At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Prometheus “2012”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Sci-Fi Horror/ Stars: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Kate Dickie, Emun Elliott, Benedict Wong, Patrick Wilson, Ian Whyte/ Runtime: 124 minutes

I think it is safe to say that if you look for answers to the distinct trinity of questions that humanity often asks which take the forms of Where do we come from, what is our purpose?, and what happens to us when we die respectively you will get different answers from different groups of people. Indeed the scientific amongst our species will tell you that we most likely came from single celled organisms, that we exist to reproduce, and that when we die our atoms are forever recycled throughout the generations. The religious on the other hand choose to see creation as the act of a creator who has an outline for each of us which, if followed, earns us a reward to look forward to after our time on this planet has ceased to be. There is another group however who hears these arguments and then presents one of their own that consists of what if neither group has it right. In fact what if we were put here not by a creator, but by a group of aliens who are technologically skilled enough to go throughout the universe in order to place life of their own design throughout it? Yet for those of you who are about ready to pick up your pitchforks and torches I would just like you to know this is not a brand new way of thinking by any stretch of the imagination. Rather this is one that first caught the attention of people worldwide with the publication of a book in the long-year of 1968 known simply as Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past. Yet whilst the contents of that book, many argue, is downright ludicrous and void of any actual proof whatsoever, I would like to also point out that the book not only does make for at least an entertaining read, but its idea of “ancient astronauts” also managed to serve as the core idea for a 2012 sci-film helmed by iconic film helmer Sir Ridley Scott known as Prometheus. Now despite what a lot of people said at the time, you should know that this IS a prequel to Scott’s iconic sci-fi horror film Alien from 1979 though not directly. Rather, I like to think of this film as that one relative you hear all the time about at family functions, but you never actually see them there in the flesh. Suffice it to say then that although this entertaining yet flawed film and its iconic relative aren’t joined at the hip from a narrative perspective, they do have quite a fair amount of DNA in common with each other and trust me when I say that this is one film that is all about that DNA…

The plot is as follows: Prometheus starts its journey of….”discovery” I guess you could call it by taking us to a devoid of life landscape where we witness a humanoid alien being, that incidentally could best be described as a living Statue of David, standing by the shore of a giant waterfall and carrying with him a cup filled with what looks like the black oil from The X-Files, but isn’t. Oh and incidentally this is also your introduction dear reader to what will come to be known simply as an “Engineer,” and as for his activity at this point in time he is here to act as a catalyst of sorts for all kinds of amazing things to begin occurring on a little known planet known simply as….Earth. To that end, we see our humanoid “friend” swallow this thick oil-looking liquid and immediately and horrifically pay witness as his cells begin to die, his skin begins to rip at the seams, his bones break and shatter, and his body land in the water with a resounding thud where it begins to rapidly dissolve away until there is nothing left thus spreading his genetic makeup throughout thus ensuring that life…..finds a way (oh sorry…wrong movie…still relevant though). Jump ahead to the far-off year of 2020 ehhh 2089 and we are introduced to our main heroine, an anthropologist/ devoted believer in religion by the name of Elizabeth Shaw and her agnostic fellow anthropologist/boyfriend Charlie Holloway as they are in the midst of stumbling upon an ancient cave drawing that showcases a figure like what we saw at the beginning of the film pointing to a distinct group of stars. An image that, incidentally, they have seen at other sites of historical significance across the planet. We soon learn that Shaw thinks this is an invite of sorts for humanity to come and meet those who made them and, with the aid of funding from an industrialist by the name of Peter Weyland, we soon see our dynamic duo headed to the location this “star map” has provided them onboard a ship known as the Prometheus which comes complete with a crew of scientists, a former soldier at the helm named Janek, a mysterious and enigmatic yet seemingly friendly android by the name of David, and an ice-cold Weyland corporate executive named Meredith Vickers who continually claims she is the real head of this expedition. Suffice it to say then that the crew of the Prometheus is one that is devoted, or at least halfway interested, in the quest for answers. Yet there is a reason that some things were never meant to be known and before too long I think it is safe to say that this is a lesson you will witness the crew of the Prometheus learn firsthand for themselves….

