Saturday, October 20, 2012


Let's talk about movies. I've read more than my fair share of reviews posted by acclaimed writers and media moguls that lay everything out on the line neatly and without bias. That's not what you'll be getting around these parts. Here on BestFriendReviews you'll find movies, TV shows and all things media-related, recapped and reviewed from a friends' perspective. Comments, suggestions for future reviews, and questions are all welcome here. My only rule: keep it classy, San Diego.

This week on deck: Prometheus

How it came to my attention: While I had seen trailers and had the opportunity to see the film in theaters, nothing more came to mind than: "Really? Another 'Alien' movie? Pass." And that was that until a conversation with a friend brought it up again (he was watching it for a second time to decide whether or not it was "good" or "excellent"). I, of course, decided to watch it in order to provide my very influential opinion on the matter.

Going into it: Knew it was some sort of 'Alien' prequel that was not a direct prequel but rather existed in a parallel timeline.

Coming out of it: Didn't weep profound tears, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the product.

The Review/Recommendation:

Watch it. For those who know of the 'Alien' franchise and love it: You'll like this. It's got enough of the familiar to be comforting and enough of the new to be intriguing. For those who have never seen any of the 'Alien' movies: Don't worry, you won't be at a disadvantage here because Prometheus is a reboot of sorts and an origin movie that is the beginning of something. What exactly? I don't know. Like the trailer, I left this film with more questions than I had answers to, but that's not an entirely bad thing as it leaves any future sequels with more than enough room to grow. Prometheus is a visually excellent film with a good musical score. It's scary where it needs to be, suspenseful at the right moments and uncomfortable in its subtleties. I expected to walk into a by-the-book SciFi horror film, and, to an extent, it had a predictable plot. But where the film excelled was in its acting. The android David: chilling in his quiet purpose, the crew leader Vickers: ruthlessness incarnate and the captain Janek: selflessness personified. The best and worst of the human (and not-so-human) race put to the test on an alien planet and superbly portrayed. So I forgive any predictability in plot or any questions left unanswered because the most important question was. What would any of us do if faced with the same test of character? Would you be a Vickers or a Janek? Watch Prometheus and decide.

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The Recap (will most certainly contain spoilers): We open on what seems to be alien vistas and an intense musical score. Thirty seconds in and I'm already impressed. This must be leading up to something incredibly portentous... Right? Wrong. We see an alien guy on an unidentified planet (I'm assuming Earth) drink bubbly expresso then literally fall to pieces into a waterfall while a spaceship ghosts out. Was this ritual sacrifice? Irritable bowel syndrome gone wrong? Radioactive fusion cuisine? Your guess is as good as mine BECAUSE THEY NEVER EXPLAIN IT... Though I'm putting my money on ritual sacrifice due to Scuba Steve's badass hooded cowl and loincloth (chosen garb of suicidal idiots galaxy-wide).

Next up we have some archaeology-type folks ("Elizabeth Shaw" played by Noomi Rapace and "Charlie Holloway" played by Logan Marshall-Green) discovering alien cave drawings and deciding it must mean that E.T. and Co. have laid out the welcome mat for us to stop by for an intergalactic BBQ... Because leaps in logic like that always work out so well. But then again, if no one ever called out "Hello?" to a seeming empty house before getting stabbed in the eye by a masked assailant or wandered off alone into the woods at an abandoned campground to have gratuitous sex before being disemboweled by an axe-wielding, overall-wearing hillbilly, where would the film industry be?

Flash to the spaceship 'Prometheus' cruising toward an unknown destination (we end up following a foxy Michael Fassbender as the android "David" killing time before the crew wakes up). And so it goes: the crew awakes and is briefed by a holographic "Peter Weyland" (played by Guy Pearce) who reminds me of a badly aged John Hammond (Jurassic Park). We get slapped in the face pretty hard by some foreshadowing. The myth of Prometheus is explained to us as the Titan who defied the gods by giving mankind fire to put them on equal footing with the gods and was punished by exile for his hubris... Anyone reading into that? Bueller? Beuller?

This is where it begins to pick up. We've met the major characters (at least one of which will survive) and the minor characters all of whom will most certainly die in various terrifying ways. Sidenote: Pay close attention to David throughout the film. He is cold and efficient in his purpose; the motives of which I don't believe we ever fully understand (he has a disturbing interest in Shaw for whatever reason). David reminds me of a house cat, seemingly harmless but as we all know house cats kill for fun (and if you've ever caught one staring at you for any length of time it's not hard to believe it's thinking of ways to murder you should the opportunity arise).

