Monday, 25 June 2012


Yes, this is a remarkable film. Is it a prequel, of sorts yes it is, and it may well be followed by another film before long as well. So archaeologists find star maps across the earth and decide that this is an invitation to travel across the galaxy. The ship Prometheus is then sent to these coordinates, and android, David, spends his time learning languages while the crew sleeps until they reach a moon where lots of questions are maybe answered, and posed.

That’s the nub really, questions, the scientists discover the architects of humanity and also discover that these architects may have had other plans for humanity. There are a number of agendas at play here as well. The scientists are attempting to make their discoveries, but someone has paid for all of this and they may well have their own ideas as to what should happen and what the worth of all of the resources in the mission might be. This theme has been developed in the first four Alien films and really coloured Ripley’s judgement on a number of occasions.

This film not only refutes all human religion, but also has a go at Darwinism as well. All theories of humanity are turned on their head. We’re not made in the image of the creator, human life didn’t evolve in the way we thought on earth, we’re not unique and we’re really bottom of the heap in the galaxy.

In comparison to some prequels I’ve seen the pieces fall into place in quite a subtle manner. The film is made by director whose director’s cut of Blade Runner was actually shorter than the original film, he’s therefore not afraid to do things for solely creative reasons. He’s apparently also known for moving furniture round in his house in the middle of the night, just to try out how things look. He obviously knows his film history as well, judging by all the references to 2001 for instance. I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I might have been. Although there are times when you may find that you say to yourself, ‘don’t look in there’, ‘it’s not a good to stay the night in there’, as I did.

The Avengers Assemble

There’s been a long history of depicting super and comic book heroes in the cinema and TV. This goes back to Batman, Superman, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Marvel Comics characters were not really given great adaptations in the 70s and 80s, the animated Spiderman series was probably the highpoint as that compared favourably with the live action Incredible Hulk series and films of the day such as the woeful Captain America.

In more recent years there has been a marked improvement in the quality of films featuring Marvel characters. The catalyst for this may have been Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989; this may have challenged Marvel to do better. We’ve seen a number of decent Spiderman and X-Men films, these were followed by Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, The First Avenger, they can tell stories, but they can’t necessarily give them good titles. These films laid the way for this one with its snappy title and its ensemble cast.

I was reminded of Watchmen and how that presented itself at the outset as being set in an alternate universe. This led me to wonder, what is being depicted here? Would this be in an alternate universe, as far as I know there are not superheroes on our earth? Is this a symbolic film, are they talking about different aspects of the human condition? Are there gods depicted that we forgot to worship that are in the background waiting to be worshipped again?

Maybe this film is fulfilling one of the roles of fiction in extrapolating and theorising what would happen in given situations. Albeit saying if Thor’s adopted brother, Loki, decided that he wanted dominion over today’s Earth, and that to achieve this he had stolen a source of unlimited power from the US Government, that had originally come from Asgard. Would the only way to stop him be to assemble a group of people with extraordinary abilities and resources, who would then fight him and the forces he summons?

If this all just fiction then it maybe all we need is to suspend our belief in reality, but then that depends on the credibility of what we’re shown, and how it’s explained. How can we evaluate the possibilities we see here without knowing the properties of the Tessaract, and really how Odin works really, without going into what are the properties of gamma radiation on the emotionally challenged man. I still can’t believe that Tony Stark’s girlfriend is called Pepper Potts.

Despite all of this the reason why this film works is because of the characterisation and the script. Joss Whedon has developed well rounded characters. In which he has honestly portrayed conflict and argument, between characters that on the surface should get along. There were however a few moments that grated, most of what Scarlett Johansson did and I began to tire of Robert Downey Jr, somewhat, by the end of the film.

For me the highlight of the film though is not absolutely necessary to the plot at all, there’s a beautiful scene with Mark Ruffalo and Harry Dean Stanton, it is beautiful and understated, not like the rest of the film. Although it discusses one of the major subplots, how damaging it can be to be a super hero and how it’s necessary to try and retain some reality, sanity and have someone you can trust. There is a lesson for us all, super hero or not.