Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prometheus Review: I've Got a Bad Feeling About This...

The good news: movies based on comic books keep getting better and better. I loved “The Avengers” and the audience I saw it with clearly loved it as well.

 The bad news: sci-fi movies are getting dumber. Well-read audiences are not, apparently, inspiring well-written scripts. I've already expressed my lack of respect for the “Avatar” script. So when I say that “Prometheus” is better, but only barely, that should be understood as damning with faint praise.

Visually, it's gorgeous, and, like “Avatar” is probably worth seeing in 3D if that's not too expensive in your neck of the woods. But understand, going in, that you're about to watch a film which includes scintillating (and revealing) dialogue like, “This is a scientific expedition; no guns.” This is a movie where someone dies because they apparently forget they can turn left or right. This is a movie where a guy with a PhD in biology, in a dangerous environment, decides to pet an alien creature he can't see most of. Where the guy who's directing the hovering drones mapping out the alien complex gets lost. Where emotionless androids enjoy classic cinema.

 As others have noted, the entire third act hinges on everyone acting in the best interests of the plot-beats instead of like self-interested (or even compassionate) human beings. I'm leery about declaring the movie has an overt Pro Life chip on its shoulder only because I have a hard time believing Hollywood would purposefully make a Pro Life movie. And yet, the only way to make sense of the last act is to say all things moved in service to heavy-handed allegory.

 That said, some of the acting is excellent, the scenery and props look great, and the body-horror is pleasantly spine-shivering. I can see myself watching this one again, but I'd only own it if the remaining films in the series (the ending invites, nay, demands at least one sequel) are compelling.  

PS - Yes, I know, actors hate to work in helmets and masks, but seriously? My respect for Hugo Weaving continues to skyrocket.


Durotrigan said...

You're spot on with respect to the stupidity of much of the characterisation in 'Prometheus'. Having a doctorate may not necessarily guarantee common sense, but the two archaeologists in the film were ridiculous.

David was the best character in the film, despite the fact that he was an android, which illustrates how essentially soulless this film was. 'Prometheus' is certainly at times a good-looking film, at others an ugly one, and contains the occasional shock and a number of stomach-churning moments for the squeamish; but it is underscripted, underplotted and lacks a satisfying conclusion. Originality was absent, and even its best characters are two-dimensional:

Roger G-S said...

> I have a hard time believing Hollywood would purposefully make a Pro Life movie.

I don't. When was the last movie a female character chose not to keep the baby?

trollsmyth said...

Roger the GS: Well, Alien 3 (and 4? Don't remember how that one ended.) springs to mind.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it looked great and the actors were top notch but the script was a bit stupid. The script reminded me of a slasher horror movie like Friday the 13th.

Spoilers ahoy!

I don't understand why the guy had to kill himself at the start, surely they could do that without the suicide? The archaeologists were too young and good looking to be believeable (sorry to any archaeologists reading!). They didn't seem to have any training or even meet each other before leaving on the most important mission in human history. Two years sleep and they couldn't spare a week for a meet and greet? Some of the crew were quite dysfunctional, why would you pick them for a mission like this? They have a beautifully rendered 3D digital map of the area and people get lost. When the people are lost everyone else on the spaceship go to sleep, no watches or anything. When something happens to those people (duh) they don't seem to have recorded what was happening so they can playback what happened. Only the second mission, two people missing, and the pilot says "I'm coming along.". They don't seem to have standard procedures for anything e.g. arguing about whether to bring guns or not, quarantine procedures onboard the ship. The wizz bang automated medical chamber that Charlize Theron brought for herself because she doesn't like to take risks only has data for males. I don't understand why the android tries to sabotage the mission, it doesn't seem to make sense. The very first time they go to this alien civilization the android starts doing stuff on his on cognizance (opening doors etc) and noone has a problem with it. I would shut him down then and there. There are four people in the egg chamber that first time and noone notices the android putting one into a bag.

I don't understand how anyone could say it is not a direct prequel. They made so much effort getting everything to match the first movie, the way the ship looked on the outside and the inside. They recreated the whole navigation room where we first got our glimpse of an alien creature in the first movie.
"Dallas: [looking at alien skeleton] Alien life form. Looks like it's been dead a long time. Fossilized. Looks like it's growing out of the chair.
[climbs up for a closer look]
Dallas: Bones are bent outward, like he exploded from inside."
And then at the end of the movie the alien dies on the humans ship, not his alien ship. It is already established that it takes some time for the aliens to grow in the host. It would have been so easy to have him walk back to the ship and die in the navigation chair. This kind of lack of attention to detail characterises the whole movie.

It looks great though.

Ah it feels good to get that all off my chest!


instantapathy said...

Well, to address the alien-buster thing. It was stated (IIRC) that this was not supposed to be the same planet as Alien, so this wasn't /the/ ship that was from there... no need for them to have the alien die in the same position. Additionally, it wasn't an "egg chamber". Those were artificial (if organic) DNA/Virus/Whathaveyou containers for thier weapon of mass killing, not eggs.

Also, I'm not sure that he was... sabotaging the expedition on much as he was experimenting on his own. His mission, from Weyland, was to make sure that he contacted the aliens, so that Weyland could talk to them. David is supposed to be more than his programing, at that point. He spent two years awake, more or less by himself staring at movies and peoples dreams. He's a brilliant, amoral, jealous child. He's smarter, stronger than any of the humans, is the trusted delegate of Mr. Weyland and yet everyone there treats him like an object. While he isn't shown to get angry over it, his language in response is often sarcastic and/or passive aggressive... which no one seems to pick up on. In many ways he seems like the most fully actualized character...

The mission itself seems to have been conceived as the pet project of the dying CEO operating on what (while ultimately correct) looks to be a highly speculative and out there hypothesis. It's not government funded, so it's possible (and likely) that humanity doesn't even know about this greatest mission. The ultimate goals were highly secretive, so it seems he ended up hiring a bunch of freelance oddballs because they would /take/ a mystery space mission. Which explains some (not all) of the quirks of the crew.

Oh, and there was a watch, technically, in that the captain was doing it... but he then went to get it on with Vickers and left his station. :P Which admittedly doesn't explain why they couldn't spare some HD space to have been recording those com transmissions...

That all said, the movie certainly has issues. Plenty of "dumb for the plot" stuff etc. But on the whole I liked it... except that I wish they'd actually explained... stuff.

Steamtunnel said...

Funny, I interpreted it as pro-choice. The thing in her is not-human-as-we-know-it (probably all human DNA) and it will kill her. If there ever was a clear and unambiguous pro-choice situation, this would be it. But in actuality, because it turns out that the "fetus" is viable, what you think is an "abortion" turns by plot fiat into a cesarian birth.

instantapathy said...

Oh yeah, the pro life/choice thing. Until I read your comment I'd not seen anything about it... and even having read that blog post you link I can't help but feel like... it's reading to much into it. *shrug*

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