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Prometheus

Submitted by MBergeron on June 8, 2012 – 2:02 pmNo Comment
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Prometheus the title has always had my attention. When I was in high school drama class I performed a soliloquy from the Aeschylus play Prometheus Bound. Something along the lines of “here I stand an infamy to Zeus” just shouted out to the little man in me who devoured poetry that included evisceration by eagles. Percy Bythe Shelly used the same imagery as inspiration for Prometheus Unbound.

In the 1980 prototype for Prometheus, Alien, director Ridley Scott didn’t portray evisceration so much as a phallic creature popping out of John Hurt’s chest, and it became a classic cinematic image; and you know it’s iconic when Mel Brooks twists a movie spin on same (Spaceballs). Back at the helm in a prequel of sorts (and certainly the Alien franchise has seen metamorphoses that included rebooting it with Predator) Scott gives us another archetypal sequence that will be the go-to conversation starter when discussing Prometheus. “How about that manopod scene?”

Prometheus takes the conceit that 80 years from now private corporations have the cash to fund interstellar exploration. A prologue explains how aliens genetically modified Earth. The main part of the story shows both scientists and ordinary space explorers arriving at a planet beyond kin. Even though events go horribly wrong, the mission seems to have an ulterior motive. A glorious ending suggests a sequel to this prequel, one where humans confront gods. I actually met God once; the one time I tried salvia divinorum. She told me in no uncertain terms to get the fuck out of heaven. Who knows if Scott himself will return to the stars since his next film is a continuation or a revisualization of Blade Runner and who knows how many parallel universes that film will create.

Prometheus was lensed with 3D cameras and the spatial environment Scott envisions comes alive on the screen; great use of 3D. As one staffer at Free Press Houston described it: cinematic manna. Superb cinematography and also across the board tech effects.

Script wise only a few characters get a real arc to speak of, while a few members of the spaceship’s crew are only vaguely sketched.  A couple of flight engineers have some clever back and forth dialogue. Although it makes for good banter, it’s not enough motivation for when they happily venture off on a suicide mission. Prometheus is a film where a lot of the characters walk around with an albatross around their neck. As for the greater implications of the God particle, you also have to roll with the fact that even gods maintain weapons of mass destruction.

On a scale of intelligent sci-fiers Prometheus ranks somewhere below the unfathomable 2001 or Solaris but well, well above genre smash ups like Event Horizon.

- Michael Bergeron

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