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A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
For more about Prometheus 3D and the Prometheus 3D Blu-ray release, see the Prometheus 3D Blu-ray Review
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce
Director: Ridley Scott
» See full cast & crew
Prometheus 3D Blu-ray Review
A definite shortlist contender for best-overall Blu-ray release of the year.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 8, 2012
In response to mankind's three most pressing questions—Where do we come from? What is our purpose? What happens to us when we die?—the empirically minded suggest that we probably arose through abiogenesis out of a primordial ooze, that we exist to propagate our genetic code, and that death simply returns our atoms to be endlessly recycled. The faithful, meanwhile, take comfort in a supernatural creator who has a plan for their lives, culminating in an eternal heavenly reward. But what if neither camp is quite right? What if we were planted here, not by a god, but by a race of corporal beings sufficiently technologically advanced to traverse the universe, seeding the cosmos with life of their own design?
This is no new idea, but it first gained cultural traction with the 1968 publication of Erick von Däniken's bestseller, Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, a work of staggering psuedoscience and blatant anthropological chicanery. If completely bonkers and without any actual evidence, the book still makes for an imaginative flight of fancy, and its key, "ancient astronauts" concept serves well as the basis for Prometheus, director Ridley Scott's magnificent-but-flawed return to the sci-fi genre. Despite what you may have heard, the film is a prequel to Scott's 1979 classic, Alien, although not necessarily a direct one. It's better to think of Prometheus as a semi- distant relative, twice or thrice-removed. The two movies aren't immediately narratively linked, but they share much of the same DNA.
And Prometheus is all about DNA. The pre-title sequence takes us over a barren, lifeless landscape, and up to the top of a turbid glacial waterfall, where an alien protohuman—who looks like a buff, living marble reproduction of Michelangelo's David—stands by the shore, holding a cup of black goo. This is an "Engineer," as they'll later come to be called, and he's here to seed what we can presume to be Earth. He downs the viscous caviar-like substance in one gulp, and immediately his cellular structure begins to break down, causing his skin to rupture, his bones to snap grotesquely, and his body to fall into the water, where it dissolves, spreading genetic material downstream. Et voilà! Life. Eons later, in 2089, we cut to a pair of anthropologist lovers—the believer Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the atheistic Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green)—as they find a 30,000-year-old cave painting on the Isle of Skye, depicting an Engineer-ish-looking figure pointing to a cluster of stars, an image that's been found in numerous archeological sites around the globe. Shaw believes it's "an invitation," and soon enough they're aboard the spacecraft Prometheus—funded by the supposedly dead industrialist Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce)—zipping toward the distant moon LV-223, hoping to find answers to humanity's deepest existential questions.
Unlike the Nostromo, Alien's dingy blue-collar mining craft, Prometheus—named after the mythological fire-stealer—is a state-of-the-art research vessel, carrying scientists from pertinent fields, including spectacled biologist Millburn (Raff Spall) and punk geologist Fifield (Sean Harris), along with a substantial crew of ancillary characters. The ship is captained by former military man Janek (Idris Elba), but the real leader of the expedition is Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a stone-cold Weyland Corp. employee who makes it clear to everyone—Shaw and Holloway especially— that they report to her. Also on board is David (Michael Fassbender), an 8th generation android who's obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia—he even dyes his hair to look like Peter O'Toole—and ironically becomes the very soul of the film, a grown-up Pinocchio who can never become a real boy. Not to demean the rest of the cast, who are generally decent-to-excellent, but Theron and Fassbender are the two acting powerhouses here, the former all icy secrecy and the latter effete and guarded—think a more refined C3PO crossed with Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In a way, Prometheus is a more pop, "genre"-oriented version of 2001, both concerned with evolution, artificial intelligence, and the notion that something out there gave the fire of human consciousness its first spark. Where Kubrick's film is a slow-burning intellectual exercise, Prometheus becomes a tension-ratcheting affair where the big ideas are couched in stylish big-budget sci-fi/horror action. When the ship lands on LV-223, which is not the moon from Alien, the crew quickly—too quickly to believe actually—spots and enters an enormous pyramid complex with reniform subterranean tunnels and a chamber that houses a monolithic human head and dozens of cylinders filled with that DNA-altering black goop. Nearby are the piled up bodies of several long-dead "engineers," who were obviously trying to escape something but didn't make it. Without getting into spoilers, it's safe to assume to that one or more team members become "infected," and you can also expect to see some aggressive lifeforms that have never before appeared in the Alien franchise, although they share the phallic/yonic, H.R. Giger-inspired qualities of the facehuggers and xenomorphs of yore. There are grotesque mutations, frantic firefights—one involving an actual flamethrower—and even an emergency alien fetus c-section, the film's most white-knuckle, squirm-inducing scene.
