Prometheus really wasn’t good enough

Written by: Willard Foxton


Warning: SPOILERS

Now that all the hype has died down, you may still like Prometheus, but as far as I’m concerned, Damon Lindelhof, Ridley Scott, and anyone who gave Prometheus a positive review owes me a refund.

Prometheus does seem to be a film which divides opinion. Some people, including the usually excellent Mr. Mark Wallace, think it’s a flawed masterpiece; some people think it’s so flawed it’s worth personally attacking the man who wrote it, Damon Lindelhof. The tide of acidic bile (see what I did there?) sprayed at Lindelhof is nasty, spiteful, hurtful and cruel. It’s clearly over the top. But (and here’s the controversial bit) I think these people are right to feel angry, almost cheated by him.

Noomi Rapace in Prometheus

The vast bulk of the reviews don’t reflect the fact that the movie was dire; it’s praised for having “big ideas” and, particularly for Michael Fassbender‘s spell-binding performance as David the Android. In my opinion, that’s not good enough. Big ideas are fine in concept, but are frustrating if they are not paid off in the narrative; a great performance in the one good role in the film merely highlights how badly written the rest of the characters are. It must say something when the most interesting and well-drawn character in the whole film is a man made of plastic who is incapable of feeling or showing emotion.

The criteria by which these reviewers are judging a film barely touches on the writing that damns the whole project. The script is the problem – it’s why the film is a mess rather than a massive triumph. I’m just going to go through the film, and break down exactly why the script is so bad. Obviously, this will contain “spoilers”, inasmuch as it would be possible to “spoil” something which is already awful.

1. Very few of the characters acted in a rational, competent or understandable fashion – this was particularly the case with the scientists.

This basically comes down to the fact that staff on the Prometheus are crap at their jobs. A geologist who owns and loves his mapping robots somehow gets lost. Yes. He owns and operates robots that make maps. He still has access to these robots. Yet gets lost. Improbable. This is particularly noticeable as it’s a key plot point in the film that he gets lost. Why establish competence at a thing then erode it? If there was one person on that ship who shouldn’t have got lost, it was him. Writing like that just makes it seem like you haven’t read your own script.

There’s a briefing scene at the beginning where everyone is (rightly) dubious of the theory that ancient aliens visited earth and left signs pointing us to this special planet. Once you get to the planet, and find an alien corpse, absolutely no-one is excited AT ALL. No-one pointed out that they could take that body, go home, and all be famous and probably rich. This doesn’t stack up for me. Finding an alien is clearly a big deal. No-one, on making one of the greatest discoveries in history, is downcast and a bit bored. You’d expect them to be at least mildly interested. Instead, Dr. Holloway, the archeologist who let’s not forget, is the one who is going to have his name on this forever, exclaims “it’s just another tomb”. Can you imagine Howard Carter, on finding Tutankhamun’s tomb, exclaiming, “Pffft, just another tomb.”? Only in this case, Tutankhamun is a member of a vastly advanced alien no-one believed you about. Yeah, sure, I’d be disappointed. Come on. There is absolutely no way this rings true.

Howard Carter finds Tutankhamun

“BORING. What time is Entourage on?”

I already complained about the lost map man? Well, later, while lost, he is joined by a zoologist. Between them, they decide to camp in the creepiest room in the whole tomb, the one with the bleeding vases and huge statue of a head. While in there, they see big white worms sliding around. This zoologist looks at a big white phallic alien worm and says to his mate “it looks like a girl” (it’s possibly the most cock-shaped object in the movie – quite a feat in anything with Geiger design work involved). When the arm-breaking blowjob attack worm rears up into an obvious attack pose, he moves towards it. He’s a zoologist, right? If I could tell the beast was about to attack, surely he should spot those obvious cues? Incidentally, he gets excited about finding it. While he notably didn’t get excited about the humanoid, intelligent alien they found earlier. Shouldn’t he either care or not care?

2. The back plot – the much vaunted “big idea” – makes no sense at all, if you even stop to think about it for a moment.

Apparently, the Space Jockeys (the things strapped into the telescope in the first Alien film) planted clues in ancient cave paintings, encouraging humans to visit the planet in Prometheus. So far, so Chariot of the Gods.

Later on in the film, we discover that the planet is in fact a weapon vault, containing vases full of black sex assault juice. So, their plan is to lure spacefaring humans to their doom? Why on earth would they bother? If they wanted to wipe out humanity, couldn’t they have done it ages ago, by dropping the death juice all over Scotland in 5000BC? It seems an extremely convoluted way of going about things; stories require things to be intuitive and understanable. I realise this is a film with space rockets and suspended animation and alien monsters, but at least all that is internally consistent.

3. One key plot point revolves around an automatic surgery pod, which is introduced with all the thudding subtlety of a steamroller covered in blaring loudhailers.

It’s clear as day as the characters loudly talk about how it works that someone is going to end up under the roboknife later on.

