Prometheus — Not Half As Clever As It Needed To Be

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By Todd Allen

prometheus 810 200x296 Prometheus    Not Half As Clever As It Needed To BeI took in a screening of Prometheus last night, the much anticipated “is it or isn’t it” prequel to Alien and Ridley Scott’s “maybe” return to that universe.  It was a decidedly mixed bag.

On the plus side, it’s a gorgeous film.  Well lit.  Well shot.  But it’s a Ridley Scott film, so you know that’s going to be the case.  Prometheus is an odd one to discuss because SO MUCH of the film has been in the trailers, including a few things I’d probably have classified as spoiler material.

The basic premise, in 2089, two archaeologists find yet another set of cave paintings with a giant point to a specific set of stars.  They’re convinced these giants are “Engineers” who made/created humans and they think if they can find the star system being pointed to, they can go and meet their makers.  Literally.  They convince a gazillionaire (and his corporation) to fly them to this system where they find a moon that might be able to support human life and some ruins.  And then bad things start to happen.

Alien was a horror film with science fiction tropes.  Aliens was horror meets military gun battles.  Prometheus is science fiction, but not horror.  It starts off well enough, but when once everyone gets to the moon, things really slow down and the characters act silly.  Perhaps you can go by the theory that scientists who are experts in their fields may be book smart, but utterly unequipped to deal with other parts of life?  Things bog down with the various crew members waxing upon the nature of life, creation, gods and death.  These scenes are supposed to be profound.  They’re really not and it’s material most people have out of their systems by the time they exit their 20s (if not earlier).

Of course, you have trained scientists acting like complete idiots when it becomes obvious they’re entering a first contact situation. This is even sadder if you’ve seen Cabin in the Woods, which savages horror tropes.  Yes, you’re exploring an alien world.  Forbid an armed escort.  Is that an unknown creature?  By all means, try and pet it. I’ve NEVER seen that in a movie before.

I expected a little better.

The trailers display the sort of shenanigans you’d expect in a movie that’s teasing Alien left, right and center.  The problem is, there aren’t very many creatures in this, with very little screen time and there’s not really that much action in it or chasing of people through ships.  What creatures are there aren’t nearly as freaky as Giger’s creations either.  So you get a good set-up, then things bog down as people act REALLY stupid and try to get philosophical without actually being interesting.  Things eventually pick up again in the third act, but the middle is a dud and compromises the end a bit.

There are two stand-out performances.  Idris Elba is a scene stealer as the only character with his head screwed on right.  Common sense, sarcasm and a way with the ladies.  You expect that from Elba and you get it.

The second stand-out is Michael Fassbender as David, the robot on the ship.  Yes, when you get in Alien territory, you have to have a human looking robot.  David, however, is quite fleshed out robot (pun intended).  Something like the Hal 3000 put in a body, David is fascinated with humanity and concepts he can’t quite grasp, like emotions or freedom.  Or can he grasp them.  Fassbender underplays this role marvelously and the deadpan delivery makes you wonder just exactly what’s going on.  David, among other things, tries to learn how to be more human by watching Lawrence of Arabia and copying Peter O’Toole.

Part of the slow down involves David’s character and that underplaying leaves it up to the viewer to fill in a few blanks.  This could have been streamlined a little bit.  The way they the film was advertised, a half hour of sulking could have been cut for a faster paced 90 minutes.  Alternately, they could have fleshed out Fassbender’s story arc and motivations and gone a little longer.  I’m sure having the David character as the centerpiece wouldn’t have been the original game plan, but Fassbender was one of the film’s pieces that worked and he’s pretty close to being the lead as it is.

At the end, we have a slow moving science fiction movie with some bad things lurking in the background that doesn’t quite get to horror status and gets bogged down by silly characters and some ill-executed soul searching.  I’d definitely say give it a rental if you like the genre — it really is well-shot — but I don’t know if I’d give the thumbs up for a matinee.  Under no circumstances spring for the 3D.  The 3D is nicely integrated and not obnoxious, but it doesn’t add that much to the film.

