Saturday, June 9, 2012

Movie Review: “Prometheus” By Nathan Hinds

When Michael Fassbender’s Android character, David, uttered the phrase “Big things, have small beginnings”, we certainly weren’t getting a metaphor for “Prometheus”. There is nothing small about Ridley Scott’s quasi-prequel to his legendary sci-fi debut “Alien”. Everything about this movie screams big; from the dazzling special effects and powerhouse performances, specifically those of Fassbender and Rapace, down to the questions the film is asking.

For anyone who was a fan of the Alien films, or pretty much any sci-fi films in general, “Prometheus” has become one of the most highly anticipated sci-fi films in many years. On the most basic level, this film has everything you want in a summer sci-fi blockbuster; it’s monsters, though limited, are genuinely scary, and it’s special effects are the most impressive feat this side of “Avatar”.

What separates this film from you standard blockbuster though, are the complex questions it is asking: where we came from, who created us, and above all, why? There are no simple answers to these questions, and those expecting a simple answer may be disappointed, and may be missing the main point of the film…

Why are we here? That is the question that 17 people set out on the ship Prometheus to hopefully answer. Leading the expedition are Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). While I enjoyed Marshall-Green’s performance, and every other actor’s performance in the film for that matter, there where two actors who stood out among the rest to me. One of those was Rapace’s portrayal of Elizabeth Shaw. Rapace is an actress that continues to impress me in everything she does. Even as Shaw’s ideals and beliefs are constantly challenged throughout the film, she has the mental fortitude to know when to stick to her beliefs or when it is time to adapt. Shaw is a lot tougher than she looks, and her ability to admit that she is wrong about certain things in this film is one of her greatest strengths. I wish I  could go into more specific details on the story and her character, but it's hard to give much more detail without worrying about any spoilers.

The second person (well, android) that steals the show is Michael Fassbender. His portrayal of an android modeled after T.E. Lawrence from “Lawrence of Arabia” is definitely one that will have audiences discussing his place among the all time great performances of its kind, and rightfully so.

The film's main strength, although, was there ever any doubt to this, were its visuals. They are in one word, spectacular. It’s very rare that you can get a world that is as dark and bleak as this one, yet still be clamoring to explore every inch of it. But that’s exactly what Scott has given us. The 3D for the film is equally impressive. The film had me just as interested in looking around at all of the brilliant set pieces and landscapes as it did the actual story. No film besides “Avatar” has really ever done that for me.

So now we get into the film's main purpose, which is to ask the difficult questions about our existence. It is a tricky subject to get into, because it is a topic that people are very sensitive about. This film has to be viewed with an open mind, not about how you think life was formed in our world, but how it was formed in this film's world. The main complaint I have heard about the movie is that it doesn’t answer all of the big questions that it asks. Now, I can say that I benefited from sitting on this movie a little while and not writing this review directly after seeing the film, because my view on this matter has already changed from last night when I first saw the film. So, does the film answer all of its questions, no and I can see where people would have a problem with that. But let's look at it this way: did you really expect quite possibly the most difficult questions in existence, how and why we are here, to be answered in a two-hour film? I think that's the point, that the answers aren’t simple, and that there isn’t a quick way to sum it all up. I think it also helps that we should be getting at least one more installment into this chapter of the story. Even so, people have spent centuries looking for these answers, so if this film, or even the assumed second film don’t get around to answering them fully, I won't really be all that surprised. Or maybe that is the point, that there are no answers.

Still, all deep philosophical discussions aside, this film is still a blast to watch. While you may not get all of your questions answered, you won’t be bored along the way. It deals out some of the best visuals of all time, along with a bunch of solid to great performances, and a couple of intense creature scenes. If you do go see this one, and I highly recommend you do, check it out on the biggest screen format available to you, preferably IMAX, or whatever version of those mini IMAX screens you have available.