Prometheus (2012)

PrometheusBasically what’s hypothesized in “Prometheus” is what if the thing that created us sought out the answers to what created it? And what if in the process of figuring out its own creation, it managed to accidentally create us? And what would happen if the thing that created us in a mission to figure out what created it, actually really wasn’t a God, and pretty much hates out guts for being accidental spawns of its experimentation? It’s a dichotomy and a contradiction that’s worth exploring, because it’s a startling and absolutely crushing notion to comprehend, but not with “Prometheus.”

Ridley Scott’s re-emergence in to the “Alien” universe is so hopelessly convoluted in an attempt to create a labyrinth of questions and theories. Often times it feels as if it’s needlessly attempting to complicate matters just to convince the audience it’s much more intelligent than we realize. When in reality it’s just a simple concept with an over explanation. I don’t have to have my hand held through a film as I’m one who absolutely adores everything in “2001: A Space Odyssey” from minute one, but “Prometheus” is filled with so many unanswered questions that it doesn’t so much challenge viewer perceptions and ask us to provide our own theories to the entire proceedings so much as it asks us to fill in the blanks where it failed to.

And that’s not thought provoking, it just feels utterly half-assed. What “Prometheus” boils down to is illegitimate children finding out their long lost father hates their guts, and through it all Scott poses parallels to the Alien mythos that doesn’t exactly give us a definitive answer on what a xenomorph is. Nor does he exactly fill us in on how they came to be. Are they creations of our sentient space jockeys? Or are they just hybrids of years of cross breeding and mismatched genetic codes? Maybe they’re just the perfect mistake like humans were. Obviously “Prometheus” has a lot of theories that it props up for the audience, but only to prevent answering them. And it’s for the sake of the fact that director Scott plans a trilogy with these prequels. So not only are the questions that are left up to the viewer to ultimately fill, but questions that leave the experience utterly unsatisfactory.

After all the carnage, it feels like the ending should be bookmarked with “What’s going to happen to Elizabeth Shaw? Find out next time on “Prometheus 2″!” When a film just feels like it’s being set up for the sequel and is not self-contained to allow for a singular viewing experience, it cheapens the film. Hence why I had such problems with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. “Prometheus” is a visual feast, which is one of the reasons why it’s so infinitely watchable. Scott’s visual designs are incredible with utterly incredible landscapes and caverns that reflect a hybrid of Giger and Lovecraft. All the while Scott excels in delivering some truly harrowing and disturbing sequences, including an attack in the dark caves on two of the ship’s mates by truly menacing organisms, and an impromptu medical procedure that’s mesmerizing thanks to Noomi Rapace’s performance, and the killer special effects.

Much of the motives behind “Prometheus” and its characters are left utterly ambiguous but it focuses on the central theme of beings trying to figure out the why and how’s of their own existence, and the darkness that can lead them to. It’s just the delivery fails to land properly and just over complicates what should be a fairly straight forward venture. You can offer simplicity without sacrificing intellect. Ridley Scott doesn’t seem to understand that and often overplays his deck with illogical decisions and characters who often make moves throughout the story that are either inexplicable or just plain dunderheaded. For all the power Noomi Rapace brings to the character of Shaw, she’s not Ellen Ripley, and I’m not too enthusiastic about discovering where he explorations take her in the sequel.

“Prometheus” could have and should have been a slam dunk for “Alien” completionists, but only for completionists, unfortunately. Folks who loved “Alien” and “Aliens” just for what they were needn’t watch this to fill in the holes as it actively sets out against such an courtesy. It’s like going to the Dalai Lama with a question only for him to answer you with a question. Ultimately, “Prometheus” is a visually dazzling film with a great cast, but it’s still just a film that’s pretending it’s asking big questions that might be over the heads of its viewers and require a second and third look, but in the end, it’s really just a superficial science fiction drama that asks a lot and answers almost nothing. I expected very much going in to this and was left ultimately unfulfilled.