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David Elliott's Final Column

Wow, somebody sure hated "Prometheus"! Head on over to this week's New Yorker and David Denby's review. He enjoyed the film -- on its own terms, not on terms he dictated in advance of entering the theater (or that were the result of previews that built misleading expectations). Error #1 in your premises, David, is that a "veteran director" won't make mistakes, even if he has "years to plan" (as if he was sitting around twiddling his thumbs the whole time, as opposed to working on other projects and having a life). Plus as we all know, veteran directors have to do the same desperate tapdance as anybody else to convince studios to invest heavily in their 100-million-dollar auteur projects. Error #2 is the assumption that somebody has "squandered his resources" when you haven't established why you think they were squandered. The film was a science-fiction horror thriller, and it comes from a story universe full of monsters eating humans, not Max Von Sydow playing chess with Death. "2001: A Space Odyssey" has already been done, and re-done if you count Brian DePalma's "Mission to Mars" thing, which plays out the "Chariots of the God" DNA-planting story, complete with M&M's product placement. Ridley Scott is a visualist first, and he always has been, going back to his days as a commercial director. In "Thelma & Louise" he made sure to light up the mountains, realistic dusk be damned. "Blade Runner" can't even keep its number of androids straight. The only reason Scott managed cohesion and spatial discipline in "Black Hawk Down" is he employed a team of military authenticators. Scott's story mind has never been a steel trap; it's more like a shiny aluminum misting machine. Error #3 is in assuming the film is "junk piled" from past films, when obviously its status as a prequel means audiences will expect some echoes of the past, successful works. Characters are traveling in space -- if not in cryo-stasis, then why not? They do it in "Alien" so it only makes sense to do it here, too. But you can take that repetitive element and change it around, add new elements (a robot who dribbles a basketball, and reads people's dreams?). Regarding the movie as a whole, I thought it had flaws, but naysayers seem to be piling on to an absurd degree.
— June 18, 2012 5:33 a.m.

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