I need to clarify something before we start: I am not a hater. While I’m pretty picky about what movies I see, I don’t go into films like Star Trek (2009) and Prometheus planning to dislike them. I really don’t! I entered the theater with a positive, open mind. And as both films progressed, I worked to overlook their flaws and enjoy them. But, no matter how hard I tried, they were impossible to love.
I want to see a good space film more than any other form of entertainment; it’s my favorite. Unfortunately — with the exception of Solaris (2002), Moon (2009), and Apollo 13 (1995) — I haven’t seen a truly satisfying space movie in a long, long time. Okay, for the record, I liked Starship Troopers for its irreverence and amazing visual effects, but I can’t call it a ‘good’ movie!
Anyway, my personal preference is to have my brain fully activated and engaged with the entertainment that I take in — no matter what the genre. A lot of people tell me that they work hard all week, and the last thing they want to do is to have to ‘think’ during their time off. I honestly prefer the opposite.
I don’t believe it’s elitist to enjoy complex plots and mysteries. In fact, in the past, it was far more the norm for people to prefer intelligent entertainment. To be blunt: Hollywood is dumbing us down! I would love to go back to the days when movie trailers didn’t tell you everything about the film in advance. I liked being surprised. I prefer piecing a narrative together.
So back to Prometheus. What can I say? Don’t believe the hype. It may be beautifully shot and feature amazing sets and locations. But, as an overall experience, the film is a mess.
Alien was one of the first ‘R’ rated movies I ever saw. I watched it on HBO with my dad when I was 13 or 14. The thing that struck me was the way the characters interacted. They were scruffy. They were ugly. They argued. The actors talked over each other and jumped on lines. I thought this was incredibly fresh and unique in the sci-fi genre.
I also liked the scale and detail of the film’s sets. The Alien itself was creepy and extremely memorable in its design and execution. While I’m not a horror fan, it was a game-changer in the space film genre.
Seeing Aliens in 1986 was probably the best film experience I’ve ever had. I was riveted and on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was thrilled. I laughed. And I was damn near scared out of my skin. I also enjoyed taking the original film and turning it into a war movie.
Cameron knocked it out of the park with great character moments (Hudson is about the best character ever!) and spine-tingling action set pieces like the final battle between Ripley and the Alien Queen.
Unlike many people, I actually liked Alien 3. I just wish it hadn’t been about Ripley. It made no sense whatsoever after the triumphs of Aliens to suddenly kill all of the folks we had come to know and love. As for Alien Resurrection, I didn’t just want my money returned, I wanted the time back as well! It was simply awful and pointless.
My experience with the Alien Universe ended there. I have not seen either of the AvP films and didn’t take them seriously as part of the canon. (Actually, I don’t take Alien Resurrection as part of it either.)
I’ve been a very big fan of Ridley Scott throughout his career. Blade Runner is second only to 2001: A Space Odyssey in my book as the best sci-fi film. So, in 2010, when I heard that he was returning to the world of Alien — and, even more importantly, to the genre of science fiction — I was thrilled!
My excitement continued unabated until I saw the trailers; they looked gorgeous, but gave away too much. Not Ridley’s fault necessarily. Again, revealing too much before the film is an industry problem these days.
I was not particularly enthused that Prometheus was co-written by Damon Lindelof. A writer and producer from the J.J. Abrams Bad Robot team, he was responsible for the TV show Lost — a program that held my attention for many years, but ended in a completely ridiculous religiously-themed letdown (much like Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, but we’ll discuss that horrible series finale another time.)
Lindelof seems to pride himself with asking huge questions and delivering yet more questions as opposed to solid, compelling, and ultimately satisfying answers. I don’t really dig him as a writer, and for some reason he has now become Hollywood’s ‘go-to’ guy for space movies. Recently, he was tasked by Disney to create a epic film series that could rival Star Wars. Not good.
My only other complaint during the run-up to the film was the really creepy way that writers at other sci-fi blogs expressed their hope that the film be extremely violent and gory — deserving of a ‘hard R’ rating. I didn’t understand why this would be something to root for.
In fact, it bugs me that the marriage of sci-fi and horror has become almost a prerequisite of the space genre. It seems contrived to try to make a movie horrific. You can tell a scary and thrilling story without being gross. Plus, it’s Ridley’s film. He needed to do whatever he thought would be right to serve the story.
Finally, Prometheus came out and I saw it on the opening day. By the end, I was rolling my eyes. I laughed and cringed in horror several times, but not because of the film’s narrative. It was due to its utter stupidity. A friend of mine who liked it said to me that it’s “a movie and not a science documentary”. I totally agree. But this film made little to no sense at all in virtually every way. So, without further adieu, I’m simply going to list my thoughts.
Bear in mind, I’m not even going to try to skewer the horrible dialogue (that seems written specifically for moments in a trailer) and the one-dimensional characters. This review is specifically about the plot.
I will assume you have seen Prometheus already, because SPOILERS will abound!
I have no problem with movies asking questions or leaving things blank for me to ponder. But these weren’t deep questions; they were plot holes. Gaping plot holes. I think Prometheus was a complete mess.
For example, I didn’t need to know the origin of the Space Jockey. At the time, I figured that was a story of an alien species that I would never get to know — simply because it was an alien and we were getting in late (to the original Alien).
I certainly never imagined 30 years ago that the Space Jockey was a super-buff white guy with a serious anger issue. And, I hate to say it, but why did the progenitor of our species happen to be a ‘white’ guy? Albeit a virtually translucent prosthetically-enhanced one. But theses dudes were all ‘white’ and there was not a female to be found among them. What’s up with that?
I’ve seen other analyses that tried to answer some of the questions I’ve raised. I’ve read interviews with Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof where they try to explain the big themes of the story. As far as I’m concerned, none of this matters.
The point of a film should be that what you get on the screen is the statement. Like many Hollywood films these days, Prometheus is sorely lacking. Great sets and visual effects just aren’t enough. And, as far as I’m concerned, with a budget of $150 million the lack of care in storytelling is inexcusable.
Feel free to comment! We welcome open and honest discourse regarding any article. But, you better bring your A-game with some real perspective, if you want to spark a dialogue. Rude, mean-spirited comments will be deleted! Thanks for visiting and becoming a part of our community!