Sunday, June 17, 2012

Prometheus: An Aesthetically Attractive Pile of Aweful

Holy SHIT! Did not see this one coming. If you told me a few months ago that Prometheus was going to be the most infuriating and disappointing pile of shit-on-screen that I have paid to see since Journey 2, I would never have believed you. Funny how life works out sometimes isn't it? Im gonna say this right now, this is going to get long and its going to be full of spoilers because to explain WHY this movie is awful I have to pic apart pretty much every other scene. So for those who don't want to sit through it all or dont want any spoilers, heres the quick version. Every action taken by any of the characters in this movie is either stupid, inconsistent or completely inexplicable. When the characters themselves are not destroying the scenes, the story and the situations around them boldly take up the mantle and make sure that the level of awful is maintained. Now, lets dive right into this and see what sense we can make of this debacle.

The Good: Pretty Pictures!
This will be short. One thing that can be (rightly) toted about this movie is the amazing visuals and attention to detail applied to the sets. As far as creating the possibility for immersion, this movie really delivers. I cant really think of too many other movies that have created a unique universe that can rival Prometheus on the visuals front. Yup, thats about it. Wait...let me think...yup thats it. Anything else that could have potentially been good was ruined by the writing. 

Oh and a quick note. The ability to create a visually impressive universe  in a film does NOT make it a good film. You want to argue that point? Well I accept your argument and I guess that means we should retroactively award all of the Transformers movies best picture due to their execution of visual mastery. 

The Bad: Everything else!

So apart from the visuals, everything else in this movie ranges from irritating to just flat out stupid. Where this is most obvious is in how the characters are written. So lets jump right into that!

Characters and Science: 
The first glaring problem with the characters in this film is that they are, predominantly, scientists, and not a single one of them acts anywhere CLOSE to how a scientist would act. Now before you start thinking im being nit-picky, you have to understand how characters and characterization work in a film.   While thats a topic for a film class, there is one message that we need to remember; you need consistency and common sense for characters to work and if you DONT have those two things, your characters will fail and your movie will as well. So I'll say this again, the characters in this film are, predominantly, scientists, and not a single one of them acts anywhere CLOSE to how a scientist would act. Because of this the characters just don't fucking work because anyone who has taken a science class before can pick apart almost every action taken by every character because they all violate basic common sense. Lets make a list of common sense rules that, I think, we can all agree on shall we?

1) DONT TAKE YOUR HELMET OFF ON AN ALIEN PLANET WHEN YOU HAVE ONLY BEEN THERE FOR AN HOUR! I can't believe they let this slide in the writing process. No one would do that. I dont care if there is breathable air. There is breathable air on THIS planet and yet there are still airborne contagints that can kill us HERE. How face-meltingly stupid do you have to be to risk contamination on an alien planet where, if there are microbes there, which there are, have the potential to kill us with no possible way to cure us cause guess the fuck what? Our immune systems never ran into anything like what would be on this new planet because we have never been there before. I don't care if it's actually the case that we were made by people who spent time on this planet, that doesn't mean our immune systems have magically become prepared to fight anything there! 

2) In a operation room, maybe behave like doctors? Again, we have scientists doing something that no scientists would do, operating on a foreign life form with no quarantine and almost no attempt at shielding themselves from anything that may be harmful. Also, electrifying a 2000 year old head to bring it back to life because you saw some cell growth on it? What the hell does that accomplish? Did they really think that it would come back to life? Are we, the audience, supposed to buy that that shit can happen just by shocking the brain? Why did it explode? Is this alien from the Ren and Stimpy universe?

3) When exploring alien ruins, ruins that you have fully mapped, how bout consult that map and those monitoring it instead of just wandering away. Probably one of the most contrived plot elements of this movie is the geologist and the biologist getting lost and left behind in the ruins, setting up for a couple of pointless horror scenes. How they got lost is beyond me. Seriously, they had people watching the mapped out ruins with everyones' position locked down. Not only that, they were in a crescent moon shaped area of the place, only two ways to go, left or right, how the fuck do you get lost in that? Seriously, it hurts my head thinking about this part. Speaking of our geoligist and biologist friends... 

4) Don't put your idiot face in the face of an alien snake. This one was really really really really painful. So we have a biologist, apparently, who, while previously being scared of the 2000 year old corpse of a new species (which, really, what biologist would be afraid of something like that? Wouldn't they instead be going absolutely crazy with joy and excitement being present at the greatest biological discovery in history?) decides to try and grab an alien snake thing with his hand. No equipment, nothing to contain the creature, just his hand. Wanna guess what happens? Surprise surprise he gets the shit killed out of him by getting face fucked by Mr. Snake. No biologist, no one in general, would do anything so stupid.

5) When running away from a falling object that is moving along a straight path, dont travel along the same path to avoid that object. Try moving left or right. Or dont. If you can't figure that one out you probably should get squished because you are an embarrassment to science and the human race in general.

6) Don't jump to conclusions, especially when you have no real grounds to make them. Lets break down the mission debrief scene. Our two main characters, after being introduced by someone in terrible old man makeup, present what the mission goal is; search this planet because they found it using cave paintings found in ancient civilizations across earth. The woman calls these aliens "the engineers." The other scientists ask why they call them that. She says something to the affect of "they created us." Biology boy asks, "whats your evidence?" She says, "Its just what I believe." This moment, roughly 10-15 mins in the film, crushes any immersion that had built up for me to this point and made it really really difficult to get back into the movie. No scientist would present something as fact when they have no evidence to do so. Now I don't care if thats what she wants to believe, I don't care that it turns out to be true, on a trillion dollar mission, surrounded by great scientific minds, you dont say something that stupid and present it as a fact. 

