Monday, June 11, 2012
PROMETHEUS. A Masterpiece
The weight of expectation is a fickle beast at the best of times, filling you up on waves of euphoric heightened emotions, but obviously tempered by the grounding realisation that it mightn't live up to your own internal hype (That would be the massive disappointment that was Star Wars episodes 1-3. Hey, I'm not alone with that thought either!). I've been in a state of extreme anticipation since I first caught the merest sniff of this much fabled project, very very eager for the awaited day to arrive. So, being finally able to actually view this event that I've been obsessing about for a long while beforehand is not so much a relief, more like a revelation. That, pretty much describes me before Prometheus! After Prometheus? Read on for my thoughts as to why you too, should make this a must see movie.
I love Prometheus. It has, in my eyes, already attained classic status.
Classic movies do one thing exceedingly well. They ask questions - and give you no easy answers. They leave you to fill in the blanks. If you're talking about a movie afterwards, the filmmaker has done their job. After watching movies intensely for more than 20 odd years, I relish the thought of viewing a film where I can interpret it - the way I see it, not just because the director has spelled it out on how I should feel & think about it. Some movies telegraph every single development because... Well, because the audience generally likes to have all potential situations to have a familiar resolve that comforts them. The hero needs to live, the couple fall in love, the killer gets caught, justice is served etc etc! Conversely for me, one of the best things in life is for some, the most frustrating. Mystery. Just imagine life without the eternal mysteries that keep the brightest of minds highly focused on vainly trying to solve those burning questions such as... Is there life on Mars? The Bermuda Triangle, UFO's, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Yeti's, Atlantis.
With one tagline proclaiming "They went looking for the beginning of mankind", you know this is not going to be your average - everyday - run of the mill - science-fiction movie. Indeed, when redefining the exact nature of this epic tale, Ridley Scott instinctively knew that hastily creating the easy option (making a direct Alien prequel) was in fact, way too obvious - and would have only really catered for the die-hard (But damn hard to please!) fan base. Its a giggle to read some of the repetitious whining that is going on on various sites across the web, constructive intelligent discussion is sorely lacking in a major way, but I digress...
Establishing your story is critical, but so too is getting a good cast to bring the scenes and dialogue to life. Sir Ridley has struck cinematic gold with the key person in this film, actor Michael Fassbender is note perfect as the every so slightly shadowy android David. Omnipresent in virtually every scene, David's motives increasingly get murkier by the minute, you're never entirely sure of whether he is helping or hindering at any given time. Fassbender reputedly studied videos of diver Greg Louganis to better understand a person who's chosen vocation required inordinate amounts of micro adjustments to concentrate on the specific tasks at hand. Look at any clip of a great diver, then compare them to what Fassbender has accomplished. In the pantheon of definitive movie paranoid androids, Fassbender's mesmerizing performance will be one remembered for eons. In a real world, Fassbender would be 'rewarded' with an Oscar, but alas, the academy is generally not one to recognize great performances in sci-fi movies. Maybe this time around folks? Regardless of that minor detail, Fassbender will instinctively know that he has done great work in this seminal film. Big things do have small beginnings indeed. The other key players are Noomi Rapace as naive but optimistic scientist Elizabeth Shaw, and the talented Charlize Theron as the requisite Weyland company representative Meredith Vickers. Rapace is well cast as the 'Ripley' type character and, although her role is similar to Sigourney Weaver's in the Alien movie series, the situations presented on screen are quite different to the challenges that Ellen Ripley faced originally. Shaw starts out as an idealistic person guided by the rather tantalizing thought of finally getting an answer to the biggest question for humankind. Who created us? But, after landing on that far flung rock at the edge of the universe, she gets way more than she bargained for, in fact what they all discover is a scenario of incredibly horrific proportions, with extremely dire consequences for mankind. Her journey is a compelling one, hopefully we'll see her again (If Sir Ridley gets his wish!). My only complaint with Charlize Theron's Vickers ice queen is that I wish she had more screen time, her glacial demeanor, curt manner, and lack of empathy made for a character that was fascinating to watch, in particular her interactions with Idris Elba's weary captain Janek were disappointingly short but equally memorable (Especially the "Love the One Your With" segment). Although this revelation might be a 'spoiler' for some, if her character didn't get killed, then it would have been very interesting to see how Ridley Scott could have used this fledgling 'Thelma & Louise' coupling for the next installment (Yes Virginia, there will be a sequel - or two - depending primarily on how well this film does, box office wise - worldwide).
The score by Marc Streitenfeld is well suited to Prometheus, its dramatic, powerful, intense, and very complementary - all seperate pieces working well with the various scenes they are attached to. My only complaint as such, is the non appearance of the brooding music used in the trailer, they could have utilized that specific segment in many places throughout the film. Sadly, this seems to be an all too familiar trend these days!
The real star of any Ridley Scott movie is not the story or the cast. Its the supreme visual depictions where Scott stands at the very top of his field. His background training as a commercial artist has enabled him to storyboard all his various films - adding absolute and complete clarity for all the other talented subordinates to work their magic with ease. Famed for his atmospheric and stunning urban environments in movies such as Blade Runner, Someone To Watch Over Me, Black Rain, Kingdom Of Heaven, Scott can create worlds which are have now attained a signature about them. Working with talented Directors of Photography such as Harris Savides, Dariusz Wolski, Adrian Biddle, Jordan Cronenweth have also helped Scott immensely in translating the vision in his head to the silver screen. The visuals in Prometheus are impressive beyond reproach. The opening sequence is one of many that justifiably needs to seen on a large movie screen. The scenes inside the alien temple were created on life size sets, adding a depth that possibly might not have been attained by using CGI. The actors all commented on how easy it was to act on this set, having a 'real' set to interact with - as opposed to the more commonplace computer based 'green screen' sets that are all too prevalent in this day and age.
With any great movie, you can have impressive visuals, a fantastic cast, a powerful score, but above all else, you need a story. A story that people can relate to, interpret as they want, but leaves you wanting more. Prometheus achieves this with complete conviction. For me, this is as compelling as it gets. When I go to a movie, I definitely want to be totally immersed in the filmmakers world, to believe that it actually could be real - and not just a figment of someones imagination. That's one of the joys of loving movies - to be transported to another world. Except, in this case, its not really a place you'd want to visit anytime soon. Well, if you have slightly masochistic tendencies - or a death wish, then hey, LV223 is your dream destination!
Irrespective of the mixed reactions from both critics & attendees to this seminal film, I'll state this. Prometheus will be regarded as a classic, but not for now, that will happen in the future. Me? The future is just that.
Prometheus is a classic. Now.