Prometheus isn’t as bad as everyone says [movie review]
I finally got around to seeing Prometheus, and it was much better than I had expected.
There isn’t a good way to discuss this without spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this movie yet and you plan to, you may want to stop reading now. On the other hand, I’d already read tons of stuff about the film but still enjoyed it and give Prometheus a 6 out of 10.
I suspect that a lot of folks came out of Prometheus disappointed because the trailer promises a lot in terms of story, but this is not the sort of movie that emphasizes story. Like Ridley Scott’s Alien, Prometheus is essentially a horror/slasher/thriller movie in space… well, not space, since the story takes place on an alien world, but you get the idea. It uses a lot of the same conventions as those genre movies do, but it also tries to present this very heady story, and it works, to some degree, but it also gets in its own way often… Hey did you see Event Horizon back in the 90s?
There are tonal similarities in the trailers, but I think Prometheus would have benefited from a little bit more of the wackiness in the trailer, just to give people a better idea of what sort of genre this movie is. I wouldn’t call Prometheus sci-fi… it’s much more of the horror variety. Anytime the entire cast dies except the protagonist (I guess I’m not counting David), I call it a horror movie (Saving Private Ryan excluded), and I think the trailer (and certainly, the movie itself) gives the audience the impression it’s going to answer the questions it asks, which it doesn’t seem to have any intention of doing – or, maybe it will in the subsequent sequels. But as a stand alone movie, there are problems – but this doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining.
Sure, I understand the movie is rife with problems (as has been pointed out by better – and more punctual – writers than me), but I don’t think we should expect too much. It’s just not that kind of movie, but it’s pretty to look at and a fun ride. Here’s my obligatory list of grievances:
- Who would agree to two years of space travel without knowing where they’re going and what they’re going to do when they get there? I guess all scientists in the future are super into going on space adventures and getting paid lots of money to do it rather than… science.
- Why did Ridley Scott say this was and yet was not a prequel to Alien? I don’t see how it’s NOT a prequel… because… you know… it’s a prequel. What with the Weyland and the monster at the very end… you know… Alien franchise stuff. Prequel.
- How did those two guys get lost? Nobody else got lost. It looked like they had sophisticated mapping robots helping out, although I guess they weren’t finished with their job when those two dudes got lost. Still, they didn’t have any trouble giving the ship their position. Doesn’t that imply that they know where they are? And the dudes on the ship were looking at a map that looked finished to me – couldn’t they tell them which way to go? I get that they couldn’t go outside at the point because of the storm, but they could have at least stopped wandering around like idiots.
- No idea why one of the aforementioned idiots thought it would be a good idea to touch a weird alien snake he’d never seen before and knew nothing about. It’s generally a bad idea to touch wild snakes on earth, never mind on alien worlds.
- Why’d Charlize Theron burn that guy to death? They had ray guns. Couldn’t she just shoot him with a ray gun? Seemed like a much more human way to mercy kill someone who wanted to be mercy killed.
- I know Weyland told David to “try harder,” but I have no idea what that had to do with making that one dude drink black goo. I guess he also told him to be evil.
- Why didn’t Charlize Theron roll out-of-the-way of the big thing that crushed her? She could have went left OR right and lived. What a stupid asshole. Almost everyone in this movie who dies does so because they’re a stupid asshole.
- Seriously, the space surgery machine thing is only configured for men? Seriously? I wish the machine would have rather said, “Female surgery configuration malfunction. Male configuration available only.” Or… you know… something that would lead me to believe that software programmers who write code for giant spaceships that are crewed nearly half by women would make sure… oh forget it.
- What was the point of not revealing Weyland was on board until the end? And did no one on the ship ever go into that room? I guess not. And why did it matter that he was Charlize Theron’s father? Why did Weyland think the engineers could make him immortal? I guess he explained why, but… you know… stupid.
- It was cool when the head exploded, but… why, exactly were they trying to reanimate it? What were they going to do, ask it questions? How could it answer without lungs? And why did it explode? I guess because there hadn’t been much action in a while. Still, looked awesome.
Now that I got that out-of-the-way, I’m sure y’all noticed that there are lots of Christian stuff in this movie. LOTS. Too much to be a coincidence. The movie does tell us that the engineers created us (humans) and that the engineers on this alien world died 2000 years ago, and the movie takes place in the year 2089… and if you accept that Jesus was born in the year 0 AD and died… what when he was 33? Let’s say the year 33 AD… anyway, there’s tons of stuff about this on the net, but the theory goes that after the engineers created us, they checked on us near the end of the BC era, saw we were acting crazy and sent one of their boys to tell us to relax. This was Space Jesus, and I’m sure you all know how the Jesus story ends, and when the engineer dudes found out, they were super pissed and decided that there is no hope for humanity so they’re coming to kill us, hence the crazy engineer trying to fly away to earth at the end of the movie. I guess we’ll find out when we all meet again in Prometheus 2: The Search for Answers to a Hundred Million Questions.
So all of that lead me to giving Prometheus a 6 out of 10 as I just don’t especially like these sort of low story/high visual movies, even with a concept this big. Either tell a lush story or don’t, but make up your mind. Still, it’s a fun watch.