Most of what you've heard about Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012) is true. It's an ambitious slice of science fiction. It's a quasi-prequel to the Alien franchise. Some of its characters and their actions are mind-numbingly stupid. It's loaded with terrific visuals and a wonderful mix of CGI and practical effects. Several plot holes are big enough to drive a truck through. Either way, Scott's production should not be considered "cinematic perfection" by anyone...but for more visually minded viewers, the film's wonderfully thick atmosphere offers more than enough reason to consider Prometheus a commendable effort.
The bulk of our story is set in the year 2093, several years after a star map is discovered by scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green). The map hints at the origin of human life as created by "The Engineers", a race of godlike specimens with idealized human features. In what should be a familiar scenario for genre fans, our crew awakens from stasis aboard the spaceship Prometheus and is quickly briefed on their mission: to explore moon LV-223 and a pyramid-like structure that may provide some answers. Funded by the elderly Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce), the mission is led by company woman Mereditch Vickers (Charlize Theron) and the ship's captain Janek (Idris Elba). Shaw and Holloway join with android David (Michael Fassbender), geologist Fifield (Sean Harris), biologist Millburn (Rafe Spall) and others during the exploration. As expected, our crew has jumped into a lion's den.
When Prometheus fires on all cylinders, it's truly a sight to behold. Viewers are treated to a fully-realized visual landscape, from the vast set designs that comprise LV-223 to the ship's sterile yet murky interior. Scott's film largely avoids green screen and uses practical effects enhanced by tasteful CGI, giving the production a realistic sheen that's easy to get lost in. Shot entirely in digital 3-D, Prometheus serves up stunning detail and deep black levels, both of which further enhance its dark, foreboding atmosphere.
Story-wise, it occasionally falters. The weighty themes are tough to chew on at times, and its truncated lifespan doesn't leave enough time to build the weight for at least one sacrificial act. Characters often make decisions that...well, most reasonable folks wouldn't, especially if they were trudging through a barren landscape where danger might be lurking (or, in one particular case, running away from something that's much taller than it is wide). It proves to be a frustrating experience at times, yet Prometheus offers a bold new direction for a franchise that, frankly, had long since painted itself into a corner.
Prometheus is worth seeking out on Blu-Ray, thanks to a flawless A/V presentation and an assortment of helpful extras. The 3-D Collector's Edition (available separately) also includes a lengthy documentary and other goodies...but if you don't want to dig that deep, this two-disc version is solid middle ground.
Video & Audio Quality
Prometheus is about as perfect a visual presentation as I've seen on Blu-Ray; not surprising, given the film's big-budget effects and state-of-the-art digital pedigree. This 2.39:1, 1080p transfer maintains an incredibly smooth and slick appearance from start to finish, boasting strong image detail, robust black levels and an almost hypnotic color palette. No apparent digital issues could be spotted along the way, including compression artifacts, banding, crush or edge enhancement, resulting in a pitch-perfect viewing experience that oozes with style. I doubt you'll find a better-looking film of this type on Blu-Ray anytime soon, so fans can be assured that Prometheus has been treated with extreme care. It looks flawless.
DISCLAIMER: These images were taken from promotional outlets and do not represent Blu-Ray's native 1080p resolution.
The audio presentation is equally impressive, especially if you've got a strong enough setup to support it. Prometheus' DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix is tremendously enveloping from start to finish, especially during the film's sporadic action sequences. An illusion of depth and atmosphere is carefully maintained during the exploration of deep caverns and other massive locales, while dialogue always remains crisp and easy to understand. While the sound design of Prometheus obviously calls attention to itself on regular occasions, it's equally effective when the film's thick atmosphere drifts into the background. Any way you slice it, this is a terrific audio presentation with plenty of rear channel activity, strong channel separation and thunderous amounts of LFE. Eight optional Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 dubs are available in a variety of languages, as well as more than a dozen subtitle choices (including English SDH).
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen below (in DVD form), these menu designs are relatively smooth, easy to navigate and load quickly. The 124-minute main feature has been divided into 36 chapters. This two-disc set is housed in a dual-hubbed keepcase; also included is a matching enhanced slipcover and a Digital Copy redemption insert. The Blu-Ray is unlocked for worldwide playback, but the DVD appears to be Region 1 compatible only.
There's less to dig through than what you get on the 3-D Collector's Edition of Prometheus
, but fans should still find plenty to enjoy. Leading things off is a pair of Audio Commentaries
; one features director Ridley Scott, while the other stitches together separate comments from co-writers John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Both are certainly worth a listen for different reasons, though I'd imagine Scott's track will be the popular favorite: he's got a true artist's mind and Prometheus
is undoubtedly driven by the visuals. It's a shame we couldn't hear from members of the cast or visual effects crew, though.
Also here is a generous collection of Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes (1080p, 37 minutes total), including "Arrival of the Engineers", "Our First Alien", "We're Not Alone Anymore", "A King Has His Battle", "Final Battle", "Paradise" and many more. All include optional audio commentary by editor Pietro Scalia and VFX supervisor Richard Stammers...and while there's nothing here that drastically alters the story (and, unfortunately, kills any hope for an eventual director's cut), these are still worth watching.
Closing things out is a selection of Internet Promo Clips---dubbed The Peter Weyland Files (1080p, 19 minutes total)---which reveal a few interesting character moments and additional information about our background story. The clips include "Quiet Eye: Elizabeth Shaw", "Happy Birthday, David", "Prometheus Transmission" and "2023 TED Conference". All bonus features are presented with optional subtitles.
Also, the obligatory DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy are included with this set, if that floats your boat.
If you have yet to see Prometheus...well, congratulations, because it's much easier to digest now that the critical opinions have died down a little. Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi/horror is an ambitious, epic-scaled production that oddly blends in a few unfavorable genre elements: several braid-dead character moments, a couple of cheap scares and occasional techno-babble. Luckily, the film's oppressively thick atmosphere is heightened by a reference quality A/V presentation and a handful of engaging supplements (plus more, if you shell out for the 3-D package), and these technical merits definitely help to smooth out several of the rough edges. Even if Prometheus doesn't turn out to be quite the Alien film you were hoping for, there's more than enough meat here to consider it worth seeking out. Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey from Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.