Does the original xenomorph monster show up? Well, sort of. Let's just say it has a fan-appeasing cameo. Written by Jon Spaihts and Lost's Damon Lindelof, Prometheus expands the universe of the series and unravels a few mysteries from the first film—yes, the "space jockey" in that pilot's chair was an "engineer"—but it also raises a host of other questions that it doesn't have time to answer. (Why do the engineers suddenly want us dead? Why leave us a star map guiding us to what's essentially a biological weapons depot? If the engineers created us, who created them?) With a sequel already in the works, I don't consider the lingering ambiguities a problem—and I love the post-viewing discussions that naturally arise because of them—but Prometheus does have other shortcomings. There are small potential plot holes, and a few scenes that feel forced—inserted for narrative convenience or just to ramp up the action—but the most noticeable issue is that characters sometimes simply don't act in believably human ways. They contradict earlier established behaviors. They make choices only a soon-to-be-slaughtered teenager in a slasher movie would make. They don't express nearly enough awe at the fact that they're not just on another world, but making discoveries that dramatically alter humanity's assumptions about its own origins.
Prometheus probably could've used another script revision to tighten everything up, but the pacing flows well—even when some of the events don't exactly make sense in retrospect—and there's no doubt that the film is an experience, the kind of grand-scale, high-concept science fiction that's unfortunately rare. (Although, between Looper and Cloud Atlas this year, sci-fi seems to be making a comeback.) I don't really get the small but rabid cult of haters that's sprung up to deride the film, but I blame the internet hype machine, which skews expectations impossibly. If you're anticipating the be-all-end-all Alien movie, with mind-melting twists and non-stop horror, then yes, Prometheus might be a bit of a let-down. But this prequel really is its own entity and deserves to be seen and evaluated on its own terms. Personally, I think it's a terrific reboot of a franchise that had grown ridiculous long before the dopey Alien vs. Predator movies. Ridley Scott directs the hell out of this thing, the scope is immense—check out those real, predominately non-CGI sets—and call me a heretic, but damn if Michael Fassbender doesn't make a better android that Ian Holm or Lance Henriksen ever did. Onto the sequel, I say, and if Scott isn't going to do it—he's only listed as producer, and he'll probably be busy revisiting the world of Blade Runner—I nominate David Fincher, whose Alien 3 got bungled by the studio, and who definitely deserves another shot at the series. Anyone second that motion?
Prometheus 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Gorgeous. And that's about all you really need to know. But for the sake of completeness, let's get into what makes Prometheus' 1080p/AVC- encoded Blu-ray transfer so stunning. Using Red Epic digital cameras mounted to 3ality Technica Atom 3D rigs, the film was shot almost entirely on Pinewood Studio's famed—and enormous—007 lot, allowing Ridley Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski complete control over the lighting of the magnificently detailed sets. The combination of a great camera system, high-quality Zeiss lenses, and precise manipulation of the direction and degree of light makes for an image that's often terrifically sharp and nearly noiseless at times. Camera noise does spike a bit during the darkest scenes, but it has a granular quality that looks almost filmic up close, with no digital harshness or chroma artifacts, and it isn't really noticeable from a normal viewing distance. It should also go without saying that there are no compression issues or encode errors on this top-tier release; even scenes where you might expect to see some banding or splotchiness—flashlights cutting through darkness, volumetric clouds of dust rising into the air, fine color gradients—hold up under pixel-peeping scrutiny. The level of clarity is exemplary for a live-action film. Fine detail is ever-present in the textures of the actors' faces, the fabric of their clothing, and the intricacies of the props and set design. The film's distinct color palette is handled with ease too. The inky depths of the pyramid, the yellow LED lights inside the explorers' helmets, the cool fluorescence inside Prometheus, the spatters of blood, the skin tones—everything has a satisfying density and presence.
And then we come to the film's use of 3D, which is some of the best I've seen outside of all-CGI movies. If you saw the 3D version of Prometheus in theaters, you'll already have a good idea of what to expect on Blu-ray, namely, lots of depth and little-to-no projection. That is, you'll spend a lot of time looking into your screen—which becomes a kind of portal through which to view a 3D diorama—but you won't find any leap-out-of-the-TV-and-jab-you-in-the-eye gimmickry, which may work in horror films or cartoons, but would only cheapen the experience here. And because there are no objects jutting out towards you, you don't have to worry about the roughly 2.39:1 frame cutting anything off. (No, there's no 1.78:1 "open-matte" version available.) There are a few longer landscape shots where no dimensionality is apparent, but most of the time there's a clear and natural-looking distinction between foreground objects and their backgrounds. There are definitely some "showpiece" 3D shots, like the landing sequence, the silica dust storm, and the engineer holograms, but the 3D effect is most impressively used to add a degree of realism to some of the more mundane scenes, like when Holloway stares into the mirror of his cabin, noticing there's something unusual in his eye. Or Shaw lying on the all-white operating table. Clarity and color both hold-up well, and there are no unusual 3D anomalies to report. Of course, the effect will be better on bigger screens—and the amount of ghosting/doubling you experience will depend on the quality of your TV/projector/glasses—but in general, Prometheus' 3D Blu-ray replicates the theatrical experience rather well. Do note that all screenshots are from the included 2D Blu-ray.
