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Yo, here be spoilers.


Dear Prometheus:

I wanted to love you, I really did. From the moment I first saw the trailer I thought this was going to be one of the movies I was born to love. Horseshoe ship! Space jockey! Michael Fassbender! Flamethrowers!

And it's not like I generally have standards that high, right? I mean, you did see my review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, didn't you?

Though I did go in with higher expectations than that, and maybe that was the problem. I liked Alien and I loved Aliens and we're just not going to talk about those other movies okay? I was willing to forget the horrors of the past because this was Ridley Scott coming home to his baby.

Because this is the problem. Alien was a horror movie with a scifi background. Aliens was an action movie with a scifi background. But you, Prometheus, you were touted to be an honest-to-goodness real science fiction move, which means that as a lover of science fiction I had no choice but to expect more of you.

This was the thing about Alien and Aliens. While there was the occasional whoops moment in those movies, the characters that populated them weren't dumb. They were just generally up against an implacable, terrifying enemy that out-everythinged pitiful humans who never had all the facts about what they were facing until it was too late. That was what made those movies good. You were rooting for the humans to triumph because damnit, they were trying so hard.

Why couldn't you be more like your mom and dad, Prometheus? But no, instead you were populated with a collection of scientists so dumb I feel like there must have been a writing process where, in draft after draft, the script was read and someone said, "Well yes, but they're still too smart. Try adding some drool." Where did you dig up the geologist and biologist? Mail order from Planet Ohmyfuckinggodwhateven? Did their graduate degrees include, as a door prize, a full lobotomy given by a janitor with extremely shaky hands? A geologist bitching that there are no rocks when he's on a planet with no vegetative cover? And what's this shit about him just being in it for the money? And the biologist, what was that even? Calling evolution Darwinism and playing coochie-coo with an alien cobra that has a terrifying vagina instead of a face?

I figured we were in real trouble when the scientists repeatedly couldn't remember the difference between a theory and a hypothesis. Between that and the Darwinism thing, I'm throwing some serious side-eyeing at this script writer. Let's just say I could keep ranting about the unnecessarily stupid science gaffes that could have been corrected and would only have served to strengthen the story. But at this point all I can hear in my head, repeating over and over is, "A super nova that was going to destroy the galaxy let's fix it with red matter! Yeah!"

And Charlie. Don't even get me started on Charlie. As far as I can tell his entire contribution to the movie was getting shit-faced and then sexing up Dr. Shaw so she could have an evil alien squid baby in one of the better (and more disturbing) scenes of the movie.

Oh yeah. And he got set on fire. That was pretty boss. Actually, I liked that scene quite a bit, and not just because it meant we no longer had to suffer through Charlie's weird pouting about gee we only just made the single most important discovery EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND but it's somehow not good enough because all the aliens are mysteriously dead. No, that scene was awesome because of Meredith Vickers wielding a flame thrower and setting Charlie on fire. And in that moment when he's dropped on the ground and screaming there's an amazing shot of her face where you realize even she can't believe she just did that. (So good on you, Charlize Theron. But we already knew you were awesome.)

But I digress.

Also, there's the matter of the aliens. I knew going in that we weren't getting xenomorphs, and that was fine. Because we were going to get the space jockey and hell yeah. But instead we get giant white guys with bulging muscles. I get the punchline that apparently we were created in their image (somehow, only we got their DNA and evolution happened and... oh hell with this) but they just want to kill us all now for some nebulous reason. It was all very unsatisfying. Xenomorphs, I could buy. They want to fucking eat us, or lay eggs in us, and it makes sense. But frankly, the engineers felt like a giant navel-gazing cop-out where confusion was substituted willy-nilly for deep.

Though to be honest, I still prefer the giant white dudes to the squid baby and it's horrifying vagina dentata. At the end the engineer + squid = xenomorph-ish was a math problem far too disgusting for me to even want to see the proof.

You were trying to ask big questions. I felt it. It was obvious you were trying to take something from the mashup of science and religion and the question of who created us - and hey if it was aliens, who created them. But then instead of going anywhere with that, having any real development it was just the same lines over and over again. Well why do you believe X? Because I choose to. Perhaps this is a problem of mine because I'm an atheist, but I feel like that's a giant cop-out, particularly when it's just sort of dropped on the floor and left there to pathetically roll around like a turtle attempting to right itself. Really all it tells me is that Dr. Shaw is really stubborn, since that's basically her answer in both the beginning and end of the movie despite all events that occurred.

