Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lucking Into Masterpiece, The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus Details How Prometheus Was Developed!

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The Good: Amazing detailing, Very thorough
The Bad: Some of the camerawork, A few notable missed opportunities
The Basics: An intense documentary for fans of Prometheus, The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus is more than just a bonus feature!

Love it or hate it, Prometheus was a mammoth cinematic undertaking and it is a pretty ballsy idea. At its heart, Prometheus is essentially a two hour film to explain a model/set piece seen for under three minutes in Alien. To capture the incredible process of creating Prometheus, director and documentarian Charles de Lauzirika created the documentary The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus. Personally, I was pissed that the only way I could get all of the bonus features for Prometheus was with the four-disc version of the film. I do not yet have a 3-D Blu-Ray or 3-D television, so having to shell out five dollars extra for a disc that I could not even play, irked the crap out of me. That was until I watched The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus.

The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus is the cornerstone of the exclusive disc available only in the four-disc version of Prometheus (reviewed here!). The documentary, The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus is a three hour, forty-one minute presentation that explores every aspect of the creation of the film Prometheus. Having excitedly watched the documentary twice now, all I can really say is: 1. Wow! John Spaihts got screwed, and 2. Wow! How could such an incredible film come out of such a haphazard creative process?!

To be fair to director Charles de Lauzirika, it is tough to create an enduring and interesting documentary on a film. Far too often, any form of documentary on the creation of a film is a ten to twenty minute featurette designed to help sell the DVDs to fans who crave exclusive content. The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus takes some cues from the successful documentary Lost In La Mancha (reviewed here!), which documented the collapse of a Terry Gilliam film. The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus successfully explores the genesis of Prometheus from the earliest concept aspects through the promotional material.

While pitching to executives at Fox, writer John Spaihts was asked about revisiting the Alien Universe and began generating ideas for director Ridley Scott, who was interested in returning to science fiction and that particular universe. Very shortly thereafter, Spaihts, Scott, and a visualization team began creating the film that would evolve into Prometheus. With production ramping up, the studio got nervous about using Spaihts’s work alone and Damon Lindelof was brought in to rewrite the script, working closely with Ridley Scott.

With the production design visualized for the entities, vehicles, ships, and equipment of the film, Prometheus was cast, the film was shot, and a massive, viral marketing campaign launched in order to make it one of the most anticipated films of 2012. The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus explores every aspect of that.

The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus is impressive in its level of detail. Elements like the process of designing the giant transport vehicle that came out of Prometheus create an unparalleled level of documenting for a modern film. Director Charles de Lauzirika managed to get some incredible footage of behind-the-scenes moments from the preproduction materials through the casting and alternate takes of scenes. The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus actually makes Prometheus seem like one of the great “happy accidents” of modern cinema. De Lauzirika captures amazing footage of writer John Spaihts and Ridley Scott who discuss the creation of Prometheus in a way that makes it clear that production was very much under way before anything remotely resembling a finished script was prepared! Prometheus, then, was far less about telling the story it ultimately came up with, than it was justifying an evolution of various alien creatures on screen!

With impressive candid footage of the incredible process Noomi Rapace went through to create Shaw and get the look and feel of the character right, The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus has great footage of all of the cast members and it manages to be entertaining as well as incredibly informative.

What The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus lacks is probing questions and a real sense of curiosity from the filmmaker. This film is, unfortunately at times, a very pure documentary. Charles de Lauzirika does not ask (or use footage if he did ask) about what many of the participants actually think or feel about what they are going through. Spaihts, for example, talks about how he was not surprised to have the project taken out from under him, but he never says how he actually felt about it. He expresses no dissatisfaction with the fact that what he wrote was radically altered by Damon Lindeloff. Similarly, de Lauzirika never gets Ridley Scott to open up on his deeper motivations for taking on Prometheus. Long before the film had a spiritual component, Scott was creating it and his only real solid idea, as detailed by The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus, was that he wanted the H.R. Geiger-designed “space jockey” to be a suit for something that was human beneath.

What is missing from The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus are the probing moments or even using fully what de Lauzirika had access to. The best example of missed opportunities comes when de Lauzirika captures H.R. Geiger’s visit to the production offices, Ridley Scott speaks for Geiger. How de Lauzirika could not get Geiger to talk about his thoughts on what Scott was doing weakens that portion of the film.

Ultimately, though, The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus is far more than a DVD bonus feature. It manages to not repeat too much of what is already present in the DVD commentary tracks on Prometheus and the documentary has wonderful bonus features of its own. Loaded with “Enhancements,” The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus gives the viewer the option to see featurettes within the documentary that provide additional material – especially in the artwork department – that will keep Prometheus geeks entertained for hours and hours on end.

Informative and educational, The Furious Gods: Making Prometheus is enough to satisfy fans and convince Prometheus detractors that an exceptional amount of thought went into developing the film, regardless of the results!

For other Prometheus-related reviews, be sure to check out my takes on:
NECA’s Prometheus Engineer (Chair Suit) Action Figure
NECA’s Prometheus Engineer (Pressure Suit) Action Figure
The Alien Quadrillogy


For other film reviews, check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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