Now, if you’re planning on seeing the film, stop here and go see it.  If you’re not going to see or already have, I’m going to drop some spoiler space and discuss a few specifics (most of which I’d heard rumors of MONTHS ago).

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OK, you’re spoiled.

So, yes, this is absolutely a prequel to Alien.  This is one of the clever things that was a little too underplayed.  I’d seen rumors going back quite some time that the “Alien” was going to be a biological weapon designed to destroy humanity.  And that’s what it was, after a fashion.  This is also part of where the movie was trying to be a little too smart and it didn’t come off quite right.

The idea of a… type of worm(?)/snake/whatever that combines with a species’ DNA to form a predator is pretty cool.  It was unevenly applied, though.  In one case, you have a reanimated body.  In another case, spoiled by the commercials, you have a gestating giant squid of a facehugger growing as a fetus after a human has sex with a human contaminated by… whatever it was the engineers were keeping in their weapons depot.  But when the first Engineer eats his cup of worms at the opening of the movie, his body just falls apart.

Are all these things different refinements of military-grade space worms?  Are the proto-facehugger serpents related to those space worms?  Maybe?

This whole “biological weapons of mass destruction” business is cool.  The film picks up when Elba’s captain walks in and puts a name to what he’s seen.  Unfortunately, this topic is short-changed.

I get that there’s a “things we don’t know and can never know” vibe to this film.  That vibe wasn’t working for me.  Fassbender’s _performance_ as the rogue robot worked great, but plot-wise, it needed a little more development to flow well on the screen.  It’s entirely possible Fassbender elevated the material.

All the pieces were there.  The pieces just didn’t fit together well enough.  If they wanted to make a great philosophical statement, the philosophical components needed to be much cleverer.  If that’s not what they were trying to do, they needed to focus a bit more on the Engineers and their weapons of mass destruction.

This ultimately brings us back to question why this wasn’t being advertised as an Alien prequel, when we finally see the birth of the first Alien?  I can’t imagine the studio thinking it was a good idea.  And those trailers certainly did everything they could to scream “no, really — it’s Alien.”  Was there a desire to cast some doubts in the audience’s mind as to how the film might end?  I mean, you know it’s a prequel, you know it has to end with a crashed ship and exploded stomach.  Did a desire for misdirection about the film’s identity of a prequel lead it from exploring the biological weapons aspect a bit more?  I don’t know, but it seems a legitimate question.

And there you have it.  A film with some redeeming qualities that just didn’t quite hold up as a whole.  There have been much worse, but this should have been so much better.

Comments

  1. Why did no one ask Noomi Rapace’s character, “HEY, WHY ARE YOU COVERED IN BLOOD THAT SEEMS WEIRD RIGHT?”

  2. I really enjoyed it and looked at it as a separate and different film than Aliens.

    Compared to all the films I have seen this past year, this was one of the best. It was made for adults.

  3. It’s an absolutely dreadful film! Godawful dreck with a terrible, TERRIBLE script

  4. I was VERY disappointed. The first third is very good and then the wheels fall off. Why they veered off in that direction (you know what I’m talking about, the whole operation scene) it just lost me. Liked how the film began to finish up but it came across to me as if they realized that they were running out of time and rushed everything.

    Also….

    SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!

    If this is a prequel, as we’ve been lead to believe, to “Alien”, there’s a plot hole at the end of this film. In “Alien”, the crew of Nostomo discovered the Engineer sitting in the pilots’ seat with a hole in his chest, as if something burst out.

    But at the end of Prometheus, the Engineer (gotta assume it’s the same man, since they say that he’s the last survivor) is lying on the floor of Prometheus’s escape pod (with his chest burst out).