Really at this point all I can do is cross my arms, sadly shake my head, and say I expected so much more of you.

Oh no, please stop crying. It's not all bad. I'm not demanding my money back. I'm not comparing you to, say, The Last Airbender, where I left the theater and then immediately fell to my knees to scream "WHY?" at the uncaring sky. There were things I liked.

Charlize Theron, for example. Idris Elba playing a concertina was something that will keep me warm and smiling on a sad, cold night or two. (Though him keeping Charlize Theron warm for no apparent reason was just another bit of in-theater facepalm for me.) Noomi Rapace as Dr. Shaw managed to operate like she had half a brain more often than any of the other sacrificial lambs (this is not saying much) and she does have a few excellent moments, so that's something. And you are visually lovely.

But I've also got to be honest. The only character I really gave a shit about was David, because he was interesting. He had a plan, and even if it ended badly for him, you could see everything he did was in service of that plan and not just because the script needed him to do something utterly moronic. I was also quite captivated by the way he was played, because to me it seemed like every time people tried to reassure themselves that he had no emotions (being a robot and all) it was rather plain that he did have feelings. There seemed like a lot of sarcasm in his agreement with people whenever they pointed out something in his robot nature - and some genuine pain when Weyland calls him the closest thing he'll have to a son followed immediately by pointing out that he doesn't have a soul. (Weyland, you turd. Don't mess with my boy.) David's obviously got some very rich internal life going on, and I think that was why I was much more willing to buy the sillier bits of him being the macguffin and instantly knowing how to operate the alien machines and speak giant white dude-ese.

I was willing to forgive David because when he wasn't being the plot's bitch, there was something there to find interesting. You paying attention, other characters?

To be honest, Prometheus, I think I'd rather just rename you The Unfortunate Adventure of David and Some Jaw-Droppingly Stupid People.

Sorry, but even then I still wouldn't buy the DVD.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
dogmatix_san
Jul. 4th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
*nod* I agree with eveything you just said, so much. Shaw and David are literally the only two characters I could name after having seen it a week ago. =/ Heck, they were the only two I could name after just walking out of the theatre.

That bit about them moping because they'd found, oh, enough to make them famous and rich for the rest of their natural lives was... gaaah, I wanted to tear my hair out. >_<

...also, why do the aliens leave 'we are here' signs, not for a colony or homeworld, but for their weapons cache planet?!? *head-desk*

The only thing I picked up on theme-wise was a lot of emphasis on parent-offspring relationships - old rich guy and his daughter, old rich guy and David (and yeah, ooouuuuch, I felt for David during that speech =/ ), Shaw being infertile but then giving birth to the squid thing, the aliens being humans' creators (which, no way that's a 100% DNA match. I mean come one) and then turning around and wanting to kill all humans, the squid thing and the alien producing the xenomorph... come to think of it, especially with the point you raised about vagina dentata, a lot of the horror seems to revolve around science and reproduction/the female reproductive system. Sex = Death?

hmmm, maybe Charlize's character and the captain having sex was so that Charlize's character could be killed off since she'd 'sinned'? And since Shaw had done her pennance for 'sinning' by having the squid thing horribly cut out of her, she could survive, since she was infertile again/still anyway, and the only other person who survived was David, who is also incapable of biological reproduction.
katsudon
Jul. 5th, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)
Meredith Vickers sleeping with the Captain so it's justifiable that she died would make more sense if they'd been playing it like a horror movie the whole time. In which case I would probably have been less mean about it, because yeah, horror movie tropes. But it felt so random to me, like a thing that just happened so that the world's dumbest scientists could get molested by the alien vagiconda without anyone knowing about it. Ugh. Such poor writing.

And you know, I didn't even think about that plot hole. Why WOULD they leave maps to a weapons cache planet? And where did the maps come from anyway, since they just show the aliens like kicking life off, but then there's no more justification for them being back on Earth before deciding to murderize us all. It just makes no sense.
jaelynna
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
LOL! Dear Rachael, you kill me! I soooooooo thought the same thing. I mean, I understand the whole suspension of belief thing that you are supposed to under go when one steps inside a dim and dark theatre but there are limits! I have to agree that the so called scientists were the worst part of the movie. They completely disgarded the protocols you learn in a 7th grade lab. Land on an alien planet. Take off the freaking environmental suit just because your equipment says its breathable. Let's not worry about microorganisms, gasses, etc. Oh yeah, and touch any icky, gooey, unknown substance with your hands. You are just asking for a scene out of bad anime tenticle pron. I was so annoyed. The movie was so squicky and just ridiculous. The vagina mouthed alien octopus thing was pretty crazy though, and how it assaulted the mean big blue bulging muscled alien which lead to the birth of the future alien we all know--pure fan fiction. This movie totally deserves to be Master Piece Theatre'd. :)
katsudon
Jul. 5th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
We can suspend our disbelief, but not that far! Not without a crane!