The exposition is ladled on with a trowel. However, in a shock twist, when it finally happens, the machine can’t operate on women.

WHAT?! I find it hilarious that no-one installed the woman app on the billion dollar medical machine. There are a fair few women on the crew (one of whom is the owner’s hyper-paranoid daughter) and given the machine can perform surgery/make toast etc the fact it can’t do girls is laughable. What happened, did the android’s old movie collection make them run out of hard disk space? Was someone streaming too much porn?

4. The monster in Alien is one of the classics – one of the best monsters in cinema history.

It is the reason we are buying a ticket to Prometheus. Do we see that monster? No. Instead, we see by my count, six other much shitter monsters, all vaguely connected to the original.

Giger's Alien

We see the Space Jockeys, then the worm things in the vase room, the zombie thing the map lover turns into when exposed to the black ooze, the squid baby, the giant tentacled blowjob monster the squid baby turns into, and then finally, a version of the classic HR Giger monster that looks like it’s been sculpted by someone who has had the monster described to them quite well, but has never actually seen the original thing. None of the six new monsters are iconic, interesting or even well designed – but they are inevitably going to be compared to the Giger original.

None of them have anything like the fascinating yet intuitive life cycle of the original Dan O’Bannon creation. The most interesting quirk any of these possess is that the Space Jockey’s decapitated heads explode when examined – but for no good reason that is ever explained. It’s a completely random sympathetic head explosion, which seems to happen because the plot requires X number of shocks per ten minutes.

Yet, at some point, Lindelhof sat down and must have thought these were an improvement on the original creature. I mean, what long dark night of the soul are you having when you think “a super strong zombie in a spacesuit” is more interesting than the original Giger alien? Put it this way – if I buy a ticket to a Dracula movie, I expect to see Dracula, not some random bunch of ideas saved from Bram Stoker’s waste paper basket.

—–

So, in conclusion, there’s no clear story, no meaningful narrative arcs nor any attempts to realistically flesh out the characters. Add that to the rubbish monsters, rubbish plot, rubbish metaplot and abject lack of meaningful dialogue for anyone apart from one major character (David the robot) and two minor characters (Charlize Theron’s icy corporate exec and Idris Elba’s laid back Captain). This is a recipe for a script that someone should have rejected.

Yet the movie is currently riding at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Is cinema now so debased that this is a good movie? The reason I’m writing this is I think unless people challenge writing like this, we will keep getting shit like it churned out. The job of a reviewer is to challenge the quality of their work. Unless reviewers draw a line in the sand and say, “Well no, sorry Mr.Lindelhof, this was rubbish,” then writers are allowed to turn out shit and call it a job well done.

Lindelhof who wrote Lost, seems like a nice chap. I quite like some of his work (yes, I quite like Lost) but I do feel that Prometheus was absolutely dreadful. And it is the job of reviewers to tell him, and us, that this really isn’t good enough.




Author: Willard Foxton

Willard Foxton is a some-time journalist & full-time nerd. He makes documentaries for the BBC & Channel 4. In his time off, he likes to think of himself as a cinéaste, but occasionally finds that label hard to sustain while enjoying things like Piranha 2: Flying Killers. You can find him on Twitter at @willardfoxton

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Responses to Prometheus really wasn’t good enough

  1. Dr. ClemensNo Gravatar

    So you have seen the movie once and everything was not explained to you in the acceptable way. It seemed to you like it was missing fifteen minutes of dialog featuring characters in the movie explaining the plot to each other. Where was the Blade Runner-esk voice over you ask or how about a couple of Avatar type video log scenes to keep you in the plot. Fortunately this movie simply was not made to be chopped up and digested like most movies it will decipher more of it’s self over time with multiple viewings. Something completely normal for a Ridley Scott movie. Many of his movies improve with time certainly all of his Science Fiction does. Rather than have circular arguments about the behavior of scientist who were unaware of their mission until they found out they were about to meet an Alien genetic Engineer who may have created humanity, (now everyone act normal). Or explain they weren’t directed to that moon by the pictographs just that system, on and on…. i’ll simply say there are two types of people as far as Prometheus is concerned you would be one i would be the other

  2. LinLinPONo Gravatar

    This movie was amazing. This review is so wrong in many ways. I completely agree with Dr. Clemens on this one. Sorry but they are not going to spoon feed the plot to you on this one. There are also multiple conflicts in this movie they are very slight and yes require seeing it more then once to notice all the details. Also all the details in the character development. I was actually fully engaged in this movie thinking of why the first alien sacrifices himself in the water fall, etc. Which is a nice change from just sitting their brain dead having everything spoon fed to you. This is the best movie I have seen all year and I have not found one review that does it justice until I read the comments. It seems like the readers of the reviews understand the movie better then the person writing the review. It’s like everyone wants some G.I. Joe cheesy alien movie which it is not, it is a work of art.

