I saw Prometheus last night. Instead of enjoying the drive home with my head filled with appreciation for a provocative, inventive retelling of the ancient astronaut myth, my mind busied itself on how many ways I could mock this under-achieving, unimaginative bore of a film for my PaleoBabble readers. In one sentence: the History Channel produces better science fiction than this movie. Or perhaps: Prometheus: In Space, No One Can Hear You Snore.
It’s honestly difficult to express how poor of an effort I consider this film. It’s kind of like reviewing a Sitchin book: I can find see problems everywhere, so where to begin?
Let’s start with some generalities. While I was in line I overheard someone who had just seen the movie say, “It was good, but it was no Alien.” I only agree with the second half of that assessment. This was not a good movie. There were no surprises at all; predictability in a sci-fi movie is unforgivable. After all, if you are at liberty to detach yourself from reality and you still manage to be banal, you’re project is a failure. Given the hype, this was an historic entertainment FAIL. Let me go back to this year’s box office mega-implosion John Carter (but not the last Indiana Jones movie — that was criminal; Prometheus was merely inept). Honestly, how can anyone fail to be stimulating in any way when it comes to the ancient astronaut mythology? But that is Prometheus: one groggy, dull ride. Basically the problem is that the movie begins with the core Sitchin / von Daniken nonsense talking point, that humans were created by aliens, and just stops right there. It adds nothing. No development of the idea into a clever meta-narrative. If you already have had the thought that human life was created by aliens planted in your mind (thinking it stupid or not), there’s no need to see the movie. It literally doesn’t take you an inch farther. Just a two-hour reminder of the one basic point that everyone going to the movie already had in their head because of the internet, the Ancient Aliens sitcom, or Coast to Coast AM. A quintessential example of what it means to be uncreative. Sort of like the cinematic antonym to either of the Sherlock Holmes movies.
But the real insult was to the Alien franchise. Was it worse than Alien 3 or 4? Hard to say. Those misguided sequels just enraged viewers or made them say to themselves, “Thanks for destroying the best things about the first two movies.” This one doesn’t ruin anything because it doesn’t convey anything. It’s just an intellectually stultifying bore. The first two Alien movies were great because they were filled with clever surprises and truly edge-of-the-seat suspense. This offering had neither. It didn’t even try to surprise. The film unfailingly tipped viewers off to what (I guess) were supposed to be later revelations (the old gazzillionare was on the ship and the “remind us why this character is in the movie” played by Charlize Theron is his daughter; one of humanity’s alien creators is still alive on the planet; the cavernous structure the crew discovers is a spaceship; the ship is filled with the alien muck that spawns the killing machine alien in the original film; etc. I don’t consider these plot spoilers, because unless you’re still thinking about the commercials you were forced to watch before the film started, you can’t miss these “plot” elements. They are transparent and completely expected.To give a specific example of how Prometheus does something badly that Alien would have done more more cleverly, the robot (David) plops some of the alien DNA/egg-stuff into the drink of a crew member, knowing that the unfortunate guy will become host to the alien. I say “plop” because there’s actually a loud plopping sound in the film after David pours the drink and leans his finger over the edge of the cup. It sounded like a large ice cube was tossed into the glass. If the moron who took the drink couldn’t hear that like the rest of us, he deserved what he got. Alien would have found a far more sinister and surreptitious way of infecting the guy — and not letting it be known to the viewer until much later. It would have been something you felt in your gut but couldn’t figure out how it was done. The whole movie was like that (Ridley Scott: “The audience needs to understand what happens in the scene after this one, so we’ll drop a breadcrumb the size of a Toyota in their path since we can’t think of an adroit way to keep moving”).
You get the idea. This film has sucked enough of my life away, so the review stops here. I need to move on.