I saw Prometheus last night. Instead of enjoying the drive home with my head filled with appreciation for a provocative, inventive retelling of the ancient astronaut myth, my mind busied itself on how many ways I could mock this under-achieving, unimaginative bore of a film for my UFO Religions readers. In one sentence: the History Channel produces better science fiction than this movie. Or perhaps: Prometheus: In Space, No One Can Hear You Snore.
It’s honestly difficult to express how poor of an effort I consider this film. It’s kind of like reviewing a Sitchin book: I can find see problems everywhere, so where to begin?
Let’s start with some generalities. While I was in line I overheard someone who had just seen the movie say, “It was good, but it was no Alien.” I only agree with the second half of that assessment. This was not a good movie. There were no surprises at all; predictability in a sci-fi movie is unforgivable. After all, if you are at liberty to detach yourself from reality and you still manage to be banal, you’re project is a failure. Given the hype, this was an historic entertainment FAIL. Let me go back to this year’s box office mega-implosion John Carter (but not the last Indiana Jones movie — that was criminal; Prometheus was merely inept). Honestly, how can anyone fail to be stimulating in any way when it comes to the ancient astronaut mythology? But that is Prometheus: one groggy, dull ride. Basically the problem is that the movie begins with the core Sitchin / von Daniken nonsense talking point, that humans were created by aliens, and just stops right there. It adds nothing. No development of the idea into a clever meta-narrative. If you already have had the thought that human life was created by aliens planted in your mind (thinking it stupid or not), there’s no need to see the movie. It literally doesn’t take you an inch farther. Just a two-hour reminder of the one basic point that everyone going to the movie already had in their head because of the internet, the Ancient Aliens sitcom, or Coast to Coast AM. A quintessential example of what it means to be uncreative. Sort of like the cinematic antonym to either of the Sherlock Holmes movies.
But the real insult was to the Alien franchise. Was it worse than Alien 3 or 4? Hard to say. Those misguided sequels just enraged viewers or made them say to themselves, “Thanks for destroying the best things about the first two movies.” This one doesn’t ruin anything because it doesn’t convey anything. It’s just an intellectually stultifying bore. The first two Alien movies were great because they were filled with clever surprises and truly edge-of-the-seat suspense. This offering had neither. It didn’t even try to surprise. The film unfailingly tipped viewers off to what (I guess) were supposed to be later revelations (the old gazzillionare was on the ship and the “remind us why this character is in the movie” played by Charlize Theron is his daughter; one of humanity’s alien creators is still alive on the planet; the cavernous structure the crew discovers is a spaceship; the ship is filled with the alien muck that spawns the killing machine alien in the original film; etc. I don’t consider these plot spoilers, because unless you’re still thinking about the commercials you were forced to watch before the film started, you can’t miss these “plot” elements. They are transparent and completely expected.To give a specific example of how Prometheus does something badly that Alien would have done more more cleverly, the robot (David) plops some of the alien DNA/egg-stuff into the drink of a crew member, knowing that the unfortunate guy will become host to the alien. I say “plop” because there’s actually a loud plopping sound in the film after David pours the drink and leans his finger over the edge of the cup. It sounded like a large ice cube was tossed into the glass. If the moron who took the drink couldn’t hear that like the rest of us, he deserved what he got. Alien would have found a far more sinister and surreptitious way of infecting the guy — and not letting it be known to the viewer until much later. It would have been something you felt in your gut but couldn’t figure out how it was done. The whole movie was like that (Ridley Scott: “The audience needs to understand what happens in the scene after this one, so we’ll drop a breadcrumb the size of a Toyota in their path since we can’t think of an adroit way to keep moving”).
You get the idea. This film has sucked enough of my life away, so the review stops here. I need to move on.
