Prometheus…discuss

*Spoilers* (but let’s face it, you should have watched it by now anyway if you’re any kind of movie fan) 

 

I seem to have gone to the cinema to watch this with the only two people who didn’t know it was connected to the Alien franchise. And they call themselves scifi buffs. Sheesh.

I suppose I can’t talk, I didn’t realise Ridley Scott hadn’t done Aliens, or any of the other increasingly pointless movies. That said, the first two rank in my Top Ten of All Time, but does Prometheus? Nope. It’s a really good movie. It’s pretty. It could have been great, but for some reason, it isn’t.

I think that great movies give you an experience, whether that’s visual or otherwise, that you’ve never had before.

(see: Matrix (1); Terminator 1 & 2; Avatar etc)

So originality is possible even with a (sort of) prequel. The difference between both Ridley and Cameron’s films and Prometheus is that the tension is missing. I can watch either of the first two over and over (and I have) and always be tense, always be nervous. Prometheus replicates the terrors we’re exposed to in Alien and Aliens, but never equals or matches them. More importantly, they’re not terrible. They’re upsetting (a big cock-like creature forcing its way down some poor guy’s oesophagus is always going to seem a bit ick) but the psychology is missing. The sensitive and subtle study of character and society is not present.  

It’s a bit confusing, too. At the opening, it looks as though the big man (you’ll see what I mean) willingly transforms himself into the alien we know. Apparently this isn’t the case, but it looks so similar. So for the whole movie I’m trying to work out how we get back to that point, but we never do, because it’s not a actually a point.

The big reveal at the end is only useful if you haven’t been thinking that’s what it’s going to be all along. Not a fault of the plot particularly, but a flaw that’s resulted from all the talk (and leakage) around the movie. 

The one thing that was interesting, apart from David the android (Michael Fassbender), although perhaps it’s interesting as a study, is the representation of female strength. In Alien, Ripley is ‘feminine’ but emotionally tough. In Aliens, she’s also physically ‘masculine’-tough. Noomi Rapace (Dr Shaw) is sweet in a way Ripley wasn’t. Her quest and faith in finding the answers about ‘the engineers’ is touching, if fatalistic.

Despite all this, after losing her boyfriend, finding out she’s having an alien baby and aborting preternaturally-fast-growing-foetus herself, she still staggers on and sort of saves the day. I quite like that. I do wonder about the images sometimes though. Why is the parasite so (aggressively) sexual, why, when it is Dr Shaw’s strong desire to have a child, is she impregnated by something hideous that she has to extract from her own body and kill? It’s all rather curious stuff and, at least, keeps me thinking about it.

Still, disappointing, if only because you can clearly see how it could have been amazing. Borrows too much from the second film, which is, essentially stealing as he didn’t make it. 

What’s next then? Hobbit? Yet another repetition of something already seen?

Yawnville.

Sarah

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12 thoughts on “Prometheus…discuss

  1. And if we’re talking strong female characters, what about Vickers?

    I saw it at the weekend and was a bit disappointed too – it’s good, but not great in the way that Alien was (and, judging from it’s showing on TV at the weekend, still is). Part of the problem was excessive signposting early on (oh, you just happen to have this machine that can do any kind of surgery, and oh, you just happen to have your own quarters which can detach as their own standalone craft… I wonder if either of those will be needed later?) and exposition (the captain plucking the realisation that the planet was the engineer’s weapons base seemingly from the air). Also a few plot holes, like the motive for David wilfully infecting Holliday… but maybe these holes will be filled by another prequel, who knows?

    On balance, I enjoyed the film but I doubt that, in years to come, I’ll be watching Prometheus every time it’s on TV, as I still do with Alien… or blogging about it more than 30 years after its release…

    • I know! I love Idris Elba (sp?), but even he, in this role, didn’t seem to possess enough innate intelligence for me to trust his Resolution of Everything. Oh, shame, shame. Yes, Vickers was that Michael character from Aliens. The one from My Two Dads!

  2. I don’t think you can really get away from the sexual imagery of the Aliens franchise. With increasing diminishing returns it’s pretty much the touchstone for the design through Giger, not to mention the sexual assault by the android in the original Alien.

