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Monday
Jun112012

So What Was Wrong With Prometheus?

Now that pretty much everybody's seen it, I thought it would be worth me putting down my thoughts on this as it's come up a lot recently on Twitter and it's not exactly the easiest thing to get into 140 characters. I'm not going to review the film, I'm going to point out how I personally feel about it both good and bad. So if this isn't something that interests you, have a click on this and perhaps I'll see you tomorrow.

My first issue has to be the Alien Franchise tie-in. What exactly is this film? We are currently being told it isn't a prequel to Alien and that it "shares some DNA". No. I'm sorry, but the first images released for Prometheus way back when were of the Space Jockey. It was sold as an Alien prequel right up until a few weeks before it came out. It's an Alien prequel. It just is. And unfortunately it's a bad one.

Shiny shiny. Some nice design in there but:

These creatures are not good enough. I know Fox has problems working with Giger but if they are going to go anywhere near Alien and do it right, you need Giger. Or some other untapped genius (like perhaps Alex Kozhanov to pick up the mantle. Surely when dealing with these sorts of things it is best to adopt the surgeon's mantra of "do no harm", and in this case the weird, new monsters did a lot of harm. They simply weren't as good as the original ones. So why make up some new stuff if it's not as good? That's a logical step backwards right? I'm all for new as long as it's good. James Cameron understood this when he took a risk and introduced the Alien Queen to the franchise. He was right because it was good. The new creature served the story beautifully and gave us the visual spectacle that expanded on the originals in such a contextually perfect way.

But these monsters are all over the place. Just what the hell are they? The original Alien brought us a clear life-cycle that despite being alien and very creepy, also makes complete sense. As the threat evolves, we understand it and so we can feel to at least some degree that we understand the danger the crew of the Nostromo are facing.

But what exactly is the threat in Prometheus? As far as I can tell it is this. There are worms that live in the oil on the floor of the "ampule" chamber. If they rise up like snakes they will try to get inside your suit and wrap themselves around your neck and choke you by going down your throat and living there for a bit whilst you die.

If you get acid on your face and fall in an oil puddle, you will die, your head goes all big and you come back as a super-strong zombie mutant who's only drives are to head back to the ship (using vestigal memory?), curl up like a spider outside the door breaking every bone and tearing every ligament in your body, somehow show up as a life reading even though you're dead with a smashed helmet in an unbreathable atmosphere, and then go on a superhumanly strong murdering spree, killing your former colleagues with your bare hands and smashing their skulls with your super strength. All that acid directly in the face didn't seem to even impact his vision. Actually, another problem I had with this scene is that three or four people are killed and I couldn't tell who they were. I was just watching who popped up again in the story and mentally marking off "oh, it wasn't them who died". All these people being killed had no emotional weight and very little dramatic punch apart from a brief, pointless action scene that failed to lead anywhere else.

If you get a drop of oil in your drink you will get worms in your eye which you should definately not bother seeing a doctor about. I'm sure a mission like this wouldn't have any specialised medical crew or equipment aboard anyway. Just leave it. In fact, whilst feeling under the weather, have a bit of sex with your girlfriend and accidentally infect her with a baby octopus who grows in ten hours. Then melt inside your space suit until you force another crew member (Vickers) to kill you directly in front of your traumatised girlfriend and burn your dissolving body to bits. I mean, couldn't he have just taken his helmet off? He made her kill him with fire right in front of a screaming Shaw. What a drama queen.

After having an alien abortion and killing the alien-octo-baby in the tank afterwards, it will become a zombie and grow to the size of a car over the next couple of hours. Just keep the door shut and make sure nobody else goes in there. And don't bother mentioning any of this to anybody else on the ship - they're probably all busy or something. And especially not the pair you battered with a metal bar just before you ran for the surgery-pod. They won't want to talk to you about anything. David won't be interested in checking up on how any of this is turning out. And don't worry about the horriffic injuries caused by the operation. Having all your frontal lower abdominal muscles cut won't stop your hectic action packed lifestyle because in the future... there are staples.

I could go on with all of this but I'm sure you get my point. No rules to anything and poor character logic, therefore nothing really matters. When David takes Shaw's crucifix in case it's contaminated he doesn't even think of shaving her hair for the same reason. So you're suddenly worried about contamination David? Anyway, you brought one of the ampules back to the ship in a bag without telling anybody and keep it in the fridge next to the milk. And you didn't do a very good job of pointing out the stupidity of the away team removing their helmets just becasue the air was breathable. There could have been any amount of hideous bio-horrors in the air. David being worried about contamination on a little metal cross at this point is just clunky writing to get the religious artifact away from Shaw so she can get it back later and close a circle. I'm always amazed that things like never get called out whilst it's still on the page as it just weakens the world that is being created. And if your sci-fi is going to end up good, that matters a whole shit of a lot.

