Today: February 26, 2024

Prometheus Good Film, Bad Film

Set for it’s DVD/Blu-ray release on Monday 8th October Prometheus was the long-gestating prequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal Alien. But could it possibly live up to such a billing? Filmjuice Cinema Editor David Watson tells us why it fails on many counts while Filmjuice Alex Moss fights like Ellen Ripley to prove its worth.

Set for it’s
DVD/Blu-ray release on Monday 8th October Prometheus was the
long-gestating prequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal Alien. But could it possibly live up to such a
billing? Filmjuice Cinema Editor
David Watson tells us why it fails on many counts while Filmjuice Alex Moss
fights like Ellen Ripley to prove its worth.

30 Major
Quibbles With Prometheus – David Watson

***MAJOR
SPOILERS – PLOT DETAILS REVEALED***

Forget what you know.

Forget what you think you know.

Forget what you wanted the film to be.

Forget the ecstatic fanboy reviews the film garnered as
every 30-something nerd in the world rushed to praise the film, thankful that
however disappointing it was, at least it wasn’t The Phantom Menace.
Though two years from now, you’ll probably start reading a lot of
articles saying it was worse.

Forget that clever piece of viral marketing that was the
fake TED lecture or those adverts for androids, featuring Michael Fassbender’s David 8.

Forget the huge worldwide box office (when was that ever an
indicator of quality; there’s been four Pirates
of the Caribbean
, three Transformers
and two Sex and the Cities). Forget the performances: the good, the
bad and the mostly mediocre.
Forget the murky, headache-inducing 3D, the too occasionally interesting
visuals, the lacklustre direction of a spent force trying to recapture his
glory days, the complete lack of suspense, the absence of dread or wonder.

Here’s the truth no-one else will tell you, no-one else will
admit to, that you don’t want to
admit to yourself despite the nagging Jiminy Cricket of taste, logic and sense,
a-hopping desperately up and down on your shoulder saying: “But…but…”

Here’s the blunt, naked, unpleasant truth: Prometheus sucks.

It’s bad.
Really bad. It fails on
virtually every level it’s possible to fail on. It’s so bad, watching it lowers your IQ. This film makes you stoopider! But you don’t care about that. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably
already seen it. You have your own
opinion. You might be thinking
about buying the DVD or Blu-ray.
Which means that you probably liked it. Telling you why you’re wrong (and you couldn’t be more wrong)
isn’t going to change your mind.

Instead, this piece is merely going to pose some
questions.

Not the obvious ones like: Why would you run away in a
straight line from a crashing circular spaceship that’s rolling after you? Why does David infect Holloway with the
alien black goo/jism? Is Charlize Theron’s character an android,
a female David? What does David
say to piss off the alien? Why
have Charlize eject from the crashing spaceship and leave the escape pod only
to be run over by the crashing spaceship?
Why does the angry alien want to destroy humanity? Was he in the middle of a nice dream
when David woke him up?

No. Today,
we’re concerned with the questions that may have occurred to you during the
film that you ignored. You buried
them, you suppressed them, like that memory of a late-night visit to your
bedroom by a sneaky uncle. It’s
time to let that pain out, it’s time to ask those questions, to acknowledge the
problems, that something isn’t quite right.

1. It takes the Prometheus two years to
get to its destination, at which point the crew find out why they’re there. Exsqueeze me? Who signs up for a four-year
round trip into the unknown?

Did no-one think to maybe ask a few questions, like: Where are we
going? Why? What the f*ck do you mean we’re going
on a four-year mission into deep space because the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo found an ancient map in a cave in
Scotland? When did we start
trusting the prehistoric graffiti of Pictish savages?

2. Also, wouldn’t it be cheaper and safer
to maybe send an unmanned probe first, something similar to the Mars Rover,
just in case, you know, (a) there’s nothing there or (b) the natives aren’t
friendly? Have these guys never
seen a sci-fi/horror movie?