I was kind of willing to forgive the taking off the helmet thing because okay fine, it's a movie, they want good face shots of the actors. But FFS, EVERYTHING else was just so dumb too!
ofthisangel
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:46 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this open letter because I saw it a week or so ago and I'm still ranting about it. My problem, besides the epidemic of idiocy running rampant through the ship, is that they want their cake and to eat it too and they don't try to find a way to make it work.

Do you want a sci-fi where there's a thousand and one really interesting questions or do you want a monster thriller bunch of half naked morons to run around exploding? Ridley Scott, you are not Gene Roddenberry. You can't have both, pick one- No, Ridley, pick one.

Goddamnit.

The result is that the movie left me completely indifferent altogether.

Though, I have to agree that David was the most interesting character in the movie, but they completely regulate him to the side halfway through and leave us with characters we don't care for so we can watch them die.

Though, yeah, I thought Charlie dying was the best thing that could have ever happened. Not only because it was like BURN (due to the fact that the plot point that was killing him was thanks to the character he loved to torment), but also because the progression of the disease was fascinating. I really wish they would have just made the whole movie about that goo and what it did instead of insisting on more Aliens-based creatures.

Edited at 2012-07-05 01:56 am (UTC)
katsudon
Jul. 5th, 2012 05:23 am (UTC)
Seriously. PICK ONE.

Yeah, I think the goo was the most interesting stuff. Honestly, the more I think of it the more I'm forced to wonder where the whole assumption about the aliens wanting to kill us came from. Because the black goop made life, right? So maybe they were like... coming back to earth to mutate us some more or something. It just makes no sense.
ofthisangel
Jul. 12th, 2012 11:47 am (UTC)
I don't even know when it went from "mysterious black goo that melts out of stoneware" to "WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!" I don't think they ever really established it with the characters, either.

I mean, yeah, Charlie got sick from it, but there was never a moment when David said "I poisoned him with the goo." It was all just implied that Weyland gave some mysterious orders to David which involved contaminating Charlie. Shaw was never informed of the how part.

I mean, the Goo-Urn-Mural Death Room (Of Death) may have had vicious creatures swimming around, but that's something any fucking planet with life has. There's nothing to indicate that room's anything special compared to the rest of the place. And they were swimming in the goo, yes, but who's to say they weren't there before the urns began to melt? Shaw said so herself, they destroyed the atmosphere of the room, so wtf else did they disturb?

And yeah, two guys died in the room, but they died due to the vicious creatures. As for when Mohawk Whiny Ass goes crazy, they have absolutely nothing to go on to say it was the goo either. It's just something that happens and, hey, break out the marshmallows, he burns good.

I think the only argument they have is that they detected no life on the planet at all and boom, suddenly there's life. Even then, there's nothing to definitively say THIS GOO WILL CUT YOU LIKE A BITCH. They just had a bunch of dead aliens, goo, vicious aliens and really bad weather - and apparently ghost stories to freak out the dumbass scientists who like jumping to conclusions. >[

So yeah, no idea. I really want to get this movie eventually just to watch Charlie get sick again, though. xDD So, I'll probably have to wait until it's in the bargain bin.
katsudon
Jul. 14th, 2012 12:35 pm (UTC)
Actually, that is another thing that does confuse me. Because at the beginning, I thought we saw one of the white alien dudes drink a cup full of black stuff, and that made him... I don't know, blow up and then start life. So the black goo seems like it's supposed to do something to create life rather than just murder it. So it was all very weird. Though it could just be the scientists were leaping to conclusions since the black goo did make some murderous stuff, and then we're just trusting what they say even though they don't know for certain.

The lack of explanation of what happened to the aliens also really doesn't help, though I'm guessing that they're saving that in the hopes of a sequel.
danielmedic
Jul. 5th, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, that ... pretty much covers it.
vatine
Jul. 5th, 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
I shall stand by the report I gave in the office after having seen it. "It was better than Suckerpunch". Because, hey, you know it was. Plot holes you could drive a Nostromo through without any skill what-so-ever.