The science in this whole film is total bullshit. At one point Vickers says they're half a billion miles away from Earth. Although it fluctuates, that's pretty much Earth to Jupiter. Miss Vickers is leading this mission.

This is a nit-pick but it hilights the point that for whatever reason the writers didn't get their shit together and address how the science of this mission would work. And the film is about A SCIENCE MISSION. It's completely ridiculous. They arrive at the planet and test the composition of the atmosphere as they are descending. Good call science team. What if the rain is acid? What if there's no ground? Why not send down a probe from orbit? They would at least have to survey to select a landing site. All this sort of thing could be woven into the fabric of the film really nicely but as it is, they just charge in and drive around, conveniently locating the structures as they bimble around, totally by chance. Given that they found that lot randomly within five minutes of de-orbitting, what else could be on the surface of that planet that they haven't explored yet? And all the cocky, excited whooping and feet up on consoles coming from Holloway? He's supposed to be a fucking archaeologist. I was glad when he died.

Again, I might sound like I'm nit-picking, but these sorts of things are easy to avoid if there was a serious attempt at a portrayal of a scientific mission. But there just isn't. And that causes other problems. And they keep getting bigger.

Such as the chain of command. There really isn't one. When the away team finds the headless engineer, Fifield's reaction is to tell everybody very loudly that he's going home. Which he does, taking the bioligist (Milburn) with him. This is the first contact with the body of a dead alien and the biologist wants to go back to the ship because the punk man got all shouty? Good hire there miss Vickers. Since this team are on the most important mission ever in the history of everything, ever, we should presume these people are literally the best in the world at their jobs. And the biologist, upon finding a real-life alien body, just walks off and goes back to the ship. Shaw (who was explicitly put in charge by the holographic Weylan) doesn't assert any authority regarding their mission.

There's no attempt at a command structure and the whole thing plays out like kids on a school trip. As they land, the captain is cocking around putting up a christmas tree and complaining about wanting breakfast. He's the best captain in the world. This mission should be run super-strictly and everybody should start off like super-professional robots. This could have worked so well because you could have people straining to keep the unit conhesion as it all starts to go tits-up, offering all sorts of opportunities for drama and tension as people are killed and it becomes more important than ever for them to stick together. We should have been watching a perfect, tight thing unravel and going wrong.

This card was squandered immediately and it kept getting worse. Such as when Captain Janek realises he's got two men left behind in the alien structure during the storm. Despite the fact he's not really arsed about their CCTV images coming back from their helmet cams of piles of alien bodies, he makes a joke about them keeping each other warm and then turns the comms off and leaves the bridge unattended. He's the best captain in the world. Again, a completely rubbish attempt at the portrayal of a science mission. So much stuff goes on that nobody is watching over or attending to. All the time the away team are in inside the alien structure, there's barely anybody even watching the monitors. There should be a team on board the Prometheus backing them up numbering at least the same as those that went out and they would be in constant communications, feeding data back and forth.

There are so many instances of a crummy portrayal of a science mission that I'm bound to be forgetting some, but lets look at the biologist, Milburn. He's the first team member to actually come face to face with a live alien creature. And he doesn't even stop to take a photograph or anything. Nothing. No sense of procedure, of training. All of these elements would only have re-enforced his character's relevance and wouldn't have done any damage to the story. But no, he just walks up to it and tries to pet it. And gets himself killed. Because he's an idiot. Bearing in mind, this is the guy who got shat up and ran when he saw the 2000 year old headless body earlier. Ladies and gentlemen; the best biologist Meredith Vickers could find. It looks like she did all her hiring via Craigslist the day before they left.

Fifield gets himself and Milburn trapped overnight because he can't find the exit. This excellent hire was the chap who brought the mapping drones. And although the rest of the team can, apparently he can't find the door to get back out. He's the best mapping chap in the world. Besides, wouldn't they send the drones in first? I'd want a map made before I sent anybody inside there, surely this would be a matter of procedure? This could have been a brilliant scene, where a pair of brave explorers get up to the front door and chuck the drones in before running back to the ship. It could have been super scary and built up the threat and tension of having to go back and enter the alien structure in earnest.

After running back to the Prometheus, they'd all stay up through the night drinking coffee, fascinatedly watching the map being created around the holographic table and watching all the CCTV images and trying to make sense of it all. It would have been great and super tense, they are all so excited they can't sleep and are up all night making adjustments to their plan according to the probe data. This could have been really good as the probes throw up anomalies, perhaps a couple of them mysteriously vanish. Next morning they have to go back through the big, scary front door and explore inside. Tension, drama, steady build; all good film stuff. It could have really helped out with the structure too as the back and forth between the alien tunnels and the Prometheus made the film feel too fractured and it really put a kink in the structural arc of the story. There should have been an initial probe to map and then one big mission to the alien structure that starts off well and then goes horribly wrong.

