Monday, June 11, 2012


One of the cinemas at Hoyts Victoria Gardens has this perfect little oasis called the Crying Room. Maybe nine seats, soundproof walls and glass, tinny sound piped in through speakers, and the opportunity to take any small children you may have to see a film where someone’s helmet is melted onto their face. Yes, I am an amazing mother. 

Prometheus is a prequel of sorts to the Alien franchise, started by Ridley Scott and continued by numerous directors in varying levels of excellence and shambles detouring into the Predator universe. Seemingly deciding there was no way forward to pursue, Ridley jumped back into his unicorn-leather director’s chair and helmed a movie set before it all. Drs Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Devil’s Logan Marshall-Green) discover the world’s oldest cave drawings—edgy sketches by the skinny-loinclothed hipsters of 40,000 years ago—and one more piece of a puzzle they’d been collecting. Artworks from diverse cultures and times all had one thing in common: a constellation unable to be seen by the naked eye. Shaw believes she will find her maker in this place, and with a rocket full of shipmates (including a robot, a bureaucrat, some comic relief and a stack of dispensable people you won’t miss when they get splattered), funded by the Weyland Corporation they head off on the two-year journey to this planet. Will they find happiness, peace, and a flowery sunny utopia? Seems likely. 

Prometheus hasn’t been receiving the most favourable of reviews, and I can’t say I adored it either. There weren’t any moments of surprise in the film. Spoiler alert: they don’t find happiness, peace, and a flowery sunny utopia. They find dark caverns and goo and aliens so like sexual organs you won’t be able to do any bonking for days. (The penis-worm with the vagina-mouth is a good example noted by my friend Brett.) People have secret agendas on the mission but the agendas of the aliens themselves are never fully explained. Apparently Mr Scott wanted to leave a lot of loose ends to keep people interested in Prometheus 2: The Flubber Returns, but by the end I just assumed he’d done what I do frequently and interrupted his own story with a tangent and interrupted that and so on until he’d forgotten what he was originally talking about. Don’t worry, Ripley, it happens to the best of us. I don’t get paid tens of million dollars to do it though. While I’m on the whiny paragraph, I was thrown by the ship Prometheus itself: it has technology that far surpasses the 8-bit technology on Alien’s mining ship—I mean, my car has more advanced technology than the Nostromo—so even taking into account the fact that the Nostromo isn’t a luxury vessel it seems likely that anything that can make it into space will have a better font. But that’s not a huge problem—it’s not early-80s-Ridley’s fault that technology became amazing, and the audience would hardly believe shitty tech on a ship when our phones alone have Google Earth on them. I was also annoyed by the characters’ lack of emotions—their expressions when discovering alien lands were about as enthusiastic as when you discover a two-dollar coin in your car when you need to pay for parking. You know, pretty pleased, but nothing you’d talk about when you got home to your spouse. Their motivations were confusing at times, with crew member Millburn (a timid Rafe Spall) freaking out at the sight of a long-dead corpse then suddenly not being concerned about reaching out to the aforementioned penis-worm (and calling it “beautiful”, I mean, ew), and the ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba) not at all worried about leaving Millburn and tattooed redhead Fifield (an unfriendly Sean Harris) in a corpse-ridden hellhole overnight even when the storm keeping them apart only lasted long enough for an (excellent) action scene. The only character whose emotions seemed right was Weyland’s representative Vickers (Charlize Theron, stony), though I guessed her role on the ship right from the start. Most frustrating of all, a particular character undergoes some dramatic stomach surgery, limps around for a bit, then is suddenly sprinting about and flinging themselves onto ledges. I don’t care how advanced medical surgery is in eighty years...just no. 

On the upside, though, I was never bored, and the effects of the ship and the aliens and space itself were marvellous (and I saw it in 2D, for the record). There are numerous scenes of dramatic tension that had me clutching at arm rests and people’s hands. The stomach surgery I discussed above was so suspenseful that I was almost climbing the soundproof walls to get to the other end of the scene. All the bad reviews in the world weren’t enough to stop me from seeing this, and the many reviews that list what I’ve discussed above, and probably some smarter or more subtle flaws as well (apparently Holloway yells “Noomi!” instead of “Ellie!” during a particularly sandy part of the movie), shouldn’t be enough to stop you either. It’s not terrible, it’s just that the errors were numerous and obvious. Just about anyone who’s seen this will feel compelled to see the sequel to figure out what the hell’s going on—me included—so it can’t be that bad. Go in with low expectations and you might be pleasantly surprised. 

I give it forty out of a hundred jars of black primordial goo.

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