    Why did they go to the bother of showing us how the spaceship ended up in it’s condition (so it could be discovered by Nostromo) if they were going to screw up the continuity with the answer behind how the Engineer ended up in the condition he was found.

  5. JKromer says:

    Prometheus does not take place on LV426, the setting for Alien and Aliens. The planet is specifically noted as LV223. Additionally the control room of the Promethus vessel is significantly different from the one the “Space Jockey” is discovered in in Alien.

  6. Richard, I thought they made it clear it was not the same place, just one of many of the other ships they mention. If it was the same there are a hundred differences to be found, as well as the payload. Jkromer is correct.

  7. M. P. O'Sullivan says:

    I really liked Prometheus. I do think that it has its flaws. The character work is weak, for the most part. The pacing gets pretty strange in the middle. But it’s courageous film-making, and that’s something worth seeing. Scott crafts a visually-stunning film, easily his best work in years.

    And the movie has big questions that it’s concerned with, something I haven’t seen from a sci-fi film since… Children of Men? Yeah, probably.

    This wouldn’t be the internet if a dude didn’t push his glasses up the bridge of his nose and bring up some corrections. Let me be that dude then and talk about some of the questions raised in the spoilers section of the article.

    It’s not the worms that are the genetic manipulators, it’s the black goo leaking out of the vases. The goo, which I’m sure will have a fan nickname by Sunday, breaks down and recombines genetic code, making something new. The engineer in the beginning of the film drinks the goo, falls apart, and falls in the rushing water of the river. The camera zooms in on his DNA, showing it deteriorate and then recombine into something new: humanity.

    The goo in the Engineer’s ship on LV-223 gets onto the Engineer shown on the “security camera” footage, his dissolution and recreation only halted by his decapitation. When he is reanimated by Shaw on the Prometheus, his change continues. The goo also starts to break down Holloway’s DNA in the same fashion as the Engineer in the beginning of the film, but we only get to see him fall apart and not remade.

    The tentacle-phallus monster that breaks the geneticist’s arm is actually a worm shown crawling on the ground, mutated by the black goo.

    The creatures created by the goo then go on to impregnate others. Holloway impregnates Shaw, Shaw’s child impregnates the engineer, the tentacle-phallus impregnates the geneticist. Hell, humanity impregnates itself.

    And now I’m just spit-balling. I need to stop that.

    Hope you guys like the film! Or at least get a good conversation out of it.

  8. Tom Strong says:

    I read the same criticisms about Inception. I discovered it was a great way to tag someone as being both an idiot AND a smug nerd.

  9. I saw and enjoyed the movies. There are things on there that look dumb at the surface (how do these people NOT know First Contact precautions) but upon inspection can easily be answered. The old man was going to break them himself so he hired people that wouldn`t know or care about such things. Chances are they weren`t even experts in their fields. They were primarily a ruse to keep the archeologists busy.

  10. Keith Kassadine says:

    This movie tried to do too much with too little. They shoved a ton of soap opera twistiness into it and called it character development when it was really a bunch of melodramatic nonsense. Why did Theron need to be that old guy’s daughter? Why did he need to be included outside the holo-introduction anyway? What’s with all the lies when the simple truth would’ve sufficed in most cases? The geezer could’ve just TOLD everybody what the mission was and why. Why feed that doctor the alien drink? Is the robot just psychotic?

  11. I thought it was fantastic. It’s proper old-school science fiction with an emphasis on crazy ideas and spectacle. Yes, some of the characterization is thin but that’s because sci-fi often priortizes the exploration of themes and ideas over character anyway.
    In my opinion, one of the most frustrating aspects of modern sci-fi is that it tends to get bogged down in character exploration and sacrifices those ‘big ideas’ (this is often due to budgetary concerns, admittedly.) ‘Monsters’ is a good example of this though that’s another excellent film, just on the other end of the sci-fi spectrum.

