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Notes On A Film: Prometheus

Trying to write something about Prometheus seems to be a Sisyphean task because there is so much internet discussion of the themes and the meaning of the film, any more would be pointless. I won’t be adding to the analysis of the film – for that, I would direct you to a very interesting reading of the themes by Adrian Bott, which made me want to see the film again it was so well written and thought out – I just wanted to record my impressions.

I should point out that I saw this in 2D. Ridley Scott is a superb visual stylist and I’m sure he made the 3D look amazing, but I no longer watch 3D films if I can help it. There is no need to give film studios any extra money to see the same film. I don’t think I was deprived by not witnessing the extra dimension: the film looked quite beautiful without it. This is evident from the opening scene, as the camera flies over starkly beautiful Icelandic scenery (although it supposed to be any planet early in its development), until we reach a large, muscular albino, who drinks a dark, moving liquid, which causes him to die and dissolve; as he falls into a waterfall, we see his DNA decompose and change, into what must be considered to be the building blocks of life. Fast forward to a scientist (Noomi Rapace) discovering cave paintings showing people worshipping a giant man pointing to five planets. According to her, this is an invitation to the home planet of those she believes created life on Earth. We then cut to a spaceship on its way to the distant planet, where a man who turns out to be an android butler (Michael Fassbender) is looking after humans in suspended animation, watching Lawrence of Arabia and playing basketball while riding a bicycle. And then the human crew is revived and the film gets underway when they arrive on the planet.

I don’t want to talk about everything that happens in the film because I think you should see it for yourself and make up your own mind. I wouldn’t recommend going to see it but I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t see it either. I was neither satisfied nor dissatisfied by Prometheus – the film is interesting and looks great, but it doesn’t provide a complete entertainment experience. It’s wonderful to see a huge summer film that is also a science fiction film about an idea: the origin of life is a large concept for an action blockbuster, even if the idea is Erich von Daniken’s Chariot of the Gods, and the film employs a lot of symbolism throughout to enrich the story and demonstrate that this is more than just a prequel to Alien (references to Greek mythology, lots of allusion and imagery related to Christ). The film looks gorgeous, as would be expected: even visuals of things we’ve seen a thousand times, such as a spaceship around a planet, look beautiful. The production design of the film is exquisite, particularly the interiors of the structure on the planet, so you can just watch the film without caring about the specifics of the plot.

You won’t care too much about most of the characters: despite starring the likes of Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce, most of the crew are not much more than basically sketched characters and don’t make much of an impression. The only people who stand out are Rapace and Fassbender: Rapace as the main character who undergoes the majority of the plot and Fassbender who is superb as the android who has so much more going on than the surface and who is a great screen presence. I didn’t care too much about the story because the set-up is more interesting than the resolution, if you can call it that; although this connects to the large space pilot and spaceship from the first Alien film, it sets up a separate storyline towards future sequels that don’t need to be connected to the Alien film, which feels like a cheat to me. It also doesn’t answer questions it poses (which could be due to the wish for sequels or because of the presence of Damon Lindelof as a scriptwriter, the man who as co-creator and head writer on Lost is an expert in obfuscation and answering questions by posing more questions), which makes for a frustrating narrative experience. All of which means I won’t be watching it again, despite wanting to look for all the points made by Adrian Bott’s interesting blog post.

Rating: DVD

[Explanation of my updated film rating system]

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