Thoughts on Prometheus

In a line: Prometheus is a stunningly beautiful and perfect execution of a potentially interesting but majorly flawed script. It’s worth seeing, despite the flaws.

Major spoilers follow

The opening scenes are mesmerising. The soundtrack tells the story of the birth of the human species while we fly over massive scenery. Intially the soundtrack seemed a bit OTT, until you realise that at this point it is the narrative, and it’s telling a pretty big story.

The scenes with David before the crew wakes up are a beautiful contrast. From the huge open, noisy landscape to the pristine, silent, interior of the ship. Fassbender aboslutely nails it. Once the crew wakes up, it’s all very Alien/Aliens, which is just fine, if a touch too familiar. Some of the dream/flashback stuff seems like it’s trying too hard to give Shaw some depth, but at this point of the film it’s a minor distraction.

Things start getting distracting once we’re on LV223 (nb, this is not LV426 of the first two movies). Walking through the pitch black underground structure, the scientists are constantly shining their torches in each others' faces, which is just the first of many unrealistic character behaviours (esp from the scientists) that started to break my suspension of disbeleif.

Plot holes

The most frustrating thing about Prometheus is that many of the plot holes are obvious and could be easily corrected. Why do guys with a 3D map get lost? Why does the biologist go from being scared and uninterested to being fatally curious? Obviously they need to set up a scenario for interaction with the uh, magic goo, but this was just sloppy.

Why is the rare and expensive surgical machine, in the life boat for the female company owner, only configured to operate on males? In what possible world can we make automated surgical instruments but can’t manage to run software that handles both sexes?

In the openning scenes we see the magical goo destroy and re-combine Built Alien Dude’s DNA into what presumably becomes the basis for (human? maybe all?) life. Presumably evolution still ocurred. Maybe. So why are the obviously pysically different Built Alient Dudes an exact genetic match to humans?

The magic goo create xenomorph-like creatures, but it’s never explained why (when the same goo to have created life on earth) it goes so wrong.

Why do ancient human civilisations worship Built Alien Dudes on a planet that the film implies is just an outpost for the manufacture of WMDs?

Why does the geologist gain super-strength from his goo exposure, while Shaw’s partner gets sick and weak from a much smaller exposure.

And then there’s the “lets run in the path of this giant alien ship” thing. Manufactured drama for the sake of an (admittedly impressive) action schene.

And why, for the love of God, does a women stumble into a room covered in blood with her stomach stapled together and no one askes her what happened? Why doesn’t she mention she just gave birth to Cthulhu!?

Characters

I felt zero attachment to any of the characters. Honestly, if Shaw had been eaten by Cthulhu I would have been cool with it. The attempts at backstory etc just felt painted on.

One of the wonderful things about the first two Alien movies is that they’re heavily character driven. You really get the sense that these are multi-dimension, real characters who are finding out how to deal with some exceptionally horrific curcumstances. Sure, characters like Hicks and Vasquez are pretty cliched, but they’re beleivable cliches. The characters in Prometheus don’t feel real: there’s no depth to anyone other than David and they’re constantly doing thngs that make no sense.

Missed opportunities

I can see what they were trying to do with the David/Human/Engineer dynamic, and it had a lot of potential. The ‘obsession with your maker’ theme was the strongest thing in the script, but I’m sure it was fully exploited.

The half-hearted attempt at religiosity was jarring and souless. Oh, “it’s what you choose to beleive”? Fuck you. (My reaction is as subtle as the treatment of the topic).

LV426 vs LV223

I’ve seen people complaining that the ending doesn’t properly leave things as they need to be for Alien to begin, because the Engineer isn’t in the giant canon/seat contraption with his mask on, and there’s human bodies littered everywhere. But the film gets it right here: this is a completely different planet. Presumably at some other point some magic goo gets lose on another Engineer ship and creates the xenomorphs we know and love.

But still

I’d see it again. I’m sure I’ll watch it once it comes out on iTunes/DVD. It looks wonderful, there’s some actual horror moments, and it’s generally entertaining. The flaws I’ve listed make it sound horrible, but it wasn’t. It was just could have been so much better.

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