14 June 2012

First Impressions: Prometheus, Part 3: Value

This is the third of three posts to conclude Prometheus Week and should be our final opinion on the film, at least until the Ridley Extended Director's Cut DVD comes out. We have first taken a look at the general plot and acting talent involved, then some of the heavier concepts hidden or not so hidden within the film. To conclude today we're looking at the discussion itself, judging the critical reaction to this film and what, if any, Legacy it is to have.

Sucks?

There have been plenty of intelligent film-goers and strong critical minds who have just hated this film. Many have given it an incredibly close look and come up frustrated. Some it would seem, like this dude, find that their Classical Education has betrayed them, and since this film did not add up in an neat way, it's garbage. He tends to dismiss the film almost immediately. Others like this dedicated, intelligent but admitted conspiracy theorist seem to be trying desperately to find the answers and when they aren't apparent after some thorough sleuthing, it's garbage. This seems to undermine the clear overall message of Prometheus, though, which is that the answers kind of suck, and it's more important to have a need for those answers. So we're all good, baby.

Hmm...?
I'm not saying that these people are wrong or that Prometheus (2012) is without fault, but critics seem to be focusing on the wrong thing. The depth of Prometheus isn't in finding out that Jesus is an Alien, Ridley Scott and most of the History Channel have blatantly said that already. The depth is a technically superior film visually and tonally that engages an audience emotionally and intellectually long after they leave the theater. As I suggested in my preview, it is sort of like Inception (2010). The surface elements are fairly easy to derive and it can be frustrating because it seems like there should be something more for all it was supposed to be. It's not an incomprehensible film, you can get out of it what you like. If it really is wholly without redeeming value, then my guess is you wanted it to tell you something instead of applying your own answers. Which granted, is tough.

One quick note - the above-cited pink-haired girl quickly runs over the kind of stupid possible hokey connection that I tend to ignore in films like this. She suggests that the Planet's name of LV223 is a reference to Leviticus 22:3. Although she claims to be a Bible Belt resident (so naturally she has a supreme understanding of Christian Theology), this actually seems like a relevant passage which she obviously didn't check. Here it is, from NRSV Bible:

Say to them: If anyone among all your offspring throughout your generations comes near the sacred donations, which the people of Israel dedicate to the Lord, while he is in a state of uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the Lord.

That ought to click fairly immediately with anyone who remotely understands the plot of Prometheus, the Goo, the Creators, and the unclean humans. In Prometheus' vein of encouraging self-exploration, I'll leave you with that.

Legacy

Now, I heard one of you loves rocks...
Both Ridley Scott and the Alien franchises have had some odious entries that have later been heralded as ultimate classics. This interesting article by John Gholson suggests that its fate may eventually be similar to Blade Runner (1982), which originally experienced an equally cold reception. Like that film and Ridley's later Kingdom of Heaven (2005), might Prometheus be improved with a substantial Director's Cut? As I've said many times by now, I don't think giving the answers is the best direction to take - such a huge part of this film is the ambiguity and misunderstanding of the relationship between creation and creators.

Tho not explicitly saying that Prometheus will suffer the same fate, John Kenneth Muir makes a convincing argument that the failure and tarnished legacy of Alien 3 (1992) for many years was due to the movie being filled with failed or upturned expectations. Prometheus is no different. It has been twisted by the expectations of its genre, its Summer Release date, and even its premise. We really shouldn't have expected different from the director, though.

So, what's next? I for one am extremely excited for the concept of Noomi Rapace and Fassbender's Head exploring the galaxy together. Doesn't that sound like an excellent Saturday Morning Cartoon spin-off? Every week they'd land on a strange new planet that they think might be housing an Engineer. Hijinx ensue!

Of course, the real trick to Prometheus is the fact that Fassy isn't playing a human-looking robot at all, but a human-looking robotic SHARK. In space. Terrifying.

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