Lake Oconee Breeze

On the Screen

June 14, 2012

‘Prometheus’ provocatively, schizophrenically appealing

LAKE OCONEE — ‘Prometheus’

Rated R for SF violence including some intense images, and brief language.

 

From the very first scene of “Prometheus” (Ridley Scott’s new SF film), I experienced a tsunamic slap of déjà vu. I flew back in my memory to when I experienced (in an early version of the IMAX theater by the way) “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Remember how we experienced long minutes of visuals without dialog? Then there was that scene at the end with the apes and the clubs that seemed disjointed from the film. Frankly, it gave me an eye-squishing headache; an opinion that most fans of film and the SF genre will find blasphemous. “Prometheus” has just an oddball scene at the beginning. It is a what-the-bajeebies-did-I-just-see-moment.

Mr. Scott, at first, announced he was going to make a prequel to “Alien” but later decided to make a film that would stand alone not have to be coherently dependent upon memories of a film nearly a quarter of a century past. This he did and did well. However, this intentional or unintentional homage to Kubrick’s visually ornamental film comes off to me as pretentious and unnecessarily simulacrumous. Sometimes a song ought to be a song and not a symphony.

Here is a quick summary of the plot: Two scientists (who are excavating each other in their spare time) believe in the Erich Van Daniken’s balderdash: we are all descendants of space people. They get some zillionaire to fund the project to send them — on a ship named Prometheus — to the assumed home planet. When the team gets there they actually discover the giant beings apparently all died out for some scary almost genocidal reason. Then crewmembers get killed in grisly fashion and monsters are discovered … and so on and so on.

There are some other what-were-they-thinking issues in “Prometheus” that really annoyed me. One of which perplexes me in the extreme. Guy Pearce plays the old zillionaire. However, they took a young, virile and gifted actor, swaddled him in Saran Wrap with five coats of Plaster of Paris and a vigorous spraying of shellac. Why they didn’t just cast an older actor, I have not a clue. I was so distracted by his horrid makeup that I did not appreciate his performance.

They have this robot character named David (Michael Fassbinder), which is intriguing but hauntingly familiar to countless number of other movies including “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” I won’t give away a plot twist, but just understand that I felt manipulated.

Many SF fans will consider this movie very entertaining and downright beautiful … and it could have been. But to me it is like two movies; one is pleasing cheesy-monster, head-exploding entertainment and the other a scintillating, mind-blowing visit to a first class Planetarium. The disjointedness ruined the film for me. I hated the ending — what an obvious ploy for a sequel. It should have ended … well, before the ending.

The missteps in the film jangled my nerves. The long, silent scenes caused me to nod off but the shifts from monster film to philosophical and religious pontification caused me whiplash. Please, Mr. Ridley, make up your mind.

I admit, I am going to be all alone on this. My readers who are SF fans will take serious issue with my complaints and declare me an enemy of the genre. I am sorry, but it just didn’t work for me and I am not a PR department, I am a grumpy film critic.

But if you are a SF fan, you should — you must see it. And if you tell me you loved it and declare me a Philistine I won’t take it personally.

Prometheus did prompt an odd Pop Culture thought in my mind. One of the characters quotes Stephen Stills: “And if you are not near the one you love, you gotta love the one you’re with.” That made me think of a lyric from the 1947 musical, Finian’s Rainbow: “When I'm not near the girl I love, I love the girl I'm near.”

Now how is that for head jerk disjointedness?

Despite all my griping, I have to admit it is provocatively, schizophrenically appealing.

“Prometheus” earns three and a half bow ties out of five.

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