Ridley Scott’s latest effort has been getting its fair share of nit-picks by the nitwits on the Interwebs. Some of it obviously biased, some likely deserved. (Strangely, IMDB gives it 7.7 out of 10 stars.) Unwilling to buy into the group-think mentality and not giving half a rat’s ass about what critics have to say, I figured I’d watch the movie and see for myself.
I caught the matinee show on a late Wednesday morning. This is the absolute best time to watch a movie. Teenagers are either in school or still asleep, and most (normal) people are at work. The movie had already been out for a few weeks, so it wasn’t surprising that I shared the entire theater with an older Hindu woman who sat towards the back. Afterwards, when the movie had ended, I exited through one door while she came out the one opposite. For a brief moment we faced each other in the halllway. I smiled and was about to say “Wasn’t that a weird movie?” (or something stupid like that), but she didn’t make eye contact and quickly shuffled past me, frowning. It was nearing two o’clock in the afternoon. Perhaps she was in a rush to get back to her kids or husband? Or maybe she hated the movie and was too disgusted to comment.
[WARNING: Spoilers follow….]
Just as you can’t expect big-name ballplayers to hit one out of the park every time, so with big-name movie producers. Are Ridley Scott’s best films behind him? Who knows. All I know is ‘Prometheus’ wasn’t a homerun. It was more like a base hit off of a weak grounder. If that.
‘Prometheus’ is uneven, muddled, and in some places nonsensical, the sort of movie that has the stench of something that was developed and written by a committee of people. Overworked and overwritten by a committee of writers. Over-edited by a committee of editors and producers. It has a hack job feel to it, and the resulting mess is a hodge-podge of loose-ending storylines and unnecessary subplots. (What was the point of that old man projecting himself as a holographic image at the beginning, pretending to be dead, and then turning out to not only still be alive but riding along on the ship, hoping to “meet his makers?” And who cares that Charlize Theron’s character was the old man’s daughter? This meaningless little factoid adds zero value to the story.)
My first gripe is with the crew of this supposed “research expedition.” Throughout the movie you can’t help but feel they’re just actors pretending to be scientists (or geologists or whatever). None of them are believable. Their mannerisms and behaviors are more akin to people on a reality TV show, playing up to the camera and stale Hollywood stereotypes – the conflicted leading man, the strong female lead, the conniving android, the villainous corporation. You get the idea. It was as if Ridley Scott purposely plagiarized himself or played some kind of sick joke on the audience by making a B-movie, straight-to-video version of the original ‘Alien.’ We have little reason to believe this team of research expeditionists are scientists at all. Their method for collecting specimens and artifacts, for instance, amounted to grabbing random shit in a cave and stuffing everything into what looked like army surplus duffel bags and two-dollar luggage that was picked up at a thrift store on their way to this far-off planet.
And then there was the way they interacted with the locals. Everyone must have failed ‘How to Behave Around Alien Life-Forms 101’ at scientist school. When encountering slimy eel-like creatures slithering around in shallow pools of poisonous muck, common sense would tell you to stay the hell away, right? Wrong. Not these guys. Instead of keeping a safe distance, one guy treats the slithering eel like a lost puppy, drawing closer to the damn thing and lowering himself until he’s eye level with it. You can guess what happens next – the ol’ Ridley Scott trademark: death by deep-throating. Whether you’re able to suppress the gag factor or not, it’s hard to believe that seasoned veteran explorers of alien planets would behave this way.
“Belief” is a large part of what the movie hinges on. Do you believe in a creator? What would you do if you had the chance to meet him/her/it? Do you believe in a soul? Do androids dream of electric sheep? Blah blah blah….all of this is telegraphed in a heavy-handed manner, as if the writers were trying to get their point across to the slowest person in the room.
Yes, yes, and yes. Yet there are too many things too preposterous to believe in:
There’s a scene where the lead guy (I don’t even remember his name, the character was so forgettable) determines that the air in the cave is breathable, and like a reckless douchebag, removes his helmet much to the objections of his lover/wife/soon-to-be-impregnated-with-alien-seed girlfriend. What scientist behaves this irrationally? And then for the rest of the movie, every time they return to the cave the first thing they do is remove their helmets. This makes no sense. Even if the air were breathable, why remove the clumsy bubble helmet and then have to carry it around under your arm the whole time? Makes more sense to just leave it on because then your two hands are free to do stuff. Dipshits.
Forgettable Lead Guy later drinks something infected with a jelly-like substance that Insidious Metrosexual Android scraped off a rock. It’s never clear what that something is or how it relates to the giant alien spaceship or its operators, but Lead Guy later turns into some kind of raging hairless werewolf, kicking the shit out of everyone just outside the pod bay, and this after being set ablaze by a flame-throwing Charlize Theron. He seems to be forgotten for the rest of movie because he doesn’t make another appearance. I don’t know if he was killed or just ran off howling into that alien night. Or maybe I missed it while trying to spot the camel toe on Charlize Theron’s outfit.
Oh, but before that, Lead Guy gets to have sex with his red-headed Mythbusters lookalike girlfriend. The sex must have been good because the next morning we can see scratches on his shoulder as he admires himself and his pointless existence in the mirror. But wait….why are the scratches toward the FRONT of his shoulder? This would have meant that his Mythbusters girlfriend was coming at him from BEHIND. I’m guessing Ridley Scott edited out the part where they use a double-sided dildo in order to avoid an X rating.
As we all learned in junior high biology, with unprotected sex comes the writhing alien pregnancy and the inevitable Caesarean abortion the very next day. At this point, the movie becomes a kind of horror show surgical documentary, where the Mythbusters girl hops into a makeshift tanning bed/laser-guided table saw device to extricate the creature from her belly. Perhaps a Ridley Scott nod to the success of all the ‘Saw’ movies. All well and good. I can see this sort of thing being invented in a near future of our own. What I don’t believe is that this woman spends the next half-hour running around the space ship half-naked and bloody with a stapled stomach and NO ONE NOTICES?? No one stops to say, “Hey, what happened? Why are you running around bloody and half-naked?” or “Are you okay? Why do you have staples in your stomach? And why are you wrapped in toilet paper? What happened to your space suit?”
Again: NOT BELIEVABLE.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.
(2 for the special effects. 0.5 for suggesting that there may have been ancient civilizations prior to our own that was technologically more advanced than ours. Sir Ridley has obviously been reading up on his Atlantean and Lemurian mythologies. Or maybe watching too much of that “ancient aliens” guy on the History Channel.)