    The characters in Alien (including Ripley) are also quite slight, a point a lot of people seem to forget. Prometheus has a wider variety of interesting characters than any of the previous Alien films too (Rapace, Fassbender and Theron with Elba providing the cool/macho factor!)

    *******SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS *******

    The religious theme was the only thing that was a bit clumsy but that may be my own personal prejudices informing my opinion as well. I think Fassbender’s “why does it matter why you were created?” question at the end of the film sums up the film quite neatly. You’re SUPPOSED to leave the film mulling over the themes and questions raised. It doesn’t spoonfeed because providing those answers is never going to be as satisfying as those you come up with yourself by just asking the question. Which I think may have been David’s point at the end of the film.

    And it’s not so much a prequel as a parallelaquel! :)

  12. *** MORE SPOILERS *** MORE SPOILERS ***

    Also, a theory:

    In the film, it is mentioned that the Engineers were creating weapons of mass destruction and possibly the Alien xenomorphs are a result of that.

    So… were humans also intended to be weapons?

  13. The more we talk about it, the more I am going to have to see it again…this week.

  14. The details of the movie that make it deviate from being a direct prequel to Alien (such as the planet being different, the Engineer not being in the chair of the crashed ship, the control room being different) are just changes made to the original script from a decade or so ago to try and make it LESS directly connected. But it does an incredibly poor job at hiding those connections. PLUS it does an incredibly poo job of hiding the similarities it has to the first AvP film’s script, which evolved from the original script for the Alien prequel.

  15. Otaku-sempai says:

    Another instance of the screenwriters being flat-out stupid: Our exploration team (who do not possess faster-than-light travel) are in suspended animation for aabout 2 years. The nearest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 lightyears away. Our heroes should be traveling in hyhpersleep for far more than 2 years!

  16. has answers says:

    Re: AvP film: So basically several parties were aiming for a Chariots of the Gods-style origin story for the Aliens but the original director managed to get a hold of the project by performing the equivalent of cutting off the Batman ears? This sounds like an attempt to fold the Aliens into a scifi franchise with a wider scope, while being coy about the actual use of the distinctive creatures. That kind of makes sense since the creatures themselves are just killing machines that really can’t bear the amount of stories the license holders have attempted to push out about them. A return of an Aliens franchise to theaters would still have to focus around the Aliens very prominently, and would always lead to a climactic battle with a not very exciting five hundred foot tall bug or something like that. A story that attempted a wider scope would be hobbled by the need for that focus. For example, you couldn’t have made the same Lord of the Rings films if the franchise had its origins in a very popular series called “Orcs”.

  17. An absolutely fantastic film. Can’t wait to see it again.

  18. Chris Hero says:

    I really enjoyed the film. I didn’t have the same problems anyone else had. I thought a lot of the characters’ actions were easily inferible from the context.

  19. Michael G says:

    Here’s a very short scene that would have fixed the chest-burster problem. I would have had the Engineer survive the fight with the tentacle alien in the escape pod (just like humans did after the face-huggers, although incubating an alien baby). He makes it back to the wreckage of his ship as if he could try to lift off again (he’s disoriented like Kane was in “Alien”), only to have the alien burst out. That would tie it to “Alien” much better.

    Then you could handwave the LV426 vs LV233 problem away by saying that in order to protect its investment, they changed the name of the planet from 233 to 426 since 233 would have been in the original flight plan.

  20. Apollo9000 says:

    A lot of the criticism for the film seems to be 2 things – some of the characters acting stupidly while in uncharted territory and how it fits the “Alien” continuity.

    Those likely won’t bother me when I go to see.

    PS – It’s been stated that Prometheus leads to Alien and another direction entirely. Could David serve as a connection to Blade Runner in anyway?

  21. Damon Lindelof M. P. O’Sullivan, thanks for stopping by to explain all that.

    The person I saw the film with explained that the “Engineer” at the start was the survivor in the alien cryo-chamber. They had the same scars and so on. So how did the same guy survive breaking apart and (supposedly) populating the earth?

