June 12, 2012


The Short Review:  It is my considered opinion that Milla Jovovich rocks the ace bandage look better than Noomi Rapace.

Well.  There’s a lot going on in this movie:

  • Big spaceship adventure (one of my favorite kinds of movies)
  • First contact science fiction
  • Space monster horror
  • Evil corporate conspiracy
  • Nearly-human android discovers his place in the world
  • Religious/spirituality/creationist angst
  • The hapless misadventures of the most moronic crew ever to ply the spaceways. (They’re even dumber than the crew of the Icarus in Sunshine, and that was a dumb crew.)

Alas, Prometheus does none of these well. (Maybe the spaceship stuff.  Pretty spaceships…)

I can tell you the exact moment the movie lost me.  I was trying to be sympathetic, trying to enjoy the spectacular visuals (and the big spaceship/planetscape visuals were spectacular).  But then it did this:  boyfriend scientist says a line about not respecting aliens now that they’re dead and can’t create life anymore.  Girlfriend scientist gets all puppy-eyed and pouty and says something like, “Well, what does that make me since I can’t have babies?  *sniff*!”  Boyfriend goes gooey and they have very awkward sex.  And I’m thinking WHERE THE HELL DID THAT COME FROM.  This archeologist who has spent her whole life on a single-minded, interstellar quest for the Meaning of Life is suddenly angst-ridden about babies?  WTF?  Well, it turns out a few scenes later girlfriend scientist needs to be very surprised when the scanner tells her she’s pregnant.  As if being supposedly infertile were the only a reason a woman might be surprised that she’s pregnant.  So, the only reason that “*sob* I can’t have babies!” line was there was so she could be surprised.  Nothing else ever comes of that line.  When really, the correct response when the medical scanner tells you you’re pregnant is (pick one, there are several correct answers):  “Wait, does that mean someone was schtupping me while I was in cryosleep?”  or “That’s not possible, I had a birth control implant put in before the mission *because that’s what you do before a space mission that’s going to last 10 years*” or even, “God, David, why did you suddenly turn in to such a douche?”  No incredibly awkward infertility setup needed.  It’s really dumb plotting, and it’s piss poor handling of what’s supposed to be our Strong Woman Character ™.

The whole movie is like this. 

In fact, it’s a really sterling example of characterization being replaced by meat puppets in service to a poorly thought out plot.  I’m supposed to believe the crew’s geologist would throw a temper tantrum about not getting to look at rocks and storm back to the ship, rather than sticking around to help out with the first ever human contact with an alien civilization like every scientist of any flavor I’ve ever met would do.  Then he gets lost in the tunnels he was in charge of mapping — oh yeah, I am supposed to buy this, because the plot needs a couple of red shirts, so there we go.  I didn’t believe these characters were scientists.  Most of the time, I didn’t believe they were actually people.

There’s a great sequence early on that made us all think this was going to be a movie about David “finding” himself, a classic robot humanity SF story.  I still want to see that movie.  Alas, that plot was dropped very quickly.  Along with any other plot.  Instead, we got random monster schtick.  There were all kinds of guns set on all kinds of mantels, and none of them were fired. 

Normally, I wouldn’t spent this much time picking apart a badly plotted movie.  But Prometheus thought it was a good movie.  It was pretending to be a good movie.  And it just isn’t.

I hate to bring Alien into it, but the movie pretty much forces you to, right down to a brief reference to the original soundtrack theme.  But this suffers from a bad case of prequel-itis — it engrages the fans because of the damage it does to the original mythology.  The mysterious alien pilot and ship from the first movie are no longer mysterious, and the story we get about him is not the story most of us wanted to see, I’m betting.  (So yeah, advanced alien lifeform, when confronted with the human creatures he manufactured thousands of years before, not only rips one of their heads off — doesn’t actually stop in amazement when that creature turns out to be entirely artificial/mechanical?  Does he pause to consider that his creations have themselves become creators?  Ah, no.  So much for the film’s philosophical underpinnings.)

I’m still going to nominate “Happy Birthday David” for the Hugo for Best Short Dramatic Presentation next year.