It’s a shame the movie isn’t better; I’d hoped the Alien theme would work better, and that it could be entertaining as well as intriguing. Surprising that it isn’t higher in quality…
Well, now you’ve gone and taken all the fun out of it with clear, level-headed thinking! I kid, I kid. Honestly, I’m a sucker for glossy special effects so I was just like a kid in a gooey-candy store. Plus, any excuse to keep the franchise going (I’ve made my peace with Alien 4). But I totally see your points. The one thing I kept going back to after the movie is this incredibly weird chain of relationship:
Weyland created David
David infected Charlie
Charlie impregnated Elizabeth
Elizabeth birthed the Tentacle Alien
Tentacle Alien impregnated Engineer
Engineer birthed the Proto-Xenomorph
Which means the Alien creature has human dna and Elizabeth Shaw is its grandmother! Lol. It’s like some strange, space bible genealogy.
this makes me hate it even more.
Thanks for the info, I still want to see the movie for the film quality shown in trailers and excitement perhaps, also it sounds like when some gal says “we were so wrong,” it refers I suppose to thinking that connecting with ancient aliens is a good idea. In a way, since the film seems to be saying it is NOT a good idea, maybe that is not such a bad film. In any case, all aliens can have done is tweaked our DNA, even if brewed from scratch they would still be only using what God created incl. their own brains to do it with. We are God’s creation ultimately and God’s property not theirs.
Yeah as far as aliens go Hollywood seems pretty intent on trying to impose some kind of Eric Van Daniken renaissance. Then you’ve got some movies like “Knowing” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to convey the idea of humanity’s dependence on whatever scrap of mercy may fall from the table of some passerby aliens.
It’s not that there isn’t fertile ground for some more intelligent and less depressing speculative fiction. But if anybody writes it, this entertainment industry won’t even talk to them. They only want to publish stuff that marginalizes certain orthodox religious views as much as possible. I wonder how many more big-budget flops there has to be before they realize it’s bad business.
Right on with this review. The “scientists” on the ship acted so absurdly that Scott could have easily have replaced them ancient astronaut enthusiasts instead.
But I still disagreeahemrespectfully, of course, with your Indy 4 opinion.
A friend came across this little gem. It at least made the movie more entertaining to think about. hehe.
Of course, you can see patterns and motifs almost anywhere you want, but if this is correct in that Scott himself was agreeing that the reason the Space Jockey’s were coming back after us was for killing Jesus 2000 years ago, well I never would have seen that coming. I didn’t track down that interview he quotes though, so take it for what it’s worth. Like I said, it at least makes the movie a little more enjoyable to think about. O_o
There was just no clarity on that point at all — I think it’s being read into it, to try and give it some sort of value.
I saw it as well. It sucked. It was subversive to Christianity on a number of levels. One of the first was in the beginning when belief God was presented as something “I just believe” as in “with no factual basis” reinforcing the notion of the fact/value divide where any sort of theism is an upper story leap into subjective belief… then of course the imagery with the cross the female character wore being torn off as she lost her belief. In the end, she’s still taking a blind leap.
yeah – If those are Ridley Scott’s deep thoughts on Christianity (or theism in general), I’ve had undergrads with more depth. Just a bore on so many levels.
Brian Godawa recommended this assessment: http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/584135.html
Well worth the read. I have to say I don’t think Scott is as thoughtful as the reviewer (Scott “misapplies” some of the motifs to characters when certain ideas would make more “sense” applied to other characters, but that’s probably quibbling). There are some disconnects in the analysis (Elizabeth wasn’t “made pregnant by God” in the NT; her pregnancy was announced by an angel, but that is different than Mary’s situation). And the alien child … how did it grow so fast so soon without nutrition? How is it that the engineers are giants and yet Jesus was not? Scott had Jesus as the “emissary” of the Engineers in scripts I’ve read (not a mere human spawn), so why the physical difference? I just expect such things to be accounted for and it’s irritating when they aren’t.
Can’t we have something original rather than aping Christian motifs for … what reason? Just to do it to irk Christians? It’s kind of sad if that’s all that motivates the creatives nowadays. Maybe I just need a nap.