    Also let’s get this timeline straight:

    Engineers go around populating planets including earth. Along the way they discover DNA-changing goo.

    Suddenly they realize that the earth people are corrupted — or else the opening scene showed one of the Engineers going rogue and infecting Earth population with the Engineer’s own DNA-play-doh.

    Because the earth is populated by completely primitive Bronze age peoples who will not be able to develop faster than light space travel for millenia, the Engineers leave them with detailed star charts showing them where not to go.

    Somewhere back in the Engineer timeline they are preparing to kill the Earthers with their own DNA-WoMA…which they originally used to corrupt the Earthers?

    EXCEPT…the DNA play doh gets loose on the ship, resulting in the terrified running holograms (a very spooky effect, I must admit), the decapitated engineer, and the abandoned ship.

    Given the level of Engineer science and the fact that. as David said, there were lots and lots of ships, the LV223 mishap shown in Prometheus seems to have been no more than an “Oops I dropped a bottle of hydrochloric acid!” industrial accident. WHy couldn’t the Engineers continue on with their plan to destroy Earth using the other ships?

    LOT OF QUESTIONS WHOSE ONLY ANSWER IS “SEQUEL.”

    And not in a good way.

  22. SPOILERS

    I go back and forth with the film. Overall, I found it difficult to follow and am still having trouble determining what happened — the black ooze killed the engineer, but also turned the worm into a killer snake and the geologist into a supercharged zombie, AND impregnated a barren woman with a giant face-hugger baby which later impregnated the engineer with the first alien species??

    I could’ve used and would’ve appreciated another hour to not only get to know the characters better, but figure out what the heck was happening. Maybe that would’ve helped me feel more invested, and provided the missing build-up and real sense of suspense from the Alien films before it. Even in the final scene, there was no sense of chase. It went literally from ‘that once dead creature is now a giant face-hugger’ to ‘the engineer’s coming’ to ‘the engineer’s here’ and finally a minute-long battle with the three of them. That, and the final chest-burster scene felt tacked on by Hollywood.

    Bottom line: When I walked out of the theater, my first thought was ‘that was cheesy.’ Though I will give it up to the team for, for the first time in Alien history, not having any aliens sucked out of the hatch and into space.

  23. *LE SPOILIERES*

    I don’t know, I found all that ambiguity refreshing — very 1970s sci-fi, not at all the software-driven narratives of the past decade or so. The xenomorph mutagen shouldn’t make sense, neither should the Engineers’ plan, right? That’s the whole point. It is scientific, not supernatural — but it is still mysterious and thus does not preclude faith for the main character. The religious way the first scene was carried out, all the little touches to Kubrick, Dune, the nautilus/Chthulu imagery, just so well plotted without being tidy. The murals changed before we could get a good look at them — that’s ruthless filmmaking and I liked it.

  24. Chris Hero says:

    Why are people looking so hard for the dead engineer to be the same guy the crew passes on the ship they find in Alien? Why can’t that be a different guy?

  25. Michael G says:

    This guy has an interesting take on the movie, not one that I necessarily totally agree with but good reading nonetheless. Two words: SPACE JESUS.

  26. Archer says:

    This movie just sucked. Completely pointless. When it was over, I said, is that all?!!

    Unlike Inception, word of mouth will kill this film. Saturday box office was lower than Friday.

  27. I did like it, but I wanted to like it more. It had some really fun moments. SPOILERS. Reanimating the giant head was great, as well as the robotic surgery. Great science fiction fun. Yes, many of the crew did some stupid stuff, but to me, many good plot points come from bad decisions being made by the characters
    What I couldn’t get past were the cliches. The “were with you captain, let’s all go down with the ship” and that moment that’s strait out of the 1950’s thing were they try to talk to the Engineer and get swatted. By the way, that old age makeup was distractingly bad, and they didn’t even bother to make his hands look old. “That’s all… Father.” Really? I was sad to see Charlize Theron’s character get squished. I feel like we were supposed to cheer for that, because she acted like a bitch most of the time, but I was really hopping to see her evolve and survive. All the actors were top notch as well as the production value (for the most part) and I was sad to see it all undercut by writing that seemed to start out strong, but chicken out and fail everyone who worked on the movie and/or watched it, in the end.