Prometheus 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Turn off the lights, crank up your receiver, and settle in—Prometheus's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is one to savor, particularly if you've got a home theater setup capable of bringing the aural goods. This mix just doesn't quit; from start to finish it delivers room- quaking dynamics, pristine clarity, and polished, realistic, puts-you-right-in-the-middle-of-the-action sound design. From the opening scene on the barren planet Earth we get deep sub-woofer engagement, the lapping, crashing, and bubbling of a massive waterfall, and the thunderous rumble of an alien ship overhead. The sense of all-surrounding immersion is near-constant from here forward. Bleeps and bloops and the hush of processed air aboard the Prometheus. Sirens wailing in the rears. Dripping rain. Convincing cavernous reverb. The whipping of a monster's tendrils. Debris from an explosion rocketing through the soundscape. Silica dust clinking furiously as a storm blows across LV-223. Fifield's mapping "pups" as they zoom off through underground corridors. There's not a scene where the audio isn't lushly and thoughtfully arranged. Just take the actors' voices, which—besides being well-balanced and easily understood—always reflect the acoustics of their surroundings, flatter aboard the ship, slightly muffled inside their helmets, echoing and wet inside the pyramid. All this is backed up by Marc Streitenfeld's enormous-sounding orchestral score, which alternates between quiet uneasiness and sheer bombast.
Note that the 3D disc and the 2D disc have slightly different dub and subtitle options.
Prometheus 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
2D Blu-ray Disc
The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus (1080p, 3:40:56): Here's where it really gets good. Directed by renowned behind-the-scenes documentarian Charles de Lauzirika, this nearly four-hour making-of feature is a comprehensive journey through the film's creation—from early script ideas to the pre-release hype train—with all-access on-set footage and interviews with nearly everyone involved. Read below to see what's covered in each of the nine sections.
Note: The special features on disc three are available with optional English SDH, Spanish, French, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Mandarin, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Cantonese, Polish, and Indonesian subtitles.
Prometheus 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
So much of a film's reception comes down to the expectations of its audience, and Prometheus was perhaps unfairly saddled with the high hopes of Alien fans, who were looking forward to the be-all-end-all in interstellar terror. What they got instead was a pop-philosophical rumination on human origins, faith, and science, packaged inside a tense sci-fi plot that borrows the Alien universe but isn't necessarily beholden to the storytelling staples of the franchise. After so many sequels of diminishing quality—and let's not even talk about the Alien vs. Predator disasters— this prequel-of-sorts is exactly the kind of change that the series needed. Are there problems here? Absolutely, most relating to narrative convenience, potential plot holes, and a few too many characters. But don't listen to the haters; Prometheus is much better than the sum of its flaws. In a time when epic, high-concept science fiction films are few and much too far between, it stands as a monolithic achievement in scope and style. Those still disappointed by the "lack of answers" should be patient—a sequel is already in the works. Until then, we can all bide our time with this fantastic Blu- ray release, which features a stellar audio/video presentation and the most comprehensive collection of extras I've encountered since the Alien Anthology, including two commentary tracks, thirty-seven minutes of deleted scenes, a three-and-a-half hour making-of documentary, and much more. Expect to see this multi-disc, 3D edition of Prometheus on many Best Blu-ray Releases of 2012 lists. Our highest recommendation!
Prometheus: Other Editions
Prometheus 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, October 8-14: Prometheus Breaks The Avengers' Reve... - October 17, 2012
For the week ending on October 14th, Twentieth Century Fox's Prometheus dominated both the overall package media and Blu-ray-only sales charts. After months of pre-release hype, the Alien prequel debuted last June to divisive critical reactions and mostly enthusiastic ...
• Interview with Prometheus Blu-ray Behind-the-Scenes Producer Char... - October 9, 2012
Blu-ray.com staff reviewer Casey Broadwater recently had a chance to chat with acclaimed behind-the-scenes documentarian and Blu-ray producer Charles de Lauzirika about The Furious Gods, his three-and-a-half-hour making-of doc for the Prometheus 3D Blu-ray: 4-Disc ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: October 9-16 - October 7, 2012
For the week of October 9th, Twentieth Century Fox is offering up a close encounters of the third kind with the sci-fi blockbuster Prometheus, director Ridley Scott's not-a-prequel-except-really-a-prequel to Alien prequel. As its placement in that iconic horror ...
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