Sunday, 3 June 2012

PROMETHEUS: My lingering problems...

First & Final Warning, nothing but spoilers ahead, I'm presuming people have seen the movie before they read this. This isn't intended as a review:

We walked out of the cinema into the somewhat cold night air.
"What'd you think?" I asked.
"Yeah, I liked it."
"Oh, yeah, no, it was a good movie." I responded. Some elements of the movie bothered me though, but I didn't want to be the first to say something bad about it. There was a lot to get through if we went down that road.
I eased into the problems with the obvious: "You know what I kinda didn't like? That this was ever billed as an 'Alien' prequel. I would have liked it if it just happened in the same universe and maybe, at that point at the end, you realize 'Ooooh, is this actually supposed to take place before Alien?'"
"Yeah, it definitely didn't feel like an 'Alien' movie."

Maybe it was the hype, the expectation, the promise that Ridley Scott was making an Alien prequel, the fact that I love sci-fi movies, but I wanted to love this movie. I really did. And, to be honest, I do like it.
It looks great, the visual effect, the sets, the costumes and character design are all pretty much some of the best I've seen in any recent sci fi movie.
The film moves along smoothly, at no point does it feel like it's dragging.
Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba, are all really good actors, who do a great job with what they're given.
Unfortunately the story and script are fairly weak in places, and are pretty much my biggest problems with this movie. They go from the silly and (in)excusable to the far side of stupid.

On to my main problems:
1) The Characters

"Michael Fassbender was quite good in it. Ever since that 'Happy Birthday, David.' video I thought he was going to be an interesting character to watch react to what would be the ensuing mayhem." would be a great way to start off complimenting this film.
But that leads into a discussion about every other character.
"Charlize Theron's character (Vickers) was fairly pointless though." I'd have to follow up with, without knowing why I was singling her out because every character was fairly pointless in this film.
Normally I wouldn't stand idly by and let Charlize Theron's role in a movie be questioned- She's both a good actress and hot. So even if she's not cast in a movie, someone should always write in a role that she could play, and if she's not cast then just erase that character's lines and it affects none of the rest of the movie. She's a surprisingly good actress. I mean, any actress who needs to have facial prosthetics to be considered unattractive and then gets an Oscar for that role has to be worth having around.
It's like if Patrick Stewart did 'MacBeth' entirely on helium and still got a standing ovation at the end.

An integral part of us being made to believe that she wasn't completely pointless is a moment towards the end of the film when corporate billionaire Weyland (Guy Pearce) turns out to have been in stasis on the ship the entire time, and that he is Vickers' (Theron) father.
There's a massive personal rift between them, a fact not so much as hinted at as forced onto us in the only scene they share.
This reveal is one of those "Who gives a sh*t?" turns in the movie. Apparently Weyland was so set on the idea of meeting the aliens who created human life, "Engineers", that he froze himself in stasis h*ll bent on asking them for an extension on his life-time warranty.

It should be noted that this seemed like a lead-up to a similar confrontation in BLADE RUNNER, where the replicant Roy Batty confronts his creator Tyrell:

Which seems like it would be a good idea, except where BLADE RUNNER's confrontation was between the creation and the creator, unfortunately the only Engineer they find is a pilot of a space-craft and Weyland decides to ask him- This is the equivalent of flagging down an ambulance to ask the driver to perform to perform extensive invasive surgery.
Needless to say, that request doesn't go well; anyone hoping for a "Ripley in Loader Mech suit versus the Alien" moment from PROMETHEUS can rest assured that the closest thing to that in this movie is the suit that allows the elderly, feeble Weyland to walk, and it doesn't provide much in the way of support in battle against the Engineer.

With the main scientists, Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and Shaw (Noomi Rapace), I don't think I could have given less of a sh*t about characters in that movie.
Least of all Shaw, who's supposed to be the strong 'Ripley'-type lead of this movie, who spends most of the movie whinging until a very uncharacteristic turn towards being an all-action tough woman at the end.
There's also a really weak Religion/ Belief vs. Science/ Fact argument in this movie, and I blame it entirely on her.

Anyway, anyone who's seen the film will undoubtedly also have asked themself:
What the h*ll was with David putting that alien spore/ egg/ ooze in Holloway's drink? Did he know it would turn him into a weird creature? Did he know that it'd pass on to Holloway's infertile girlfriend?
At no point is there a defense of explanation for this, if I had to guess I'd say that he was hoping to use the people like big incubators.
But why?! Why then? Why not back on earth when he'd have access to so many expendable human subjects that he wouldn't have to jeapordise the mission?!

And while we're on it, how the h*ll did the infertile Shaw get pregnant?

2) Alien Pregnancy

I get that Holloway was mutating, but how did that make Shaw fertile to carry a child? I don't care that it came to full term in just over 10 hours, how did it even happen?! She had no eggs! She's infertile!
Essentially what I got from that scene was that he ejaculates weird tentacle-monster aliens. It just so happened that it was into his girlfriend. Thank g*d he didn't sneeze or blow this nose or take a dump, who knows that other aliens would have come out!

3) Alien Pregnancy Termination

Anyway, we'll move past that, on to "She immediately tries to abort the alien baby inside her", which is a pretty good plan.
Without a doctor she's forced to use an automatic surgery chamber in Vickers' quarters. It turns out that this machine isn't programmed with any surgeries for women, so Shaw has to manually program it to slice open her entire abdomen before pulling the alien baby out, then stapling her wound shut.
She recovers immediately from this surgery and runs off, leaving two big questions:
1) How could someone walk away from that brutal surgery?

2) Why was the emergency surgery machine ONLY programmed with surgeries specific for men, as the computer's voice loudly announces?
The technology exists to build a machine that can perform surgery without a doctor present, but at some point it was decided to cut corners when it came to system memory space?
Well, there's two ways to look at that. Either those really weak religious vs. science arguments are further compounded with the most conservative, bible thumping, non-abortion performing technology.
Or there's a discarded sub-plot where Charlize Theron's character had gender re-assignment surgery, so then her father wiped the memory of the surgery unit to spite her decision. This would also explain the rift between these two characters who are supposed to be father & daughter. Obviously he disapproves of her.
It also explains why Weyland (Guy Pearce) built David (the android) and describes him as "being like a son to me", to further spite his daughter by creating a replacement son.

2) The Aliens.

Remember that movie 'Evolution'? In some ways PROMETHEUS is like 'Alien' crossed with that.
Weird snake creatures, tentacle aliens, giants, half-human undead brutes, it was all over the place, like they couldn't settle on one monster to be as iconic as the creature in 'Alien', so just went for the scattergun approach. And there's nothing in this that really compares to the creature design of 'Alien'.

There were a lot of problems with this film, but the fact that there's so much to complain about really disappoints me. Many more than I've covered above.
Sure, the film had way too much hype to live up to, and I never expected it to defy any expectations, but I didn't think it would let itself fall so obviously short in so many places.
It was entertaining, and for the most part well cast, and I can't compliment the visuals and sets enough.
But, that doesn't help the fact that I was let down in ways that were so obviously lacking.

Anyway, that's just my opinion on it.

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