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Author Topic: Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
dep1701
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Post Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
on: June 27, 2012, 17:50
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Just saw Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" ( IMAX 3D ) today. Since it's been out for a week or two now, I thought I'd share some of my impressions.

Of course, it's visually stunning, but nowadays that doesn't mean much. There are several nods to it's origins, particularly in the interior design of the 'Prometheus' and the familiar alien spaceship. The titular spaceship interiors very much echo those of '79's 'Nostromo' - the bridge and the common rooms especially, but in a cleaner, less-worn way befitting a newer vessel. Of course there are some inevitable and understandable upgrades to shipboard tech ( the CRTs of the original would look ludicrous to today's generation ). But these movies clearly exist in the same universe. As anyone can see from the movie trailers, H.R.Giger's original designs receive plenty of homage too. In fact one shot late in the film is nearly a literal interpretation of one of the illustrations that inspired Scott to seek him out in the first place. To see the 'space jockey' of 1979 as a living creature does send a pleasurable shiver down the spine*, as does the brief re-use of one of Jerry Goldsmith's themes from the first "Alien".

However, once you get beyond the visual design of the film, what do you end up with? The story deals with some deep issues, but ultimately feels empty. I found nearly none of the characters identifiable or more than two dimensional, with the exception of the android, David. I couldn't connect emotionally with most of them, which was a great letdown to me. One of the most brilliant aspects of the first two "Alien" films ( Ridley's "Alien" and Cameron's "Aliens" ... let's ignore the rest, as they were eminently disappointing - although your mileage may vary) were that the characters seemed like real, living breathing people. Dallas, Ripley, Lambert, Hicks, Hudson, Burke, Parker, Vasquez, etc. were real people with real motivations; Greed, fear, anger, boredom, a paycheck, survival. Truckers, working stiffs, marines, company men...they were all recognizable, and they were fully rounded people, not just "types". I couldn't even figure out why some of the folks on the 'Prometheus' were even there, other than to be bumped off. Oscar winner Charlize Theron has a basically one note role with one expression throughout nearly the entire movie .///!!SPOILER!!/// Also, I found her implied liason with the ship's captain to be a non-sequiter, and totally out of left field.

Another letdown was that Ridley seemed to go with the flow of casting the whole film with good-looking, sexy people. Think back to "Alien"...was there anyone in that film that looked like a sex-symbol? Yes, Sigourney Weaver has a very sexy quality, and I'm sure Tom Skerritt has his fans too, but no one in that movie was especially physically fit, or wore a skintight cat-suit ( or a form-fitting spacesuit, for that matter ). In "Aliens" I would say there was a higher quotient of sex-appeal, but no character in that film was glammed up either. Hell, even the oldest character in "Prometheus" was played by a handsome middle-aged actor under gobs of make up. Couldn't they even be bothered to find an actor of a more believable age, and then put make-up on him if neccessary? I guess I'm just disappointed that Ridley Scott seemed to abandon the aura of verisimilitude that made the original "Alien" so real.

Finally, is it just me, or does the depiction of outer space in 3D make the universe and the objects in it seem...small? When I first saw "Alien" in 1979, I remember the shot of a tiny 'Nostromo' sillohuetted against the ringed planet making space seem very vast. A similar shot in this film of an even tinier 'Prometheus' against the same world made me feel as though I were looking at a fairly large model of a planet, rather than looking at a huge planet from faraway. It had none of the grandeur and ... well... "weight" of a 2D image. I think when 3D artists try to render the illusion of depth in space they end up somehow exaggerating it, particularly in this film where the attempt to put stars at different depths in the scene made the shot look phony. I don't know about you, but when I look up in the night sky, I can't perceive certain stars as being further back in the universe than others. They all look to be about the same distance away ( and I'm talking depth, not relative brightness, or size ). To me, the moon looks just as distant as the stars. I don't think the human mind can process vast distances that precisely. I do hope they get the hang of it soon.

