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Corbeaux’s Prometheus (Movie Review)

Thom Corbeaux Thom Corbeaux

Greetings, Earthlings,

In a galaxy far, far away, although you’d use a worm hole to get there, a blue planet came to me. On it, with each succeeding year more and more people are striving to be heard by others. One could almost say it’s an ongoing battle between themselves.

The planet known as Earth gives sometimes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to a few chosen peculiar humans to present their thoughts in public. These are then either decapitated (not used since 1950s) or praised for their wit and knowledge. Some are just ignored. I hope to become the latter two.

You can expect indie film reviews, mind games, and a bit of fun and folly from my articles. If you like to tackle difficult subjects and have an opinion about them, then you just might like what I’m about to bring to the table.

So, as master Yoda said in The Empire Strikes Back: „Do or do not, there is no try.“

Let me do then.

You probably saw Prometheus and the way it tried to go back into the past (pun intended).

The Alien enthusiasts were expecting a prequel, or something along those lines. The xenomorph franchise was almost forgotten, here and there got a revival shock from teaming up with the Predator. Although recently we haven’t seen a film that would depict either one in their natural habitat. The Alien movies are a bit more appealing. They lure larger crowds mainly for the sci-fi element, which is a lot more elusive than the skull-hunter’s journey to strip everybody of their heads (“Off with their heads!”).

I do have to say that the intended reboot of the spear weaving mask-wearing alien  called ‘Predators’, directed by Nimród Antal, the director of Kontroll (if you have a soft spot for Budapest’s subway system then this is a must) was a success. He returned to the essence of what made the hunt so interesting — being hunted by a foreign species in an alien jungle.

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I would’ve appreciated Ridley Scott coming out of the box and making a direct prequel to his first Alien. Hollywood’s lately all hung up on the idea of prequels and/or the so-called reboot; the most recent ones being ‘Oz – The Great and Powerful’ or ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’. Of course you’re smarter then me and can come up with a lot more. The mainstream cinema is tending to retell the old with its modern means. All the flashiness of a contemporary blockbuster coupled with an already audience familiar story. A simple and potent mix of old and new. This is a nice formula that attracts the casual movie-goer. It invites to lean back on familiar grounds. Ridley simply refused to give in to the prequel cliché, which on one hand is very appreciated, but on the other, it’s just confusing, since he milked his Alien movie to the bone. He could’ve tied all the loose ends that he left in the original to a nice tight bow.

The entire movie resembles a very vivid contemplation about how we came to be. The film questions religion and tries to identify the space engineers as the creators of life as we know it on Earth and beyond.

The first half an hour was nicely paced and set the premise to an extent where the second portion of the movie promised to answer the questions that the protagonists were asking – all in their own way, presenting a contrastive opinion about Prometheus’ mission.

You look forward to the second half of the movie as you want your thirst for answers quenched, yet you find Mr. Scott doing the opposite, creating even more. To your dissatisfaction, these ones are less contemplative and include, and are not limited to, questions such as: Why include a zombie scene? Why do tough geologists turn into sissy alien snake petters? Did captain Janek really tap that? We could go on, but I’ll spare you (..this time).

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The above exaggeration, isn’t there to ridicule (maybe a little), but it’s there to point out how different the film feels when the two respective halves are put together on screen. It could’ve been that the two distinct screenplay writers Jon Spaiths, who is apparently the “go-to-guy for space thrillers” (that’s what Wiki says) and Damon Lindelof, who we all love and hate for the Lost ending, made their own respective decisions where the movie should head very, how should I put it nicely, very independently.

In the end, it should be the director who has the last say when it comes to his movie. Given the fact that Scott agreed to do this movie under one condition, total control over the entire production, makes me think if his visionary talent didn’t stay with the timely classics that he brought us in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

The director’s early works are sic-fi classics – Alien and Blade Runner. These two movies have a very distinct visual style (and story), which Scott’s known and praised for. That can be also said about the distinct visuals and camera work of Prometheus. Clearly, Scott knows what a large blockbuster needs. Although the visuals are breathtaking, I somewhat feel disappointed about the coherence of the entire endeavor.

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The Alien-wannabe-prequel falls in line with Scott’s failed attempts in regaining his lost sense for storytelling. It’s been proven that the paradox of the slow tortoise outrunning the fast Achilles isn’t just a mindless dichotomy. Pacing, character arcs, simple yet meaningful narration running alongside drama and sci-fi are captivating and engaging enough even if they’re as old and rusty as the tortoise. The need for a forced build up in Prometheus is apparent. Speed, spectacle and sensation aren’t always the answer. Prometheus seems to be a great example of that.

The hype around Prometheus, which pushed it into the limelight as THE sci-fi movie of the year just added to the disappointment; or should I say confusion? The promo videos – Guy Pearce’s Ted Talk or Noomi Rapace’s video appeal — only added more wood into the hype fire, which burnt strong until it was smoldered by the ending credits.

Prometheus does several things exceptionally good — camera work, set design, music, editing, creature design and make-up and lastly the use of CGI. Looking away from the production, the film does manage to pose questions and present ideas about the human origin in an obvious way, which may be a let down to the more critical part of the audience that is more reflective of Scott’s work.

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With that in mind, I will return to my initial statement at the beginning of this review. Prometheus could have easily been a direct prequel and in that respect, it would uncover the origin of the eggs in the 1979 Alien and maybe, just maybe, answer the question: “Where do we really come from?”

By Tomas Samuel Corbeaux.

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Thom Corbeaux

Thom Corbeaux

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