    In trying to get back to the original movie I think Scott was always going to bring that back – whether he should or shouldn’t, especially in the context of returning to a more ‘adult’ sci-fi from the mess the franchise had found itself. In essence the Alien ‘world’ is essentially sexualised, it’s part of the very fabric of its reality. So once the decision was made that this was in the same fictional essence the movie is always going to be circling the slightly icky singularity of horror/sex.

    Interesting you mention the lack of tension and the amount of leakage – I haven’t seen the film yet mainly because everything seems to be there in the trailers. They were doing a great job denying the Alien links, showing only glimpses and then it seemed someone just panicked and started to fling everything in the trailers and the movie clips.

    So I’ll give it a watch soon but it’s sad to see them lose their nerve. Knowing so much of the plot beforehand, combined with what looks to be a little too pretty appearance, and the apparent lack of terror just suggest it’ll be more of a nice new Alien ‘episode’ than movie to stand the test of time.

    • I think you’re right, it is the psychology of the sex/horror thing that makes it interesting, in how this alienness allows us to reflect back upon ourselves. you get the sense though that it’s a bit of a gimmick here; much more could be done / said / explored in the 33 year span since the original. and even if Scott thought it hadn’t, representing that staticness could have been interesting.

      sorry! you shouldn’t have read this if you haven’t seen it! hope you enjoy it… 🙂

      • Ha, don’t worry – I’m long past the point where I get to see things without knowing what’s coming 🙂

        I’d be tempted to argue that what’s really missing is much involvement of Giger. I know he did a few murals for the film but it’d be fascinating to see what he would have come up with if he’d been more closely involved.

        Like a lot of video games, movie effects right now seem pretty reductive – people specialising in creating a sense of the real through CGI but a lot of the love that went into creating the ‘unreal’ is on the wane.

        As always, I’m sure the clock will turn and we’ll see some great stuff again in the future but that radical, punishing vision seen in films like Alien and even Blade Runner is going to take some time to escape the clutches of Star Trek and the Star Wars prequels (not that those infantile displays don’t have their own broken charm!)

  3. I suspect, or hope, that the real problem with this film is that too much has been cut out to try and keep it to a studio friendly running time and possibly an audience friendly 15 certificate. The alternative is that Sir Ridley has suddenly forgotten how to tell a cohesive story. I suspect that (As with Blade runner and the first two Alien films) we’ll see a half hour longer director’s cut in a few year time. That will hopefully explain things like why on earth does michael want to infect the crew with the goop, why the first two crewmen to die didn’t go back to the ship like they said they were going to where on earth does Charlize Theron disappear to in the middle of the film (is she just enjoying a nice long post coital snooze?) and more importantly why is she even there apart from to give a nice cosy med bed and private habitat. Oh yeah and why oh why when the spaceship was falling towards them didn’t they run sideways? Shaw just does a couple of rolls and voila safety. What’s missing here also, which was there in all the Alien films, was a feeling of a cohesive group of people, somehow the characterisation was lost. Look at Yaphet Koto and Harry Dean Stanton in Alien. Bitching about bonuses a big chip on both their shoulders. Would a longer running time have helped? It might have forced the writers do develop the characters a little. Perhaps Sir Ridley should have taken a leaf out of David Lean’s book. Lawrence of Arabia is over three hours long. At a short feeling 2 1/4 I could have taken a bit more length (Looks like Giger’s styling my writing now).
    P.s. SHould a film really start with making me feel like I should be watching a different film first so I get the references? Anyway off to watch Lawrence soon.
    P.p.s. Surely the next thing has to be The Dark Knight Rises which Chris Nolan has specifically said he wants to feel like an epic war-film. Sci-fi wise just imagine, now Joss Whedon has the studio’s confidence again; a new firefly/serenity?

  4. I believe the beginning scene explained how life on earth was seeded by the Engineers. Which is why Shaw is confused as to why the Engineers first created life on Earth, then wanted to destroy it by sending the black liquid to earth to destroy all life.

    • When I watched the original the other day, it started to make more sense. The Jockey that the Nostromo encounter that no other director ever returns to. Interesting, in light of that, and for some reason had completely popped out of my mind! There’s got to be another film…

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