Ok, there is seriously more I could talk about, (don't build amazing surgery machines that are sex exclusive, don't wake up an alien with no containment planned, don't just run into an alien ruin, use your amazing space ship and its technology to tell that a storm is coming sooner than a few minutes before it hits) but number six is a good segway. one final note, some of these may seem nit-picky, things I should ignore and suspend my disbelief. Heres the thing though, good writing can get you to suspend your disbelief, but if you have massive lapses in common sense like those listed above, they will always take the audience out of that state and, if you continue to present lapses in common sense, they will never get back to it, and as result your movie will fail. So now lets get into the stupid ass story.

Creation and Aliens:
Like i said, the two main scientists are operating under the assumption that the aliens depicted in the cave paintings are the creators of humanity. Not, as is constantly claimed by the history channel, merely a force that uplifted us from primitives to a technologically advanced civilization, but the literal creators of the species. The reason for this choice is that there is a clear bullshit religious message that is the foundation of this movie. Now, going with the uplifting society rather than a creation story would make a much more convincing and cohesive story. But thats not the way they went so its time to  pull this nonsense apart.

1) The creation event: So the movie opens with what I assume is the creation event that is credited to the aliens. A totally ripped white dude drinks some black goo which disintegrates him and he gets all up in the earths water supply. Presumably, this is what makes "us" possible in the logic of the movie. Ok. Lets look at that. Its not like humans just flopped up out of the water a couple days later, all of evolution  still took place. Regardless, after all of that, humans still ended up a 100% match with the aliens DNA. This means one of two things. Either the story doesn't make sense at all because thats not how evolution works (hundreds of millions of years separating the initial creation event from the advent of humanity would make the likelihood that our DNA would match with the aliens about as likely as me hooking up with Christina Hendricks IE its not fucking happening) or it implies these alien dudes were hanging around throughout all of the biological history of the earth ensuring the development of the human species from the very first microbes onwards, which is equally stupid.

2) Religion and the creation event: There is a clear message about faith in this movie. The message is,you should have faith that there is a higher power than yourself, and you need to maintain it. This comes in the form of the hit-you-over-the-head messages from the main lady scientist in what she says, her attachement to her cross and her bullshit behavior (note the scene where she gets all mopey that she can't give birth, otherwise known as the worst bit of characterization in the film). However, there is more of this nonsense worked into the film in very subtle ways that you may not have noticed. Thankfully I'm here to point out this bullshit. As far as characters go you have three teams essentially.

Team 1: Christian archeologists
Team 2: Non-believing science heathens
Team 3: Team lets exploit our gods

Team 1 consists of our two main characters, who are depicted as being as perfect as possible, are  clearly supposed to be the characters we like. They are smart, pretty, kind, understanding blah blah blah. What's more, the lady of this group, the one who maintains her stupid faith, is the one who survives to continue her search for answers. The guy, who loses faith half way through (he gets sad cause the aliens were not alive so he gets all drunk) is punished because of this loss of faith.

Team 2, our geologist and biologist friends, who didn't have faith to begin with, are depicted as cowards, fools and assholes. They are bland, one dimensional characters and they die in the worst (and most contrived) ways.

Team 3 is the old man who wants to live forever, his daughter, Charlize Theron, and Mr. Robot. Old man and Mr. Robot, who are secretive, manipulative, uncaring for human life, and they, when they finally achieve their goal to meet their creator in an attempt to gain some form of power over death from him, they get the fuck smashed out of them. Charlize Theron's character is the person who is supposed to be in charge but she is depicted as a cold, unfeeling bitch who also happens to be a useless space slut. She fucks the pilot just cause he suggests that she is a robot and to make matters worse she is engaged in a power grab from her father.  She dies too. Mr. Robot does live but I believe thats more of necessity to further the plot as opposed to any intelligent message behind his survival.

The message is clear, have faith, don't stop searching for the answers within your faith, and you will be  a better person than those who dont have those characteristics. But the creation in question is so dumb that we cant buy into enough for this characterization to make sense to us. Heres the thing dear readers, the elements present are not intrinsically bad, they are just fucked up due to lapses in common sense and no intelligence behind the concepts. A lot of these concepts could be saved with some simple rewrites (maybe ill do that next blog) but as they stand, all these elements serve to derail the plot and the movie as a whole

Fuck it, I am done. There is still so many things to talk about in regards to how stupid this movie is but I covered the big bits, story, plot, characters. The guys over at, who I generally respect, were iffy about writing this movie off because of the aesthetic value it has and because they were not sure if the movie was too smart for them or they were too smart for the movie. The answer is clear, we, the people, are too smart for this fucking movie. This script, when you pay it about a minutes thought, comes off like it was written by a seven year old. Its sad because there are elements in this universe that would be great to explore. Too bad. Maybe  if they get the sequel going they wont have the dude who wrote Lost work on the script, cause if Lost and Prometheus has taught me anything is that that guy can't write a coherent plot so he tries to hide behind a bunch of idiotic mystery and uses religion as a crutch because he can't write creative new concepts. Too bad its really easy to tell when its condensed down to two hours.

1 comment:

  1. ok, there are some gaping plot holes and scenes that make you go "what the fuck is that person doing " but i would not call this movie a pile of aweful. you dont have to have all the answers laid out in front of you and i ask myself why the fuck people do shit they do all the time. i thought it was a good movie that i really enjoyed watching. then again maybe its just been so long since hollywood has put out a good sci-fi flick...

    chet and dilly...keep it real bitches