  3. Shut the fu** up honestly, you have no idea what you are talking about, it was both a prequel and stand-alone film, its going to be its own franchise. Just shut up and delete this review.

  4. ethvn johnsonNo Gravatar

    your a bitter dickhead and its not an alien film

  5. Glad it’s not an Alien film cz it’s shite.

  6. I can’t believe people are disagreeing on this one. It isn’t a case of not being spoon fed the plot, the plot was simply weak. The characters had no development at all. Every twist was predictable apart from the ones that were just too stupid to have conceived of. It was mind bogglingly poor compared to the hype it built up. I went into it fully expecting a cinematic masterpiece, and the first two minutes of the film filled me with hope. But it didn’t so much go downhill as plunge headfirst over a cliff edge, and flail piteously a few times on the way down.

  7. MackenzieNo Gravatar

    Yikes – and the teenage boys invade.

    @TommyG, this doesn’t even make sense: “Shut the fu** up honestly, you have no idea what you are talking about, it was both a prequel and stand-alone film, its going to be its own franchise. Just shut up and delete this review.”

    How can it be a prequel AND a standalone? Either it’s part of the canon or it’s not. I’m afraid you don’t understand life.

    @LinLinPO – doesn’t look like a review to me. Looks more like something that has been written a couple of months after the movie was released. Get a grip. Some people don’t like things you like. Boo fucking hoo.

  8. Johnny MessiasNo Gravatar

    Hi Willard,

    You made some great points there. I agree on the scientists acting dumb, that really annoyed me. In my review on this site, looking back I think I was excessively positive. I still stand behind the production design and Fassbender’s role, but it is true the screenplay is shockingly poor on character and logic. I think the problem with Prometheus is when you set something up to be all knomic and clever (origin of humanity, eternal life etc) – then any dumbness in the script sticks out ten fold. That, and the marketing of the film was brilliant. The mind boggles thinking about the next film (if they do it) apparently called Paradise.

  9. I thought your reveiw wad fair an on point, but I loved the movie. Sure,there were plot holes but I wad fully entertained. The only thing that really bothered ne wad the zoologist approahing the worm. But they did dumb things in Alien too. Like John hurt sticking his head in the damn egg, ir the crew letting him wander around and eat after being exposed. It is a movie, things cant be wrapped up perfectly or no one would ever do anything in films, at least if they act like I,play poker. I loved the deacon, I think he looked like the scariest dinosaur I gave ever seen, and it made me think maybe dinasaurs were evolved xenomorphs.

  10. Reggie PNo Gravatar

    I agree – the bile aimed at the writers of Prometheus is excessive to say the least. I’m reminded of Grant Morrison’s quote about how, if all these Geek trolls could harness their collective power, we’d have world peace. Alien Geeks: it’s only a film. Remember that and go try speaking to some other humans.

    I digress. I saw Prometheus at Imax in London and walked out, yes, rather let down for the kind of reasons outlined in Willard’s review. I saw it a couple of weeks later in 2D on a tiny screen at my local in Brighton…and loved it. So much better second time around. There were rubbish elements still (of course) – cheesy dialogue, unscientisty men and women of science, Weyland’s make up, Hollywood’s ‘beats per film’ that require gore or action – but what an entertaining, highly engaging and thought provoking film this was.

    A couple of points that people are making about Prometheus and in this review.

    The monster. Willard, Scott and co have gone on record as saying that they had no interest in using Giger’s Alien. Honestly, mate, why would you want to see that again? There are five other mainly awful films featuring it, a plethora of bad comics and video games…the point was ‘same galaxy, new mythology’. There are cynical reasons for making this film ‘in the the Alien galaxy’ but we don’t need to go on about that here.

    Lack of emotion/characters doing stupid things/the lack of logic. I saw the director’s cut of Alien last night. When Harry Dean Stanton’s character cops it, Dallas doesn’t blink. When the facehugger jumps on John Hurt’s face and uses acid to burn through his helmet Hurt’s face remains untouched. What about the acid? (Oh, yeh, who cares it’s a film) When the alien bursts out of his chest and runs off it looks like it’s a penis on a skateboard. Think these are petty points? Much like the pettiness of the points being levelled at Prometheus then.

    For a mainstream sci-fi film made in 2012 by a man who is old enough and then some to collect his free bus pass it ain’t bad at all.

  11. I thought it was shite, but on reflection think of it like this: if i went to see it as an entirely new sci fi franchise, i’d have thought ok, i’d watch more just to find out what was going on, but as an ‘alien’ film, fuck no this is a huge disappointment. it did have lots of good things going for it, but the story sucked, and the alien sucked.

  12. What an idiot.

    Prometheus was the best film in ages.

