Prometheus (and the Theron-athon)

As far back as February I was excited about seeing Prometheus and I finally managed to catch it in 3D in the cinema last week. Being a huge fan of Alien (I even bought this amazing box set when it came out) my anticipation levels were high, however while there were some great elements, overall I felt it was a bit of a let down.

Director Ridley Scott has positioned Prometheus as a prequel and it explains the origin of the “space jockey” seen in the first Alien film. The film takes place in 2089 when the crew of the spaceship Prometheus follow an ancient star map which is common to many Earth cultures. They travel to a distant world, seemingly uninhabited and containing huge temples and underground caves. The crew’s mission is to uncover the origins of humanity, but instead things quickly deteriorate due to the nascent Alien organisms that inhabit the planet.

Prometheus is certainly visually arresting and works very well in 3D. The set designs, special effects and cinematography are all excellent and HR Geiger’s bleak industrial aesthetic has been effectively carried through. However the film seemed to cram too much into a short space of time, leaving plot threads unresolved and many questions unanswered. Perhaps Scott intends to address these in a sequel (which, judging by the ending, is inevitable) but it certainly makes for an unsatisfactory viewing experience.

In terms of acting Michael Fassbender walks away with the film, playing an android called David who has a hidden agenda. Noomi Rapace plays the main female character, Elizabeth Shaw. Unfortunately Rapace has none of Sigourney Weaver’s charisma and as a result I wasn’t rooting for her in the same way that I did for Ripley, no doubt one of the most interesting female characters in the history of cinema. Given that Rapace would appear to be the main protagonist in the sequel to Prometheus, I’m not sure how much I’ll like it. I’m also perplexed at Theron’s casting. Why would you employ such a wonderful actress and then relegate her to a part that mostly consists of striding around looking hot in a catsuit?

Theron is an acting force to be reckoned with as she has shown with her Oscar winning performance in Monster. Yes she is stunningly beautiful, but her commitment to her craft is by far the most admirable thing about her. I ended up having a wee bit of a Theron-athon last week as I watched two other films in which she stars. North Country is a film about a landmark sexual harassment case in the USA and Theron plays Josey, the female lead. Josey returns home to a small mining town in Minnesota having escaped her abusive husband. She takes a job in the mine and along with the other female employees becomes the subject of extreme verbal and physical harassment. Theron deservedly received many accolades for her performance in the film and it’s definitely worth a watch.

I then watched Young Adult which was released last year. In this Theron plays Mavis Gary, a divorced alcoholic ghost writer who returns to her home town to recapture her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade. Theron’s character is selfish, narcissistic and rude, and she plays the role fearlessly, amping up Mavis’ unsympathetic qualities. Patton Oswalt also puts in a great supporting performance as Matt Freehauf, an old classmate of Mavis’ who is unimpressed by her beauty and apparent success and tells her the unvarnished truth. Young Adult is both cynical and very funny (in part due to Diablo Cody’s brilliant script) and I recommend you watch it soon.

So Ridley, next time you want a hot actress in one of your movies but you aren’t going to give her a substantial role, perhaps you shouldn’t waste the talents of an actress like Theron and instead cast somebody a bit more suitable, like Megan Fox for example. Just saying…

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