10 June 2012

Prometheus at the Mountains of Madness



So I saw 'Prometheus' Friday night…


It's visually stunning. And, for the first time ever, I found the 3D not only non-annoying, but actually a positive feature of the film.  It's worth seeing for the 'eye candy' alone.

Story-wise, the first half was enjoyable enough, but during the second half it becomes increasingly clear that the background premises of the film don't cohere very well, or even make sense on their own.

Moreover, events seem to start happening simply for their 'shock' value. And the quasi-theological musings of Guy Pierce and others are rather silly.  ‘Prometheus’ tries to ask ‘big questions’ but fails to do so in an intelligent and compelling way.

The acting in 'Prometheus' generally is quite good, especially Michael Fassbender.  (Certainly his portrayal of an android is in the same league as those of Ian Holm and Lance Hendriksen – no small achievement!)

Essentially, the film is a rip-off of Lovecraft's classic tale, At the Mountains of Madness. But it lacks the coherence and, ironically, the vivid 'alienness' of Lovecraft's novel.

I wish someone someday simply would make a first-rate film version of the original Lovecraft story – instead of derivatives like 'Prometheus' or the (far superior) 1980 version of 'The Thing'.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for confirming what others are saying about Prometheus. I had this film at the very top of my "must see" list, but now I am not sure I even want to see it at all. With this flick being a colossal failure I doubt that Del Toro will ever truly get a shot at making At the Mountains of Madness, which is heartbreaking.

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  2. I wouldn't be so quick to judge this film a 'colossal failure' yet, Shane, at least not financially. And it does have a 74% 'fresh' rating at 'Rotten Tomatoes'. The reviews generally have been lukewarm, not negative.

    If you were to see the film with lowered expectations, it may be worth it for the visuals alone.

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  3. I saw it this weekend, as well. It does have some problems, but overall, no more I think than the general genre fair--or, I should say, not definitively more. There are some things that could be plotholes or could be in-world mysteries.

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    1. If I were feeling charitable, I would consider the possibility that some of the plot holes or contradictions in the story might be explained in the inevitable sequel.

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  4. Another 'great for the visuals, just don't pay too much attention to the writing' blockbuster dissapointment. I'll pass.

    On a similar note... I'd love to see a big screen version of Mountains Of Madness... but given the sorts of compromises that would have to be made (more action! more sex! more Tom Cruise!) I think I'll just read the story again, thanks.

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    1. There's also a very good radio play version of MoM from the Lovecraft historical society. I listened to it a few months ago and quite liked it.

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  5. I agree with your sentiments entirely, although 2D was enough D for me. And while I thought the performances ranged from fine to excellent (Fassbender), I found myself feeling sorry for the actors because the dialogue was horribly clunky and sometimes unintentionally funny.

    If you'll forgive the cheeky linkage, I posted my review in dungeon format here.

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    1. Thanks for the link! I plan to read your review tomorrow. :D

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  6. I should have given my comments more context. The only reviews I have read have been from vocal members of the Lovecraftian community. When speaking about the Alien franchise, and Prometheus has been pitched as a prequel for the franchise, it is impossible for me to be objective, and I immediately associate the films with Lovecraft and in a broader sense, his Mythos. Or at the very least, as falling firmly in the realm of cosmic horror. Obviously, not every film in the Alien franchise achieves the same atmosphere of cosmic horror as the original, so I have been disappointed before with this family of films. I am sure the general public will enjoy the film, but I am afraid I am expecting more. Admittedly, I am probably expecting too much. Ridley Scott tends to run hot and cold, and I had high hopes that Prometheus was going to be an opportunity for him to recapture a bit of his past greatness. I will still give the movie a fair shot, but I am also a person who will walk into the theater with very high expectations.

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    1. "Ridley Scott tends to run hot and cold"

      I think this is generally true, which makes it odd (to me) that 'Prometheus' is so 'luke warm'. Comparing it to Scott's sci-fi greats -- 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner' -- makes 'Prometheus' seem to be weak sauce. But it's much better than many, many other Scott films.

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  7. Your comments pretty well echo my own feelings, especially with regard to the second half of the film, which feels very half-baked to me.

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  8. While I enjoyed the flick, I do agree that it's very much ATMOM. I even wrote a post looking at 5 parallels between the two stories http://trollishdelver.blogspot.com/2012/06/5-reasons-why-prometheus-is-at.html

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    1. Thanks for the link! I hope to read your comparison tomorrow (or soon thereafter). :)

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  9. Might I add that this was the least "scientific" team of scientists ever put to screen.
    The first 20 minutes are interesting then it goes down hill quite fast and lands in the valley of absurdity. Very disappointing.

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    1. It is unbelievable that foolish, impatient "Charlie" would ever finish a BSc, let alone a PhD.

      Heyland should've simply sent four Davids to conduct the mission and left everyone back on earth.

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  10. I'd read somewhere that "Promethius" killed the Mts of Madness movie by sucking the oxygen out of the room, so to speak.

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    1. Do you mean that MoM was nixed by the relevant studio because it was judged to be too similar to 'Prometheus'?

      Certain seems plausible to me...

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  11. I also read somewhere this week that Guillermo Del Toro was quite glad to not have gone forward with his Mountains of Madness adaptation, as he'd read the script -- and I use the word loosely -- for Prometheus and discovered that whole scenes were almost identical, and he thought that his film might have ended up looking like a rip-off.

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    1. That strikes me as highly plausible!

      However, I'm somewhat sad about the fate of the potential MoM film. I would've liked to have seen Del Toro's effort.

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  12. I thought the movie was great. Its far enough between the decent sci fi moies for me to be too bothered by the couple of plot holes in it. As you say, a few of them may very well be explained in the planned sequel. I agree that it would have been nice to see the MoM movie too though.

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.