The holograms were pure exposition. They looked pretty good but were such a cheap shot. Why didn't we see what the engineers werre running from? Why did they run into the ampule chamber, the most dangerous part of the ship? Why did one of them stay in bed?

As far as missing Giger goes, to be completely honest the Alien ship start-up sequence was fucking RIDICULOUS. You play a little flute and push some hard boiled eggs. Bingo bongo, where in the universe would you like to go today? I'd love to hear what Giger thought when he saw that in there, bet he was pissing himself.

The "Re-animated" exploding head was just a thing that I don't even know what it was. They put some electricity into it to "trick it into thinking it's alive" (after lying there for 2000 years), it looks around like it's going to speak and then bursts. How come? What? Who goes where now?

Vickers should have been a robot. They missed this trick. I also think David should have been doing good. I think it would have been great if they played him as ambiguous as you like whilst the film's unravelling, but at the end I think David should have been doing the right thing all along. I think they missed a HUGE trick with this one as everybody was waiting for the robot to be a bad man. It's a perfect set up for distracting evrybody whilst you do something else and take the story off somewhere unexpected. But no. I'd say David had an evil agenda, but to be honest I don't really know what he was or why he did what he did. Why did he put the oil blob in Holloways drink? Why did he recover the ampule? Why was he doing anything without instructions? Or is it that he was being spoon fed directives from P. Weylan all the time? Because I didn't get that, if that's what was going on. I know he spoke to him once via his special space helmet that performed only that one function.

I loved watching Fassbender, but his character was all over the place. Why did he do all these things? We just don't know. And that is a waste of a perfectly good Fassbender, because without the context it's just shallow cheap shots playing on audience expectations.

The old man make up on Guy Pearce makes him look like Biff Tannen from Back to the Future 2. They should have just got an older actor in - the eyes are always too shiny when they age people with makeup - it's a dead giveaway and it never looks good. And this was the best makeup.

Why did the engineer come back to get Shaw in the pod at the end? He'd just crashed his ship and gotten out alive - how would he even know where she was? How come his ship crashed in the exact same spot it was parked? Why did he attack them all anyway? And he took a couple of shotgun rounds to the chest - if they shared a 100% DNA match with humans, that would have put him back to sleep. All the guns were crap in this film. When mutant Fifield comes back to the ship and goes murder-mental in the cargo bay, he's getting hammered with small arms fire and it doesn't do anything to him. Anyway - going back to the 100% DNA match. Again, science bullshit. If we had a 100% DNA match we would look exactly the same. Not like an albino giant. And if his DNA started all life on earth, wouldn't the whole planet be populated only with engineers and evolutionary adaptations thereof? So where did my puppy come from?

A good example of how shoddily handled most of the character development in this film was, is the wake-up scene where Milburn introduces himself to Fifield nice and politely and gets a load of aggro back in his face with gruff comments like "I'm only here for the money". Compare this to the scene in the original Alien where the crew are having their wake-up meal and Dallas comes back from talking to Mother. He fills them in on the fact that they are still ten months from home and explains they have an obligation to go and check out the signal the computer has picked up. This leads them into a bitch about money where so much is revealed. We get a great sense of the upstairs/downstairs aspect of the ships crew, who questions who, who shuts up and puts up, everything. And all in a very natural conversation that lasts about a minute, it really is a beautifully crafted scene. And now, 33 years later, we get this pap. RIP Dan O'Bannon. He may be gone, but is very much not forgotten.

How come most of the crew don't know each other? They are a hand-picked team on the most expensive, ambitious mission mankind has ever undertaken and they haven't even met each other before. Who would run a mission like this? Imagine the psych profiling and training that would be involved; these people would have had to have been living and training together for years to run a mission like this. But think about the tension that would be lost when it turns out one of them is a grumpy arsehole. Actually, another thing I noticed is that almost everybody is speaking in another voice/accent than their own. It's only a little thing but it's pretty weird when you think about it.

I do think that Ridley Scott as a film-maker suffers from a strange problem. Being the legendary titan of cinema that he is must make him intimidating to work with. I can see how, through nodoby's actual fault, people might tend to be quieter than usual around him when he's engaging with people to tell them what he wants. I could see how if Sir Ridley likes what's on the page, then that's what everybody's happy to go with. Who wants to challenge the guy who directed Alien and Blade Runner? He must know what's going to be good, right? So what happened here?