  28. The Beat says:

    That LJ write up makes it sounds like this could have been a really good movie had it not been a colossally dumb execution of a good idea.

    They “LOST” the plot, so to speak. TEE HEE HEE.

  29. In all fairness to the movie, my wife did go repelling, just hours after her last C section. LJ write up?

  30. Word of mouth is not killing this movie. People I know are going again to see it this week for a second time.
    I am amazed how well it is doing for an “R” rated science fiction movie.

    Like it or not, we need this genre to do well to open the door to more ideas and less crapola like Abe Lincoin fighting vampires or Hellen keller is space, and whatnot. Yeah, I made that last one up.

  31. Just because a movie has some really good vignettes of scenes with cool ideas doesn’t mean that if you squish them together you get a good movie.

    Also SPOILER: it’s really poor storytelling to introduce an aspect of a character (like, “I know, let’s make this character infertile”) and then 5 minutes later reveal SHE’S PREGNANT!

    Also, poor storytelling to show characters discovering something then 10 minutes later have those characters explain to other characters exactly just what they explained to the audience 10 minutes prior. If you showed it to the audience you don’t have to tell us! Especially if it’s not just a reminder, but the same characters from one scene then in the NEXT SCENE we see them in they tell us the info AGAIN.

    Also, if you have two characters who chicken out from going into a scary room during the daytime with four other people, why when they are alone at night would they go into that scary room and want to play with the scary snake thing?

    Also, if you’re going to force characters to evacuate an area because a storm is coming and they’re not safe, why all of a sudden are the ones that got left behind COMPLETELY UNTOUCHED BY THE STORM?

    It’s like different pairs of characters were in completely different films that got edited into one giant mess.

  32. The “LJ Idea” is still in the movie with the 2000 year reference — they still executed it, they just didn’t spend forty minutes hitting us over the head with it.

    I’m with Jimmy P. If they would have done the easy thing and make it all about Aliens attacking people, the comments might be brighter, but the movie would be forgettable after 3 weeks. This was something new — with an ending that was both optimistic AND unpredictable — when is the last time you saw that in a summer blockbuster? Bambi?

    animating the head cost me some sleep last night…that didn’t happen with Transformers 2.

  33. Terrible, terrible movie. Beyond plot issues, I simply never found it engaging on the vital story/character level. It was largely boring, somehow even when monsters were running around. I didn’t find 2001 boring and recently enjoyed the thoughtful/philosophical sci-fi of Never Let Me Go, but Prometheus was a snoozer.

    It’s a shame. This probably means Blade Runner 2 is gonna suck as well :(

  34. Chris Hero says:

    I’m going to try to talk about two things I think everyone is overlooking by trying to force the Engineer in Prometheus to be the same space jockey in Alien.

    1) Meredith Vickers seemed, to me, to very clearly be an android of some sort. She suffered no shock when waking up, she was watching the same memory stuff on that big view screen in her room, and the medical pod thing was calibrated for a man. Also, her interaction with Idris Elba’s captain confirmed it for me.

    2) There were 2 different sects of engineers. The first was the kind who selflessly created life, as seen in the beginning of the movie. They had the big, round, perfectly completed circle ships. The second were the guys on LV223. They had the broken circle ships. If we use the knowledge circles are a symbol of the infinitely repeating life cycle, then the broken circle tells us these Engineers worshipped death and destruction, which is why they had a mural of an alien queen and wanted to destroy Earth. The bigger question is who is their God, their creator?

