Prometheus: All fired up!

Oh Prometheus, what a heavy handed mess you are.  Welcome to Bridgeen’s unpopular opinion corner: today’s rant is on Ridley Scott’s uber hyped return to Sci-fi Prometheus. So many things bugged me about this movie I barely know where to begin.

Prometheus Movie: This it ain’t

Firstly the script is dire, the characters might as well use semaphore they’re flagging the symbolism so much. Discarding the golden rule of ‘show- don’t tell’, the dialogue is banal and does not serve the characters, instead merely telling us what we already see and know. Whilst the plot is messy, it remains predictable with the foreshadowing employed so obvious it’s almost farce. (The ‘big reveals’ are somewhat ruined as a result). Characters remain unformed and throw away (why is Charlize Theron even there?) The visuals are over blown in some scenes while not fully realised in others, and the ‘moral of the story’ oh so heavy-handed as to bludgeon you over the head.

Now, please don’t think I don’t get this movie, because I can assure you I do. I just don’t think it delivered. The trailers made me want this to be brilliant, which only made the disappointment worse. Despite Scott’s disingenuous early assurances that this was a ‘reimagining’ not a prequel, and that the ‘space jockey’ of the first movie was merely a jumping off point, it’s inevitable that the viewer will compare it to Alien.

The mysterious ‘space jockey’ in Alien 1979

So very much with the Alien series in mind, here are my pet peeves and irks: *SPOILER ALERT*
(N.b. Some of  scenes are so obviously bad they don’t need pointing out, like Shaw’s awkward self abortion and the dumb scientist referring to the worm creature as  a pretty ‘girl’ when it clearly looks like a penis.)

1-      Holy crap, Space hipsters! In the original Alien, you have essentially space truckers and scientists, in Aliens is corporate businessmen and marines, jump ahead 33 years and we have sandal wearing space hipsters with ginger beards and plastic glasses. Holy Feck that’s progress for you.

2-      Over use of Bokeh, if I want my space blurry I’ll tell you! As with the hipster thing, this movie is going to date real bad. Also the fuzzy alien video recording on the fritz – argh!

3-      Who’s in charge of this ship? Is appears to have at least three separate parties in command. Is it ships owner (Charlize), the Archaeologists or Captain, (Idis Elba)? Messy messy!

4-     Inconsistency Alert!  Strong, dare I say it rather forced regional British accents in some actors while not in others. (E.g . Noomi Rappace (Swedish) and Idris Elba (London) are both inexplicably going for accents that aren’t their own.

5-      In space, where no one has ever trained in health and safety. How many plot holes can you excuse because so called scientists have taken their bloody helmets off?

Fish bowl vintage sci-fi helmets

6-      The big fish bowl helmets and associated head gear made the wears look like a cross between Finaly-esque retronauts, and the glowing eggs of the original movie.

7-      The shiny red hard suits – clearly shown in shot twice- hinted at perhaps a finale featuring Shaw fighting one of the new aliens, ala Ripley in the Power Loader and the mother alien at the end of Aliens. But these are never used, no one even mentions them!!!

Hard Red Spacesuit just seen- far left

8-      The open alien landscape was insufficiently different from earth ruining the tone for me. I can appreciate that Scott was going for ‘epic’ in scale this time, but the result is sadly lacking in the paranoia of the original Alien movie, dark and airless and claustrophobic, even in the bloody cave.

9-      The humanoid aliens that look exactly like William Blake’s drawings of Uber Mensch.

Pale skin, heavy brow, outrageous musculature = William Blake’s supermen

10-   The incredibly bad old age make up on Guy Pearce. (Why didn’t the just cast an old actor?)

11-   The ‘pyramid’ cave, yes I see, so like a barrow mound. Life and death, buried together. What’s that you say? The bad guy, the aging genius behind this whole misadventure is called Weyland? Metaphor alert!!! The ancient god of smithing wants to channel the power of fire, of life (of Prometheus).

Waylands Smithy – Barrow mound and chamber tomb Ashbury UK

Speaking of mixing your metaphors, parentage, creation myths and origin are the order of the day. Shaw’s character is infertile- so predictably she’s the first to be impregnated with an alien ‘baby’.  She ‘believes’ that these humanoid aliens are the origin of life on earth, and now mysteriously want to destroy it. Weyland is promtheus himself, who wants to steal the ‘fire of life’ for from the humanoid aliens to cheat death. Weyland is also the father of invention, having created artificial life (David the Android) who he prefers over his biological child (Theron).

Meanwhile, David like Oedipus wants to kill his father, as he is desirous of freewill.  Weyland is David’s ‘god the creator’, and the android pokes fun at the Shaw’s religious faith in searching for a callous creator. One final layer on the cake is the alien’s ‘fire/invention/biological bomb’ as a monster embodiment of sex and mutation. In stark contrast is the android David, a being that does not require sex to reproduce, who incidentally apes his hero Lawrence of Arabia, a gay archetype. Heavy handed, no?

Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia

If this film is about anything it’s about Fassbender’s David, who bears more relation to Bladerunner’s replicants than to Lars Henrikson’s industrial android ‘Bishop’ in Aliens. (Although echoing the sinister ‘Ash’ of  the first Alien movie, he is beheaded.)  Hints of Bladerunner are evident in David’s voyeurism of others’ dreams and memories. His blonde hair and desire to kill his creator/father make him analogous to Roy Batty. As do his superiority, unscrupulousness and humanity in spite of him/itself. ‘More human than human’ etc.  (I dread Scott’s forthcoming Bladerunner spin-off).

It’s interesting to note that some of the best footage from this movie doesn’t actually appear in the film, but as viral internet adverts.  The Peter Wayland TED talk, for example and the creepy/moving advert for Wayland industries featuring David.

For the record I did have a favourite scene: The  alien’s ship, which I have christened the ‘Space Croissant’,  taking off and then falling out of the sky. This counts towards as one of my 50 movies in my fifty fifty me Challenge.

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5 comments

  1. I went into this movie with low expectations and came out disappointed. Slightly astonished that a script that poor can get made. Was there a slight nod to the last third of 2001 with the Weyland’s luxury antique bed on the Prometheus?

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    1. Hi Paul, I agree it was hard to believe a script this poor slipped through the net. And as for the 2001 reference it’s possible, but maybe just co-incidental. The movie has also been likened to Contact http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118884/ but I don’t see the similarity except in the most superficial sense. (I.e that its a sci-fi story dealing with big concepts like theology, our place in the universe, and first contact.) Star Trek the motion Picture is also in this mould but I bet Scott wouldn’t welcome the comparison 😉

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  2. It was awful.

    Jesus, like you it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll go with: “Because that’s what I choose to believe”

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    1. I had the same issue with that line! Good to see another skeptic on here!

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  3. Wait this is out already for you guys? Man, I need to see it asap, even if it’s just so-so. The hype is probably way too high though eh?

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