When I look at Prometheus, I see skills and talent EVERYWHERE. There are some good people working on this show; surely some of the best. But the writing puts a glass ceiling over it all and stops it from collectively being good. And it makes me write big moany blog posts like this when I would much rather be gushing about how brilliant it was. I really would. But I can't, because is isn't.

It seems that by touching on the epic notions of gods and eternal life, the film's creators are playing a rather cheap game where they are leaving it up to us to "figure it all out". I've seen all sorts of discussions on internet forums recently where people are looking into ancient myths and thinly stretching things together so it makes more sense and the film seems to gain a greater sense of worth. Generally I have no problem with this sort of thing, and I certainly do it myself occasionally, but I do feel that any film has a responsibility to it's audience to establish that sense of worth in it's own right. In this case, it feels like they are encouraging people to fill over the holes that have been exposed in the reviews. A good example of this is Ridley Scott saying in an interview recently that Jesus was an engineer. What the effing what now? Did I go to the loo and miss a scene? No I didn't, I held it in. And there weren't no Jesus scenes in there. So what does it matter after the fact? Never mind, moving swiftly on... Blade Runner 2.

I'm well aware of the fact that I sound rather cynical in all of this and to be honest, I do resent the fact that the experience of trying to enjoy this film has made me react like this.

Today I saw another viral, which is trying to be mystical and deep, whilst remaining vague. No surprise there, coming from the writer of LOST. In the entertainment media right now, we are now being fed the line that the film we paid to see isn't actually the "proper" one, and that the Directors Cut is going to feature an extra 20 minutes that will make everything brilliant. If you ask me, this is the movie equivalent of where DLC is in games right now: Release the product and then get your loyal customers to pay more for the "complete" version. Forget it Prometheus, we're done here.

I've never met him, but I am pretty sure that Damon Lindelof is a really nice chap. I also think he can hold a good meeting. He's doing something right and obviously got a lot of friends in the industry because he keeps getting hired. He's gotten his hands on the steering wheel of some of the biggest recent sci-fi films around, including Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus and now Star Trek. However, I have a problem with his craft, and my problem is how much I used to love LOST. I adored that show, It was just so mysterious and enigmatic. The mystery was so deep and complex that I used to spend evenings down the pub with friends dissecting episodes and trying to piece it all together.

During the first season break, the internet was abuzz with specualtion as to where this amazing show might be going. What did this all mean? The general consensus was that everybody was dead and in some kind of purgatory, and all the mysterious elements on the island were manifestations of myths and legends related to this. Mr Lindelof appeared in interviews debunking this and explaining that there was in fact something altogether much more interesting going on. He assured us that they weren't dead and weren't in purgatory and there was a mystery afoot that was explicitly mapped out and would all be tied up. Everything would be relevant and when the final cards were laid down, all the pieces would be seen to fit together and this epic reveal would explain everything. it was all carefully planned out we were told. Just stick with us.

Well I did stick with it. Every season break I would voice my doubts down the pub. How can this all tie up? There's too many loose ends! It's just so deep and interwoven. What on earth could it be if it's not purgatory and they aren't dead? How can all this tidily come to a head? Because that's what we were told. It must be the bestest, most exciting mystery ever! Every time I told myself I must trust the shows creators. They wouldn't bullshit us would they? I couldn't wait to see how everything tied together. They surely wouldn't make mugs of us all by making it up as they went along? They would never do this! So I kept watching. For all seven seasons. Today is the 12th of June, 2012. Let's take a look at Damon Lindelof's Twitter profile. Check out the way he chooses to describe himself.

"Yeah, I'm one of the idiots behind LOST. And no, I don't understand it either"

I like to think I'm not an unreasonable man. But so much of what I have just written about stems directly from this mans input into the project. So please, somebody try to explain to me why I should ever give a shit about anything this guy writes ever again? I'm listening.

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Reader Comments (62)

I should have bet someone that AVP and its comic book plot would be a notch above this one. Subtracting the science from a SF horror movie is a kick to the groin. Perhaps the story was supposed to be a Frankenstein tie-in instead- you have big grumbling monsters, zombies, and a heroine with staples holding her upright.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterastra4000

Bravo, sir. It's incredible to see the lack of coverage from the big sites. Everyone was excited as hell leading up to release but there's almost no analysis or commentary out there now. Nobody wants admit it just wasn't very good? I'm dying to see it again with a directors/writers commentary, how the hell are they going to justify half the crap that went on? Here's looking forward to Blade Runner 2, I'm sure it'll be great...

