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“Prometheus has landed” – on androids and creation

Prometheus is perhaps the most captivating film I have seen in a long time.  I completely forgot about everything, melting away before the IMAX 3D, and when the lights came on at the end, it took me a second to remember where I was.  Perhaps this was due to the suspense and scares, which I have been generally underexposed to, but any kind of experience like this is definitely good.  As the trailer explains, Prometheus tells the story of a crew that arrives at a faraway moon, seeking to find alien life forms that may have created humans.  However, they soon discover that the planet is filled with hostile creatures, and the fragile story of discovery degenerates into a rather inconsistent series of action shots.

Prometheus was beautiful, and the best use of 3D that I have encountered thus far.  The whole film was filled with magnificent structures and landscapes, and while I didn’t like being told what to focus my eyes on, on the whole I felt that the visual dimension added to rather than jarred the movie experience. And what of the tricky business of prequels?  I have not seen a single Alien film, but I have to say that I find Prometheus’ unanswered questions intriguing.

The most interesting character here was David, the android, who I thought served to explore a hefty array of questions about humanity.  The film devoted a good deal of screen time to David alone – we watch him watching the sleeping crew, biking around with a basketball, studying languages and old films (it’s interesting how he repeats language and film quotes in a similar manner).  He is more advanced and powerful than any of the humans, but is constantly reminded of his difference.  Peter Weylan, the trillionaire who funded the mission, describes David as the closest thing he has to a son but also continually reminds all that David has “no soul.”  David seems the quickest to grasp things, from fearlessly navigating alien terminals to understanding that the planet is not a place of gentle creators, but at the end, seems surprisingly human in his desire for life.

Michael Fassbender performs most excellently, maintaining a terribly polite demeanor, yet also consistently dropping malicious sentiments.  There’s an interesting conversation while the crew is suiting up to explore the planet – David suits up along with everyone else.  When asked why he needs a suit when he has no need to breathe, David explains that humans created androids to look a certain way, and that if he did not gear up like everyone else, it would defeat this purpose.  He represents the third generation of creation – the aliens in the film, called Engineers, supposedly created humanity, who then went on to create androids.  At one point, David asks archaeologist Charlie Holloway, “Why did your people make me?”  To which Charlie replies, “Because we could.”  David then points out, “And how would you feel if your makers said the same to you?”

There are many interesting points like this, and while the film maintains an aura of mystery, the plot feels stringy.  We can almost make out where things should connect, but there are too many holes and unexplained pieces.  There’s a rather humorous attempt to educate the moviegoers about mutating DNA, and the science is sketchy at best.  The acting wasn’t bad, per se – Noomi Rapace brought forth her Girl with the Dragon Tattoo grit, exhibiting “extraordinary survival instincts” that I suppose should call forth Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.  Charlize Theron had a rather minor role, but played it well.  Idris Elba was likable, and the rest of the crew was quirky and cute enough.

Overall, 3.5/5 – While visually magnificent, with strong performances by Rapace and Fassbender, Prometheus unfortunately falls prey to Hollywood temptations, its plot crumbling near the end under the pressure of action scenes and thrills.  Still, it was immensely enjoyable and a nice kick-start to dying Alien franchise; I look forward to a sequel of equally epic proportions.

Apple

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