Joe Nolan's Insomnia — June 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

A Light on Prometheus

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When they report this weekend’s box office receipts, I’m sure I’ll be among a throng of folks who went to the theater this weekend to see Ridley Scott’s new Alien-prequel-of-a-kind Prometheus.

No spoilers, no in-depth autopsy, I’d just like to share a few strengths and weaknesses I took away from the film.

On the plus side…

The art design and costumes are, predictably, gorgeous.

Michael Fassbender gives a performance that is simultaneously sweet, sinister, aching and arch. He joins Ian Holm and Lance Henricksen in the franchise’s prestigious line of scene-stealing androids.

The film’s plot revolves around an ancient astronaut myth that’s right in line with conspiracy culture’s mainstream edge.

Noomi Rapace’s “surgery scene” will be the most-talked-about single scene in summer cinema.

The story centers on a star system that features a Saturn-like, ringed planet. More on the implications of this setting later…

On the other hand…

For all of its big questions about where humanity came from, the film never emanates a sense of awe at the asking or at the inadequate, vague answers that it supplies.

While some of the CGI landscapes are wonderfully rendered, the monsters here are a little silly looking and far too cartoon-like to elicit any real dread. It’s not a criticism of the artists behind them so much as it’s another observation that, sometimes, a dude in a rubber suit is still the best option.

While the setting and characters are different, this film mirrors the first movie almost move-for-move. In the first Alien we were treated to a haunted house story in outer space set in the claustrophobic confines of a ship that brought the movie the suffocating tension of a submarine thriller. Although threats continually arise here, we never feel the slightest sense of dread. I never even jumped in surprise.

Whole scenes seem dedicated only to putting special effects on display.

The cast and the script are full of holes. Charlize Theron is remarkably wooden and unbelievable here, but it’s also clear that she is laboring under a script that’s full of contrived dialog and and unresolved plot points.

Have you seen it? What did you think? Please comment below.

Back to Saturn…

Are their specific allusions being made to Saturn in the film? Here is a really entertaining interview with the Australian guitarist Santos Bonacci. He talks mythology, astrology, astronomy and the influence of the Cult of Saturn.

For more Insomnia, visit Joe’s Nolan’s web site.

Stay awake!

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