Prometheus Movie Review
Whether you were hoping to see an Alien prequel that answered a lot of the mysteries or an intriguing stand alone sci fi effort, prepare to be disappointed.
I think it fair to say that Alien and Aliens holds a special place in my heart, and that place is a deep dark cave of mind numbing pants wetting terror. Alien did serious damage to my ten year old psyche, and Aliens beat it home like kicking a guy in the stomach after he collapses on the ground. To this day I can’t think of a more horrible way to die than to have some alien parasite hug your face, implant eggs in your body, and have a horrific creature come tearing out of your chest (unless it would be being tied down and forced to watch Jack and Jill a second time (Clockwork Orange style) until my brain dribbled out of my ears).
Therefore, as a fan of movies that elicit an emotional reaction (and science fiction) I naturally love both movies intensely (Alien image courtesy of the Sci Fi T Shirts). When I first saw the trailers for Prometheus I was very interested. Then I saw the same trailer at ever movie showing and online opportunity possible (I really think they oversold this film). The burning question on my mind was “What the hell is this movie about?”
Is an Alien prequel or not? The answer, unfortunately, is sort of. I think this is a good example of Ridley Scott and the studio getting greedy and trying to grab too many berries for their hands to hold. By the end of the film they are dropping them all over the ground. This film has a lot of prequel elements: the alien ship is the same, the humanoid aliens are (sort of) the same, there seems to be something about large vases that vaguely resembles the Alien eggs, there is a Weyland Corporation (clearly a nod towards the Weyland Yutani Corp from Alien), and there seems to be some kind of face sucking action going on. However, in an attempt to appeal to both the Alien fan boys and the rest of the unwashed masses (who either don’t care about Alien or were turned off by Alien Resurrection or Alien versus Predator) they added a bunch of dumb elements and major continuity issues, which are really off enough to really annoy the fan boys. There are no actual Alien aliens and the aliens that do appear really don’t look at all scary, except for one Cthulu monster.
Apparently Ridley Scott is a huge fan if both Chariots of the Gods and (the horrible, IMO) Tree of Life because those are the Spackle he used to fill in the terror parts that were completely missing from this film. And like Spackle, they are all pretty beige, boring, and hard to remove. There is something about alien humanoid starting life on earth thousands of years ago by committing suicide so DNA could be entered into the primordial ooze of the earth, and then cave drawings of giant aliens worshiping six dots in the sky.
Let me take a minute to bore you all with how bad the science of this really is. First of all, the the DNA infusion would have had to have happened billions, not thousands of years ago. At one point everyone is stunned that the aliens are effectively human DNA, in spite of the fact that on Earth the DNA in question would have started off as like fish and reptiles and so on, so the odds of the original DNA returning to human is pretty low. Second of all, at one point it looks like the aliens were headed to Earth to do something about 2,000 years ago but had been visiting us for at least 35,000 years. Did they just stop because one or two ships failed to make it?
These are two examples of the astronomical number of plot holes that riddle the script like a Sparklets jug used for shotgun target practice. I often talk about a movie chuck full of holes, but this movie seems to not even care. However, all the the plot holes pale to insignificance when faced with the abysmal stupidity of pretty much every one of the character and the complete lack of motivation by any of them to do anything. There are a couple who stand out in particular for no reason (survival tip #1-if you are trapped over night in a hollowed out mountain filled with grim examples of aliens dying a horrible death try just camping out near the entrance, NOT wandering around looking for your impending death. Also, if you spend 20 minutes jumping at every shadow and worried about how all the aliens died when you are actually confronted with a live alien don’t have a sudden change of heart and try to give it a hug) but pretty much everyone in this movie is dumber than a sack of hammers and we are given not a single reason to understand why they continue breathing, much less joined up on the ship.
I think the stupid, stupid choices every character keeps making is really where all the terror has gone missing. You see, in a good horror movie you feel for characters you identify with. It’s called empathy. You can feel like what is happening to them could happen to you because you like to think you are like them. The thing that made Alien and Aliens so terrifying is Ripley was a very easy character to identify with. Tough, sexy, and above all smart (if you recall her first plan in Aliens was to bail on the planet and nuke the site from orbit). However, if the characters in a film keep doing stupid stuff you can’t identify with them and therefore don’t care when bad stuff happens. In fact, after a while you start to hope bad stuff happens to them just to get them out of your face. It’s like watching a guy lick exposed wiring. You expect him to get electrocuted, and after he does you say “well, he deserved it for being stupid”.