  13. I was entertained, and therefore I can’t complain too much. Was I disappointed with the writing? Not really. I didn’t expect much. I expected a big, over-the-top Hollywood action movie, and that’s what I got. Good, interesting premise and over-arching story, poor delivery of characters and plot particulars. Maybe they can do better with a sequel. Hell, I liked Aliens way more than Alien. Maybe that will happen again.

    I can perform some mental gymnastics around some of the more glaring plot points. So they made humans and wanted them to come visit, then changed their minds at some point and decided to wipe them out, but got caught by a backfire in their own weapon before they could. Why? Find out in the sequel.

    Still, the one thing that bothered me way more than the rest, is how most of the action scenes are performed by a woman with no stomach muscles left. There was no magical fixing shown in the machine (which I would have bought, hey, it’s the future), just some industrial size staples. That’s not gonna cut it…

  14. I think point #1 is spot-on. There was no reason why the human characters, in their given roles, would be so utterly, mind-warpingly bad at their jobs. Not only did the (xeno?)biologist refuse to notice aggressive behavior, the geologist with super-advanced mapping technology get lost, but people also continued to take off their helmets without any kind of quarantine. After they find out creatures can fuck your day? They continue taking off their helmets. Its enough to make a sane man rave. This portion of the writing was mindstabbingly terrible- and reminded me of terribly cliche horror tropes. You don’t send such incompetent, ill-informed workers on a trillion dollar romp into space. It would never happen.

    Point #2 could easily be dismissed by the argument of factionalism among the aliens. To assume the motives of the superior, more technologically advanced aliens, and to assume they worked cohesively together is a fallacy, in my opinion. Intrafactional strife would cover this point well, and i’m sure its an element to be touched upon in the next installment.
    Point #3: I’m pretty sure the pod was made for the octogenarian triillionaire. I’m sure the ‘female’ pod information would have increased the cost a lot. I’m fine with this portion of the story.
    Point #4: All of the interviews months before the movie came out indicated that Prometheus would be in the same Alien universe, but would not directly work with Aliens. I think that they should have shit or gotten off of the pot with that one- More, better aliens or none.

  15. @Ron; SPOT ON. That the “scientist’s” would walk into a biohazard situation and start taking off their clothes was ridiculous. I mean, come on… Really?? I get that you want us to believe that the lover-guy was into extreme sports and such, but to the point of taking off his helmet? Also, to have the heroine running down the hall minutes after getting staple-gunned back together. I just started laughing at the screen. This movie was terrible, and yet I still see positive reviews about it. Did they not see the same movie?

  16. Some of the characters and dialogue in Prometheus were weak, but your review sucks far worse than anyone should say the movie does. I don’t normally read reviews because the critics are usually either pretentious and condescending or blatantly fellating the director/crew/etc. but someone pointed this out to me and it’s obvious you were a little too dense to deal with the material, or too preoccupied with words like “film”, “narrative” and similar highbrow bullshit. I only really agreed with several things in your review, and one of them is your point that reviewers need to hold Lindelhof accountable for his work, or else more will follow. I believe that should hold true for your review as well. Since you couldn’t understand what wasn’t explained to you in simple terms, I’ll help you out in response to your main issues with “why the script is so bad”.

    1. The only weak point to this flick were several of the characters and some of the dialog. Fifield (geologist) does get lost, and that was stupid. What you forgot that was even more stupid is that the Captain, Janek, radios Fifield and Milburn even though he’s staring at the map that has an icon for each of them, blinking their obvious position. Milburn fucking with an alien serpent that clearly evoked a cobra’s defense mechanism was retarded. But I find these things weak yet compatible with Weyland’s design for the whole thing. Every single one of these people, with the exception of David, were expendable and it wasn’t important to him how inept they were. Dr. Holloway was a douchebag from the beginning and a loathesome character, and I think portrayed by a piss-poor actor to boot; but no, he doesn’t act excited about the dead aliens – you missed all the obvious signs of douchebag written all over him. He didn’t care if he tainted the alien environment with the bacteria and other infectious organisms in his body – he took his helmet off to show he had the biggest dick. He didn’t want to find dead aliens, or vases of black fluid or big statue heads. He wanted to talk to aliens and be the alpha-male scientist “I disproved all religions” asshole. When they went back to the ship, that’s what he cried about before he fucked his girlfriend after being pacified with a DNA match. He only cared about himself, and frankly people like that rarely share similar reactions to others around them. You conveniently forgot, however, the two female crew members who went batshit over the corpse, discussing the preservation, and bagging the head for study (and one risking her life for it in the process of bringing it back) which kinda is a few people getting excited. The android is looking for technology from the beginning, and the others are acting like they are getting PTSD effects onset as soon as they see corpses. And as stupid as half the scientists were, none of them thought simply taking that corpse back to the ship, cruising 2 years back to Earth and not investigating further was anything short of a waste of resources.