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGavin

I was blown away by the visual talent lavished upon Prometheus, that combined with both Fassbender and Repace left me with the feeling that I loved it - visually stunning with enough thrills and disturbing tension that we can forgive the fact that the majority of the action was illogical, and characters seemed a little cut and paste from what Scott/Scott's writing team were roughly guessing 'should' be in there, somewhere.
At the time these errors seemed forgivable because, attempting to be ever the optimist about a movie I'd been so excited about seeing, they had at the least enabled Prometheus to avoid becoming just another predictable addition to the stream of films which have weakened the Alien franchise, the worst offering less creative sustenance than a sodding McDonalds Happy Meal. I think a part of me had been expecting to see a repeat of these attempts to revive it, with a similar story line but with a new cast, Scott back as director and a huge budget - so Prometheus, when compared to that kind of expectation, seemed a pleasant surprise.
And now time for the huge BUT: in the cold light of day the story does not hold up. You've got it right, what a shame no-one was able to redirect the story development back on track. The fact such a high profile and big budget film can have such a lazy, half baked plot with illogical character decisions and behaviour, poorly researched science and useless LOST style story leads is pretty inexcusable.
It takes a few meaty whinges like yours to help protect stuff like this from being rolled out again and again.... But sadly, money still seems to trump critical acclaim.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWoolly Knickers

Thank you mate for this post... If I could write english as easily as I speak french, I would have posted something very close to your comments on that.. hu... film.

"I'm here for the money"... Sadly I think that's what this film is all about.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

It's funny how deep the hate towards Prometheus is with some people. I mean I understand the hate completely, since there have been films for me that seem to have every little thing wrong and everything about that film seem to annoy me completely (Avatar comes to mind at first; I just can't stand it, but maybe one day I finally manage to watch it from the beginning to the end and even like it). Personally I saw all the faults Prometheus had but I didn't really mind them. I've tried to analyze my own feelings and of course Prometheus but I have to say that why I do like the film is still a bit of a mystery to me. I'll try to explain my ideas about the film a bit.

First of all I have to say that I think Prometheus is something completely different from the other Alien films. This goes much deeper than just trying to differentiate them from the marketing point of view. Even if Alien and Prometheus share lot of same kind of events those events are emphasized pretty differently. The crew isn't that important in Prometheus. People are really just sidekicks for the main story of the film, which I think is the story of different kinds of life forms in the universe. How one species, the Engineers, created another, the humans, and how that species created another species, androids a.k.a Davids. What happens on that little planet (or was it moon) is just some little events that really don't mean that much when compared with the bigger picture.

I think Prometheus plays with the idea that we humans are really not that different from other artificially created beings, David in this case. We humans have feelings but we have learnt through science that many of the emotions are triggered by certain parts of the brain, which means that they are in some way also physical in nature. So what makes human emotions better than those of artificial life created by us? Maybe nothing. And that is what Prometheus is all about.

There is almost a complete lack of respect for humanity in Prometheus, and I think this is a part which makes lot of people very uncomfortable. I think that lack of respect plays in every way how characters are depicted, how they act, what happens. They just don't matter that much. The hero of the film is life itself, the space, the universe. You might even say that those are the real characters in this movie. Not humans, or David, not the Engineers. They are all just minor players.

Prometheus' explanation of the beginning of human life is so funny, such a fuck you to the religious freaks who see humans created by God. We were created, but not by God, but just another species. In the end Prometheus says that we are all just an experiment, practically lab rats created in the test tube.

And so what about the alien life forms that slither around on the planet and come from Shaw's belly? Not that important. Just another kind of life forms, but since they aren't really part of the life-creation-chain of Engineer-humans-androids they don't mean that much. And obviously we already know pretty much all about them from the earlier films. These are just earlier versions of later xenomorphs. We already know how voracious this particular life form is.

So, to me Prometheus is all about the universe, which is cold and hard place. Life and death go hand in hand, and the humanity might only exist in the mind of Elisabeth Shaw when she tries to find the Maker.

Many of the things that you mentioned bothering you in your blog post are valid if you watch Prometheus as a normal film. But it really isn't. Some of your concerns are nitpicking, though, but I really do understand them because once the movie loses the viewer it's so easy to be annoyed by everything.

Yeah yeah, I could be trying to explain things to make Prometheus better, but what can I say, I enjoyed the film a lot, and it did give me lot of things to think about. I also think that it celebrates the space and the universe in a really beautiful way.