Sigh. 1029 words and I haven’t even gotten into the story yet. I’ll do the short hand version. Aliens created life on Earth. Two archeologist discover cave paintings that lead them to some random planet where they think they came from. They find a buried ship and a bunch of dead aliens. An android with them has his own agenda. Two particularly dumb scientists (for lack of a better term. One of them looked like he just did a dime in San Quentin and the other looked like he ran the concession stand at the local bowling alley) wander off and get chewed on. It turns out the aliens are not the Care Bears everyone assumed they were. Stupid people die in stupid ways. Charlize Theron runs around looking super hot. One archeologist face melts and the other gives herself a Cesarian after discovering she is pregnant with baby Aphoom-Zhah. A really dumb ending is pulled out of an unnamed orifice and simultaneously ruins the last remaining shred of continuity to Alien.
The stars. I will say visually this movie was stunning. CGI and special effects were outstanding, and if you life sci fi brain candy it rocks. Two stars. Acting was actually really good, as long as it was acting stupid. One star. Charlize Theron was looking hot in her skin tight uniform, and Naomi Rapace in her underwear. One star. Science fiction movie. One star. Alien prequel (sort of). One star. Pacing and editing were decent. One star. If you are OK with stupid characters and a story that is built on plot holes, it can be entertaining. Two stars. Total: nine stars.
The black holes. Stupid, stupid characters (like worse than the dumbest teenage slasher flick). Two black holes. Zero motivation for anything. One black hole. Plot holes that operate like Bags of Holding (bigger on the inside). Two black holes. Is it a freaking prequel or not? I can’t stand fence sitters. One black hole. There were a lot of things and potential character development introduced and then dropped entirely, like some kind of small back story on the death of the archeologists dad and the android watching her dreams in cryo, that got dropped. I don’t think all that missing character development got cut in editing. It really feels like they didn’t bother to shoot it. One black hole. If it is meant as a prequel it suffers from severe continuity problems, and if it is not a prequel than the entire movie really lacks any kind of purpose or real import. One black hole. Some pretty mediocre casting. Why would a trillion dollar project (that’s actually the amount quoted in the film) hire a “scientist” who looks like the roadie from the Sex Pistols? One black hole. No horror in this film. None of the aliens really had that Giger visceral terror. Also, one of the things that made the Alien movies so scary was the build up, but this thing jumped right into pretty much everything. One black hole. Like most bad slasher films you can pretty much predict who is going to live and who is going to die, with the added benefit that due to the loose association this movie had with the Alien movies you pretty much know exactly how it’s going to end. One black hole. And finally, a really dumb ending that had me just closing my eyes and resting my head back in my seat. One black hole. Total: twelve black holes.
A grand total of three black holes. Very disappointing in my opinion. I think this movie actually is suffering from too much marketing as I had high expectations going in. I have taken a look at other reviews on this and am not really in line with a lot of them, but I think my opinion is colored by my own fan boy status. Worth seeing? Sure, I guess. Visually impressive, so try to see it on a big screen or even IMAX. If you are a fan of Alien you can look forward to a particular hell as you will not be able to pass on it but the lack of continuity will annoy you like an itch in the center of your back you can’t reach. Date movie? Not unless your date is turned on by every Freudian vagina and penis image possible as well as a lot of gross muck. Bathroom break? There is a scene where Charlize Theron is talking to the captain alone on the bridge that leads to them having sex (maybe. This film was rated R for gore, not nudity or adult situations). While it might seem intriguing, like any number of the stunted minor go nowhere sub plots this added nothing to the story or either of the characters.
This review does not sit well with me. I really, really wanted to like this film (which may be why I am coming down so hard on it). However, I have to be honest and as a nerd and Alien fan this movie kind of missed the mark by a few light years. Thanks for reading anyway. I was hoping this would be the last good movie I would see before having to watch That’s My Boy and Rock of Ages, but instead it looks like it will be the first part of a triumvirate of mediocrity. Cool stuff coming out next week. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you agree or disagree or just have a comment on this movie feel free to post it here. If you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.