Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Prometheus

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Produced by: Ridley Scott
David Giler
Walter Hill

Screenplay by: Jon Spaihts
Damon Lindelof

Starring: Noomi Rapace
Michael Fassbender
Guy Pearce
Idris Elba
Logan Marshall-Green
Charlize Theron

Music by: Marc Streitenfeld

Cinematography by: Dariusz Wolski

Editing by: Pietro Scalia

Studio(s): Scott Free Productions
Brandywine Productions

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Release date(s): May 30, 2012 (Belgium, France & Switzerland)
June 1, 2012 (United Kingdom)
June 8, 2012 (North America)

Running time: 124 minutes

Country: United Kingdom

Language: English

Budget: $120-$130 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $227, 182, 938

Aloha folks, up to my usual nonsense. I'm just back from The Strand cinema having seen The Dictator, so expect a review up for that soon. Also, as mentioned, I've got reviews for Dark Shadows and The Turin Horse coming up, but also to horror movies on DVD, Rogue River and Chill (released in 2008, finally getting a UK DVD release). Needless to say (notwithstanding other projects on the go) I'll be pretty busy! On another note, I'd be grateful if any of my readership could recommend films to watch. I'm always on the hunt, so keep your eyes posted!

Right, this next movie up for analysis is one that has been lighting fires out of the backsides of fanboys crapping themselves in excitement. Yes, it is Prometheus, but you already knew that (there's one for the Alberto Del Rio fans!). I first heard about this a while back, and I thought that it would be interesting to see Ridley Scott return the science-fiction genre. Lest we forget (though I doubt we will), Scott directed the first Alien film (to which Prometheus has a few ties) and Blade Runner, which is for my money his best film and one of the top ten ever made. Also, with Gladiator to his name, Scott is a director who when he is on form, creates some of the most engaging and immersive films of all time. However, he has a proven track record as a double-edged sword: work such as the painfully dull Body Of Lies would make one unfamiliar think it was by a lesser filmmaker. So, going into Prometheus with a heavy heart, I was thinking "I hope it's good, but he might just disappoint me again." I might be last person to review the film, but I understand people might want to see the film, so I'll do my earnest to be hush-hush as possible on the spoiler front.

Starting with the good, technically the film is the work of wizardry. Big props to the special-effects team, who has done an excellent job in contributing to the physical mise-en-scene. Also, many of the film's best moments are down to the believability of the effects. These effects would not look as good though without the wise cinematography of Dariusz Wolski. It is truly beautiful looking, and the use of soft lighting gives a sense of weight to its atmosphere. Also, the production design of the physical sets is terrific. Arthur Max, who worked on Gladiator, has outdone himself here. Not only is the presence of physically constructed sets a pleasure, but they are a marvel to look at and admire. In this regard, one must credit the original Alien designs by H.R. Giger. The lasting power of the great masters art is further proven by its presence in Prometheus. The costumes and the props too, particularly the space-suits, add to the overall feeling of the film. In another department, Marc Streitenfeld's original score is a talking point. The haunting chorus of voices that are the score's motif are very unsettling and ensure that, even in underwhelming moments, there is a genuine sense of unease. As director, Scott, like The Angels' Share director Ken Loach, directs like a man half his age, and for him to be able to maintain a relative degree of control over this chaos is admirable. Also, there are some genius set-pieces in Prometheus, including one sequence that deserves to be viewed in the same light as Alien's chest-burster scene. Finally, the performances of Noomi Rapace (who subtly steals this movie in a virtuoso turn) and Michael Fassbender are wholly admirable, and elevate their characters to a status beyond what is on the written page.

Which brings me nicely to a few points I want to make abundantly clear. For starters, if you are going to pack your cast full of credible 'name' actors such as Jared Leto, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba, don't give them 1. bit-parts 2. bit-characters. It's a disservice to just saddle them in those roles. This is just one of the problems with the script. There's an air of artificiality in the characters' motivations, and we're trundling along with them from one of a mixed bag of set-pieces to another. It's like this is just an excuse of a script to tie up to the Alien saga. Credit where credit is due once again to Rapace and Fassbender for what they bring to the table, but their characters are, like the rest, cliches in one big cliche-laden script. The same way I look through a nice window and see the miserable Northern Ireland weather, the film's transparency means I can see through the cracks, and its problems are very much in the open. Structurally too the script is a mess, with the ending most of all coming across as real copout, given that we are meant to feel like we've been on quite the trip. (I'll be careful here) There's a big difference between homage and going over the same ground, and this is a poor excuse for a conclusion. Finally, and the nail in the coffin on this argument, I simply failed to connect with the material.

Conclusively, I can say that Prometheus, like it's director, is a double-edged sword. What is good about the film is wholly admirable. The mise-en-scene, Streitenfeld's score Scott's relative degree of control, and strong performances from Rapace and Fassbender are awards/nominations worthy in regard to their quality. However, it is hampered by the wasted use of talented actors, and one of the most troublesome and problematic scripts in a mainstream film for quite a while. It reminded me of Sunshine, in that every time I watch that film, I can't help but be reminded of what is wrong with it. Prometheus is even more so the case. Neither a bad movie or a good movie, but crushing in the sense that as much as I may want to admire it as a whole, I simply cannot.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 5.7/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Buzzed again (too much of Alan Clarke's The Firm methinks!)

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