My Thoughts on Prometheus...
SPOILER ALERT... I am just gonna talk openly about the movie here. These are my immediate impressions upon seeing the movie for the first time, mere hours ago. IF YOU DON'T WANT IT SPOILED - STOP READING NOW.
So last night I attended a midnight screening of "Prometheus" in IMAX 3D. And I loved it, loved it, loved it.
Simply put: Prometheus is the best Alien - related movie since Cameron's "Aliens", easily, no questions asked.
From a visual, artistic standpoint, "Prometheus" faithfully follows the design sensibility presented by the 3 main artists who created the look of the original 1979 "Alien" film.
The alien planet / alien culture stuff follows the art style of HR Giger.
The human-made spaceship interiors and exteriors, follow the art style of Ron Cobb.
The human space suits and intelligent humanoid alien beings look like things out of a 1970's Heavy Metal comic drawn by Moebius.
Ridley Scott is amazing when he delivers these kinds of films, that take place in a totally realized, well-thought-out, and completely believable, fantasy world.
Storywise, this movie shows its influences but worked well for me.
H.P. Lovecraft readers will recognize the plot from a mile away. "Prometheus" uses Lovecraft's epic horror novel, "At the Mountains of Madness" as a template for its basic plot structure, and follows that plot almost point-by-point... right up to, and including, the giant Shoggoth attack at the end. But this film also decorates that basic plot skeleton with many, many new ideas that keeps "Prometheus" unique, and ingenious, unto itself.
As far as scariness... oh yeah, it works! You get the monsters and the creepy, unfriendly, lethal environment, that you would expect... but this film also delivers psychological, and emotional horror. If medical stuff is your phobia... there is a surgery scene in "Prometheus" that is one of the most imaginative, and original scenes of cinematic horror, in years.
"Prometheus" reveals much about the "Space Jockey" who was the pilot of the "Derelict Ship" in the original "Alien" film. Now, I saw that original film in 1979 when I was in first grade. Ever since then, I always took the Space Jockey to be, exactly what it looked like: a member of an alien race of creatures with scary, elephant-skull shaped heads. So, as a monster-fan, it was a little disappointing for me on a personal level, to learn that the mysterious Space Jockey is actually just a very humanoid creature with a very human-like face, wearing a weird, elephant-skull-shaped helmet. As a monster fan who has been wondering about those Space Jockeys my whole life, that revelation was a tiny bit of a let-down. And I fully realize most other normal people who aren't as in love with monsters, won't be bothered by that detail.
Admittedly the Space Jockey's helmet/ head, is only a design choice, not a story-point, and therefore a minor quibble. And considering that this choice was made by the same director who gave us the original Space Jockey - it becomes a difficult point to argue with. That just means I knew less about the Space Jockey than its creators did. It is still a visual disappointment for me personally, but it only means I assumed too much. That's kinda my problem, not Ridley Scott's problem. I will have to adjust to this fact in the future.
It is worth noting that this film may not actually be an explanation of how the original Derelict Ship from the original Alien movie, ended up there. In fact, the alien planet presented in "Prometheus" may not even necessarily be Acheron / LV-426 / the same planet, as visited in the original film. There is nothing here to confirm that it is the same planet. It looks very similar and is clearly being used by the same race of Space Jockey aliens... But it may only be a similar planet used for the same purposes. The film offers suggestions that either scenario could be the case. A second viewing is required!
The story we get in "Prometheus" is more of an explanation of what the Space Jockey's alien race and culture was about, and how they worked, and what the hell they were actually up-to. And we see an example of that, which may not be connected to the same alien individuals seen in the original film. BUT - this disconnect is not a flaw. It is, in fact, the film's saving grace.
The fact that it may not be THE same Derelict Ship from the original movie is actually a rather ingenious, secret ingredient that forgives ANY violation "Prometheus" might have made, of the original "Alien" film. If this were not the case, I would have a lot more story problems with the movie.
I thought the lead actress, Noomi Rapace, gave an excellent performance and created a great new leading female sci-fi hero. I did not find her the least bit sexy... But she IS weirdly pretty, and has even stranger skull & cheekbone structure than the Space Jockey's helmet... but that makes her look very unique and cool as a character in a Sci-Fi movie. So she won me over.
I have never been a Charlize Theron fan. But she is great in this film. Her death scene is awesome.
Guy Pierce is a great actor, and I usually like him in everything... but in "Prometheus" he wears probably the phoniest, fakiest looking old-age makeup job I've ever seen in a movie. That was literally the ONLY bad special effect in the entire movie.
The rest of the cast is also great. The guy who plays David, the Synthoid, is thoroughly sinister, yet polite and efficient. He reminded me of a young Hannibal Lecter.
I almost failed to mention - the musical score was very solid. It even echoes the original Alien score in many places. I think it will be one of those great movie soundtracks to listen to while drawing monsters for years to come!
Seeing this movie in IMAX 3D was great. I used to take the glib opinion that 3D is just a gimmick - and on bad movies, it definitely feels that way. But on a great movie like "Prometheus" (or "Avengers"), the IMAX 3D really does work as a genuine enhancement of the experience.
Bottom line - speaking as a hardcore, lifelong fan of the original 1979 "Alien", I loved "Prometheus".
I need to see it about 4 more times to fully absorb it. But it is great, great, great.
We need more movies on this level of quality.
And on a final note, this is only opening weekend, and I'm already getting the feeling from people at work and on the internet, that there is a hipster vibe brewing, to dislike or be unimpressed with, "Prometheus". Don't fall for that trendy attitudinal crap. This is a great, beautiful, powerful, scary, profound, imaginative, top-notch movie. Whatever minor flaws it may have, pale in comparison to its extraordinary accomplishments.
Drinking: Ice Tea