    2. Look, this movie was fairly simple but it has a complex plot device, and the part you struggled with the most is that the facts have not been revealed to you. Our “MacGuffin” (I used one of your fancy cinema terms for credibility) is the black fluid, and no one leaves the theater with a clear understanding of it’s properties. Considering you don’t have any clear rules about how it works and you’ve seen different effects based on different encounters with it, you haven’t thought much about the possibilities. Who said these Engineers simply wanted to destroy humans? Who says they didn’t seed life on Earth, come back when early humans evolved, give them instructions, and once they have propagated enough for interstellar travel (overpopulation being probable at that point) come back and harvest them? Humans dying at the hands of the Engineers in that process is probably a side-effect, not a goal. Who says they don’t want to come back when the planet is full of them, and then harvest them for something else with the fluid, something they don’t want to use themselves for?

    3. You’re a piss-poor “film critic” if you couldn’t figure this one out. That life-support pod, with all the fancy decor, grand piano and open bar was meant for Peter Weyland. As in, the dude who wanted to live forever, hated his daughter, and didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself, and (kinda) David. That means that the med-pod in it? That was for HIM. It was calibrated for a man, because that’s what he is, and he didn’t give two shits about saving any women. Chances are pretty good his plan was to kill the whole crew after he was given his supposed secret to immortality. It was a weak plot point, not really necessary, but yeah. Weyland. And you’d have to be a major asshole to buy a priceless medical device then purposely render it incapable of helping – oh wait – the daughter you don’t want.

    4. Ridley said over and over and over again in interviews leading up to the release that this is not a fucking Alien movie. He said shit like the Xenomorph should live out it’s days in Disneyland. What do you not understand about that? Why did he need to show you a xeno? He didn’t want to beat a dead horse, and I don’t think he should either. It’s been done to fucking death. Let it die. And for being another of the reviewers fixated on the xenomorph cliche, you have forgotten that it was established in Alien 3 that the xeno inherits physical traits from the host – a dog or a bull depending on which version you watched – and it stands to reason that it would look a little bit different if it gestated inside a big-assed, 7-ft tall pile of abs and muscle(and from a different, cephalopod-ish facehugger to boot). There was far less insect-like design, and while I was disappointed that they showed the xeno at all, I was pretty happy we didn’t see the same thing – AGAIN. You didn’t buy a ticket to a Dracula movie. You didn’t buy a ticket to an Alien movie. You bought a ticket to an Engineer movie, and you didn’t understand what was well-written enough to not obsess over what wasn’t.

  17. Anthony AcostaNo Gravatar

    I agree with this reviewer, I think that for the amount of money they spent on this, you would think they would have thought out these kinds of inconsistencies. (I was asking myself the same things as the reviewer while watching this movie). All of that being said, I still found the movie quite entertaining, and it will soon be part of my collection.

  18. Dr. ClemensNo Gravatar

    Most of the negative reviews of this movie are about “plot Holes” and “strange behavior” as if i couldn’t find these things in any movie. It is normal for people who don’t understand something as a whole to pick small parts and focus on them if you blow these thing up and view them under a microscope it is a way of excusing yourself from missing the finer points of the movie. But don’t worry Spiderman and the Watch will be much easier to follow and what about that movie Ted that looks great right. The most obnoxious part is years from now when Prometheus is a cult classic like Blade Runner and Alien all the naysayers will act like they loved it the whole time.

  19. Phil VianaNo Gravatar

    How has the fucking flute not been mentioned?

    Mr. Foxton, thank you for expressing the issues with this film so well. It frustrates me enormously that there is so much of a positive consensus surrounding Prometheus. Clearly the bar has been lowered – somehow, this shit makes people happy now.

    That said, I did see Alien again recently to see whether it was as great as I remembered, and I was a little bit disappointed with it in the same way I was disappointed with Prometheus –

    “hey bro, you sure you’re ok now that the facehugger fell offa you?”
    “yeah dude, let’s chow!”
    “whoaaa OK, party!”

    Come on guys! why is no one doing more about this? I understand that people in real life can act erratic when strange things happen – but for fuck’s sake, the lack of alarm portayed by the characters in that scene is beyond my ability to suspend disbelief.

    Besides that, however, the crew of the Nostromo has twice the IQ of the crew aboard the Prometheus. They act like a team, react to things in reasonable ways – they try to survive. You care for them. I don’t understand why anyone cares about the dipshits on the Prometheus – (though one commentor’s consipiracy theory that Weyland WANTS a crew of baffoons is an intriguing one.)

    Either way, can’t we return to cinema where characters matter? I had the same problem with District 9 – the only characters I cared for were the prawn and his son. Enough with idiot characters!

    @ Reggie P, hilarious comment about the original alien looking like a penis on a skateboard. I think Spaceballs did a good job parodying the cheapness of that moment too.

  20. Phil VianaNo Gravatar

    Also this shit about “it’s not an Alien movie” is fucking laughable. That’s like saying The Phantom Menace shouldn’t be criticized because it’s not a Star Wars movie.

