After months and months of seemingly endless hype for Ridley Scott’s newest opus, I FINALLY got to see Prometheus, the prequel to the Alien franchise. I saw in on an IMAX screen, in 3D, which is the way to go with this one I think.
Needless to say, there will be spoilers galore. So don’t get mad about it.
NO. REALLY. THERE BE SPOILERS HERE.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with Ridley Scott’s pedigree, go watch Blade Runner, Alien, maybe Gladiator. Good films, all.
Prometheus, however, is not that great. Sure it’s pretty to look at, and the performances are quite good, but the script is utter nonsense. I’ll be glad to tell you why, and maybe in the process, I’ll figure out what this film was actually about.
The film starts on earth, a gagillion years ago, presumably, where an alien life form drinks some sort of potion that turns his body into some sort of genetic mush that falls into the water, seeding this planet with the building blocks of our existence. Immediately after completion of this task, the aliens split. They take off in their spaceship and hit the bricks.
Okay, so we were created by Aliens. I think. It’s really not that clear. It’s not even clear if we’re looking at earth as the setting for that scene, but from the previews, I was able to extrapolate that much. But if I hadn’t seen the trailer, I’d be very confused indeed.
We meet our main characters, Steven and Elizabeth, both expert anthropologists, as they make a discovery in a cave somewhere that adds to an already established (in the movie) anthropological record that suggests that our origins are from elsewhere in the galaxy. Apparently, ancient races from all over the world and at different times in our history somehow know the exact shape of a cluster of stellar bodies. Having no telescopes, or technology beyond chipping rocks or painting caves, and having no contact with the aliens that presumably created them, they just….know. So they paint and carve their way through antiquity, leaving clues for no real reason at all.
And that’s pretty much where the story stops making sense.
So, the next logical step for our heroes is to incorrectly construe those carvings and paintings as an invitation to visit, so they convince a corporate entity to fund a multi-billion dollar mission to find and explore this planetary cluster, and attempt to make contact with whoever is responsible for putting those cavemen up to painting caves in the first place. Makes perfect sense, right?
No. It doesn’t. It makes no sense at all.
Turns out, it’s surprisingly easy to do that. Apparently Weyland industries (Remember them from Alien? Thought so.) is super stoked about the idea, so everybody gets on board the spaceship Prometheus and heads off to outer space, because apparently that cluster of stellar bodies is super easy to find. And it’s only a couple years away if you sleep through the journey.
Wait a minute. Isn’t it true that if we traveled the speed of light, which by the way, isn’t likely in this century no matter who you ask (which is relevant since the story happens in the later part of this century), it would still take 4.24 years to make it to our closest neighbor, Alpha Centauri? Yes it is true. And the planet they find isn’t in Alpha Centauri. There aren’t even any known planets in Alpha Centauri. The closest known planets are over ten light years away, orbiting a star called Epsilon Eridani. But that’s not where they’re going either.
I don’t know, maybe they use wormholes or something to travel the universe. They don’t talk about it, so I’m just supposed to assume they can handle it because they are FROM THE FUUUUUTUUUUURRRRE.
Ridley Scott had a choice at this point. I imagine he thought, “Do I check Wikipedia real quick or do I just continue to assume that nobody has ever seen or heard of Carl Sagan or that robot dude in the wheelchair? Eh. The heck with it. Science isn’t important in science fiction. But a robot would be cool.”
At this point, I’m just trying to enjoy the friggin’ movie, and letting the insult to my intelligence slide.
So. We’re on the ship, and arriving at whatever unnamed, super close random planet, and everyone is waking up from hypersleep, which is apparently how space travel works. First, build a smug robot with a secret agenda that will wreck EVERYTHING, let him look after things, and just hope he wakes you up later when you get there.
Immediately they find something to explore, which is good, because Charlize Theron is there to drop the buzz kill on anybody wanting to do their actual job. She’s just mean, and I could never figure out why. Apparently her character is on the board of Weyland Industries and she has a vested interest in this venture being a failure because if it fails she can take over Weyland Industries. I guess. The conflict her character adds to the story is unnecessary. She’s just there to piss people off and nobody really takes her seriously anyway.