Mind you, I only saw the final season of Lost (I tried watching the first season but found it completely boring), and don't really have strong opinions about it. Lindelof doesn't bother me and since he has said in the interviews that Prometheus' script was basically formed and reformed completely from what Ridley Scott wanted I do see the film made mostly by Ridley Scott.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkodekn

You've done a man's job sir.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdam B

Great review there pretty much nailed all the problems with the film.
Another bit that struck me as really poor was the introduction of that med pod thing, it was just so clunkily done. I was watching Aliens the other night and it does a similar thing, in its case with the loader, sooo much better. The way it's there because Ripley needs a job and its all she can get means that it has a right to be in the film even though it's really only there so she can face off against the queen later on. It just shows a lot more thought and internal logic in the script. I really think a better score could have helped the film a LOT too. Something more mysterious and a little more abstract could really have elevated the film. Tron Legacy, a film with similar levels of dumbness, I find, is quite re-watchable for this fact. There are some superb visuals which mesh perfectly with the ST and you can forgive it a lot of its duff script problems.

I also find the criticism of the negative reviews annoying it's not that we're all haters or that we wanted another film just like Alien, it's more a case of huge disappointment. The more like Alien thing is far from the mark, I really did want something new. What I was really hoping for was an intelligent sci-fi film and bought into all the hype and interviews saying that this is what we'd get.

I really hope Blade Runner is left alone would much prefer Scott and others to take on something new there's plenty of great SF books out there to adapt.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDylan Teague

Nice article Gav. Some good points there. I wrote up my reaction on http://rjubber.blogspot.co.uk/ just after I left the cinema - give it a read if you want a similar perspective but from an audience member not a film buff. I'm actually surprised you didn't like the film - up until now most of the people I know who liked it seem to have been art student chums.

Cheers,
Robin.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Jubber

Brilliant post. Articulates a lot of the things I'd been thinking but pretending I hadn't. Like everyone I'd looked forward to this for months - some of my expectations would be that a) the science would add up, as the Alien universe tends to be so rich and detailed. What I found was rough sketches of characters and science b) intelligent character development and ways of dealing with inevitable issues sci-fi can throw up. It just feels like a committee drawn crayon painting where I wanted a finely tuned, personal masterpiece. It's a shame - the visuals were stunning and the cast magnificent. They just don't get much to work with. I think perhaps in aiming to be the biggest it could be, it lacked some of the sensitivity it needed.

As for what you mentioned with illogical sequences: why does no one watch what's happening most of the time they're in the pyramid structure? Why does Shaw run around with no one in sight, then not even mention that an alien has just been cut out of her? Then the others she just belted with a bar not mention this? There's not much sense of exploration: they see what they want to before they've landed. They walk around the first structure, then everything happens within that space. It's an entire planet! And who were those guys zombie Fifield knocked around? We get to know the Nostromo crew and the politics around them, as you say. These guys are anonymous fodder.

I did like the xenomorph-type creature at the end, there's certainly something of an Alien origin there, ditto the acid blood. But it's all just so heavy handed. Lindelof has been conning audiences too long.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

"we are now being fed the line that the film we paid to see isn't actually the "proper" one, and that the Directors Cut is going to feature an extra 20 minutes that will make everything brilliant"

I went to a talk a few weeks ago by the editor of Alien,Terry Rawlings, the other month ( inserts shameless link to blog post about it ) and he said that material cut from films is usually because its something that isn't needed to the story and that directors cuts are just selling tools for marketing purposes. I would trust him as he had a bit of experience in the matter so if this extra 20 minutes is being added to make the story work I'd say people who have gone to see it at the cinema (I've not got round to it yet and probably won't now) should get their money back due to receiving unfinished goods if this is the case.

I'm looking forward to seeing it but not quite as frenziedly as I was a few months ago.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave Kirkby

BRAVO SIR. Thankyou for putting this agonising movie to a movie lover's sword.

You go further than most scathing critiques in pointing out how they could have improved the film, streamlined it, and still maintained the mystery. I agree completely with your critique of the characters. It was such a great opportunity to have a serious science crew in the alien world - I mean until now we've had space truckers, marines, and criminals. A bunch of serious scientists who endear themselves to you with their dedicated and optimistic search for answers and careful approach to protocol before getting comtaminated would have been far better than Fifeld and Milburn (AKA Laurel and Hardy).

Part of me loves this film, part of me loves to hate it, part of me feels disgusted with the indulgence. It's true that Ridley would have too many yes-men on set and in pre-production - on Alien and to a lesser extent Blade Runner he was part of a team who didn't make him God.

I mean, how did no one see the holes in this script? Why so many token 'alienisms' (especially the last scene) when they could have opted for something more elegant? I still am captivated by the movie - that's testament to the visual wrapping, but at its core it is a non-story, just speculation.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhambone

I agree with kodekn's assessment and quite honestly I'm tired of all the anti-Prometheus BS. First off the film is indeed a prequel to the Alien franchise. It is layered with tons of imagery, symbolism and other aspects of the first two films, more than enough to be called a prequel so I don't really "get" what you're fussing about here. Just because it doesn't immediately precede Scott's Alien, doesn't mean it isn't a prequel, it is deal with it.