3. During the briefing Charlize Theron
gives when the crew wakes up, she greets the ones she’s met and
introduces
herself to those she hasn’t. If you were recruiting a crew to travel through space and
possibly be called on to represent humanity when they meet the alien race that
created them, wouldn’t you personally vet each and every one?

4. And, leaving aside the problems of time
dilation, the movie’s only set, like, eighty
years from now…is there no governmental regulation of space travel? Surely NASA, the ESA or the UN would,
at the very least, want some kind of representative on board a spaceship that’s
on a mission to make first contact with the alien species who
created us?

5. What is the black goo? Seriously. What the f*ck is it?
Is it alien jism? Why does
it’s purpose change from scene to scene depending on which meat puppet is
ingesting it and the particular script hole the film needs to get out of? Is it sentient? One minute it’s turning alien Duncan Goodhew into life-giving
soup the next it’s infecting pointlessly arsey archeologist Logan Marshall-Green’s happy sacs with
alien sperm which causes barren Moomin
Rapace
to have an alien baby while also turning punk geologist Sean Harris into a 28 Days Later rage mutant.
It’s all a bit convenient.

6. And while we’re on the subject of alien
mutant sperm, Marshall-Green’s supercharged swimmers knocked up Moomin and
caused her to gestate a giant alien squid baby within days! But at the start of the film, there’s
that whole Guinness Rhythm of Life
ad-inspired sequence where the ‘Engineer’ disintegrates into a river and seeds
a barren Earth. This means his
mates are then going to have to hang around several hundred million years
waiting for Man to evolve before they can teach him the joys of interior cave
design. Given how long it takes
Moomin and Marshall-Green to CREATE AN ENTIRELY NEW SPECIES,
surely the Engineers could have sped things up a bit? Maybe fast forwarded through the 200 or so million years of
dinosaurs?

7. Also, we’re told humans and Engineers
share DNA. Makes sense, they
created us. However, as the film
shows, they created all life on Earth by an act of sacrifice. Which means the Engineers should share
DNA with every organism on Earth.
So why doesn’t our DNA match every lifeform on Earth? Our closest relative is the chimpanzee
and its DNA is only a 98% match.

8. It’s revealed in the film that the moon
the crew of the Prometheus travels to is not our alien creators’ home planet
but a secret, remote bio-weapons facility, why did they paint the directions to
their secret weapons base on the walls of prehistoric caves? That’s a bit like the US Air Force
printing visitor maps to Area 51 and scattering them from planes over the
Middle East.

9. Arsey archeologist tells us the same
ancient paintings pop up in the cultures of lots of different ancient
civilisations that supposedly had no contact with each other including the
Picts, the Hawaiians, the Mayans, the Hittites, the Sumerians, the Babylonians
and the Egyptians. While it’s
doubtful the Picts had much truck with the Maya, the Babylonians essentially grew
out of the Sumerians and it’s well-documented that the Sumerians, the
Babylonians and the Hittites all had extensive trade and cultural links with
ancient Egypt as well as warring with them on several occasions. You’d think that’s the kind of thing an
archeologist might have to know before they give him and his girlfriend a
spaceship? You can learn this
stuff from watching the Discovery Channel on a weekday afternoon.

10. Moomin
carbon dates the dead alien and tells everyone it’s 2000 years old. How? Without wishing to be too technical, this is also, what’s
the word, total boll*cks! Carbon
dating works by measuring the level of decay of the radioisotope Carbon-14
absorbed from the Earth’s atmosphere by biological matter. Long story short, without knowing the
pre-existing baseline level of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere of the ALIEN
PLANET
, it’d be impossible for Moomin to carbon date a dead alien.

11. Arsey
archeologist tells the crew that the atmosphere on the planet is 2% carbon
dioxide and that if they take their helmets off and breathe it, it will kill
them within minutes. Obviously, we
don’t know what global calamities or changes to our environment we’ll have to
adapt to in the future but presently, your average human can comfortably
tolerate a 3% carbon dioxide atmosphere for a couple of weeks before suffering
any ill effects. So, in the
future, does everyone have really, really bad asthma and forgot to bring their
inhalers with them? Also, he’s
only an archeologist, what’s he doing giving out dodgy medical advice when
there’s already a medic and a biologist on board? Surely, one of them should be the one giving out the dodgy
info the filmmakers couldn’t be arsed researching?

