Caustic Countdown: 4 Reasons why Prometheus was Terrible

12 Jun

First and foremost, I would like to apologize for my absence last week. Things were really hectic as I started to reorganize and get everything squared away for one thing or another. All in all, it consisted of doctor’s appointments, trips to south florida (twice last week) and familial obligations that needed to take precedence over my writing.  I am happy to announce that all the conflict and drama has been resolved (for now. One of the few things I happen to agree with in regards to Marxian theory is the fact that it is conflict which drives human interaction). So I’m back. And I’m back with a literary vengeance.

One of the most anticipated movies of the summer was Prometheus, a movie directed by Ridley Scott. Scott, as you may remember, was the director for the Sci-fi horror classic Alien and for the trail-blazing Blade Runner- so one does not simply expect bad movies from him. I happened to see Prometheus as it premiered on Friday; as you could imagine I was extremely excited. I needed a break from reality, I needed something that broke away from the usual monotony of sequels we’ve had over the last year. (Actually, it’s been sequels that have been dominating the box office for the last year. Most original films simply can’t compete with a familiar cast and plot line). Prometheus was advertised as a horror/sci-fi flick that seemed to stand all its own. I bought my Powerade, sat down in the theater and watched the magic unfold…

And I found myself hating it. Very, very quickly.

Despite the hype, I found Prometheus to be one of Scott’s worst creations. Don’t get me wrong; the story itself had a lot of potential and the special effects were incredible. And, granted, the acting was pretty dang good too. It’s just that those were just trying to put tits on a boar. There are four main reasons why I walked out of the theater disappointed after the credits started rolling. And it’s for these same reasons that I saw a lot of other eager viewers shake their heads and mourn the gaping hole in their wallet…

4: Alien, Alien, ALIEN!

I suppose I should just address the white elephant in the room: I was under the impression that this was a stand alone movie. I, like many other regular theater goers, do not extensive, obsessive research based around a ninety-second video. I have more pressing things than to freeze frame each shot and look for the hidden phallus. Plus, my showing was at ten PM Friday evening- the movie released at midnight earlier that day. If I so much as googled “Prometheus” I’d end up getting spoilers and those  are always terribly annoying. So I went into the theater, sat back, and watched. It wasn’t very long until I started noticing similarities to Alien. At first I was fine with it because, after all, what prolific director doesn’t put little tributes to prior efforts in their new stuff. But then as the plot came along, I started feeling nauseous. My thoughts pretty much followed these lines (warning:spoiler).

“Oh, parasitic alien…where have I seen that before?”

“Ohhh it’s going to burst right out of her, huh? That seems…original”

“So this android gets decapitated just like the old one did? Like, same white glop coming out and everything, eh?”

And then finally.

“Let me get this straight? Android infests guy with alien worm, alien worm-man has sex with girlfriend, girlfriend then gets pregnant with octopus, octopus grows to enormous size, eats face of bigger pre-human, pre human’s chest erupts with Alien queen? What in the actual Fuh-”

You get the idea.

That last one made me want to stand up, find the nearest table, and flip it. Thank God it came at the end so I was able to supress my table-flipping rage. Note: no tables were harmed through my viewing of Prometheus.

3: Plot Holes Galore.

Every great story has plot holes. Life has plot holes, we can’t possibly understand all of the intricacies beneath the normal mundanity that occasionally produces something extraordinary. That being said, we should be able to extrapolate the basic motives of characters. Right?

Guess not.

Exhibit A: the android freaking the hell out. The destruction of everything was single-handedly this one annoying animatron. Throughout the film, he goes out of his way to make sure that the entire crew suffers. As mentioned above, it’s his fault that the guy first impregnates the woman with an alien spawn. Why? Well, he never really answers that. In fact, other than acting as a way to kill off a couple of characters, it does nothing to move the plot forward. Eventually, he explains that he wants to kill his creator (he does towards the end). But that doesn’t explain why he was trying to kill everyone else. If he wanted the old man dead, why not shoot him into space as they all sleep in their capsules during the two-year voyage? He’s awake and sentient the entire time!  Nope. It really boils down to this. Why did he do it? Because screw you, there’s aliens now. That’s why.