While exploring the….thing they are exploring, the smug robot activates a holographic recording by poking at some stone markings. That’s how alien engineers do it. They make all the control mechanisms impossible to see unless you know they are there. The recording shows the aliens running about in a panic, and dying off. So our heroes investigate and find a room full of jars that contain some sort of liquid goo. Immediately everybody wants to start poking at the goo, even though EVERY INSTINCT WOULD TELL YOU THAT’S A STUPID THING TO DO. Mr. Robojerk takes a little for his own personal use.
Some sort of storm comes up and everybody decides to go back to the ship to examine the alien head they found and get drunk and laid. The head blows up for some reason after they wake it up using their super-science medicine scanner thing. Then the robot slips David some of the goo he found in his drink, in the hopes that he will go knock up his lady and sire an alien baby. Which HAPPENS.
Huh? I’m starting to think they’re just making this stuff up as they go. I mean, this alien goo stuff is right out of the X-Files mythos. Only they called it black oil. Total rip-off, down to the shot of the goo swimming around in David’s eye.
A couple of the explorers (One of them is some kind of rock and roll geologist. Pointless.) get left behind and murdered by the alien goo, which is all fun, and is the closest scene so far to suggest this movie is an Alien prequel, unless you count the numerous references to Weyland Industries. They wouldn’t want you to forget about Weyland Industries.
People start dying, and they find a spaceship, and it becomes clear that the aliens that were on this planet were using it to produce a biological weapon to eliminate the life they created on earth. For some reason. In this movie, the why’s aren’t important. Apparently. Because we never find out why they were doing all this.
In another apparent script revision, they wake up old man Weyland, who everybody thought was dead, and he wants to go meet the guy that his robot found, sleeping on the alien ship. BTW, old man Weyland is played by Guy Richie. Good performance, I guess, but his old age makeup was as bad as I’ve ever seen. Oh yeah. He’s also Charlize’s father, which is POINTLESS for us to know or care about.
Because my editor is such a great and patient guy, who lets me vent whenever I feel the need, I’m not going to spoil the ending. I think I’ve spoiled enough. He thought that would be going too far, and I think I should leave you something as a surprise when you go see it. Ultimately I think you should decide for yourself about this movie, then comment about how wrong I am. 🙂
Now, if you’ve made it to this point, you’re probably wondering what the hell this movie is about. I wish I could help you. I couldn’t find a coherent theme, I didn’t care if the heroes won or lost, and I couldn’t figure out why many of them were there, as sparingly as they were used.
If I had to find a theme for this, I’d say it’s about…….ummmm…..I got nothin’.
The world Scott created was impeccably designed, using the original inspiration by H.R. Giger. The performances were fantastic, given the implausibility of the story and the relationships between characters. Everyone in this film seemed like they were creating performance for other, completely different films, only all at once.
As a foundation for the rest of the franchise, it’s pretty week, and make no mistake, that’s what they’re trying to do.
The special effects were terrific, and ultimately I had fun, but this is NOT, I repeat NOT a movie for people. It’s like one of those videos you put on for your cat while you’re at the store where it’s just other cats batting stuff around and meowing a lot. There’s no story, no characters to relate to or care about, no conflict that’s actually explained in any significant way, yet you’ll be compelled to look at it nonetheless.
All in all I’d say it’s another valiant attempt by a Hollywood that has stopped caring about you or me or anyone else that needs a little more than just escape.
I give it two popcorns and one “the finger” out of seven stars, because ratings don’t matter. It’s the most watchable crap movie I’ve ever seen. If that makes any sense. If you see this film DO NOT ASK WHY ANYBODY’S DOING ANYTHING. You’ll just end up as confused as I am. It’s WAY better than The Phantom Menace, as far as prequels go, but then so is that video for cats.
’til next time!