Second, like you I was initially upset that many of the characters seem to do more than stupid things in the service of the plot. Often times Scott's characters are strong, smart people who we enjoy putting ourselves in the place of, but that's not the theme of Prometheus, at least not directly. People do stupid stuff all the time, and believe it or not tons of people are irredeemable. This theme is rampant throughout the Alien franchise and I for one am just glad that Scott finally had the balls not to dance around and finally come right out and say it. ALL of the characters with the exception of David are un-likeable to some degree, even Shaw but I and other fans believe that this is specifically by design. Scott crafts characters of contempt, slimy, greedy low lifes who are only out for themselves. By far the most likable character in the film is David, but he's not real he's artificial. This in of itself should be a clue. The audience regards the protagonists the same way the Engineers regard humanity, with contempt. This is a masterful way of putting YOU in the plot in my opinion. There are big, big things going on in Prometheus, and for someone who obviously loves science fiction as much as you do, to keep your mind closed to it thanks in part to scientific or plot nit-picks is a tragedy.

Do the plot holes bug me? Yes. Do I wish I understood more about what was going on? HELL YES. This is the mark of a good film, not everything needs closure. Certainly not from a film that was penned ALL ALONG as part one of a three-part trilogy. Anyone who finds this film disappointing only has themselves to blame for going into it with impossibly high expectations. What's really sad is that the other two installments may not get made because of small-minded fans who came to see face huggers, acid blood and traditional heroes instead of the smart, sprawling epic Scott gave us.

In short, everyone lighten up.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGed

To Ged who wrote :

"What's really sad is that the other two installments may not get made because of small-minded fans who came to see face huggers, acid blood and traditional heroes instead of the smart, sprawling epic Scott gave us."

Please give us "stupid viewers who don't understand the big picture developed for this soon to be recognized as a masterpiece film like Blade runner was in its own time" a break, pleeeeeeease ! (as Shaw would say)

All we wanted was a great film by the guy who brought us A L I E N and Blade Runner, that's all.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

BTW am I the only to have noticed that Shaw looked a little like Syd VIcious with a girlie haircut ?

: o

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

And we pretty much did Fred. BTW, Alien wasn't THAT great. It was a masterful horror movie, a haunted house movie in space, but that *was it*. It had NO plot, it was not smart, the characters were just as stupid as they are in Prometheus, in short it's nothing more than a thrill ride. Prometheus is so much more than this and yet, all fans want is a return to cheap scares and tons of slime. Why is that?

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGed

Such a good read that's refreshing on so many levels. My twitter feed is being littered with a lot of writers I like who are pouring their love onto the film. Even Kevin Pollak tweeted that the script was "brilliant". Ugh.

I also wanted to throw in something just to reinforce how much of a mess this film is even after it was all written and shot. You talked about the crazy zombie attack and how pointless the entire scene felt. Not only did we not know any of the characters who got killed, but the scene just.... stops. After the zombie is crushed and burnt to a crisp, nobody brings it up again. Ever. Remember John Carpenter's The Thing after they torch the Dog thing from the ceiling and put it out? There's a good 15 seconds of nothing but the characters just frozen at what they had witnessed. Does the next shot just show everyone back to their usual gigs? No. The next scene shows the physician dissecting and figuring out what this creature is and explaining it to all the characters who were there. That's not only smart writing, it's also common sense portrayed well.

So I do some research to find out why this sequence just randomly stopped the moment the zombie character was killed. The only time I ever experienced an action sequence so out of place and pointless was in Nemesis, and that piece was written that way. Sure enough, I didn't need to look that deep to find out why it was out of place. Just look at the teaser trailer again. There is a shot of Shaw's character inside the eight wheeled rover, pulling a lever which causes the vehicle to go in reverse. If you look outside the window, she's still inside Prometheus' hanger. It was Shaw who ran over the zombie character. And if you see that quick one second shot of the two space suit wearing men shooting their pistols at the zombie, you can see Shaw and old man Weyland complete with his robotic support suit right behind them! This scene was supposed to take place after everyone was going back to the temple with Weyland, but they had to re-edit it to occur before that. So now we got a pointless action scene that was supposed to have the main characters involved.