More so than that, we are introduced to a giant spaceship in the very beginning of the film abandoning a pre-human entity…which never comes back. Oh well. Guess that arc wasn’t important. Then there’s the fact that even though the robot tries to kill her and kills her boyfriend/fiance, the female protagonist works with him towards the end anyways. And as the unlikely duo launch towards the stars, she sends out a half-assed message warning no one to visit the planet. Because this is a de facto prequel to Alien, apparently no one freaking listens. Plus, one of the characters added that a company put up a trillion dollars for this mission. If a one trillion-dollar exploratory mission says “do not come” the entire world’s going to know about it. It’s not like Roswell; you can’t just keep that stuff secret. So anyone who paid any attention at all left with either a splitting headache or developed a hernia from all of the illogical plot points.

2: What a Terrible Twist!

There are times where authors and artists try to create twists: surprising endings which are supposed to shape the audience’s perception of EVERYTHING. This movie was lacking in any of them.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, per say. Some movies accomplish a lot more with being direct with their story than those which try to play “gotchya” at the end. Prometheus was like that one kid playing manhunt with a flashlight, glow in the dark shoes, and neon green clothes. The surprises weren’t really surprising.

Take, for instance, the incredible discovery that the old man was actually on board all along. You only see his face after a certain point; before we were all told he had died. The intended reaction is “oh my God! He lives!” Actually, no. See, the android was talking to an entity within a private canister and told the mission leader that “he says try harder.” Simply put, there weren’t any other characters introduced who weren’t accounted for. It was a process of elimination- like the laziest game of clue ever.

Later on, the female mission leader is revealed to be the old man’s daughter. Even though this guy looks old enough to be 250 years old. Setting aside the visual incongruity, this was supposed to be another surprise. Except at the very beginning where his hologram insists that the robot was “like the son I’ve never had” and the mission leader just kind of looks at anywhere other than the image. Real smooth. At least we know who daddy’s favorite is…

Even the “shocking” ending that they had inadvertently created the alien queen wasn’t really surprising. As I mentioned earlier, the entire movie circled around Alien. It was just one of those surprises like getting deodorant for christmas. You pray that it won’t happen, you hope it won’t happen, please God don’t let it happen! When it does you sit back and moan. Not because you saw it coming, but because you did and even the knowing couldn’t mitigate how terrible it is.

1: Wussing- Out to the Max

Perhaps the biggest problem I had was with the ending. No, not the part where the infantile queen explodes from the chest of the humanoid. The fact that the protagonist doesn’t die.

See, I’m a big proponent of Oscar Wilde. And I love his famous quote in the Importance of Being Ernest: “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” I didn’t want fiction with Prometheus. I wanted  something better, something believable. Frankly, that wasn’t delivered in the end.

I really did abhor the fact that the android mentioned “oh, by the by, there’s another ship out here. We can use it to escape. And I totally know how to use it even if at the moment I’m a disembodied head depending upon a woman who is neither a mechanic or pilot.” But sure enough, they manage to shoot off towards the sky.

Look, I’m fine with happy endings- if they fit. It didn’t here. Space exploration is messy business. Numerous people have died just trying to get to our moon! Could you imagine the mortality rate of a mission trying to travel to a planet light years away? It would be more realistic for everyone to have died. The reason it was acceptable for there to be a survivor in Alien was because, in that universe, exploring was presented as a job one could be trained for and ready for. Like Bering Sea fishing, it was dangerous but common enough. Here, this was the first time this had been attempted. Predictably, everything went to hell. Except one person managed to somehow escape. It didn’t come across as human luck and ingenuity; it was simply a directive prerogative to have at least one survivor. Honestly, without trying to come across as too terribly macabre, it would have been a better ending if the protagonist had suffocated on the planet, staring out into the vast empty sky beyond. Would it have been depressing? You bet. But at least it’d be the truth.


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