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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prometheus Dazzles on Blu-ray

Written by Kirk Baird

On the back cover of the just-released Prometheus Blu-ray disc, it clearly states, “Questions will be answered” by the film. What the back cover doesn’t state, however, is that many new questions will also arise from this movie.

This wildly ambitious science fiction film set in the Alien universe — though it’s not considered a proper prequel — proved confounding and, perhaps, disappointing to some fans of Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece precisely for those reasons. The film addressed some of the held-over queries from the original Alien — most notably about the mummified remains of the “space jockey” creature the humans discover before encountering the roomful of eggs — but then yields just as many questions, including who are the space jockeys?

In one of the movie’s two separate commentary tracks, Prometheus cowriter Damon Lindelof said he likes ambiguity in his movies and to leave audiences guessing. This, of course, was the hallmark of the show he helped create, Lost, which was all about piling on questions after questions, much to viewer dismay.

There is much to discuss and deliberate in Prometheus as well, as two scientists, Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green, respectively), believe they’ve discovered proof that humans were not only visited by aliens thousands of years ago, but also were created by these “engineers” of humanity.

A small group of scientists, including Elizabeth and Charlie, and crew assemble for the long voyage aboard the ship Prometheus to the engineers’ world to meet our makers.

Naturally, when the crew arrives, nothing goes as planned. The engineers are long since dead. And it appears they were using this barren moon as a base to house biological weapons to use against us.

“Sometimes in order to create, one must destroy,” notes the android David (Michael Fassbender), who acts as the ship’s caretaker and also as catalyst to a more sinister agenda.

Fassbender’s emotionally cold and calculating David steals the film and his presence remains on screen even when he’s not around, while Rapace, best known to audiences through the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, does her best Sigourney Weaver as the mentally and physically tough heroine who is put through hell.

The effects in Prometheus are outstanding — the lunar landscapes in particular are stunning — yet, in a strange twist, the science-fiction/occasionally horror film feels bigger on the smaller screen than it did in the theatre.

An added benefit to the Blu-ray/DVD release is the ability for back-to-back multiple viewings of the film as well as rewind and pause, which helps illuminate plot points often missed in the theatrical showing. It’s not that Prometheus is difficult to follow; rather, there’s a lot going on, and smaller moments sometimes are swallowed up by the spectacle of it all.

Of particular interest will be the separate commentaries, which also feature John Spaihts, the original screenwriter, as well as Scott. For fans of Prometheus and the Alien universe — and even those who would like some answers — the writers’ and the director’s commentary tracks are worth the time, and help flesh out the story beyond what made it to screen. Scott’s commentary in particular indicates how much of the film was shaped and constructed in the editing room. The Blu-ray release also includes nearly 40 minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, including an expanded beginning and ending to the film, along with optional commentary by Prometheus editor Pietro Scalia.

By the end of these commentaries and other extras, questions will remain. Take heart that those queries may be answered in the Prometheus sequel Scott will direct for 2014 and in a third film the director would like to see made as well. Or, maybe not.

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