Now that Prometheus has come out in the US, I can now write my review without any “don’t give me any spoilers” stuff. We saw it on Jun 1st when it opened on Friday. Steve and I both had already seen some lukewarm reviews of it and were really hoping it didn’t suck. We had high hopes and were incredibly excited by the time we reached the theatre. However, we soon realized that what problems reviewers had with the movie were the same problems we had with the film. Steve even laughed at dialogue so before the movie ended I knew he was getting the same feeling about the movie as I was.
When the movie was over and people were leaving the theatre, Steve asked, “So what did you think?” My initial reaction was, “No.” I couldn’t get my reasons put together immediately but the reaction was still, “Just no.”
After seeing what other people have said about the movie as well, Steve’s mentioned that there’s a distinct difference in reviewers who are old enough to remember Alien and those who are younger and more accustomed to movies with a lot of bling and no sustenance. “At least it was pretty to look at,” as Steve said. It was a lovely film, I agree, but it was too lovely. I mean the whole beauty of Alien was…okay, let me do this in an organized manner.
The problems I had with Prometheus:
1. As with the new Star Wars films, space should not be pretty. The 70s and 80s had a great concept of the future being used and grimy. In the 2000s film makers rely on the visual cleanliness of the sets (and the crap CGI that’s a whole separate issue). So Prometheus is a ship that cost a trillion dollars to get together and go to LV-223 to find out why these ancient beings had send us an invitation. That means the crew was hired by Meredith Vickers, Weyland’s daughter (we know because she calls him father!) so there would be a fancy, well-equipped ship. It would be pretty but that doesn’t make it scary. It looks like a hotel with all its bright lights. We need darkness, foreboding and a distinct “locked in a haunted house” feel that Alien had.
2. As a heroine, Ellen Ripley is a smart, tough cookie who handles a situation that she’s thrown into. With Prometheus we had Shaw as the doctor and Vickers as the…well, what was she? She hired everyone but she said it was “her ship” but they had a captain. Now, I’ve seen Charlize Theron kill men in other movies so casting her as a tough female lead was a good call. But no, she wasn’t the lead. Noomi Rapace was the lead who had the sweetest voice, had this great relationship with her boyfriend, and had the cutest hair cut imaginable. I mean, it was like watching Amelie trying to suss out why these Engineers wanted to destroy mankind. I don’t believe for one minute that her character would be able to watch a machine cut an alien baby out of her uterus and then walk around, bloodied, talking to old man Weyland and back in the big Engineer cave again and be fine.
3. Seriously, I can’t even believe that scene happened. I mean, the excuse of “space drugs” isn’t good enough for me. If you’ve been cut open from hip to hip you wouldn’t be able to walk. Plus, the alien baby would be in her uterus, correct? So that would mean going through internal organs and extracting the thing. Who is just going to watch that happen? And what’s the purpose of having a surgery machine anyway? It was designed only for men, apparently, so why did Vickers need it? (And why would the future be so sexist?) And why did the dialogue have to go as far as to point out, “Hey, there’s a surgery machine!”? Good science fiction shows the character figuring it out on their own or demonstrating knowledge that is feasible. Ripley knowing how to get that escape shuttle off the ship was feasible. We didn’t need anyone to explain to us how she got the thing off there, we just watched her blow up the ship.
4. There are too many people on that ship! Why go as far as to create a cool geologist with tattoos character and kill him straight off? What was the purpose of having three people drive that ship who were more than willing to just blow themselves up together in order to stop the Engineer from coming to Earth? Cheesy dialogue was included in that scene too with, “I think you’re going to need some help.” Aww, how touching. 17 people is too much. It left too many characters without any connection to the audience. They died? Oh well, let’s see what’s going on with someone else then.
5. There is too much going on in this movie. First we’re going to have the creation of mankind explained and then we’re going to scare you with an alien movie. No, no, no. This is not Lost, Damon Lindelof, we do not need a Man of Faith versus a Man of Science plot again. I swear, if this ends up being another John Locke and Jack Shepherd power struggle with dialogue about life, I’m going to write Ridley Scott a letter myself saying: Do not trust the man behind the island! All they had to do with this movie is cut it back to going out to see what’s up on LV-223, have Holloway get infested, then bring it to the crew. Stuff could go on, they could go back, have the whole “this is what the Space Jockey is” scene and then have everyone die but one. Whether they go off to find where the Engineers came from or not is a whole other can of worms. I don’t like that we’re tricked into a series with this film. I want a cool, beating up aliens and surviving story. I don’t want anyone explaining to me the existence of man and the need to exterminate them (because if we’re going on that line then we already know they aren’t going to kill mankind because by Alien 3, they still just want Ripley to they can study the alien so…yeah, money grubbing Weyland-Yutani is still around. And why is everyone going back and forth to the ship and the Engineer’s cave? Stay in one place and make us feel tension!
And why did we need that awkward conversation with Janek and Vickers about if she’s an alien or if she needs the company of a man? What if she were an alien? Who knows? That makes movies fun!
6. Old man Weyland. Okay what in the heck was the purpose of getting Guy Pierce to get a ton of makeup on to play an old man? He looked ridiculous in his mobility suit. What did he expect with the “oh, let’s go talk to the Engineers” thing at the end anyway? Why put that in the movie? If Vickers were there with David and they were under orders to find this junk out and an ominous old man Weyland were somewhere waiting on them, that would have been fine. Don’t give us too much. Hold back a bit so we’re guessing and not laughing.
7. Ridley Scott was quoted as saying, “While Alien was indeed the jumping-off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien's DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative.” Then later he said, “by the end of the third act you start to realize there’s a DNA of the very first Alien, but none of the subsequent [films].” Strands of Alien DNA, huh? Nothing about the subsequent films, right? No obvious connection to character, set, alien design, theme, dialogue, etc.? So explaining the alien itself has nothing to do with anything? Nor does having a ship that looks remarkably similar, as well as the same look of the crew members, or the fact that they showed the space ship that they found in Aliens crash, what it was for and where it was going. Shaw doesn’t shout at things with “Come on!” like Ripley did? Apone and Janek look nothing alike with the the hat and the jacket? The cold-hearted women of Weyland aren’t a factor? Only some Alien DNA, huh? Oh I get it! DNA? We’re explaining how humans and aliens began! Whatever. I guess he means the Alien vs, Predator movies that I’ve never seen just on title alone.
All in all I give Prometheus 3 out of 5 stars. It was pretty but it wasn’t great. There was no creepy horror aspect to it at all which disappointed me greatly. There was no amazing female heroine, hokey dialogue, stupid CGI, too much plot, too many unmemorable characters, and pretty much not that interesting at all. The minute I saw the weird Engineer creating life or whatever at that waterfall, I was like, “Oh no. The trailer was right. They’re going to try and make this a theory movie, aren’t they?” I doubt I’ll see whatever sequel they have in the theatre now too. Very, very disappointing but that’s not to say I didn’t like some aspects of the movie though.
The reasons worth seeing Prometheus: