PROMETHEUS – The Blu Review
By Joe Vanourney
When I saw Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” in the theater this past summer, I left somewhat disappointed. This was one on my most anticipated films of 2012. I was hyped for it for over a year—even before I saw Damon Lindelof and Charlize Theron take the stage with the first images in July 2011 at San Diego Comic-Con. The film was shrouded in secrecy. Is it or is it not an “Alien” prequel? Other than that initial Comic-Con exposure, I tried to avoid any articles or news about it. I went in pretty blind.
Don’t get me wrong. On that initial viewing, there were many things I liked about it. The production design was A+. The score was impressive. The use of 3D was among the best in the modern era. The visual effects were fantastic and I LOVED that they were shooting on practical sets and not in front of green screens. But something left me….cold. The characters felt underdeveloped. There was an emotional detachment to the characters and some of their actions made no sense based on what they had done in previous scenes. I didn’t understand why Guy Pearce was cast as an old man (with horrible old man makeup). And I was slightly confused with the plot.
But as I left, slightly disappointed, I withheld judgment. I knew that there was a great chance that after some time had passed, and my brain had time to process, I may look back on “Prometheus,” like “2001:A Space Odyssey” before it, as a film with a lot to say, and that there was a great possibility that the film would stand the test of time as a science fiction epic, and quite possibly, a masterpiece. The film addresses the issues of creation and evolution in a very heady-philosophical way.
And now, with the release of “Prometheus” as a 4-Disc Collector’s Set (which I have dubbed Prometheus For Dummies: Extended Edition), I am happy to report that I may have been exactly right with my suspicions. The film does make more sense on a second viewing. And with over 7 hours of bonus features, this set stands out as one of the best Blu-Ray releases of the year, as sets the bar high for how films should be released on home video.
Video: This film looks stunning. There is really no other word to describe it. There are no compression issues or encode errors in this top-notch transfer. The film was shot with Red Epic digital cameras using high quality Zeiss lenses mounted to 3ality Technica Atom 3D rigs, and director Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski shot on magnificently-detailed sets at Pinewood Studios’ massive 007 stage, allowing them complete control over lighting and camera issues. Their attention to detail shows in the crisp, highly-detailed images. This was Scott’s first foray into 3D filmmaking, and he says he can’t imagine shooting any other way now. The first disc in the set contains the 3D Blu-Ray transfer and the second disc contains the 2D Blu-Ray. The third disc is bonus features and the fourth contains the film in standard DVD format and digital copy.
Audio: Again, top-of-the-line. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is spectacular. This film has fantastic sound design. From the beginning of the film with the crashing waterfall and thunderous rumbling of the spaceship above it, to the great sound mix on the Prometheus ship, with its airlocks and engine hums and wailing sirens, to the dripping rain and cavernous echoes on LV-223, this is a full-immersion sound experience.
Bonus Features: This is the meat of the collection. I wish all new release Blu-Rays were this massive in their bonus features. And in the case of “Prometheus,” the bonus features truly enhance the film and elevate it to something greater than the film that was released in theaters. The bonus features help make “Prometheus” a better movie.
Let’s start with the audio commentary tracks. There are two. The first features Ridley Scott and is decent. He tells stories of the production, talks about shooting in 3D, and explains why he decided to make another science fiction film after 30 years and another “Alien” film at that.
The second audio commentary track is even better. It features writers John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. This is one of the best audio commentary tracks I have ever heard. Period. Spaihts was originally hired to write a direct prequel to “Alien” and talks about how in this scene they were originally going to find the eggs, and in this scene we see the facehugger, and in this scene—the chest-burster, etc. It gives a fascinating alternate view of what might have been had the film progressed in one direction.
Lindelof’s contribution is even more fascinating. He announces upfront that he is recording the track before the film’s release but predicts what the criticisms of the film are going to be—and then addresses them. Every single one. And his explanations are valid. And make sense. He said he purposely writes ambiguously because he likes to have the audience think for themselves and draw their own conclusions. He feels that the best moviegoing experiences are ones that have you talking for days, weeks, and years afterwards. He references “Inception” as a film he still talks about a year after he’s seen it. He realizes that that may be frustrating to certain members of the audience. He then goes into detail though in explaining exactly what is going on and answers questions about the film in detail. It really sheds a new light on the film.
The other MAJOR bonus feature is a 3 hour and 40 minute (!) making of documentary from Charles de Laurizka titled “The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus.” This documentary explores every aspect of the making of Prometheus. I enjoyed the first 20 minutes or so the best when they were talking about the development of the story and how close they wanted to tie it to “Alien.” Some very interesting tales there. The documentary is very well-produced and extensive.
As if that nearly four-hour documentary wasn’t enough, the third disc also contains an additional hour of making-of featurettes. One of the more interesting ones is about how Ridley Scott came up with a way to tie the “Alien” and “Blade Runner” universes together. That idea was ultimately abandoned, but makes for an awesome “what if” anyway.
There is a collection of internet promotional videos released before the film came out under a section titled The Peter Weyland Files. There are 4 total and the best is the one called TED Conference 2023 where a young Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) gives an inspirational speech where he proclaims that “we are the gods now” and “if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to change the world.”
There are over 36 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes included on the disc as well. Many of these scenes also enhance the film, and help shine a new perspective on it. Together these deleted scenes, along with the audio commentaries and making of documentaries help answer questions and flesh out the story.
One may argue that if you have to watch deleted scenes and listen to audio commentaries to make the film accessible, then the film has failed. There is some validity to that argument. The other side of the argument is that if the filmmakers have the answers to the questions and they purposely designed the film so that audience members would ask questions and seek answers, and leave the film a little frustrated (and leave more questions to be answered in the inevitable sequel), then they succeeded. Perhaps “Prometheus” is a masterpiece. Perhaps “Prometheus” is a flawed masterpiece. Perhaps more time will tell.
FILM QUALITY: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
VIDEO QUALITY: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS
AUDIO QUALITY: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS
BONUS FEATURES: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS