Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just watched...

...Ridley Scott's newest film "Prometheus."

I have been waiting to see “Prometheus” since I saw the first trailer many, many months ago, and I will say that the final product in some ways went beyond my expectations, but in other ways, it just met them. That is not to say that the film is in any way disappointing. The story is certainly engaging, but perhaps because it covers some territory that has been around for decades (the CHARIOTS OF THE GODS idea that primitive man was visited by alien astronauts from other planets), it felt somewhat familiar.

Of course it is actually a prequel to the “Alien” series, but this film certainly stands on its own as a story. There is no need to know any of the previous “Alien” lore… but the experience might prove a bit richer if you have that background. The film provides some answers to questions in the first “Alien,” and finally provides explanations and gives us the basis for what came next. But as I said, this is a stand-alone story that can be enjoyed solely for itself. “Prometheus” does not concern itself so much with face-hugging, killer aliens and action-hero-type antics. This is a film that tackles, as well as a major-studio Hollywood film can (they still want to make money, afterall), the large, existential questions that have bothered us since we could ponder such things: Where do we come from? Why are we here?

I don’t want to talk too much about the story because to do so would be to give away plot points that deserve to be experienced fresh. I will say however that the art direction is marvelous and in particular the speculative technology that was designed and built for “Prometheus” is absolutely beautiful. The human technology is gorgeous; I hope we have such extensive use of holographic visuals before 2089, so I can be around to see it! And the alien technology is stunning: it is a fantastic mix of mechanical and bio-technology that seems possible (especially with a recent announcement from Stanford about a team of bioengineers who have created rewritable digital data storage in DNA), but, at this point in our development as a species, so far out of our reach and… well, alien. Arthur C. Clarke did once say that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The cast is uniformly good too. Noomi Rapace is convincing and empathetic, Charlize Theron is icy and commanding, and the rest of the cast were certainly up for the task (I must take a moment to say that although he was perfectly fine, I feel badly for actor Sean Harris who was a tiny bit wasted: he did not have much to do but go from surly to really angry). But for me, the standout was the wonderful Michael Fassbender as the android David. To play the maddeningly calm robotic A.I., Fassbender looked to Sean Young’s performance as Rachel in the seminal Scott film “Blade Runner,” along with inspiration from HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and David Bowie as “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” His performance is subtle, fascinating, and pitch perfect, with inflections of envy and malice.

Finally, it has sequel (what do you call a sequel to a prequel?) written all over it. Although this story is not a cliff-hanger and is finalized, there are elements that will carry on. I can't wait to see what comes next. A tantalizing secret is dropped after the final credits: what happens on 10/11/12? (Could it be simply—and disappointingly—the DVD release?)

Recommend? Yes, without hesitation. “Alien” fans will love it. Sci-fi fans will love it. And anyone who has a curious mind will enjoy it.

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