Film Re-view: Prometheus

A still from the film Prometheus. The android David (Michael Fassbender) falls in love with the cosmos.

Prometheus, 2012

Directed by Ridley Scott, Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Maybe a little more frustrating than I remembered, but Prometheus still looks and sounds better than most movies, carries one of cinema’s most disturbing scenes, has an amazing performance from Michael Fassbender, plumbs at broad, humanistic questions in a way I find interesting, and gives its pantheon of characters motivations that are ill-defined yet still reasonable.

This is a myth, hence the mythic title, about what happens when humans lose their sense of place in the natural order. The Prometheus is manned by three distinct groups; the skeptical scientific community, the optimists who believe the Prometheus will succeed in its mission to encounter “ancient aliens,” and the corporate jerks who have no faith but want to keep things moving speedily along. Its characters are played like Greek ones, archetypes who betray philosophical depth, yet still walk themselves to bitter ends.

The film loses some steam in its final act, but I still think it’s a magnificent achievement of science fiction in the 21st century. It hardly feels its length, yet it has the time to ensure it asks loads of questions that each deserve their own film. And I’m not talking about the heady philosophical ones that take place in the dialogue, or the ones that take place in wondering how the story is moving, but the ones which simply ask for scenarios like, “What would you do if you knew someone was sick, likely with something that wiped out a platoon before you arrived?”

Prometheus has taken a savage beating for logistical inconsistencies, but having seen the film three times now, most don’t occur to me while I’m watching the darn movie. The classic “running” moment is so overblown as to be a detriment to conversations about cinema. I like the film on my third viewing slightly less than I did in my memory; my memory was that it was a truly fantastic film, on par with the heights of 21st century horror like The Babadook. So, yeah, I stand by Prometheus wholly and completely.


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