Prometheus

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus brought out significant debate among our writers who fell into two differing camps. Presented are two separate viewpoints on the film, both pro and con. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

PRO: This is an excellent movie!

According to the folks behind the film, it’s supposedly “not-an-Alien-prequel” set in Ridley Scott’s Alien universe. The story revolves around the Weyland Corporation crew of the spaceship Prometheus searching for life on a far away planet. Not just any life, but searching for ones who may have created the human race.

Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron both did a great job in Prometheus portraying scientist Elizabeth Shaw and Weyland administrator Meredith Vickers respectively. Also, I should mention the acting of Guy Pearce (as Peter Weyland ) and Michael (X-Men: First Class’ Magneto) in another great role as the android David. Good casting all around.

The first Alien movie creeped me out for years. Jim Cameron’s Aliens was more action and suspense. Prometheus is more about discovery, revelations of the origin or mankind, alien biohazards and questioning religious faith in the disturbing world of the Alien universe. Fans of the original film were begging for Scott to return to the Alien Universe. After a few false starts, he finally was able to get the greenlight to direct Prometheus.

It should be noted that 1979’s Alien was a co-creation of a core team of brilliant filmmakers. Directed by Ridley Scott; alien designs by H.R. Giger; interior spaceship designs by Ron Cobb; spacesuits by comic book artist Moebius; produced by Walter Hill and David Giler and written by Dan’O Bannon and Ron Schusset. But no one individual could have produced the first movie on their own. There was no singular vision from one of them. It was a dynamically active collaboration between all of them during the production of the movie. It’s like they all have shared creative custody to the dreaded Alien creation.

After plenty of sequels which were not directed by Scott, it was nice to see many of Alien’s original founding fathers return—with plenty of ideas– Scott, producer Walter Hill, Giger and his designs. Many unexplored concepts that those original Alien founding fathers had are readily extrapolated in this movie.

The settings of the first Alien movie are there, like the space jockey’s horseshoe-shaped ship; the Weyland Corporation; a seemingly psychotic android; a relief sculpture inside the horseshoe spaceship, seen in darkness when a character points the flashlight on the wall that looks like Giger’s alien; human victims unwillingly hosting alien parasites (plenty of those). Also, all the ancillary Giger grey, bony biomechanical structures of the alien ship and tech are very well recreated. It’s got plenty of elements from the Alien universe.

The bio menaces in the movie are built up to show it’s not-the-face-hugger, not Giger’s alien, not-the-eggs, so there’s a whole new set of bio menaces in Prometheus. Believe it or not (can’t help it), Scott’s movie appears to take it in a new direction. Set-in-the-Alien-universe-but-seemingly-not-Alien this new movie proves that Scott is a sly guy. The final seconds of the movie reveal how this movie ties into Alien. Not to spoil it too much, but during the final seconds, the audience in my theatre expressed their approval by uttering, “wowwww”, “nice”, Oh, ok!”

The production design & CGI are truly well done, kudos to the crew. I’m ordering the book Art of Prometheus and the Cinefex issue with the article on the movie.

Thumbs up. Go see Prometheus in theatres. There’s nothing like being spooked by these master storytellers who helped create the Alien franchise. And finally, don’t believe the “not-an-Alien-prequel” marketing campaign. It’s a great addition to the franchise and stay to the end.

GEO

Con: While I do agree with GEO on many of Prometheus’ technical merits (production design, effects, acting), I had many problems with the film.

The first half of the movie was fine, good buildup and all. It begins with humanoid Engineers seeding a planet with their DNA, then Earth scientists in 2089 discover ancient clues leading to the Engineers’ planet. The film jumps ahead a few years later to a spaceship called Prometheus arriving at an Engineer planet with a scientific crew. At this point, I give the filmmakers credit for trying to do more than just a prequel to Alien and the approach was different. Instead of a grungy, beat-up and cramped spaceship like the Nostromo, we get a spacious, state-of-the-art explorer craft with eye-popping holographics (one of the best reasons to see Prometheus in 3D).

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But in the second half of the film, after the crew awaken things that should be left alone, then the film just fell apart thanks to the sloppy writing that left plot holes larger than those organic looking entryways into the Engineers’ ships.

Characters do dumb, illogical things, plot points are brought up, dropped without warning then taken up again; seriously how rushed were writers Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts? No one in production or in the editing room brought up these glaring mistakes?

Let’s go over some of them. During an expedition into the Engineers’ deserted pyramid, two scientist freak out and decide to leave the main expedition, but get stranded inside the structure when a storm approaches. So what do they do? They camp out in a chamber that holds countless vases with mysterious goo and after seeing a hammerhead slug-like creature they act like it’s a puppy, approach it and get attacked! Weren’t they scared by the entire place? Where did their scientific training go? Why not back away instead of leaving yourself open to attack? All of this could have been taken care of if the creature attacked them by surprise.

Later, the Prometheus crew goes back to look for them, finds only one body, make a comment about needing to find the other scientist and the matter is dropped for the next plot development. Of course, the other scientist shows up later and attacks the crew when a few thrills were needed.

Then there’s Elizabeth Shaw’s unexpected pregnancy. That entire plot development was chilling and worked well until after she has the alien fetus removed surgically. Shaw gets up and runs around afterwards after having major surgery! Any woman will tell you who had a cesarean, that running and even walking are impossible. That surgery slices open abdominal muscles that are needed for just walking. The film could’ve thrown in some line about advanced healing therapy in the form of an injection (as was shown later when a paraplegic Weyland was able to walk), something real quick could’ve been shown. But no, this glaring plot hole eluded the production team.

Another problem stemming from this sequence is that nothing is done about the alien fetus by the rest of the crew! No one really pays much mind to Shaw, despite the fact that by this point she’s running around all bloodied and that earlier she was treated as someone who was contagious! The list just goes on, but the point is that these glaring plot holes just took me out of the film.

Ordinarily, minor quibbles can be glossed over and forgotten but when a film just piles one shoddy mistake after another then that’s a problem. I can forgive the fact that the film never answers why the Engineers are so hostile to humans and so on. Those are valid questions set up for a sequel. But when characters lose all common sense and behave irrationally or plot developments don’t make sense, well then it’s time to admit that the film is flawed. Prometheus has many things to admire about it, but sadly too many detractions as well.

José Soto

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One comment on “Prometheus

  1. Great review. Totally matched with my opinions. Plot points were dropped and then new ones were brought up a lot. And the scientists who went to touch the alien…really? Moments ago they were scared out of their minds. Still, I greatly enjoyed this movie, despite the loose plot.

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