A review of “Prometheus,” or as I would prefer, “The Girl will the Dragon Tattoo Kicks Alien Butt” or “More Stupid Human Tricks.”
I wanted to like this movie, as l had earlier liked “Black Hawk Down.” I didn’t succeed. The Alien series has always been
problematic for me. They really aren’t Science-Fiction, they’re horror movies in SF trappings, by which I mean the point of the movie is to viscerally shock and horrify us. Not for people to behave as they actually would in the circumstances. In short, in a spaceship being haunted by a horrible monster I doubt people will split up to search dark places by themselves. Still I found the first hour of Alien very well done, before the sense of horror displaced the sense of wonder. Sigourney Weaver's epic battle with the alien elevates the movie from the ranks of Jason and chainsaw massacres to something Homeric.
Alien II did see as a science-Fiction Film with horror trappings and to me it is the best of the series. Alien III so provoked me with its death of Ripley that I never bothered to see it. Alien IV was back to the horror genre for me. but because it was Joss Whedon and an early and meaner version of the crew of Serenity I found it interesting. So it was special though I questioned many of the performances.
That brings us to Prometheus. It too started with a sense of wonder and his high adventure. But as with the First Alien it quickly descends into ugliness and horror.
It opem with a large alien male from the species that created both humans and the biological
ordnance that are the Aliens of the titles. This Predecessor, as I think of him, dissolves himself into a waterfall. Why? What sense does that make? Did his people not invent needles, IV's, spray dispersion? There could be cultural or religious reason for this act of self- slaughter but we are not given them. Since all living things desire to live, I think that not giving us an explanation is a mistake.
The movie then speeds up with the modern day discovery of cave painting and a voyage to the Predecessor homeworld. But it quickly begins to decay with Charlize Theron’s stereotypical portrayal of the corporate ice-queen; the previous line sums up the whole character-meaning you did not need an actress of her caliber to perform it. Noomi Rapace's performance is lackluster through this early -she has zero chemistry with her husband. This is odd. Anyone who saw her in the Tattoo movies knows she has the ability to generate sexual heat on screen for all her pale immobile face. She plays with fire in the second half.
Meanwhile the rest of the expedition starts with the stupid human tricks. This expedition has so much of the "wrong stuff" as to beggar the imagination. This bunch of bozos could get a Boy
Scout troop massacred at a jamboree. It would be tedious to list the stupidities of the film but to support the point:
1) The team brings no weapons-though it is bvious that the stone hives (which are rather absurdly revealed later as spacecraft hangers) are not inhabited by a technic society. It does not seem to occur to anyone that the local equivalent of bears, cougars, or wolverines could have moved into the ruins or that if there were primitive peoples they might be terrified and attack out of panic or
2) We all take our helmets off as what the hell; it’s an alien world what could happen?
Worse yet the lead fool taking his helmet off, believes this world is one where we share common DNA and hence potentially diseases, so again, hell, what could happen?
3) We lose two guys (who should not have been on the expedition due to temperament in the first place) who get lost in spite of the mapping spheres, GPS and other devices. No one at the ship leaves leaves anyone on duty to watch over them. They of course play "Crocodile Hunter”
with a hideous cobra-like creature they encounter in the dark. Not surprisingly their faces get sucked off if you didn’t see this coming a ½ hour before, you were asleep. They were issued red-shirts from the Enterprise Security Team.
We are expected to believe that Lizbeth Salander (whoops sorry, here it’s juts Elisabeth) having had a Cesarean by a sexist autodoc set only for males (what the hell sense does that make? The
greedy old bastard CEO may have been self-centered but his daughter is aboard if no one else) is to be capable of feats of Olympian strength after having been ripped open. Most of us might like, of say a week or two to recover.
I could go on but the ones cited area already fatal. Given the intelligence of Ridley Scott and the quality of the cast, how do you come go with this turkey?
The answer seems to be something that in my own perception is generally true of modern movie SF. It's as if the movies are cotton-candy, consumed for the moment with a sweet taste on the lips, but they cannot bear any consideration beyond that. To think about the movie is to start rewriting, recasting and redirecting the movie, whether Prometheus, the new star Trek or Star Wars Chapter Interminable. In this respect it seems the modern book eclipses the modern movie. One is cotton candy-the other is a barrel of good wine-it must bear the strain of time.
Author Edward McKeown is a writer and editor