12. When
the team is exploring the alien ship, they take their helmets off because it
has a breathable, oxygenated atmosphere.
Let’s be clear; this is a derelict alien spaceship full of dead aliens
who died in an unexplained fashion.
Why would you take off your helmet? What about the risk of alien germs or diseases? Also, these douchebags are supposed to
be scientists. Wouldn’t they also
be keen to avoid cross-contaminating a pristine alien environment with
Earthly/human germs and bacteria?
What, scientific protocols are for wimps, eh boys?

13. In
the alien CCTV recordings, what are the aliens running from? Has the alien jizz escaped and is
chasing after them? If so, why is
the dead alien they find running towards the room that’s basically a dead alien
sperm bank of black goo?

14. Milburn
(human/rodent hybrid Rafe Spall) is
the crew’s biologist. He’s there
specifically in case they find any dead alien bodies they can study. They find the body of an alien who’s
probably been dead for thousands of years, something that would be the pinnacle
of his career, that’d win him Nobel Prizes and set him up for life. And instead of examining it, he gets
scared and wants to go wait in the car.
Really?

15. Milburn
and Fyfield, the two most cowardly members of the crew, get separated from the
rest of the team, wander off and get lost. Isn’t that a bit out of character? And how do they manage to get lost? The corridor they are in is one big
circle so if they just keep walking they’ll get to the exit. Also they’re in constant communication
with Starship Captain Stringer Bell (Idris
Elba
) and those little red GPS mapping balls that are flying around would
be able to find them.

16. Also,
Fyfield is the one who’s been controlling the GPS balls. Surely, he’s the last person who’d get
lost?

17. Milburn’s
too scared to examine a long-dead humanoid body but when they find a live,
weird, aggressive snakey thing that’s obviously up to no good (it’s a snake;
snakes are always up to no good), why would he get down to face-grabbing height
and wait for it to attack him?

18. Come
to think of it, the team are wandering around a derelict alien spaceship
unarmed. Did no-one think maybe
they should take some guns with them just in case they run into…let’s say, an
aggressive alien snakey thing?

19. Also,
if you’re going off to explore an alien world and investigate an alien species,
wouldn’t you take more than one whiny biologist? Just in case an alien snakey thing maybe bites his face off?

20. A
couple of the dead aliens they find show evidence of being attacked/infected by
creatures like the chestburster.
Why are there no chestburster or xenomorph-type bodies lying around?

21. Two
members of the crew are missing, trapped aboard an alien spaceship for the
night. Is that really the time the
two people in nominal charge of the mission (Idris Elba and Charlize Theron)
would decide to have a quick bunk-up?

22. Why
did they think taking the alien head back to the ship to zap it with
electricity until it explodes was a good idea?

23. How
come the robot doctor that removes the alien baby from Moomin can’t perform a
Caesarean as it’s calibrated for a man and won’t recognise her as a woman but
it has no problem removing an unexplained alien creature just because she tells
it she has a stomach ache?

24. How
quickly does Moomin recover from performing her own C-section? Sure, she’s self-medicating but still…

25. Why
does Weyland (Guy Pearce) spend most
of the film hiding from the rest of the crew when he owns the ship? When he does reveal himself why is
no-one surprised or even interested particularly as his hologram told everyone
he was dead?