15 Responses to “Prometheus”

  1. I would have forgiven the many, many shortcomings if the movie made any sort of sense. But it didn’t.

    It honestly felt like the film was playing keep-away with me the whole time (“You want some answers to the [many] questions we’ve raised? You want them? Huh? Huh? You want them? Well screw you, you can’t have them!”)

  2. sef Says:

    It was a bad movie.

    It had the potential to be a great movie, though — for the first hour or so, I was engaged and, in spare moments, thinking “wow, this is great!” And, honestly, the acting was really good.

    And then they managed to lose me. I don’t think it was a single scene they did; I think it was all the scenes they didn’t do.

    I walked out thinking of three failings the movie had:

    First, it didn’t make any sense. I know the prologue was supposed to tie in to being Earth, but they didn’t follow up on it, and they had a line about ignoring 300 years of Darwinian science, and they never followed up on that.

    Second, it didn’t seem to know what kind of movie it wanted to be — straight up SF, horror, action, what?

    Lastly… they tried way too hard to make it an Alien prequel, but then just ignored bits. (They did, for example, go to a great extreme to imply that this was the same moon in Alien… but then nobody noticed the earth technology laying around?)

    Disappointing, to say the least.

  3. This is suppose to be a trilogy. Not sure now with all the neg response if they will continue. Holding out hope here that it may explain in the upcoming movies…they are suppose to take us up to the first “Alien” movie. I did come away from this one with the WTF!! Brain-fart…

  4. Re: Tonda – Well, we Alien fans may be reacting negatively, but the movie’s been doing pretty well among film critics, and it also seems to be doing okay financially. Time will tell if they make further installments or not.

  5. Ed Brock Says:

    My question is–who screwed it up? I heard a recent interview with Damon Lindelof that Ridley Scott’s original idea had aliens, face-huggers, etc., but he (Lindelof) convinced Ridley to go in another direction–that which played out on the screen.

    I’m seeing it tomorrow. Of course, my expectations are now low, so maybe I won’t be as disappointed.

  6. Jakk Says:

    My only thought is this(spoilers): The engineer dies at the end of the movie on the lifepod,as shown. Now who put the body back in his suit and put on the flight control chair as shown in Alien? Different ship? World? And it seems a bit unlikely another living engineer would still be alive when all the others died? Just really unawnsered.

  7. MarkB Says:

    This is the first movie I can remember being angry at by the end. It feels like two different scripts grafted together, and then shot after a quick first draft. Very sloppy.

    And to answer a common question, this is not the same planet that was seen in the original movie. Different designation (LV-whatever). So the crashed ship and “space jockey” in this movie are not the same as in ALIEN.

  8. Trav Says:

    I saw this movie last friday and thought it was horrible then on saturday I saw men in black 3 which was excellent especially in comparison if you haven’t sign seen it yet I recommend you do

  9. carriev Says:

    Not even judging it as a prequel to Alien, it’s still just a badly done movie with incredibly high production values. It’s lazy SF, middling horror, and simple bad storytelling. (I seem to be the only who thinks the surgery scene was silly — I think the lizard baby C-section in the V miniseries was scarier.)

    I’ve seen the sites attempting to explain the symbolic/thematic meaning of the movie. But I contend that if you have to stand there and explain to me what the movie is about, the movie has failed.

  10. David Bowles Says:

    I think sums up my problems with the movie:

  11. David Bowles Says:

    To further extend this idea, I think I could have made a better movie by not wussing out and just making the movie set on LV-426 and making the ship the actual Derelict from Alien. But whatever.

  12. Ty Says:

    So, we all wondered if maybe the ending of Lost was deep and we didn’t understand it. Nope, turns out Damon Lindelof is just a bad writer. Stop giving this guy work, Hollywood.

  13. carriev Says:

    I never watched Lost and nothing I’ve seen about it after has convinced me that I ought to.

  14. Naomi Says:

    So many problems with the film, to many story lines that go
    nowhere, I was ridiculously disappointed with this film, especially since i recently watched the first two Alien movies again and found they have really stood the test of time. I really hope Ridley Scott knows how terrible the film was and never lets this happen again.

  15. David Bowles Says:

    What’s the black goo? 🙂

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