Sunday, June 10, 2012
If you read science fiction novels -- make that good science fiction novels -- you know that an author can combine stunning "visuals" with intriguing extrapolation, a well-crafted story, engaging characters, and entertaining developments. If you watch science fiction movies, however, you may find yourself thinking that spectacular visuals must come at the cost of all that other stuff. It's not always true, but movies like PROMETHEUS from Ridley Scott certainly support my statement. PROMETHEUS looks exactly the way you'd like any spaceship science fiction movie to look: plausible ships and alien landscapes, detailed interiors that look like they are well thought out (no gewgaws without a purpose), fascinating spacesuits and hardware, incredible sights that can be found only in 3D movies (such as a rotating holographic starmap of unbelievable detail), and colors that are bright without taking away from the drama of the situation. And the creators through in some mildly interesting characters (though you've seen most of them before if you've seen the ALIEN films, or AVATAR) and a scattering of interesting ideas. But there's little development of those ideas. The story is not quite as cliched as AVATAR's, but there isn't much there there. I won't give away the story, but the thrust of it could be written in one or two sentences. Compare this to lower-budget SF films, such as MOON from a few years ago, where the visuals are adequate but the story has nuance and intrigue. One suspects that when huge bucks are poured into a movie, the producers shy away from story depth that might prevent the popcorn-popping public from returning and swelling the coffers. I don't want to give a false impression. I enjoyed watching PROMETHEUS. It's just that I wanted more from the movie than it was ultimately prepared to give.