However, having seen it in 3D, I must say that they didn't use the 3D effects for the sake of 3D. It might or might not have added something, but it was at least not a distraction.
katsudon
Jul. 6th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
So this is the thing, and it probably has to do with my love of awful but pretty movies but... I liked Suckerpunch WAY more than I liked Prometheus. I think it's an expectation issue. Suckerpunch was actually less awful than I expected. Prometheus totally failed every expectation I had of it by being a shitty scifi movie.
vatine
Jul. 6th, 2012 09:10 am (UTC)
Suckerpunch had me wanting to scrape my eyes out with a spork. I felt offended by the film, because it was clearly engineered in such a way I would leave it going "Wow" (to wit, explosions, gorgeous fight scenes and scantily-clad women with big guns). But it was over-engineered and its horrid exploitative memes shone through with such a force I wanted to have not seen it afterwards.

Not even four pints of high-quality beer right afterwards managed to wash the memories away.

Meanwhile, Prometheus just failed to be as good as it could have been. Sure, it could have been better. A bit less inaneness and a bit more "whoa! look at the strata on that!" (and a biologist who doesn't go "euw!" at the sight of a dead alien). And it was a decent showing by a Swedish actor, so that's good. Oh, yes, some less ear-stabbing with cattle-prods. Who would have thought that electrocuting a dead head in the ear was a good thing to start with? If all they needed was plenty of energy, why not just dump loads of X-rays through it? And lots of little things.

But, still, "failing to excel" versus "blatantly manipulative"? I'll settle for "failing to excel" every day.

Edited at 2012-07-06 09:10 am (UTC)
katsudon
Jul. 6th, 2012 12:55 pm (UTC)
Well, like I said, Suckerpunch was something I enjoyed because I love movies that are both awful and pretty. XD So at this point it's agree to disagree time, I guess.
vatine
Jul. 6th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
I am perfectly OK with you ranking P and SP other than I do.

Let's just say that while Prometheus wasn't all it could be, it was actually better than I expected (as in "I was half expecting to want to spork my eyes out").
katsudon
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:18 am (UTC)
Ah, so we went in with completely different expectations. So that's probably half the issue right there.
ayonoi
Jul. 5th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed your review. I talked to a friend yesterday who had the opposite reaction to you and I was amused he was so offended when I told him of his criticism.

OMG, send me a link to you Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter review because I was not pleased when I saw it since I've read the book and the script did not agree with me AT ALL. It was a fun movie but damn it, I was not happy with some of it.

I need to read your Tom Hiddleston stuff, I am a bit of a fan too. I am reserving your review of Henry II until I see it, I have it in this computer.
katsudon
Jul. 6th, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
Here's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I hadn't read the book. The movie is incoherent but delivers exactly what it promised - a guy that looks like Lincoln chopping vampires up with an axe. XD
gookachu
Jul. 6th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
i enjoyed prometheus, more than MIB 3, in fact. but, i'm biased, as i love scary, alien, let-me-shove-my-oviposter-down-your-throat-and-scare-the-shit-out-of-you-but-i'm-not-an-alien type movies.

i liked the original alien much more than aliens. i enjoyed aliens until the end when ripley got into the load-lifter. then, the movie completely fell apart for me, cos it was just so stupid. so, i can't really watch aliens without laughing at it, thinking it such a joke, cos you're always gonna end up with the line, "get away from her, you BITCH!" which i think is one of the worst lines in a movie. EVAR.

now alien, alien scared the bejesus out of me. and, i love movies that do that. neither alien, nor prometheus, i thought were marketed as hard sci-fi movies. the trailer made it seem much more in the line of alien, a horror movie with sci-fi trappings.

also, then purposefully let all those loose ends dangle in the hopes for a sequel.

Edited at 2012-07-06 10:36 pm (UTC)
katsudon
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)
I didn't even bother with MIB3; I just didn't find it even interesting.

If it was supposed to be a horror movie, it failed even worse than I already said. Prometheus wasn't even scary, not a little IMO. I didn't even find it at all tense. I thought the squid alien with the vag face was gross, but that's about it. If this had been more like a horror movie like the original Alien I would have been a lot less annoyed by it. As it was... ugh... such stupid characters.

I actually really loved the end of Aliens so :P
gookachu
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
yah, apparently i'm in the utter, total minority on aliens. like, party of 1, me, on that one. but, that line just kills the entire movie for me. until then, it was tense, and scary, and really awsum. i saw that movie when i was 14, i want to say, on HBO, and even then i laughed at it.

i don't think prometheus was anything other than a _ridley scott_ film, take that as you will. just no unicorns.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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