* and does, in some ways, ulitimately dilute the power of the original film ( IMHO ).

toryx
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Post Re: Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
on: June 28, 2012, 08:53
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A couple of my best friends said much the same things except that they actively disliked it. As a consequence, I've decided to skip it.

Torie
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Post Re: Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
on: June 28, 2012, 10:11
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I'm in the "actively dislike" camp. I hated this movie.

As for the visuals, I was unimpressed. It's all CGI (like everything these days) and it feels so ridiculously fake--the interiors, the controls, the planet. It looks like any other "slick" crappy blockbuster, Transformers included.

Now I love Alien and Aliens both, which was probably my mistake. I agree that the characters in those movies feel more real, even if they're a little cliche. And they don't all look like models, either(some of them are even--gasp!--kind of dirty and look like they work for a living!). But forgetting how attractive everyone is, there's just no there there. Everyone behaves as stupidly as possible, the "science" is spectacularly bad (sooooooo if this alien seeds its DNA bajillions of years ago, we independently evolve into identically-DNA'd creatures? YEAH OK), motives are incomprehensible, and the "horror" scenes are cheap and manipulative (the biopod "abortion" scene, in which a chestburster-type infects the attractive young woman instead of EVERYONE like the previous films because that's feminism). A great deal of the movie also resorts to gross-out horror, when the thrill of the first two movies is mostly psychological. I never once feared for these people. I was ever more pleased as they dropped off one by one.

Absolute garbage.

dep1701
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Post Re: Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
on: June 29, 2012, 20:32
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"I agree that the characters in those movies feel more real, even if they're a little cliche"

Ah, but if you remember, back then they WEREN'T really cliche - at least not for a science-fiction film. Try to think of a serious SF film before those two that features main characters who were just doing a job for a buck. They weren't out there to explore "the wonders of the universe" ( like a certain franchise we gather here to discuss )... they just wanted to get paid and go home. It's all the drek that came after that tried to emulate the success of these films that made these characters seem cliche.

Also I would argue that Ripley, as written in the first two films, was one of the most groundbreaking female characters in cinema. A woman who could be no-nonsense and tough, but caring and tender. She wasn't a genius but often possessed more common sense than the "more experienced" people surrounding her.

I also admire the fact that ( until the travesty that was "Alien 3" ), there was no gratuitous romantic subplot grafted on in either movie. The closest they came to it was the implication that she and Dallas had slept together, and the brief tender moment ( in the director's cut of "Aliens" ) where she and Hicks exchanged first names before she charges off to save Newt. In that ( version of the ) film Cameron also showed good judgement in providing a strong character motivation for her motherly instinct towards Newt; her own daughter had grown-up and died while she was lost in space, and she was grieving that loss. None of the other female characters showed the slightest interest in child care...imagine!

If you aren't old enough to have seen these films when they were first released, it's hard to convey what a breath of fresh air these characters were. There have been so many attempts ( and failures ) to clone them that they can seem old hat now.

Torie
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Post Re: Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
on: July 5, 2012, 15:52
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That's a good point about cliche.

I actually hate the idea of the original version of the film, where Ripley's protection instinct is all about her own daughter. Not all women are mothers and not every little girl is a daughter. I think it's a lot more powerful that Ripley sees in this girl a part of herself--left alone without the people who were supposed to be there for her, making it any way she knows how. I don't think you need motherhood and all of its associations and implications and stereotypes to make that feel powerful and real. It's also sad enough as is that Ripley's whole life is dead in the past. I don't see the point in further torturing her with wangst about a kid being dead. That kind of thing is a shortcut for backstory.

Let us not speak of Alien 3.

dep1701
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Post Re: Some Thoughts on "Prometheus" ( minor spoilers )
on: July 7, 2012, 18:16
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"Let us not speak of Alien 3."

To paraphrase Riker; "I concur, wholeheartedly".

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