Saturday, June 23, 2012


Okay, so ... I've done my reading and studied for the test, and while many seem to share my opinions ... I am really divided on this movie. So, spoilers beware, cause I'm going in depth on this review. Like really. And you thought I wrote a lot about the Avengers.

Okay, so the film has Ridley Scott returning to the franchise that he started with the film Alien back in 1979 starring Sigourney Weaver as the iconic Ripley and introducing us to the spine chilling titular aliens, the Xenomorph. Prometheus is a prequel.

But before I drive anyone away, lemme go so far as to say (and I'll go pretty far), that almost every aspect of the film I found amazing. Where the film falls apart is on its delivery. Explanations seem shelved for the potential sequel that might not even come. But up and to that point, it's a pretty cool time.

We have an absolutely fantastic cast, helmed by Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender as David the android, who lead the ship Prometheus (named after the Greek Titan who stole fire and gave it to mankind and god knows if I honestly have to explain the symbolism to you people I'm gonna crack skulls) in search of mankind's makers (called Engineers), a race of aliens who, up and to 2000 years prior, were regular visitors to the planet Earth. 

Something obviously went wrong 2000 years ago. I blame the Christians. 

Anyone else thinking of Firefly?
Conceptually I love this movie. I have a possibly unhealthy adoration that has anything to do with where we came from, where we are going, where we have been, and what makes us who we are. I am paraphrasing my favorite author, Stephen R. Donaldson when I say, "Good science fiction and fantasy strike closer to the bone and blood of life than any other narrative medium for science fiction gives us hope for the future and fantasy gives us hope for who we are." 

So, Dr. Shaw and her lover, Charlie Holloway, played by Logan Marshall-Green, are driven to find our makers, one as a person of faith, and the other as an atheist. Also including Peter Weyland's (played by the ever talented Guy Pearce) drive not just to find the 'gods' but to ascend to their level. Every story needs a Lovecraftian mad scientist, I suppose.

This falls apart though, upon the discovery, upon moon LV-223 (which, mind you, is not the planet that the Nostromo, from the original film, Alien, landed upon, a fact which I didn't know until further reading), ... well, I don't really know. Let's delve into it, shall we?

On the scale from 1 to cuddly ....
They get there, and without any regard to the potential dangers of being on an alien planet, rush out, into the pyramid they find, skip on the weapons, even though there is a chance for animal life (I think), take their helmets off once inside without any foreknowledge of alien pathogens, and the biologist sticks his hand out toward an alien snake five minutes after panicking about a possible life form reading.

Anyone else getting the feeling that this multi-trillion dollar venture managed to wrangle together the scientific equivalent of the Scooby-Gang?

Okay, so I can buy that the characters are all lacking in higher brain function, including the Android who talks to himself.

Yeah, that pissed me off. 

"Big things have small beginnings ...."
Said the machine to itself like a weirdo.
We have a pretty cool line in the trailer, delivered superbly by Fassbender, "Big things have small beginnings," and we find out later that he was superbly delivering this pretty cool line to an empty room, with no real explanation as to why a robot talking to itself.

Moving on to my biggest grip with the plot. The black goo.

This shit ain't science fiction, brothers and sisters, it's frakking magic. Where everything else is just silly, this is downright insulting.

He's having a rough day.
This black goo, to start with disintegrates an Engineer in the opening scene, presumably to jump start life on Earth by injecting Engineer DNA into the environment, which, according to renowned Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, didn't make sense.
"The unrealistic part of it is that it’s a humanoid alien planting DNA seeds to seed all of life on Earth. And most life on Earth is not humanoid. In fact, most life on earth is plant and bacterial. So if they were to represent that accurately, it would be some kind of bacterium dropping its DNA into the oceans of Earth."
Now granted, the scene was frikkin awesome, but it's science-fiction, not fantasy, remember? If we were engineered by alien life, I would expect the actual engineering to happen in the Jurassic Park laboratory as designed by H.R. Gieger. And thematically, this is as if the Greek Titan gave fire to humanity by lighting himself on fire and running at them. It does not seem to be the most expedient method possible.

