Saturday, 9 June 2012

Thoughts on Prometheus

Last week me and a friend went to visit some mutual friends of ours in Paris. As the town we live in rarely screens big studio/mainstream movies in their original language, we took the opportunity to go and watch Prometheus. I hadn't watched any of the trailers or anything, going in without any expectations whatsoever. Unfortunately, that didn't stop me from not liking this film.
I was discussing the film at length with my friends who saw it with me, and the conversation focused mostly on the negative aspects of it. Certainly none of us wanted to hate this movie, and at least one of us kind of enjoyed it, albeit mostly for the visuals' sake.
We all agreed however, that most of the things that happened in the movie, were the kinds of things that would happen in a dumb, clichéd action movie, not a movie which attempts to shed a new light on our creation, or the meaning of our existence.
For some reason I felt the need to write down my thoughts and the things that came up during our discussion. I was putting it off for most of the week, until I jumped into a thread about Prometheus on one of the forums I frequent. There everything just kind of poured out -or perhaps in this case, burst out- in the form of a long rant.
I don't think I'll go back in to structure this into something more coherent or chronological, these are just random things in the movie that bothered me and constantly kept me from suspending my disbelief and getting really involved in the film's story. I have however, gone back over it in an attempt to fix spelling errors and grammar problems with grammar thingies. I realize the text is riddled with run-on sentences, but I found it almost impossible not to write like this when trying to formulate my thoughts on what I perceived to be fatal flaws in the characters and their illogical actions throughout the movie.
The parts in bold in the first part are written by one of the other forum members. I felt it would be best to include these, since some parts of my rant are written in response to his posts.
This is pretty long, so feel free to stop reading at any point. Also,


(Here we pick up with me responding to some posts about how some people felt they were left with too many questions after seeing the movie.)

I actually felt like way too many questions were being answered.

Did we watch two different movies???

Characters were constantly presenting their theories as fact. Like: "Oh, I know what those Engineers were up to! They were doing so and so!"
How do you know for certain that's what happened? I said how do you know that?! Did you read the script? What's that over there? Is that the script?

We're still left with the ultimate question, why? We're left trying to understand the logic and reasoning behind the Engineers motives and actions, for me these two questions these are big questions and then it's David.

I have absolutely no questions left that I need answers to, though it might have to do with the fact that I didn't give two shits about any of the bland, clichéd, forgettable characters. Except maybe the android, though he was basically a slightly less interesting version of Data.

I don't know about that, Data was humble but extremely robotic, David is very child like, he has a natural curiosity about life and pushes the boundaries of what's right and wrong. For me David displayed all emotions except fear during the movie.
Movie definitely could have done with an extra half hour to develop the main characters.

That's the thing though, he is set up the same way, like he keeps talking about how he has no emotions and yada yada, except he totally displays emotions all the time. Much more than Charlize Theron's character. I would have actually liked if they kept her more in the dark, like if she was an android or not. There were a couple of scenes, like when she confronts David in the corridor, where she seemed very robot-like.

As for the "why?" part, meh. All the way through that part of the plot just seemed like an excuse to have some dumb action sequences, rather than it being the actual focus of the movie. I mean, when they finally do meet one of the Engineers, you know, the very thing they wanted to do from day one, he is basically just another monster.
This story could have been really interesting, with people finding out(or at least coming close to finding out) why we are here, but the questions that were keeping me busy were: Why is this happening? Why are those characters making those decisions?
Seriously, that part where Shaggy and Scooby find that snake thing blew my goddamn mind. It looks like a space cobra! Why are you so desperately trying to pet it? You wouldn't pet an earth cobra, so why would you try to pet an even creepier looking space cobra? Also, why the fuck aren't you running?! You guys were set up to be the biggest scaredy cats, yet now you're hell bent on getting yourselves killed by weird space creatures?
And the guy at the start, taking off his helmet. He's a scientist! Well, that's what they kept saying anyway, but still! Gee, the air is breathable, ima take this helmet off A.S.A.P.! Wait, we haven't checked for any strange airborne viruses and stuff yet- aw fuck it, too late. Alright everyone, helmets off!
Oh shit, my dumb ass got infected with some virus. Maybe it was because I took my helmet off. It wasn't? It was because I got drunk for no reason and someone slipped me a mickey? Why was he getting drunk? It didn't look like he was celebrating because they made some amazing discoveries ('CAUSE THEY DID), no he looked depressed. He was so disappointed they didn't find a live Engineer on day one exploring a fraction of the planet they just landed on a couple of hours ago that he had to drink himself into a stupor.
But anyway, now he's infected so in stead of trying to find a cure, he says fuck it, burn me! I know you got laser shotguns too and you could very well provide me with a quicker, less painful death, but whatever, set me on fire! So only one person cares that he dies, certainly no one in the audience does and after that he is quickly forgotten.

There's more, but I don't wanna blow up the server with my ranting. This movie doesn't necessarily deserve to be picked apart, it's a nice space adventure I guess, but it's just so not what it's hyped up to be. And it never sits well with me to see an interesting premise take a back seat to dumb action.