    I don’t understand the hostility to the character actions, either. The two scientists who ran away and got lost were clearly freaked out by the actual discovery of another life form in the universe.

    I dunno…I don’t agree with the opinions of those who didn’t like it, but such is life.

  35. Chris Hero says:

    @Dave

    I just saw your comment. I thought the original novel of “Never Let Me Go” was pretty good, but utterly hated the movie. I thought it stripped all the character stuff out and tried hitting us over the head with their questions. What did you enjoy about it? I’m curious.

  36. Todd Allen says:

    Here’s another interpretation that was shown to me: http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html If that’s what was supposed to be happening, the information wasn’t conveyed very well. Similar to Rachel Pollack’s first arc on Doom Patrol, way back when. Eventually, some script annotations were floated around and you could see what she was trying to get at vs. how it was executed.

  37. Synsidar says:

    The Wikipedia entry on PROMETHEUS has a description of the plot that makes things seem to hang together pretty well. There is a problem, though, with the idea of implanted aliens, the alien offspring in PROMETHEUS, or biological entities in general, growing quickly. They can’t do that without taking in cellular nutrients, and can’t increase several times in size within hours. If an implanted alien grew large enough to force its way through a man’s chest, he’d have died from metabolic failure long before the alien became big enough to do that. Biologically, the alien is the same as a tapeworm or tumor.

    I suppose the sight of the alien bursting through is horrifying enough to overcome disbelief.

    SRS

  38. Thanks Tod. That was good. To bad it didn’t come across in the film.

  39. @Chris – I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t compare/compare contrast their qualities – I just enjoyed the movie on its own merits. For me that included: very strong performances, a compellingly creepy concept (though I could never quite buy that the urge to escape their situation would give way to resignation), and, like the film adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four, a pleasant *lack* of reliance on special effects or action tropes to deliver a science fiction story.

    I could probably agree that it hits the viewer a bit over the head at times, but relative to Hollywood sci-fi in general, it’s reasonably subtle.

    And, y’know, well shot, nice music, enjoyed the quiet tone, etc.

    Will try to check out the book.

  40. I’m wondering if the Alien species isn’t the true creator of humanity (for food and / or breeding hosts) and the Engineers aren’t rebels against this who are trying to free humanity from their assigned fate. If that’s the case then the seemingly unintelligent Aliens in other films are really nothing more than creatures who have been raised outside of their culture w/o socialization, so they act on a very primitive / primal basis, not being fully educated (like various feral children among humans).

    I thot the movie was good, not great, and while there were sticky plot points it was smarter & better than most sci-fi of the previous decade.

  41. I actually really enjoyed it despite all it’s plot holes and ridiculousness. Honestly, the most ridiculous part for me was watching two seemingly-intelligent women try to run away from something that’s rolling/falling by continuing to run directly under it in its path.

  42. Chris Hero says:

    @Dave

    I saw the movie immediately after reading the book, so I was probably hit harder than most by some of the points. Excellent review, though, thanks!

  43. @Chris:

    You wrote: “I don’t understand the hostility to the character actions, either. The two scientists who ran away and got lost were clearly freaked out by the actual discovery of another life form in the universe.”

    That statement, in and of itself, is fine. Two scientists got freaked out about the dead giant alien who dies running away from some unseen horror. That’s fine. But why, after being told there was something else alive in there with them, would they go BACK to that room with the dead alien after being abandoned by everyone else and then want to pet the giant snake thing? The guy who was high in that scene was the more rational one, but their behavior is wholly inconsistent with how they were in both their prior scenes. If that snake was a fluffy bunny that’d be one thing. But if I was freaked out by that room while with other people, I’d be more freaked out about going back to it alone.

    And there’s still no explanation why the scientists were told the structure wouldn’t protect them from the storm when it totally would have. It created a tense scene but in the end was pointless. They could’ve had a whole movie where they were stuck in that cave during the storm, David could’ve done experiments, tricked Halloway into ingesting the ooze, he and Shaw could’ve had some alone time, she gets pregnant, but can’t do anything about it until she gets back to the ship, and so on. Instead it’s “she can’t get pregnant, she is pregnant, she removed the alien fetus” all within 10 minutes screen time. Way to sustain the suspense.