The science is bad, the writing is bad, and the editing is bad. It's like nobody knew what they wanted to do with this film except to just get the "idea" out more than an actual coherent story.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeyl

Sorry Ged but I don't agree at all regarding A L I E N. There was a whole universe hidden behind what was seen on screen... and I must admit as a frenchman it'll always have a little something close to my heart because it was so rooted in Metal Hurlant mag (same thing could be said of Blade Runner)

If I want to look at an intelligent film about the origins of humankind, well I already have one, thank you... Ever heard of this little film called 2001 : A space Odyssey ??? (no goo or chestbursters in this one... No giant body-builded Smurffs neither)

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

Fred, I'm not saying Alien wasn't great, it was. It's one of my favorite films, I just find everyone's "IT MUST BE JUST LIKE ALIEN!" criticism to be lacking. And yes, there can be more than one movie about the origins of life, Kubrick isn't a god either, just a man who directs movies.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGed

I like you - we share a common sentiment with regards to that writer of LOST. I read an interview of Lindelof where he said THIS was what Sir Ridley Scott wanted, which I can actually respect. You were perhaps right in that everyone trusted the vision of this legendary director. But there were SO many remnants of LOST in Prometheus, I find it hard to believe that it was all Sir Scott's idea - the lazy fallback on daddy issues to make up for lack of character development (all characters in LOST, big or small, had daddy issues vs THREE main characters in Prometheus had daddy issues!), David/Vickers getting all secretive and constantly using the "need to know basis" excuse for the writers to not explain anything (although, to be fair, Ash did this in the first Aliens movie as well), or, well, Shaw doing dumb things ala Kate. I still hold some hope that the next few movies would tie it all together. It's !!!RIDLEY SCOTT!!!! afterall!

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterredshirttt

But Ged, I personally "DIDN'T CARE IF PROMETHEUS WAS LINKED TO ALIEN OR NOT"... I was open minded, I mean it !

Again I just wanted to see a GOOD film, not a mess in the form of a film.

(and I never said Kubrick was a god... Ahem sorry, I meant "an engineer")


(but GREAT film maker he was, yes)

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

Ged, if you read the criticisms nobody is saying that they wanted another Alien! They just wanted something as well crafted as that film, not the messy nonsensical script we got in Prometheus.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDylan Teague

Hi Ged - I haven't seen any comments on this thread or on other comment boards from people who are complaining that this film isn't like Alien - that's a bit of a straw man argument. Maybe you have encountered that elsewhere. The comments I've seen from people who don't think much of this film, or are disappointed with it, feel that way because it has tons of glaring plot holes. I sometimes see Alien used as a comparison - which makes sense given the fact it's an Alien prequel - but you could use any sci-fi flick from Wrath of Khan to Spaceballs to illustrate what this film fails to do properly; ie create individual or believable characters, make sense within it's own continuity, have decent dialogue, let the action scenes service character development instead of acting as a replacement, not contain a ton of logical mistakes etc. And as for the explanations of the mysticism behind it - well that's just sixth form stuff - not nearly clever enough to cover up all the problems with the actual script.

The film is a bit of a dumb blonde. Looks great, but thick as two short planks.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Jubber

Robin,

I get and respect all of what you just said. I too am frustrated by the plot holes, especially by things that could have been written just a *little* bit differently that would have solved many of these problems. Getting lost in that cave that was being *mapped* is one of the biggest ones for me. What I'm saying is that after all was said and done, and after I look back on what the story was trying to accomplish, very little of these things mattered for me. Gavin's criticism of the squishy buttons and flute is a great example. This totally is immaterial to the movie, it's just a different UI, one that was meant to highlight the differences between the Engineers and humanity. But instead of getting hung up on waypoints like this, I choose to enjoy the overall journey that is Prometheus. That's all I'm saying.

It's okay, you're allowed to not like the film. Others, like myself are also allowed to like it, even love it.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGed

Hello there, Mr. Rothery. First and foremost, I'd like to say that this is a pretty well-written and well-thought out analysis of the film; I don't often read a post as lengthy as this, so good on you. In response, I'm not going to get into every point you made here because I frankly don't have the time. Suffice it to say that some things I agreed with, while others I very much did not.

However, this is one point which I can most assuredly talk about, and it is your commentary on DNA matching. As a researcher, my background is in epigenetics - a science that is critical to understanding how things outside of our DNA affect what is inside our DNA. So when Shaw finds that our DNA "matched" the Engineers, I instantly believed it.

The concept of DNA matching could mean several different things. Let's assume, however, based on some brief dialogue she has with Charlie that she meant the expressed, non-"junk" DNA is consistent with the Engineers. This is quite unsurprising - given thousands or millions of years growing up on totally different planets with literally infinite environmental factors impacting the evolution of the Engineers, our outward appearances would be bound to be radically different from one another. Fundamental tenets of epigenetics dictate that our genetic code is far from the be all, end all of what determines how we look, what we pass on to our kids, etc.

Long story short, the statement that our DNA matched the Engineers is entirely plausible, I assure you.

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSoren Hough

"Others, like myself are also allowed to like it, even love it."

Of course Ged you have the right to love it, who said the contrary ?

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

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