Sunday, June 10, 2012
Don't Go To That Creepy Planet Redux
Ah, space. The final frontier, the last great beyond, a swirling and stunning array of visual delights and planets both known and unknown. In 1979 Ridley Scott became famous for creating a sci-fi/horror classic in Alien, a movie that is one of the best when it comes to both genres. He then directed Blade Runner in 1982, and after that movie was unfairly bashed he left the sci-fi genre behind-only to pick it up again in 2012 with Prometheus. Now whether or not this film is a prequel, a reboot of a series that closed out in 1997 with a forth installment is up for debate, and to be honest I don't really care. However what Prometheus actually represents is Scott's second great film out of his past three efforts, the only one of the bunch being an actual misfire. This is a tad remarkable considering that there are many who feel he's only made two great movies, and while most of his career is marked by some lesser efforts I've always been a fan of his. After all, most of the time his movies are rarely boring, and considering that Prometheus was more heavy on the sci-fi than the horror I was impressed that the film managed to not be rather engaging.
That said there are some rather notable flaws with the film even though I found it to be a rather great and satisfying viewing experience, watching it in a crowded theater last Thursday night at a midnight show. Despite having some really good actors in the cast, the characters were mostly paper thin, as Scott clearly sacrificed character development for his larger themes and because he was clearly more focused on visuals as well. If you are expecting this movie to give you a ton of answers, well then you will be disappointed, and honestly that's not surprising-Scott brought in Damon Lindelof, one of the writers/creators of Lost to help with the screenplay. Which means that this is more of a "Let's enjoy the journey/ride without hoping to get a semblance of closure" type of deal. Since I've never been worried too much about getting answers all of the time, this does not bother me as much as it certainly does others, although the film still sports a fairly solid Tomatometer rating at this present time.
Something to else worthy of note is how Scott in some ways outlines what happened prior to the events of the Alien films, and yet due to not featuring certain aspects of the previous films Prometheus has the feel of a stand alone film. This was done intentionally, as Scott clearly intended to go in a slightly different direction than before, and therefore the movie benefits heavily from that decision. However there are strong horror elements in this movie regardless, as some scenes were quite disturbing and one sequence was absolutely terrifying, to say the least. Part of the movie even plays out as if this was a slasher movie, which is funny considering that Alien (1979) at times had the feel of a slasher film, only the alien being the killer instead of a big man wielding a large knife. Scott also still manages to capture the essence of space as harboring both secret terrors while also being a place of mystery and even wonder, something he also did in his previous installment. Certainly elements of Planet of the Vampires (the inspiration for Alien, or the film he ripped off, based on your point of view), 2001: A Space Odyssey, and of course the original Alien are at work here and Scott manages to mix and match those aspects into a cohesive movie, although a solid criticism of this is that you would be almost better off just viewing those films instead of this one to get the same effect.
The trailers actually make this movie more suspenseful/action packed than it actually is, which amuses me a bit since most people, like myself, were already previously excited that Scott was returning to a genre he had sadly left behind long ago. Based on his latest effort, I'm wondering if Prometheus will form the basis of a new trilogy, one where Scott takes us to places we've never really seen before. And even if the journey feels old, he'll find a way to make it seem fresh once more, a true attribute to his talents as a filmmaker. Personally as a fan of his work, I cannot wait. 92