  21. I completely agree with this article.

    I don’t mind that everything wasn’t explained in the first movie… its just the actions of the characters were completely retarded. I rewatched Alien and Aliens before viewing Prometheus and the characters in those movies are AMAZINGLY portrayed. The writing is actually coherent and follows an arc…

    Prometheus seemed like a big budget teen slasher imo.

  22. I couldn’t agree more with the points in this review. The movie is poorly thought out. The ‘scientists’ were portrayed more like warring frat boys than top notch researchers chosen to be part of a fantastically expensive exploration project. Not one of the big picture questions was answered by the end. A *massive* mistake famously made on TV’s LOST. You would think this gent would have learned from the fact that the number of views of LOST nose dived to the point that writers had to send out a plea to fans to ‘hang in there’ because answers would be coming someday … maybe. The film had great visuals but this is not enough it needed a satisfying story and characters that made rational sense.

  23. You are totaly wrong about comment # 3. The one about the medic chamber. It was programed for male because it was programed for Mr. Welyand. Ms. Vickers was an android also that is why it was programed for a male.

  24. Willard FoxtonNo Gravatar

    Loving all the comments that indicate “I’m too dense to deal with the material” or I just “don’t understand it”. No, guys, I understand the material, I’m just not thick enough to think it’s deep. If you want to see these big ideas explored well in sci-fi cinema watch Moon, or the 1972 version of Solaris, or 2001. You probably won’t like them, there’s no “deep” body horror, badly designed monsters or explosions.

    This is a classic example of what a stupid person thinks art is. This isn’t art. It’s a sci-fi action horror film wearing it’s mothers’ makeup. It baffles you, so you think it’s profound.

    Uh, guys, no, it baffles you because it’s badly written. Really badly written. Yeah, couple of nice effects, couple of nice performances, but utterly forgettable. After Alien, I didn’t have to read a string of interviews with the cast & crew to “get it” i.e. fill in the blanks where they couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to answer questions on screen.

    In Alien the big themes were up on screen. Same with Blade Runner. Both of those are iconic sci-fi action pieces that change the way we think about the genre. It’s the same in films like Terminator, The Thing – all far superior movies to Prometheus, with the kind of standing you think Prometheus deserves.

    Will Prometheus achieve that longevity? Hmmm, no. A curio at best. In ten years time, this is tesco bargain bin fodder. Maybe I’ll pick it up as part of an Alien sextupology box set and never watch it.

    Serious case of emperor’s new clothes going on here. It references clever things – it must be clever in of itself? Yes, it has nice nods to Lawrence of Arabia & Thus Spake Zarathrustra, but that doesn’t make it good. It makes it pretentious. I mean, Barb Wire is a Casablanca remake, but associating yourself with good things only really works if you’re of the same quality. Does it?

    No. First off, Ridley Scott – sure, he’s made some great films. Blade Runner, Alien – total classics. But he’s also made some utter dross. White Squall? Robin Hood? Hannibal? Total dogs. Are you off on forums defending them? Or are you willing to admit he produces shit from time to time? The last genuinely good film he made was Gladiator, over a decade ago. He’s well past his best.

    Secondly, the creature design. If Ridley Scott says he doesn’t want to do the monster from Alien again, then why the hell is he making this film? Why link it at all? And not wanting to use the creature design again is no excuse for making all 6 of the creatures in the film shit. If he wants to make a film profiting from the Alien name, he’d better bring the same creature or a more interesting one. There was plenty of scope to make things like the engineers interesting – Lindelhof, Scott, whoever made the decision not to.

  25. Willard, I don’t disagree with all of your review…but please spellcheck your reviews…there are several typos and it is distracting, and it kind of has the effect of threatening your credibility.
    Also at the beginning of your 3rd paragraph response in the comments where you say, “A badly written” yet omit the necessary word after it “movie” (I assume), you do it *both* times…

    My personal review would be something like Enjoyment – 8/10, How “good” of a movie it was 6/10. I can get down with popcorn entertainment.

    Anyways,

    #1 – Dead on. Even if Weyland wanted the crew made up of idiots like someone in the comments said, NO ONE would act like that plain and simple. You wouldn’t get lost, and you wouldn’t try and touch a damn alien cobra, *especially* if you’re scared previously of the dead alien. You also forgot the giant disc spaceship rolling sideways and Vickers not being able to run sideways. Whether or not this affects the entire plot of the movie, just glossing over these things is so hard to do, because it’s so unbelievably stupid. If they even just had not done those three things, I could probably get behind this movie more. I can somewhat get behind the idea that Dr. Holloway was an ego-maniac and acted like a child when he didn’t get what he wanted. That didn’t affect me too much…But you’d think there’d be more of a sense of wonder from everyone involved. It’s just like WHY NOT show that? No point…

    #2 – Have to disagree here. It makes sense, and especially if you see what Ridley Scott has said about a “space jesus” and all that stuff. But this comment in the comments summed it up pretty well –”So they made humans and wanted them to come visit, then changed their minds at some point and decided to wipe them out, but got caught by a backfire in their own weapon (the black goo) before they could. Why? Find out in the sequel.”