26. Why
does no-one even bat an eyelid when Moomin staggers half-naked and bloody into
the room where they’re suiting up Weyland? Are half-naked women covered in blood staggering around his
personal quarters a frequent occurrence?
Also, Moomin twatted at least one of those crew members (Kate Dickie) over the head just a
couple of scenes earlier. Not only
does she not appear to be suffering from any form of concussion, she doesn’t
mention this to Moomin or even call her a bitch. She just suits up and goes off to explore the alien
spaceship with her…

27. Why
is no-one remotely interested in the giant Moomin/alien hybrid squid baby
that Moomin’s just abandoned to grow to gargantuan proportions in an unfeasibly
short amount of time in the medical bay?
No-one on the space ship full of scientists thinks: “Bugger
me. A completely new species. Maybe I should have a quick peek at
that?” or how about “Maybe we should get that alien thingy out of the medical bay? You know, just in case we survive the
next half hour and need some plasters or something?”

28. Why,
when his ship is destroyed, does the alien, who’s so intent on destroying Earth
that he takes off almost immediately after waking up, not just head to the
other ship parked nearby rather than stop to play cat-and-mouse with a woman
who represents no threat to him and has no way of stopping him from taking
off?

29. At
the end of the film, instead of trying to return to Earth, Moomin and David
board an alien ship and set course for the alien homeworld. Sure, we’ll accept that his long years
of isolation have allowed him to learn the alien language but how does David
manage to pilot the alien ship?
For starters you appear to need to be able to play the flute to start
the engine? How does David do that
exactly? He’s been reduced to a
head in a bowling bag. Are we
supposed to believe that Moomin’s able to just hook him up to the alien ship’s
computer with some sort of USB cable?
That’s as dumb as when they hook Jeff Goldblum’s laptop up to the alien
mothership in Independence Day.

30. And
now for the big one – the single dumbest thing about Prometheus. At the end of the film, when Moomin and
David fly off to the alien homeworld; how long is the journey going to be? What is she going to eat and
drink? Can humans eat alien
food? The ship’s been lying
dormant for 2000 years; do alien supplies keep that long? Sure she could sleep in the alien
hibernation pod but can alien hibernation pods be calibrated for humans?

Ultimately, who cares?
If you’ve seen the film you’ve probably already asked yourself these
questions and, if you liked the film, right now you’re sitting, rocking back
and forth with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears braying: “I’m not
listening…”

Only one thing is certain – In space, no-one can hear you
say: “Doh!”

David Watson

Chest-Bursting With Ideas – In Defence Of Prometheus – By Alex Moss

An empty bag of tricks whose production values and
expensive trickery cannot disguise imaginative poverty
” – Time Out

Sound familiar?
It’s a review for Prometheus right? Wrong, it’s a review for Alien. Yup, back in
1979 when Ridley Scott’s
franchise-spawning haunted-house in space Alien film was released it was
greeted with mixed reviews.
Critics like Roger Ebert commented
that Alien was a real disappointment when compared to the likes of Star Wars, Close Encounters of The Third Kind
and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey. So, despite Scott returning to the
franchise and offering us the origins of the Alien, Prometheus was never going
to satisfy everyone.

It’s not a perfect film. Not by any stretch.
As the prosecution, Mr. Watson has pointed out there are undoubtedly
plot holes. Some of them can be
explained away, others are flaws that you can either accept or become agitated
by. But even a beauty spot is just
a mole. Sometimes leaving a
blemish can force you to dig deeper below the surface. The
Dark Knight Rises
is rife with plot holes but do you care? Probably not. Why? Because
you’re engaged with the story and the characters, not how certain mechanics of
the story function.

Prometheus is a big-budget adventure film. An odyssey into space that is firmly
rooted in the genre of Science Fiction.
Pay close attention to that second word, FICTION. This is not science fact, it’s designed
to spark the imagination and whisk you away to a planet millions of light years
away. Who cares what the black goo
is, it’s a Macguffin, a plot device
to drive the story forward. You
want to know what it’s made of or what it actually does? Ask Professor Brian Cox for his
theories on it. Who knows what
bizarre organic life-forms live on far off distant planets.

