Prometheus: Should’ve left ‘em in chains.
Spoilerific, come back after you’ve been disappointed.
I’m going to try to keep from getting all nitpicky-nerd with this. The broad strokes:
- The first two deaths rely on two contrivances: One, that a scientists on a mysterious expedition would act so monumentally stupid as to try to pet the (fleshy, scaleless) “reptile” that just emerged from the seemingly sentient puddle of black goo that inexplicably formed after everyone left the site. Two, that the guy watching the cameras wasn’t watching the cameras. The latter is explained away this time, but what about after? Why doesn’t he notice anything on the second guy’s camera until he’s literally right outside the ship?
- The script is like a Nolan Batman movie; the central themes are so hit-you-on-the-head obvious, except in Prometheus they amount to so little.
- Which would be acceptable if, like Nolan’s movies, the cast could redeem the obviousness somehow. They can’t, though; Fassbender, Theron, and Elba do what they can, but their characters are either nonsensical or wind up amounting to only being there to push the plot forward. Noomi Rapace doesn’t carry the movie, but she really fucking should have.
- If you can adequately explain the David android character, I’ll give you $5. He’s emotionless, yet seems to enjoy toying with the other characters, even lethally so. When he’s revealed to be directly serving Weyland (man, who didn’t see that one coming? With that mysterious isolated hypersleep pod? No way you figured that out early!), it could’ve explained his contaminating Holloway if Guy Pearce was all, “The mission is to bring back stuff for nefarious purposes,” but that isn’t the case. For someone who’s supposedly emotionless, he’s awfully wry and wicked.
- Also in the WTF File: There are literally three people trying to sedate Noomi Rapace, who escapes, and is then not pursued? What the ever-loving fuck? She repeatedly fails to access the super medical tube, then finally get inside, then undergoes surgery, and the whole time I’m thinking, “Where the hell are her pursuers?” Then she gets out, and is walking around the ship NEAR-NAKED AND COVERED IN BLOOD, and no one bats a fucking eyelash! No one cares! WHY!?
The bottom line, for me, is that this movie was a prequel one that never resorted to screenwriting 101-grade dialogue or heavy-handed thematic arcs or anything like that. Alien was about a bunch of working stiffs in a horrifying situation, and portrayed exactly that; we got to know these characters and become emotionally invested in them. The plot unfolded in a way that seemed incidental to them, at least at first.
Prometheus, however, is every bland studio thriller you’ve ever seen. There are some nice visuals, some genuine suspense and horror (the body horror aspect is the one thing it got right), but it’s only loosely tied together by a convoluted plot and characters who aren’t allowed to be characters, only mouthpieces for each Big Thematic Statement. It was Event Horizon, basically. Which would’ve been fine if the movie were it’s own thing. I wouldn’t have paid $20 to see it in 3D at midnight, but I wouldn’t have felt disappointed, either.
However, it isn’t it’s own thing: it’s a prequel to Alien, god damnit, so it has a higher standard to live up to. Watching the trailers, I didn’t expect a slow-burner; it billed itself from the get-go as a big budget sci-fi horror thriller adventure thing. My disappointment isn’t that it wasn’t Alien in terms of plot and pacing. My disappointment is that it wasn’t Alien in terms of respect for its characters and its audience.
I’ll calm down in a week and start to forget Prometheus, which is maybe the most damning thing to be said about it: despite being a prequel to an unforgettable movie, it is itself completely forgettable.