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Sean Montgomery

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Prometheus [Jun. 9th, 2012|11:34 pm]
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After a 2011 which yielded very few movies that I was actively interested in seeing, 2012 looked to be an embarassment of riches: The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Brave..and right up at the top, Prometheus. I'm a big fan of the first two Alien movies...especially the second, which is in my top 5 favourites ever. When word came that Ridley Scott was returning to do another film in the same universe, I was cautiously optimistic. Then the first trailer came out, and I was actively interested. It looked like a winner. Word came that Guillermo Del Toro was probably going to abandon his plan to film H.P. Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains Of Madness', because it would seem too similar to the story of Prometheus. Which was even more intriguing. Elder Gods in space?

Well, Prometheus was released in Europe first, and the reviews were not exactly raves. This was a good thing, as it lowered my expectations. Whenever I see a movie with unrealistically high hopes, I am almost always disappointed. But I knew that I'd have to go see Prometheus all the same...and I did, this evening. I wasn't expecting a new classic...I was just hoping for entertainment. And for the first 45 minutes of so, this attitude carried me along just fine. It is definitely a very visually engaging movie, and I was also curious to see where things were headed. I appreciated that the script was trying to elevate the material beyond a mere horror movie, into something more philosophical. But then...I found that I kind of stopped caring. In part it was because the characters weren't especially likeable. But mostly, it was that the whole thing just didn't make sense. The more that the film piled on the flawless looking visual effects, and invited me to accept them as The Real World, the higher a standard of 'reality' I expected from the story...and it just wasn't there.



BEGIN SPOILERS>>>

Here are the things we are supposed to accept:

1) That a humanoid life form came to Earth millions of years ago, and seeded the planet with its DNA, starting life here. Or did that just mean 'human life'? Because while the film says that their DNA and ours matches, so does the DNA of humans and chimpanzees. Is the idea that their advanced DNA started out on Earth as plankton and nematodes, gradually evolving back into something resembling the original donor model? Or that they came specifically to create 'homo sapiens', and it's just a crazy coincidence that there are other primates and proto-human species here? It's also very unclear why they would have done this. 'Just because they could' is not a very compelling answer.

2) That ancient civilizations somehow all knew which world their DNA came from, prompting them to draw 'maps' that pointed the way to it - for the benefit of a future civilization with starfaring capability?

3) That a corporation would finance a hugely expensive mission to land a ship on an extremely distant world, based solely on some pretty iffy theories (and the CEO's desire for a 'fountain of youth'). That it would staff this crucial mission with people who act without much discipline or teamwork. There is a definite implication that they send this mission because they want to exploit the 'biowarfare' potential of the aliens...but how could they know to do this, since there had been no actual contact with the other world? How would David the android know to take a sample of the black goo, and feed it to a crew member?

4) That members of the crew would just suddenly decide to split off from the main group, in order to meet the script's requirement for horrible death.

5) That a woman who had just had her abdomen (and, presumably, another internal organ) sliced open and stapled shut could immediately begin running around.

6) That a crew member who had been killed by the aliens would suddenly return in zombie form.

7) That a life form could be kept alive in 'hyper sleep' for 2,000 years - without evident nutrient inputs, and without developing the world's worst case of bed sores.

8) That the Aliens that we came to know in the original Alien Quadrilogy just sort of spontaneously evolved from giant calamari into their shiny black form.

9) That the survivor of the Prometheus who flies off at the end of the movie will be able to survive a trip to anywhere, without food or a life support system adapted to their physiology. Presumably, the alien craft had also been buried for 2,000 years. I doubt the cans of Alien vegetable soup they'd packed would still be suitable for eating.

>>END SPOILERS



These were the things I was thinking about, rather than the existential questions of 'where do we come from?' and 'Ancient Aliens...could they be real?'