Here is a film that dares to challenge its
audience. This isn’t some
superhero movie spoon-feeding you plot points and join-the-dot narratives. Prometheus is a film that dares, on a
huge budget and bigger scale, to answer the question “Where do we come from?”
and even more risky given the world’s religious unrest “Is there a God?” This is not the normal food for thought
for big summer blockbusters.
Normally we’re treated to Kristen
Stewart
running around with vampires or evil queen stepmothers to occupy
our minds for all of 30 seconds during the credits while you let the popcorn
settle enough to gather your things and leave. Prometheus goes light years beyond such thought. Mr. Watson’s questions are valid, but
surely in asking them Prometheus has, in part, achieved what it set out to
do?

If you’ve watched Prometheus these plot holes will
have done one of two things; Either you’re sitting there asking questions about
the film, how it all ties into Alien, how and why the Engineers chose to create
life and then later chose to destroy it (at this point remember that any deity,
and the Engineers were clearly worshiped as such by early Man, has the ability
to be a vengeful deity). Or the
film lost you about half way through.

Perhaps what many have found frustrating about
Prometheus is that at no point does it try to answer many of these
questions. On the one hand you
could argue it’s because Ridley Scott and writers Damian Lindelof and Jon
Spaihts
have left much to ambiguity in the hope they can address much of
this in the inevitable sequel. On
the other hand it could have something to do with Lindelof’s Lost factor, wherein not even the
filmmakers know the answers to the questions. But does that detract from the enjoyment of the film? No, quite the contrary, it sparks debate
and forces us to engage with the film on a much deeper level. Everyone has their own theories, all of
which are right in each individual’s mind.

Ridley Scott has, like the pivotal Engineers of
Prometheus, spent his career building worlds. Prometheus is no exception. From the shiny interior of the ship itself to the almost
gothic cathedral of the Engineers’ base, the film is positively dripping with
atmosphere and visuals to burn.
Like Alien and Blade Runner
before it, Scott shoots everything as if he is a Sci-Fi David Lean. It’s
probably not coincidental that Michael
Fassbender
’s Android is so infatuated with Lawrence Of Arabia.

Like Scott’s previous career highlights, Prometheus is
a deeply immersive experience.
What Alien did so wonderfully was unsettle you, it built in a slow-burn,
oxygen-filled container.
Prometheus has the same effect.
The rag-tag team of explorers and scientists, the landing on the alien
planet, the mystery surrounding Weyland and David’s relationship and then all
hell breaks loose. From giant
Engineer ghosts haunting hallways to AI probes finding life behind a closed
door. And that’s before David goes
and gets all creative with the black goo.
It is a story that demands your attention and your attention demands to
know more in return. Like Alien
there are moments of extreme squirm-inducing body horror. Sure Noomi Rapace’s operation doesn’t reach the heights of John Hurt’s
chest exploding over the dinner table but it still unsettles in ways big budget
movies such as this rarely have the courage to do. It even manages to bring some of HR Giger’s bio-sexual imagery back with the bizarre phallic worms
and the giant alien squid.

The biggest problem that Prometheus faced was trying
to tie it all into the moment the Nostromo
touched down on LV-426 in Alien.
But for the past two years Ridley Scott was telling anyone who would
listen that Prometheus is only loosely connected to Alien. As such those who went expecting
face-huggers, Alien Queens and a baby Ellen
Ripley
were always going to be frustrated. But, and this is where Prometheus should rightfully take
accolade, it does convey the same sense of awe and terror as Alien. In different ways, yes, but tonally
there is no denying its relationship to its predecessor. The technology might look more
glamorous, remember this is an all-expenses paid trip by a billionaire rather
than the space oil drillers of Alien, but the tensions between the various crew
members; the paranoia of Charlize Theron’s
Vickers and Michael Fassbender’s ambiguous droid are all reminiscent of
Alien.

Put simply; if more mainstream films had the ideas,
scope and bravery to attempt what Prometheus has then the cinematic horizon
would look much more inviting. For
that alone it should be highly commended.
Who knows, like Alien before it, there may come a day where it is
heralded as a Sci-fi masterpiece, just remember where you heard it first.

Alex Moss

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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