that has lain dormant for centuries. Occasionally, a breakthrough will lead to a holographic cut-scene whose only purpose is to advance what passes for the plot. Without giving too much away, I found myself thinking of these games a lot while watching Prometheus. Like, a lot.

As for the resemblance to Big Brother (which I'm currently covering my sixth season of for Television Without Pity), there's more to it than just a dozen-and-change people being cut off from the outside world while their numbers dwindle. Like on the show, most of these people don't know each other or even what the mission is until it's too late to turn back. There's a power-drunk Head of Household, who gets the coziest digs for a whole week; the rules keep changing on the players for no apparent reason; and most of them are rather fit, good-looking individuals that you spend a lot of time really wanting to punch.

So with those hateable things balanced out of the equation, I was free to concentrate on other elements of the film, like its context-free, aggressively nonsensical prologue (did not like), the protagonist's shared name with a 1960s Doctor Who companion (liked), and the fact that naming your creator-seeking expedition after a mythological figure who suffered daily liverectomies for defying the gods is just asking for trouble (seriously, who is that dumb? Even a hundred years from now, doesn't anyone remember the subtitle of Frankenstein?). With that name, I of course expected characters to be taken down a few flights. I did not expect one of them to have to be tied down to watch while talons from above forcibly removed a slimy gob of living flesh from that character's abdomen. A bit on the nose, yes?

If nothing else, the movie looks fantastic, so your eyes have plenty to feast on while your brain revels in its superiority over the ones in the movie. Of course, one has to take into the account that unlike the crew of Prometheus, we have seen at least one Alien movie (the second one in my case, though I also read the novelization of the original; nerdy kids today have no idea how the days before widespread Netflix, cable, or even VCRs left us so dependent on Alan Dean Foster) and thus know better than to go near viscous black pools of Universal Solvent or anything that rises out of them, but still.

This is not to say I hated everyone. Charlize Theron continues her current string of playing total assholes, but she does a good job of pursuing her destiny as the anti-Heigl. As the ship's nominal captain, Idris Elba's world-weary sea-salt act is pretty entertaining. Noomi Rapace earns her paycheck by putting herself through hell. But Michael Fassbender as the android David steals the show, because he's pretty much the only character you root for, even as everyone else on the screen repeatedly shits on him. Yes, he does one reprehensible thing, but the person he does it to is such a dickSequoyah among dickweeds that you want to give him a medal for it.

As for the story of the mission itself, of course any attempt to find the answers to questions that big is only going to leave the asker with more questions than he or she started out with. If you go to Prometheus hoping for insight into the origin of man, then you probably deserve what you get. Which is a lot of highly detailed depictions of extreme bodily trauma visited upon man. Enjoy.

Bottom line: not a bad movie. It's a bad Alien movie, to be sure, with a "reveal" at the end that everyone's been expecting since the first frame, but if this were actually the first one you saw, you might want to check out some more. I even hear the sequel's been greenlit, so I'm sure we can look forward to Icarus, Oedipus, Sisyphus, and Narcissus. It's just a matter of time.

posted by M. Giant 3:55 PM 0 comments


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