    #3 – I think it was a cheap way to increase the tension during the pregnancy scene and put the question out “Wait why is it in Vickers room but only calibrated for a male?”. But yeah, I guess it also makes sense to think that if Weyland didn’t give a shit about his daughter, he’d make it where it only works on males. Still kind of weak either way.

    #4 – Whether or not you wanted to see Giger’s xenomorph matters not. It’s in the Alien universe, period. That’s it. It doesn’t HAVE to show you a xenomorph. It’s simply set in the same universe, and based on the same principles (see: face raping aliens and very fast reproduction). Like someone said, it’s an “Engineer” movie, not an “Alien” movie. And even then, you did still get the xenomorph prototype (are we calling it a “deacon” now?) or whatever it was at the end, which was a little cookie thrown for the fans of Alien.

    Biggest complaint for me, is I remember about 10 – 30 minutes before the credits rolled thinking, “Well, this is cool…but nothing has really happened or developed, and no questions have been answered.” And that comes down to 2 things.

    - Writing that makes you want know what the hell is going on, but holds it back for its own sheer enjoyment and ego. Lindelof himself said he wanted it to “compete” with Blade Runner as far as how questions are still being asked. So what he basically did was leave you with 900 questions by the time the film ends. Which is stupid and not so much bad writing as it is just being a shitty asshole. “I know and you don’t, and I bet you wanna know, well, too bad. Isn’t this movie mysterious?” Plain and simple. That’s what he was going for. And it’s such a shame that people involved with the movie/Ridley let him get away with it.

    - They wanted to leave questions that the sequel could answer. This was I’m sure propagated by Ridley himself, Lindelof and probably the studio as well. That’s how they get you…

  26. Apologies, it’s not “spellcheck”, just proofreading to make sure you used the right words. Like you wrote “steamrolling” instead of “steamroller” in the big bold text. There are probably 5-6 more things like that throughout the review. And yes, spellcheck wouldn’t catch those.

    No big, but I’m just putting it out there…

  27. Will is so very right here. The idea that PROMETHEUS was “too deep” for him to get is desperately sad.

    Firstly, it’s utterly moronic to assert that one the one hand, PROMETHEUS is just a fun action movie and that Will is too highbrow when judging it, and yet on the other, claim he’s not smart enough to “get it”. It’s just self-refuting and nonsensical.

    Secondly, on what axis of consideration is PROMETHEUS “deep” and not a shallow, vapid work? Compared to what, is this deep? PROMETHEUS isn’t deep because it asks questions. It asks questions like a five-year old, endlessly asking “Why?” over and over again, more interested in asking the question than the answers. This is Lindelof’s modus operandi, and one he employed in LOST, and it’s despicable because he created the world he’s writing in. If he’s not going to answer his own questions of his own making, then why put them in at all? Great works of art don’t just ask questions, they answer them. PROMETHEUS asks questions but never gives answers, like a cold-reader, it sits back, demands you answer it, then keeps itself purposefully vague so it can claim that was the answer all along. It has nothing to say about anything. It’s not even confusing. It’s patently obvious what this story is about at all times, and its superficially contemplative. Compare it to RASHOMON. RASHOMON has great meaning and insight into the nature of truth and its surrounding confusion. PROMETHEUS is pseudo-intellectual claptrap: it sounds intelligent, but it uses big words without context or substance. You know what has more deep meaning than PROMTHEUS?

    TOY STORY 3. That movie has more to say about the nature of life.

    PROMETHEUS can’t even hold its own in its own genre in this decade: it’s not as exciting or wondrous as JOHN CARTER, not as contemplative or nuanced as RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, not as intriguing and dark as SOURCE CODE, not as mind-bending as INCEPTION, not as scary as THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

    The idea that it’s acceptable for this level of storytelling because it’s setting up a sequel is so upsetting for two reasons: firstly, better works don’t get sequels nor can they rely on a sequels to justify their existence, and secondly, it’s an indication of how low standards are by movie-goers that they no longer expect a full story in a 2-hour film, but a 2-hour trailer for the trilogy. Saving somewhere for the sequel to go is one thing, but putting your climax and meaning off-screen and promising it’s delivery in the sequel is despicable and a sure sign that the artists have nothing to say, because if they had something worthwhile to say, you can bet it would be in the first film. Compare this to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy; villains and themes were saved for later films, but each film was made without any knowledge of what the following film would be. THE DARK KNIGHT originally was supposed to end with Dent becoming Two-Face, and Two-Face’s vendetta would’ve been the third film, but Nolan quite rightly didn’t end his multi-million dollar movie that took two years to make on a cliffhanger; he resolved it on-screen, after exhausting the story potential of both Joker and Two-Face.

