Prometheus (spoilers here)

So, I went to see Prometheus. I will admit to being pretty stoked about it from the marketing campaign. And it wasn’t the worst movie I’d ever seen, but I was disappointed.

The Good
Michael Fassbender was ridiculously creepy as the android. Seriously. I got the squiggins sometimes when he was talking. Overall, the acting was quite good — for what the cast had to work with…

The movie was visually stunning. The images on the screen were fantastic, everything was beautifully staged and interesting to see. The mix of apparently natural caverns and manufactured spaces was very cool. And the creepiness of the whole undertaking was subtle. Those were nice touches.

The Not So Good
Plainly put… the script is terrible.

Not necessarily the conversation bits, but everything else. Could someone explain to me why a team of scientists on an alien world that no one has ever been to before, looking for a potential precursor race to humanity, would take off their helmets and expose themselves to an unknown Anything the absolute first chance they got? And why anyone who did that would ever be allowed back on the ship?

And here’s the thing. The main character of the movie travels TWO YEARS into space, in a stasis pod, gets to an alien world, discovers that she is in fact right, that a race of precursor aliens created the human race and she’s basically as excited as… well, she smiles. And has sex with her moping boyfriend who is the idiot who took off his helmet…

Of course, the fact is, they also experimented on a decapitated alien head in an open room without even having their mouths covered so… clearly these people are idiots. And I realize that in horror movies it’s often important that someone, at some point, does something stupid to trigger the awful. But they were all painfully stupid. To the point that it seriously strained belief (and the suspension of disbelief).

Add to this the fact that the creepy android already had a secret agenda and was the one who actually kicks the awful into gear… well, his actions didn’t always seem to make sense either. Why was it necessary to impregnate the good doctor? That seems a little fuzzy.

Let’s not even discuss the “I just gave myself deeply invasive, horrific, alien c-section/abortion, surgery” and then wandered into the next scene and pretty much just said, sure, F*** it, let’s go wander back over to the pyramid. I’m not traumatized, at all.

The BWA (Big White Alien) also didn’t really make a lot of sense. He basically just starts tossing shit the first chance he gets, blind rage style, and then prepares to launch his ship at Earth to dispense a doomsday weapon? Maybe? One that may or may not have already wiped out his species? A little mystery in a film is fine but this was nigh incomprehensible.

Ultimately, the movie moves at a very slow pace for the first half, then moves at something approximating a monster movie pace for the second half. And this is really the heart of the problem for me. I don’t know if the writers and director knew if they were making a space movie, a horror movie, a message movie, an art piece, and they tried to make all of the above. It never felt like a horror movie or a monster movie — but that was what it ultimately tried to end up being.

Overall, I’d give it a 4/10. Check it out on DVD — it’s only 2 hours long — but it doesn’t really have much in the way of coherent plotting, and it completely destroys any suspension of disbelief I carried into the movie almost immediately.


3 responses

  1. The helmet scene was pure stupid-plot syndrome. How the Hell are we supposed to care about characters who can’t be bothered to care about themselves? ARGH! Fassbinder was good though.

  2. “well, his actions didn’t always seem to make sense either. Why was it necessary to impregnate the good doctor? That seems a little fuzzy. ”

    Well, basicalyl it wasn’t. I think, from his perspective, that was just a happy accident. David was a brilliant jealous amoral child. Which isn’t to say I had a problem with him, he did an awesome job I think. But he wasn’t there to be helpful for the team, he was there to insure Waylan got to meet the aliens (and even that I’m not sure of, because I tend to feel he had his own agenda by that point). Basically, if people had treated him like a person, as opposed to an object, things probably would have turned out different. He doesn’t commit to infecting the scientist until after the point in the conversation where he is bluntly told “We made you cause we can, not because you are special.”

    But yes, there is a lot of “we are doing stupid things because the plot calls for it” stuff. I’m sure part of the helmet thing was so that they could film without the helmets on.

  3. Yes, the helmets are because it’s hard to get a good shot of the face without the helmet reflections interfering with the shot, showing the cameramen and lights, etc. You also end up with a bunch of people who look exactly alike. Likewise, you don’t want a scene where all of your characters are wearing respirators and hazmat gear.

    I think part of David’s issue is that his curiosity is stronger than his respect for humans. It’s very similar to Ash (the android in the first Alien). It wasn’t until the Bishop generation of androids that they finally overcame this. I’m not sure how he knew that the substance was biological, but I assume there was some offscreen testing. David was not trying to impregnate Elizabeth. He infected Charlie to see what would happen.

    The BWA’s actions aren’t an issue for me because they are … aliens. If the last thing you know before you got in the stasis pod was that all of your shipmates are dead, you might react poorly when you get up. And we don’t know if there were complications from spending 2,000 years in cold sleep. Maybe it was designed for 1,000 years and after that, you lose a few beaincells each year. Maybe he was infected by something before he got in the pod. In the human cold sleep pods you dream. Imagine 2,000 years of dreaming. Dreaming from somebody who works in a biological lab where something went bad and they might have lost friends or loved ones.

    Pacing – have you seen the first Alien movie? This was much like that. John Carpenter’s The Thing also comes to mind, as well as the modern remake. The “careful exploration/find something odd/frantic survival” plot is very common. The filmmakers knew what they wanted. I suspect a significant part of the audience was expecting this too. When the marketing says “it’s set in the same universe as Alien”, then I’m going to expect some sort of monster to show up before the end of the movie.

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