    As I said, I think there were some really cool ideas, and some cool scenes, but they don’t add up to a cohesive narrative. As for trying to connect this specific planet, this specific ship, and this specific Space Jockey to the original Alien, it’s not that I need it to connect, just that changing tiny details like the name of the planet or where the Jockey’s chest bursts does not hide the origins of those scenes from the 1st draft.

  44. Jonathan L. Miller says:

    Here was my issue with the film:

    In “Alien,” the answers–and the questions–of why and how were entirely beside the point. It didn’t matter what the space jockey was, what the Alien was, why they were there, any of it. So, when we didn’t find out any answers, we were still satisfied.

    “Prometheus” is entirely set up in such a way that the questions and answers, the whys and hows, are central to the plot of the movie. And we get no answers. We get some vague speculations from the characters, we get a lot of assumptions, we get stuff where (if we cock our head sideways or read script annotations) we can kind of figure things out…but no real answers other than “apparently there will be a sequel.”

    Heck, the film even gave us an opportunity, but threw it away by not having David’s line to the Engineer subtitled–we have no idea what he said and what the creature reacted to. It might have been the moment where David moved from a wonderfully nuanced character to having a clear and interesting motivation. Was he truly acting under orders when he infected the scientist, or was it an action of malice, a reaction to his treatment by the scientist and an indication of his real view of humanity?

    It was beautiful, but ultimately unsatisfying and did not deliver on the promise it made in the first third. (And the fact that I can only remember two characters’ names–and one because it’s a Doctor Who reference–doesn’t speak well for it either…)

  45. David Wohl says:

    I wasn’t expecting to like it, and was pleasantly surprised. After reading this board, I want to see it again even more! Honestly, I usually can’t get past weak plot issues and weak characterization, but in this particular case, it looked so damned good, and the story went in directions I didn’t expect, I found myself forgiving a lot…

    And as to the suggestion that Meredith is an android. That would explain why she looks so young, while her “father” is so old.

  46. This guy has an interesting take:

    http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html

  47. But I don’t think THAT much of the symbolism was really intended. Coincidences can be a strange thing.

  48. Rory Dale says:

    Ditto on the “smug nerd” comment. The movie was great. If you didn’t like, okay, I get that, but to rip it apart as if it was a waste of time??? You’re obviously just a miserable hipster, spreading your misery to anyone that’ll listen.

  49. @Rory Dale:

    Where are you getting this “waste of time” bit from? Almost every poster on in this thread who didn’t like the film has given critique of why it didn’t work for them and even stated that the film had some redeeming value (it looked good, some performances were good, some ideas were good, etc.) But for them the good doesn’t outweigh the bad.

    In contrast, most of the comments from people who liked the movie are like yours, who just say the movie was great, without any sort of critical analysis detailing what makes it a great film.

    There are a few, and for them the reasons it’s a great film are the same redeeming qualities even people who were dissatisfied can recognize. The difference is those are enough for some people to make the film good.

    And the only rebuttal given so far for any of the “bad” parts brought up have been along the lines of “people act stupid in horror movies all the time” or “if it was just about aliens attacking people it would be forgettable”…when in reality the space truckers in the original Alien film were smarter than these scientists and they were in a movie that was just about an alien attacking people. And that the film’s been talked about for decades since.

    Where is your critical analysis stating why it’s a great movie? If you’re just coming onto the Internet to not contribute and just insult people, isn’t that a waste of your time?

  50. Archer says:

    Friday to Friday box office plummeted -73%!

    Deservedly bad word of mouth.

  51. Here’s a smart review of the film with spoilers… http://youtu.be/f1gX8Kwdg3I

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