    And then there’s this nonsense that it’s a standalone film and not a prequel to ALIEN when, it’s post-credit sequence shows the xenomorph’s predecessor, it takes place on the same planet as ALIEN, on the same dead alien ship as ALIEN, and, oh yes, completely rips off the exact same plot as ALIEN.

    People need to stop buying this bullshit that Ridley Scott is the reason ALIEN worked. Dan O’Bannon wrote ALIEN. He invented everything about it. Giger designed only the look of the thing, not it’s biology. Scott filmed it beautifully. But he didn’t write it. Neither did Lindelof. This film is pretentious fanfiction and nothing more.

    The idea that this film has the same rating on websites as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is disheartening to say the least.

  28. A brilliant mess of a movie. Enjoyable, but inconsistent. Easy to pick apart plot points and writing flaws if you are into that angle, but if you just watch it as a movie, it can be enjoyable. I did find myself saying out loud – - “Hey wait a sec, that did not make sense….” a few times. This seems to be common for expensive movies in the current era, although we should expect better from a guy at the mythical level of Ridley Scott. This will enter the SF canon, but in the end it will be somewhere in the middle of the “all-time” great list. I’ve spent my life reading, watching, and researching science fiction as a fan.

    When considering the top 100 SF movies of all time, Prometheus does not make the top 25 SF movies (which to me is the benchmark for an all-time “classic”), and heck maybe not even the top 50.

    As an SF fan, I applaud the fact that a “science fiction” movie (not a super-hero movie) got this much attention in the mainstream, and this much money thrown at it, even if the results were less than stellar.

    Not worth arguments or name calling – - let’s move on and look forward to a future 2nd installment that expands the universe, wraps up plot points, and again dazzles us with great special effects.

    Thanks for reading!

  29. Reggie PNo Gravatar

    ‘Not worth arguments or name calling – – let’s move on and look forward to a future 2nd installment that expands the universe, wraps up plot points, and again dazzles us with great special effects’

    Well said, SF Fan! What I think we really need is a load people arguing about a film on the Internet and saying things like ‘the monsters were rubbish’.

    The best thing about the Internet is the fact that it has facilitated so much intellectual, informed and well reasoned lively discourse between people.

    ‘LOL’
    x

  30. Johnny MessiasNo Gravatar

    Reggie,

    “For a mainstream sci-fi film made in 2012 by a man who is old enough and then some to collect his free bus pass it ain’t bad at all.”

    That isn’t good enough to be fair, or rather if you pay your £7-£15 you are entitled to expect something better. Just because we have Battleship and Men in Black III in 2012, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hope for Blade Runner or Silent Running. At Ridley’s age I would have though he would have been wise enough to wait until the screenplay was properly ready.

  31. Reggie PNo Gravatar

    Hi Johnny

    You’re right to pick me up on that. I was being flippant… and yes, for the amount of money it cost for me to see it at Imax…that curmudgeonly old git, Scott, owes me a pint or two.

    Mark Kermode gave Prometheus 7.5 outa 10 and that’s how I feel about it. I will always (?!) leap to its defence because it really is taking a hammering from trolls and other people jumping on what is essentially an anti-Prometheus bandwagon. This is the post-Internet world wherein global geek bullying reigns! I simply don’t understand how Avengers Assemble gets all round thumbs up. What a cynical, boring, dumb film. Now, Prometheus might well be dumb in places but it sure as hell wasn’t boring. That’s just my humble and irrelevant opinion of course. ‘Whatevs’ as the kids say.

    It seems to me that this film is getting the same kind of post-release Internet/fan boy hate that another decent blockbuster, Superman Returns, received back in 2006. A shame, as that could have done with a Bryan Singer helmed sequel but it never got it due to the backlash. I think the same thing will happen with this – that Scott won’t bother with a sequel.

    The thing is (and I could waffle on but we all have better things to do I hope) was Prometheus ever going to live up to expectations…?

  32. I completely agree with most of the points raised here, Willard. It touches on many frustrations I had with the film and kept me from enjoying it on even a light philosophical level.

    The biologist thing is just too stupid to be acceptable, for anything.

    One comment I have is re: the second point, that the “big idea” doesn’t make sense. I THINK what Lindelhof was implying (yeesh) is that the Space Jockeys were attempting to shoot death juice all over Earth, where they had gestated humans for some reason. But death juice broke out and killed them all first. Still fuzzy on why humans got “invited” there in the first place.. maybe the Space Jockeys had a change of heart?

  33. LiinlindollNo Gravatar

    Dr. Clemens is so right again. This is a classic. I’ve seen some stupid ass movies that ppl say are amazing and get great reviews and yet do the same thing you ppl are complaining about. How could you want to walk out on this movie…you ppl are effed! Go watch Ted lmao.


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