A few years back my doppelgänger watched Ridley Scott’s 1979 hit film Alien at the behest of some SI readers.
Oh, what a disappointment it turned out to be.
Maybe, my doppelgänger was smarter than the rabble that went aah and ooh over the movie or perhaps its DNA is too warped to appreciate the Hollywood and Bollywood gems.
If you ask me, the answer’s more likely to be the former.
After watching countless films over the last seven years, my doppelgänger and I’ve reached the nirvanic beatitude that no movie should be made costing over a million dollars.
That way, you’re compelled to meticulously think through and rigorously map out every step of the movie-making process.
With the exception of Avatar (and even that only on the visual side), I’ve rarely ever been impressed by these mega-budget movies.
Big money is invariably the harbinger, nay the kiss of death for the art of storytelling in movies because gee-whiz trumps narrative.
Made on a lavish budget of about $120 million, Prometheus follows the same depressing trajectory, so much sound and fury but signifying little in the end.
Fire Rarely Burns Bright
After seeing the 3D version of Prometheus at a mid-Atlantic theatre this evening, all I could think of was Yogi Berra’s timeless quote, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Yet again, I found myself dejectedly trudging out into the bright sun of the parking lot at the end.
Set in the final decade of the 21st century, Prometheus has archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) along with a crew of 15 others embarking on a lengthy space-voyage to find the “Engineers” who created man and uncover the purpose.
Borrowing from Greek mythology of the legendary fire-stealing hero for its title, assembling a talented cast of the likes of Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender and helming the science fiction space voyage under the Ridley Scott, Prometheus promises extraordinary adventures, rare vistas and a grand spectacle.
Alas, the spectacle of the space journey to a distant planet and the aftermath does not live up to the promise and is anything but a thrill-ride.
The fire is mostly in the title.
Admittedly, there were a few moments, like when I saw those vase-like things or that snake-like creature in the dimly-lit cavernous structure, that made me tighten the grip on my pen but overall I felt little excitement and seldom an adrenaline rush.
Au contraire, what I felt more often was irritation.
Tell me, which bunch of Earthly explorers, after a years-long voyage on a trillion dollar space expedition, gets close to weird-looking, snake-like creatures in the dark on a distant planet muttering, Hey Baby, Hey Baby.
Only those with an insanely stupid desire to meet a quick gory end.
As the above silliness attests, Prometheus fumbles, and in a mighty big way, in the quality of its writing.
Too sloppy to deliver anything like edge-of-the-seat terror or gripping entertainment, the narrative never rises above the sub-mediocre.
The characters in Prometheus raise big questions like the who created us, where do we come from, what is our purpose, where do we go when we die blah blah blah.
But what follows these momentous queries is mundane, run-of-the-mill stuff built around hackneyed dialogs that ultimately collapses in a big let-down.
Hell, even the romance between the two ‘doctors’ on the spaceship Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway lacks fire.
When even an intimate sex scene lacks a spark, you wonder if it can get any worse.
Now if you want to vent your spleen, Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof are the cretinous duo that mangled up the script.
Not as visually arresting a la Avatar, Prometheus, even in 3D, is rarely ever compelling.
Be it inside the spaceship Prometheus, in the dimly-lit, huge structure on the distant planet, the initial dust storm or the final kamikaze attack on the alien spaceship, I was never blown away.
It’s hard to quibble about the choice of Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who played Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium series, or Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender for the key roles in Prometheus.
Rapace and Fassbender (cast as the robot David) have earned their acting spurs and are deservedly hailed for the quality of their work.
Despite the mediocre script they have to plow through, Fassbender and Rapace do a creditable job.
If Rapace’s best moment in the film comes in the frantic turmoil and stress of the Cesarean surgery, Fassbender’s fine performance is evident all through the film.
Charlize Theron has a small role that does little credit to her stature.
Even if our protagonist Elizabeth’s decision at the end is surprising, the way it unfolds had as little pizazz as the 120-minutes that preceded it.
Prometheus, its grand title notwithstanding, is at the end a movie without fire.