Now I’m going to guess that your biggest question before I go any further in this review has to deal with whether or not the original Alien creature pops up at any time in this film. Well without going into spoilers all I will say is….. ehhh kind of, but it’s more of an aim to please the fans kind of cameo more than anything. The reason for that is because this film’s purpose, as penned by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof who you might know as one of the writers of LOST, is to flesh out the world of the series and in the process not only solve a few puzzles from the very first film, but also give us some more questions to whet our creative appetites on. Suffice it to say that I honestly don’t have an issue with the ambiguity this film leaves behind, but that may be due to my love for discussion with family and friends after watching a film more than anything. What I do have an issue with though is some of the other flaws this film has. Flaws it is worth mentioning that take the form of odd plot holes as well as a few moments in the film that feel they are there to either aid the narrative a bit too much or to jumpstart the action a bit. Perhaps though my biggest irk is that there are moments where the characters don’t act in a way that feels…..believable honestly. Indeed if it’s not making stupid choices like the ones a teen in an 80s horror film would make, it’s in their emotions in light of the fact that not only are they on another freaking planet, but they are also discovering things which will have a huge impact on how mankind will come to view their genesis as a species if you prefer.

Based on how I left the last paragraph therefore I think it is safe to say that yes I do feel that this distinct slice of cinematic pie is one that most assuredly needed another script edit in order to make sure everything from a narrative perspective was as tight as it should’ve been. Be that as it may be though, this film’s pace is one that moves at a fairly respectable tempo, especially when a few things that occur in the film don’t make the most sense in the world when looking back after watching it, and this really does feel like the distinct brand of high concept sci-fi that audiences don’t see that much anymore sadly. Thus I honestly do not fully see why there is a group out there that seems predestined to hate this movie, but I do have a bone to pick with the hype the Web pushed onto this film thus elevating people’s expectations to a level that few films have truly been able to overcome. Thus if you go into this wanting to be the definitive film in the Alien franchise then I politely yet firmly point you in the direction of the first 2 from 1979 and 1986 respectively. A stance I take because this quasi-sorta-kinda prequel is meant to be seen as its own thing and thus critiqued on its own positives and negatives. I mean in my distinct opinion this is most certainly better than either of the Alien vs. Predator films we got so make of that what you will. Plus not only does Sir Ridley Scott helm the heck out of this movie, but the scope is respectable, the sets were actually built rather than CGI’d to the max for the most part, and you can claim this is blasphemy all you like dear reader, but darn it all if Michael Fassbender doesn’t make for a way better android character than anyone else in the Alien franchise ever was able to. As for the rest of the cast they also do fairly good work with their respective roles especially when it comes to Idris Elba who brings both a nonchalance and yet a sense of honor and integrity to the role of Janek, Charlize Theron who is delightfully icy in the role of Vickers, and Noomi Rapace whose passion and humanity shine through in the lead role of Elizabeth Shaw. Suffice it to say then that this film might not be what you were expecting, but from a technical perspective it honestly isn’t half bad.

All in all I think it is a fair thing to say that a lot of how a slice of cinematic pie is received can quite often come down to the expectations that are put upon it by you, the viewer. Suffice it to say then that in my opinion Prometheus was a slice of cinematic pie that, by and large, came quite unfairly loaded into theaters with the hopes of lovers of the iconic Alien franchise thinking this would be the proverbial say all, end-all in terms of space horror. Instead they got a film that was a pop-philosophical in depth examination of not only the genesis of our species, but also of the intertwining yet independent concepts of faith and science all placed inside a suspenseful narrative that whilst loaning a few things from the world of Alien is not one that is tied at the hip to what came before in that franchise. To be fair though after the disaster that was Alien: Resurrection and that terrible pair of Alien vs. Predator films, this film was exactly the thing this franchise needed. Does this film have issues? Yes. Yet despite the issues, I still think it should be known that this film is still quite a bit better than those flaws might suggest. Indeed in a movie landscape where these kinds of entries in the sci-fi genre simply don’t exist as much as they used to, this film definitely is one that is a unique achievement and should be treasured as such. However if you are still one who is wanting answers…..well you might be in for a wait because if I’m being honest with you not even the sequel to this film managed to give us those though not for lack of effort….On a scale of 1-5 I give Prometheus “2012” a solid 3.5 out of 5.