Part 2 of rant.

"...Father!" Wow, nice expository dialogue right there. Speaking of useless dialogue, here's another one from our favorite blonde supposedly superwoman: So we see David talking to her while exploring the cave with the camera and all that, and then he cuts her off. So we cut to her and she says: "Son of a bitch..." Then the scene just lingers. And lingers. And we just hold on her face for an uncomfortably long time. Then just as we're about to get up out of our seats to scream: "Why is this scene still going on?!" she says: "You cut me off." Hey, no fucking shit lady! Why don't you go do some more quarter push ups?
This was probably the first of many little things that gradually pulled me out of the movie. When she's doing push ups at the start of the film, in stead of puking like the rest of the crew, you see her close up, from the front and she's doing these deep push ups. Then we see her from the side and she's barely going down a quarter of the way. Then we see her from the front and she's going deep again. Not a big point, I know, but it adds up.
Actually, no, it's not really a small point. When we first see her she is set up to be some kind of bad-ass, but how many action scenes does she have? She spends most of the film sitting on her ass, barking orders at people while occasionally burning defenseless 'scientists' to death. Then at the end when she dies a comical cartoon death, she's running like a little girl.
That scene was so dumb, when the ship crashed and it starts to fall over and in your head you just go: "No... Don't tell me you're gonna run in a straight line trying to get away from it in stead of going sideways, or at least diagonally?" But they do! Both of them! And that same thing happens twice in a row! Then the only thing that saves Dr.Whatsherface are Buster Keaton antics!

More clichés:
How about that scene where Shaggy and Scooby get introduced to each other? You know, the two first guys to die. "Hi, I'm an awkward Philip Seymour Hoffman look-a-like, you wanna be my friend?" "Fuck off, I'm the crazy lone wild asshole! I'm only in it for the Scooby-snacks!" Never seen that before...
Then when they're exploring the cave ship thing Scooby takes out his 'pups'(if I heard that right) and he holws like a wolf, further solidifying his role as 'the crazy one'. Also note that for a billion dollar investigation, they don't seem to be very organized. No one else on the away team seems to know what the pups are, or what they do, except for Scooby.
When they find the decapitated Engineer, Scooby's like: "Fuck this! I only like rocks!" Then he and Shaggy get lost. So he's deployed his pups, but they only send information to the ship, not to him? Because if they did, he'd have a handy map of the place with him, but he gets lost so I guess they don't. Also, if he likes rocks so much and he devotes his life to them and is capable enough to be selected for a billion dollar space mission, you'd think he'd have a keen eye for environments, but "it all looks the same to him."
At night the captain sees that one of the pups has located what seems to be a life-form. It could be a glitch, but in a place you know nothing about where you know people were running from something and one guy got his head cut off and got left behind, it might be a good idea to use caution. So in stead of putting someone on watch to monitor this life-form's movements or whatever, he tells Shag and Scoob about the possible threat and adds something along the lines of: "Sweet dreams". What an asshole!
So they run away in the opposite direction and end up at that room again, where the guy lost his head. So first of all, this actually gives them another chance to retrace their steps and at least make it to the entrance so they can be picked up immediately after the storm passes in stead of first having to be found. Second of all, this room was where they said "Zoinks!" and fucked off. Why the hell do they go into the room they were so afraid of before?

So even though the captain commands a space ship, he's actually a down-to-earth guy(zing!); he has a Christmas tree and an accordion. This means that he's likeable. Also, he supposedly gets to bang Charlize Theron after using one of the most awkward pick-up lines ever. This strategy may actually replace 'negging' in the near future.
This whole scene about him getting to dock his ship in her space station or something has no impact on anything else in the movie whatsoever. They don't even act awkwardly around each other the next day like: "Man, maybe it wasn't a good idea to have crazy space sex when we're gonna be together on a relatively small ship for a long space mission." It seems to just be there to add some light-hearted humor, possibly to show that she's not a robot, which actually sucks because, as I said earlier, the mystery of her being an android or not may have been an interesting concept.

The bet.
So at the end of the movie, when the captain decides to crash into the Engineer's ship to stop him from causing a possible new Alien vs Predator movie, we're introduced to the two guys who made this bet about what kind of mission they're on. Even though this bet had been brought up several times over the course of the movie, I say we're introduced to them, because it was never quite clear who these guys were. First time they talk about the bet, they're just sort of hanging out and looking out the window. The light from outside makes them appear almost completely as silhouettes which doesn't help. They also manage to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the more forgettable characters.
To have characters place bets on what basically the plot of the movie's gonna be is kind of a cliché in and of itself, but these guys don't stop there! They're also super gung ho about dying with they're captain for no reason, like we're suddenly in Independence Day or something. No signs of fear, just pure, unbridled space-patriotism!

