Topic: "Prometheus" review by Teague [Spoilers Marked]
Spoilers in black, highlight to read.
You know something, hype ain't no passing trend, and stigma doesn't seem to be going anywhere either.
The kind of hype reserved for the, well, promise of a once-in-a-generation movie seems to be happening more and more these days. The kind of stigma reserved for incredibly high expectations, dashed upon the rocky shores of everyone's opinion, that's no longer something special. Moreover, the two in combination is the norm. We're very used to it. Maybe too used to it. It happens every time, right?
Walking into Prometheus after months of amazing trailers and online buzz, and weeks of everyone shitting so hard on this movie - and it should be said, spoiling myself with complete abandon - I wasn't expecting much. I had already relegated the movie to my "pop in the Blu-Ray because it's pretty" shelf.
I watch the opening credits bracingly, allowing myself to just appreciate the visuals of the helicopter shots and the score... and I find myself enjoying them on their own merits, without giving them any benefit of the doubt at all. And once the goofy statue man starts annihilating himself on the bluffs, I scoff momentarily, only to be completely roped into the dazzling sequence of his DNA stripping apart and recombining. Music swells.
And somehow, despite knowing the spoilers, despite all the shit-talking, and despite having relegated myself to a courtesy buy when the Blu-Ray comes out - a little germ of excitement catches in my chest.
As the movie opens up, I'm with it the whole time. The bad science doesn't bother me too much, not because I don't care, but because if I hated movies because of their bad science I'd never get to watch sci-fi again, and then where would I go to see my fancy planets? The on-the-nose dialogue doesn't bother me, because for some reason - acting, probably - it doesn't feel lobotomized, it feels curt. Tense. It feels like people with a lot on their minds. And somehow, the combination of these flaws - and one seriously annoying archaeologist - with the retro aesthetics and horror movie pacing just put me in the mood for a good old fashioned sci-fi thriller.
And what luck; Prometheus delivers.
It hits all of what I love in a movie. It's got incredibly photography of impossible locations, it's got more than its share of wonder and absolute horror, the tension ratchets up like crazy, and its existential implications are scrumptious... and, above all else, it just keeps working for me. It never shakes me off. Every left turn the movie takes fills me with glee, and every trope it plays into doesn't result in disappointment. The score continues to impress me and the visuals refuse to do anything but piss me off with their absolute fucking hugeness and my lack of a pause button.
It thrilled me, it engaged me, and it never offended me. The more interesting question is, how is that possible?
How is it possible that a movie that has been so universally shat upon, or at least found to be a disappointing mess, could rope me in so deftly? Hype and stigma, folks. You throw a world's worth of expectations on a thing, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you unload a world's worth of hate on a thing, viciously in some cases... the resulting emotion walking into a theater isn't quite sympathy, nor is it contrariness, it's something more like skepticism. "Alright, movie," you feel, "they all say you suck. I'm gonna give you a shake. What have you got?"
Hype is certainly bad, but I'm starting to warm up on stigma.
It doesn't happen every time. For me, it's only happened a couple times. But Prometheus just became my favorite example of what happens when something is so stigmatized you can't help but drop your expectations to absolute zero. Because, in the case of Prometheus, what happens is the movie ends up with a big fan - and I end up with one more movie in my life that I get to love.