So, I guess this sounds like I'm panning it. But the thing is...I didn't *hate* it. I just didn't love it either. It was a lovely thing to look at (especially the scene where David investigates the Engineers' 'star chart', and it was great fun to see the 'Space Jockey' get into his cockpit. The 'cesarean' scene was ridiculous but effective all the same. Fassbender was pretty cool as the android. Karen and I also devoted our entire dinner conversation to the movie, which is more than I can say about most things we see. I just would have preferred a more coherent story, relatable characters, and genuine scares.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: professor_booty
2012-06-10 01:28 pm (UTC)

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Testing to see if this works...
[User Picture]From: djinndustries
2012-06-10 01:50 pm (UTC)

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Crossposted in If's journal:

I think that the vagueness of the associations were what drove me mad about this movie. The planet they were charted for was LV-226, so you would assume that LV-426 (the Alien planet) was perhaps in the same system or of a similar class. Why not make it the alien home planet of LV-426 terraformed by the black goo into the horrible bleak world it was in the original movie? Why not have the ship be the same ship? Why not have the engineer be in the navigator chair? Why does the xenomorph at the end not look like a canonical alien? Arrgh!

That with the other glaring stupidities:

* tattooed, antisocial geologist on a $1T mission--maybe he's the best in his field, but why not just take #2 and #3 instead of number #1. Number #1 is a dick.

* yes, we've flown billions of miles, but instead of orbiting the planet and checking out appropriate landing sites let's just put 'er down...oh...over there by the formation that looks unnatural and possibly inhabited...oh, and we don't have weapons

* of course we know all potential pathogens, so the head is no danger at all being exposed to air in the ship

* why the fuck did the alien in the beginning commit suicide? if it's seeding its DNA by spiking it with the black stuff, why don't we have more tentacles?

* there are some signals of living organisms coming from nearby--oh, wait. nevermind. 'night!

* black captain is ethnic stereotype at the beginning, savior at the end

* i'm a preeminent biologist, let me poke the cobra-like xenomorph with my finger!

Arrgh!
[User Picture]From: professor_booty
2012-06-10 01:56 pm (UTC)

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Haha! Yes...the more you try to impose 'logic' on the proceedings, the shakier the whole thing seems. But damn, those are some fine looking dust clouds. :)
[User Picture]From: theoddbirdrant
2012-06-10 03:44 pm (UTC)

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I totally agree!
[User Picture]From: shironiku
2012-06-17 07:46 am (UTC)

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2) I think they were supposed to be Engineers pointing the way, which is why the figures pointing were bigger than the surrounding ones. Of course, they were pointing to the system where all the bioweapons were, so maybe they're weren't saying "come and find us" so much as "you fuck up and this is gonna happen to you!"

3) Mr. Weyland had the money and he was desperate to cheat death, so sure, why not? The worst that could happen is that he could die. As for everyone else...well...since when is the head of a megacorp ever been a humanitarian? As for the bioweapon aspect of things, it certainly did follow the model set in earlier Alien movies, but I think what it came down to was David seeing the potential and acting independently to wipe out humanity. After all, he did say to Noomi that "all children want their parents dead." He resented Weyland's treatment of him as a soulless machine. He poisoned Noomi's boyfriend because he was the biggest dick to him on the ship. That was my take on it, at least. Maybe he was just observing Charlize Theron's attitude towards her dad, as motivated as she was by a desire to inherit the company from him. That doesn't explain why David helped Noomi in the end, though. Unless he is just biding his time and hoping to bring the ship back to Earth eventually.

9) Presumably Charlize Theron's life pod had two years' worth of food and water in it. The captain told her when he ejected it: "two years of life in the pod or a few minutes on this ship, your choice." I was really hoping she was going to go to the Engineers' home world and dump the black goo on THEM.

Here's something else to chew on: remember how they said in the movie that the decapitated Engineer had been dead for about 2,000 years? An interview with Ridley Scott revealed that he originally wanted to put in the movie that the Engineers gave humanity one last chance to save themselves from the black goop fate, and that chance came in the form of...wait for it...JESUS. Jesus was sent by the Engineers and we killed him, so it was black goop time.

All of this makes me terrified of the coming Blade Runner sequel.