Way before all that though, Shaggy and Scooby are dead. Good. They find Shaggy, who has basically been face-hugged, but this goes absolutely nowhere. Nothing bursts out of his chest and after they leave his corpse to go burn that sick guy he is never mentioned again.
Scooby however, just has to show up again, right at the ship's front door. Or cargo bay or whatever. So he shows off some of his geology skills after all by perfectly estimating the distance at which he has to lay on the ground for the edge of the cargo door to come down right next to him.
By the way: "Hey, this guy has a strange disease which may actually be easily cured, who knows? Burn him!" "Hey, this guy who was thought to be dead is lying in a weird position outside. Hey may be dead and being used as bait, he may be also infected with that weird disease, we just don't know! Open the biggest door on the ship and go check it out alone and unarmed expendable character!"
So some guy goes outside like a dumbass, looks down at Scooby lying in a weird position on the ground with a weird melted face and then turns his back to say: "Hey, check this out!" Because he's not one of the 'scientists' I'm gonna assume he's part of the security team. You know, that team that's supposed to protect a billion dollar mission who instantly back off when someone says they don't want to have guns around? He must have had some great training.
So Scooby's a superpowered zombie for absolutely no reason other than to have another dumb action scene. He jumps around and bullets and fire can't stop him while he's ripping through the crew with ease. The guards literally say: "Let's get out of here!" and seem to accidentally run him over. I'm not sure if it happened like this, because this scene is extremely confusing in a bad way. So shooting him in the heart does nothing, until you run him over. Then you can pump him full of lead, burn him, and never speak of him again.

Woman with a comical Scottish accent.

Speaking of people being infected with stuff, what was up with David's plan of infecting Dr.Imnoscientistreally and to hopefully impregnate the main female lead? I say hopefully, because David had no way of knowing for sure they would have sex that night. In fact all that champagne might have given the guy whiskey-dick. Maybe he slipped some viagra into his glass as well.
If all Weyland was interested in was to meet the Engineers, why was it necessary to go through this whole song and dance to get an alien baby? Then after the main character aborts it and manages to run around the ship even though her abs are just being held together by some staples, David doesn't give a shit about where the alien baby is and everyone just sort of forgets about it. "Oh hey there young lady, I see you're not pregnant anymore and you're covered in blood. Here, cover yourself with my lab coat while I go back to washing this old man's disgusting feet in close up 3D. Enjoy your popcorn, audience! By the way, were you surprised when you found out that medical machine was for men only? You may think it was because you didn't know Charlize Theron's "Father!" was on board, but really it was just to add extra tension to the abortion scene, even if it only stopped you for like, 2 seconds.
I hope you remembered to lock up your little alien bastard by the way. Wouldn't want one of those running loose on this ship!"
The alien baby does present a great mystery to this movie though: How the fuck did it grow so big?! It was tiny! It was locked inside a room, with no acces to food or water. What, did it drink the IV fluids which might be somewhere inside that operation machine?

Random thoughts at end of rant, running out of steam:
What were those red space suits? They looked pretty cool and you'd think that in what turned out to be just some dumb space action movie the main character would have put that on after the abortion while screaming: "Get away from me, bitches!" Those things were just there to cock-tease the audience, wtf.

What was up with that green, translucent egg thing that douche scientist stumbled upon? That was never mentioned again.

Sorry about the stupid names, but I really can't remember any of these characters. I really don't feel like looking them up on IMDb and I certainly don't want to see this movie a second time.
Forget what I said earlier about this film not deserving to be picked apart, it does. The only reasons it's getting so much attention seem to be because Ridley Scott's name is attached to it and its connection to the Alien franchise. If it weren't for those factors I cannot see how this would ever be seen as a good movie.
Sure, the visuals are nice, but they're meaningless when the characters are this dumb.

Edited 'cause I remembered more stuff.
So the characters are constantly hypothesizing about the Engineer's intentions, which is fine, but every theory they come up with, they present as fact. "They were making a weapon to destroy us!" "They changed their minds!" Etc. Now, you can argue that it's up to the audience to make the final conclusions, but then why not have the characters present their theories as theories? Not as facts. This just makes them look extra dumb.
If they changed their minds for instance, wouldn't you think they'd have told that Engineer they woke up at the end? Was he on stand-by in case they changed their minds again? Whatever the case, he didn't look like he got the memo about not killing the humans. So even after seeing that guy's reaction to humans, where he does the old I'm-gonna-make-it-look-like-I'm-gonna-caress-you-then-suddenly-rip-your-head-off, Stupidgirl still thinks her theory of them changing their minds holds up.

About the Engineers:
First off all, I hated their look. That's my personal opinion, I know, but I just wasn't convinced by the CGI. It looked superfake with their smooth skin and stuff, and it's bad news for me when that's the first thing you see in the movie.
Then if their DNA and our DNA is identical, literally identical, why do they look totally different? Did I fall asleep during biology class?
Then there's the head. Why, or how did it blow up? When it blew, there was no black stuff coming out, so apparently that wasn't it. The guy at the start of the movie turned black, so logically if the head exploded because of the black stuff, black stuff must have come out.
You may say that it's because they were using some kind of science technique that was designed for humans, but we have identical DNA. If we can successfully test things on rats before testing them on ourselves, you'd think that something with DNA identical to us would be an even better test subject.
An even bigger mystery though, is why was this head exploding phenomenon completely abandoned?