Now back to the black goo. 

    From a kickstarter of an opening, the black goo mutates two itty-bitty worms into something called a Hammerpede, a giant snake-like eel that seems to operate like a pre-stage Facehugger complete with throat fetish an acidic blood.   
    The black goo mutates Holloway after his drink is spiked with a mere droplet of the stuff ... somehow with a little tentacle thing coming out of his bloodshot eyes and then him kinda ... dying, I guess, although he makes like he's alright up to to the point he lets Vickers charbroil him.

    This poor thing is so inbred it's family tree looks like the Olympic Rings.
    The black goo turned a dead Fifield into a homicidal zombie with a taste for his former crewmates and a lack of need for oxygen to his huge melon.
    Oh, right, I almost forgot, before the whole Charlie-as-a-candle bit the black goo made him super-fertile which impregnated the barren Dr. Shaw, who, within 10 hours was 3 months pregnant with a squid called a Trilobite that grows up to facehug an Engineer whose chest bursts releasing a proto-xeno called the Deacon.
This is the literary equivalent of a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds. I mean, I'm sorry to offend any Ridley Scott fans out there that I haven't, but that ... is bad writing. It's lazy, and what's worse, is it doesn't even try to explain itself. The closest we're given to an explanation is that the captain, Janek, (played by Idris Elba) makes the assumption that the pyramid is a military base and that the black goo is some form of biological weaponry.

Yes, of course, the only conclusion is that they hate us.
For all we're told it might have been a pharmaceutical meant to promote hair growth that went horribly wrong. From there, because David activated the Engineer's holodeck and found that Earth was highlighted, Shaw comes to the conclusion that the Engineers want to destroy us. Okay ... as far as jumping to conclusions I feel she just made a long-jumping record, but I can roll with it.

And speaking of David. After a very interesting conversation about the nature of creators in relation to the created with Charlie Holloway, he spikes the man's drink with the black goo for the purpose of 'trying harder'. Why is this robot conniving? Robots don't connive! Still doesn't explain why he brought the goo on board in the first place. As far as finding a ticket for Weyland to immortality, it makes no rational sense. It could have done anything. There's no indication that anyone even did what could be considered a scientific analysis of the damn stuff. And Weyland may only have a few days remaining to live, but he's in cryo anyways, so you know what that means? NO RUSH!

Although Guy Pearce is awesome and the Viral
advertising had me super psyched.
And that twist was bullshit from the start. Oh, and the mad scientist is revealed to be on the ship because ... he's on the ship. Sweet. It couldn't have been established early on? No? Had to be a twist? Thanks Shyamalan. Vickers (Charlize Theron) is his daughter? Wow, now I feel a real emotional connection to the ice queen from the north now that you have revealed that inhumanity runs in her bloody family.

She did however look mighty fine in a skintight uniform ... crap, where was I going with this?

Oh right. Shaw's pregnancy. That scene was badass. I would consider it one of the best in the film, if only for the gore-factor. However, they must have some damn good drugs in the future, cause she spends the better portion of the remaining film running her ass off, getting knocked about, and falling off stuff. Every single time too I was thinking, 'Staples in the gut, staples in the gut'. Talk about brutal. Go to a Metal concert and do that in the mosh pit.

But the whole pregnancy cesarean, GIANT SQUID event goes unnoticed and for the most part un-commented upon save by the once-again conniving robot. Shaw never brings it up with anyone so far as I recall, and it is left on board (for later, but still). It is meant to be overshadowed by learning that there is still a living Engineer frozen in cryostasis, and Weyland's brilliant plan is to wake it up and ask for immortality.

So, they find an Engineer, wake him up, ask for immortality ... and he roars like a movie monster and rips David's head off before going on a murderous rampage.

It was at this point that any pretense of philosophical underpinnings are dropped entirely and the film slips almost too comfortably into the action/adventure genre. Shaw manages to escape to the surface and radios the Prometheus, telling them that they have to sacrifice themselves to stop the Engineer from flying to Earth and using the black goo to destroy the human race for reasons known only to those privy to movie-monster logic. 

