Watched Jun 09, 2012
Tony Huang’s review:
Was it a let-down? I found myself asking this as Scott cranked up the sequel magnet and fed fanservice to Alien fans, quite unsure of the answer. To be quite definite, I was pro; the movie had satisfied me more than it had disappointed, and, by the end, I had definitely enjoyed the experience. But what exactly was I expecting? The first auteur-driven trip to the cinema this year (no, I don’t count Joss Whedon yet), I was wholly expecting something meticulously crafted and realized, with a clear and defined vision. And perhaps Prometheus isn’t clear, but the vision is there: it’s the most imaginative film I’ve seen this year, and its individual images are sometimes breathtaking. Scratch that: often breathtaking. Persistently breathtaking. But the level of craft makes the lack of intellectual follow-through somewhat disappointing; that such a wonderfully conceived odyssey is only precursor, that I was deliberately led on to something masterful and didn’t get that payoff… it leaves me in a disarming limbo of emotions.
The problem is its budget, I think. Its budget inflated the problems with the script and with the performances, because there was less room for micro-adjustments. The subtlety required to convey the characters present in Prometheus just wasn’t there. No, I don’t think more screen time would’ve helped. The characters just weren’t given credible motivation—the audience had to fill in a lot of the blanks. But Michael Fassbender’s David shows us exactly how great a film this could have been had every actor the same understanding of the material. Noomi Rapace did a good job, too, but Fassbender gave his character a subtext that is heard only through his cadence and his demeanor. The others seemed to exist only to operate the ship, landing this ostensible story about the meaning of humanity on the shoulders of people that don’t quite resemble people. Yes, the plot is clumsy. Yes, the Darwinism/faith thematic line was heavy-handed and unnecessary. (“I believe.” “Whoop-dee-doo.”) But in the end I wanted something more from the actors’ eyes.
And yet, whenever these objections slithered their way into my mind, the stunning visual design and compositions rejected them, at least for the time being. The movie is so carefully constructed, which is why I’m so reluctant to hammer too hard on the plot. Every cog functions except the humanity. From David’s nonsensical/sensical motivations (why would he guinea pig the scientist? because of orders? or because of his own agenda?) to That One Scene, which had me going holy shit are they really going to for the duration. It achieves the thrills and the claustrophobia along with grandeur; it hints at something profound, but really just wants to hit you in the guts. The one theme that shone through was the “agendas” theme; everyone had different goals, and the division led to disconcerting results. And with that in mind, I could connect all of the amazing conceptions together for at least the duration of the movie, and be thoroughly satisfied. But the aftertaste is weird.