Monday, June 11, 2012

Prometheus - A Review

I guess technically this sort of falls under the purview of this blog, as there are definitely some post-apocalyptic elements to the film, but mostly I wanted to vent, and my better half was tired of hearing about it.  You might get the idea from this review that I didn't enjoy Prometheus, and that's not true.  I enjoyed it while I watched it - it was technically proficient, in that it did a good job of building tension, had amazing set pieces, and was absolutely gorgeous at times, face-twistingly disgusting at others.

My big problem with it is that it's probably got the most unsatisfying plot that I've encountered in quite some time.  Imagine watching the first Star Wars movie, and they didn't explain what the Force was, and that's about where I was at the end of Prometheus. 

Warning - spoilers ahead.  If you're concerned by such things, turn back now!

You were warned!

By the end of the film, all we know is that some aliens created life on earth for some reason, then decided to kill it for another reason, using a world packed full of biological weapons but died somehow before they could.  At some point, they also taught a bunch of human civilizations how to locate the world full of biological weapons, for some reason.  One alien has been asleep while the rest of his people died, for some reason, and still lives somehow, and wants to go to earth to kill humans when he wakes up, again for some reason.  Oh and their heads explode every once in awhile.  The alien heads, that is.

Are you starting to see the problem?  The first Alien movie got away with not giving too many answers because it didn't pose any questions.  Strange signal pulls the crew off their mission where they encounter a room full of sleeping aliens, one of them gets infected and they have to fight it.  What were the aliens doing there in the first place is never really the point of the film, as the planet gets left behind - the focus is on what happens as they fight it on the ship.  The planet and the weirdness they find on it are merely the delivery system for the plot, a cinematic facehugger, if you will, so the tension, conflict and resolution are completely separate from it, leading you to shrug your shoulders at the weirdness at the beginning and say, "It's SPACE, man, weird shit happens there sometimes, I guess."

In Prometheus, the planet and the weirdness ARE the plot, and the tension, conflict and resolution are supposed to center around the questions posed, and the answers to them as they're discovered, except they never are. 

The fact that this was not a true prequel is a baffling decision.  Only two things prevent this from being a sequel: in Alien, they go to LV 233, whereas in Prometheus they go to LV 426, and the Engineer at the end doesn't crawl back into the chair before the thing bursts out of his chest. Change those two things, and it's an Alien prequel.  Why have Weyland corporation, and the same Jockeys/Engineers in the movie, and not have it be a prequel?  Why have the ship crash back to the planet's surface, ending up in almost the exact same position that the one they found at LV233 was?  Were they afraid that people wouldn't go see an Alien prequel, but also afraid that people wouldn't go to a random Sci-Fi movie directed by Ridley Scott?  It was a very confusing decision.

On top of that were some very questionable decisions made by characters.  At times, characters would just do odd shit, and nobody would question them about it, and no explanation was offered.  Like the geographer who's entire raison d'etre is mapping things, but then gets lost.  Or the biologist who's years of expertise taught him that, when confronted in an alien environment by a snake with a vagina for a face that hisses, the proper thing to do is to coo softly at it, and try and pet it.  Why did the robot put the little egg inside that guys drink?  Was that a science experiment or sadism?  Why, after then going through all the trouble of doping up the woman when he found out she was pregnant with alien seed to try and smuggle her off to earth, was his only reaction to seeing her stagger into the room covered with blood with an abdominal wound and very obviously no longer pregnant to cover her with a lab coat?  Why did nobody ask her why she wasn't pregnant anymore, what happened to the alien fetus, could it possibly be hanging about in a closed room growing to gigantic size?  And why, after being knocked unconscious by a robot with ill intent, did she then agree to go on a mission with him?  I can understand the ending, it's just him and her, etc, but she didn't have to head down there with the robot, and I can't for the life of me understand why she would?  And my personal favorite, after being advised that she had several minutes to get to her super duper escape pod that they made a specific point of stating would allow her to live comfortably for several years, did Charlize Theron instead pull on a jump suit and hop into a flying coffin?

Gah.

Like i said, I enjoyed as I was watching it.  I was trusting that the questions that were being posed would be answered, and the further I got into things, the closer I got to the ending, the more frustrated I became.  I may try and watch it again, at some point, to see if maybe some of these things were answered and I was just not paying attention, but I'm going to need some time for the frustration to subside.

If nothing else, it makes me want to watch the original trilogy again.  So there's that.

2 comments:

  1. Nice review. I was entertained, to say the least, but I think I was expecting something so much better after all of the promotion for this flick. Maybe it was too much like Alien.

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  2. My personal favorite: after the alien ship crashes and rolls, David's head is lying in the _exact_ same spot.

    The thing with Theron and the life pod was my second choice.

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