Time for a field trip! Only five hours of daylight left? Great! Let's go poke around a giant alien anthill and see what turns up. The creepy train is pulling into "turn back now you stupid asshats" station, but no one is getting off. Eventually they find a decapitated alien corpse and some minor characters I never bothered learning the names of decide to return to the ship, breaking off from the main group. I'm already deciding what to wear at their funerals before they even leave the frame. I'm mildly freaked out at this point due to the excellent cinematography and scoring. I've never been able to watch scary movies with my feet on the ground (long story) and I can assure you my feet are firmly tucked into the couch cushions by this point.

After a tour through a spooky crypt with an Easter Island noir-esque head in it (complete with oozy sludge in weird canisters), the team heads back to Prometheus, racing ahead of a mysteriously occurring storm ("The Mummy", anyone?). Dramatic tension ensues but then it's playtime with the Mr. Potato Head they dragged back; which ends about as well as an Easter peep in the microwave. Mix in a bit of subterfuge and sex (finally some folks get naked!...ish) stir well and set that aside for a minute to go watch some death and dying back at the old plantation. Prepare to put on your "Holy shit, I can't believe bones snap like that." face.

The sun rises on a bright and beautiful morning filled with countless possibilities: Who will die? What can and will go horrifically wrong? etc.We have search parties, wayward androids and mysterious illnesses, oh my! Basically, the shit has hit the fan in an epic way and it's not even lunch. The group finds the "remains" of What's-His-Face (Who Cares is still missing) and are suitably horrified. At that point Holloway drops like a tranqued elephant on the Serengeti and they book it back to the ship. In the meantime, David has skulked off to the Chamber of Secrets and is playing with the Ghosts of Christmas Past. The team makes it back to the ship but Vickers (played by Charlize Theron) torches a rapidly transforming Holloway before we fade to black.

We pop back in to visit Shaw and David as Shaw finds out she's supernaturally knocked up and goes to cut that shit out. If you are eating anything you're fond of, or ever want to consume again; stop. Put the PB&J down and back away. Also, if you're on the fence about having kids, this may be a bit you want to skip over. Shaw jury-rigs Vickers' MedPod (the one in her survival unit-interestingly only programmed for male occupants...) to c-section what looks like to be a squid out of her. I'm now convinced Shaw is the Original Gangster.

Captain Janek (played by Idris Elba) provides us with a horror movie staple by answering a knock at Prometheus' door only to find it's not really the Who Cares we've come to know and love; the cannon fodder start to die. Newsflash: Weyland is alive and here to see if he can wrangle some extra life out of the Engineers. Weyland, David, Shaw and a couple redshirts (gotta love Star Trek jargon) head off to see the wizard. Unfortunately, the Engineer is not super chatty and just goes straight to poppin' off heads and whatnot. Only Shaw makes it out intact while the crew of the Prometheus prepare to leave.

This next part is cinematic paydirt. Shaw tells Janek about the Engineer's plan to eradicate Earth and begs him to stop the alien ship from leaving, knowing it will mean certain death for Janek and the remaining crew. True to character(s), Janek prepares to ram the alien ship while Vickers runs off to the escape pods. The crew on the bridge choose to stay with their captain and ship. If I were a little less emotionally constipated, I'd be straight crying right now. As it is, I watch this part without a single snarky comment in my head and recap it with the same respect. I'll pour some out for the homies a little later.

The Prometheus is destroyed and the alien ship crashes to the planet and begins to roll, eventually squishing Vickers (wicked witch-style) and trapping Shaw under a rock formation. We cut to black again and hear a voice warning Shaw that she has two minutes of oxygen left. Shaw makes it to the escape module that Janek ejected from the ship prior to crashing and there she's warned by a decapitated David that the Engineer survived and is coming to kick her ass. Shaw releases The Kraken, aka her squidbaby, on him and it's mesmerizing in the sense that it's kind of like watching a great white fight a tiger. Both are strong, but Squidbaby eventually proves stronger.

Shaw and David reconnect and Shaw tells him of her plan to travel to the Engineer's home world. They find another ship and take off while we hear Shaw's voiceover telling Earth to leave this shit the hell alone (anyone want to bet on that one?). The last thing we see is the birth of the new and most traditionally recognizable 'Alien' figure of the film. Credits roll.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't sound like a must see for me but great review.