We went from black goo to this in the course of a day.
Vickers flees to the escape pod moments before Janek crashes the Prometheus into the alien ship, sending them both plummeting to the ground. Vickers is crushed, and Shaw makes it to the escape pod, where she learns that the Trilobite has grown to ginormous size. David's decapitated-yet-still-functioning head radios her to warn her of the Engineer's survival and rampaging approach. She unleashes the Trilobite upon her maker and in a strange form of ancestral incest, the Trilobite facehugs the Engineer, which ultimately chestbursts something called a Deacon that kinda looks like a Xenomorph.

Just like riding a bike ... with a flute, through space. 
So Shaw and David take another ship (which David can fly) and head for the Engineer's homeworld (which David can find). When David asks why, Shaw's reply is that she wants to know why. 

And honestly, I can share her sentiment. As the credits rolled, that word echoed noisily in my mind, and much to my frustration, as I read more into it, the fewer satisfying answers I found. For me the three most glaring issues with this film revolve around the effects of the black goo, the motivation for David's behavior, and the validity of Shaw's assumptions that the Engineers want to destroy us, and despite the quality of the rest of the film, explanations for these three things could have elevated it far above what it is: a shiny sci-fi film, with great effects, a great cast, big questions, and a screenwriting mistep that ultimately crippled it.

Now, I've never actually said this before, but I implore anyone who has actually made it this far through this tome of a post to leave a comment below sharing your feelings on the matter. If you disagree with me, let me have it. If you have answers, hit me with them. If you agree, tell me how awesome and smart and handsome I am.

Cause here's the thing, and this'll really cook your noodle later, I really enjoyed this movie.


  1. I agree with you entirely on all points. I really enjoyed the movie, but the plot holes and devices used kinda made it a little flat for me. The one thing that bugged me that I didn't see you include, was the death of Vickers... I did not see any reason for her to die. Sure, she and the writers did a good job of making you hate her, and turning her into a bitch, but in the end... she was not a bad person, committed no evil acts, yet her death in the film had the feel of a scene where the viewer should feel "relieved" at her death, as though justice had been served.

    In summation, I enjoyed your review, and look forward to reading more.

    Your friend,

  2. Thank you for the comment, Mr. Brent! To be fair, and I should have made note of it, Vickers remained the most consistent character throughout. She started off thinking the mission was a bad idea, remained pretty sure it was a bad idea, and probably died thinking that it was a bad idea. She was also the most level-headed about quarantine rules when it came to Holloway.

    Thematically, by the time of her death, I had just lost most of my connection. Right from the get-go I thought there were too many characters. I think the subtitle said that Prometheus had a crew of 17 people, and the first thing I thought was that most of them were there just to die, nameless, faceless, and forgotten.

    For example, Ford, played by Kate Dickie, was there for a fair portion of scenes, but had perchance one or two lines throughout the whole film, before being murdered by the Engineer. Her character, while not bad, had no purpose, and only served to fill in the screen with bodies. In fiction, this bothers me. While it may be more realistic, I prefer a streamlined cast of characters with which each character is integral to the act of telling the narrative (which is possibly why I have personal difficulty getting into Game of Thrones, but that is for a post another day xD).

    Suffice it to say, by the time Vickers was killed, it seemed less about her death, and more about getting Shaw alone as the single survivor, and as a fellow (wannabe) writer/actor, I feel cheapened that a well written, well cast, well played character would be written off so easily.

    Also, when a giant alien spaceship shaped like a donut with a bite taken out of it is rolling toward you ... run sideways and not forward.

    ~ Godzello

  3. Gotta say, this is probably one of my favorite movie reviews. I laughed quite a few times at the points I can easily hear mini-you-in-my-head making. Some of these I wondered about, and others didn't even occur to me at the time. so, thanks again for yet another entertainingly thought-inducing post ^.^

  4. Thanks, Tess!

    I'm glad you enjoyed it and laughed, and had some things clarified for you. And, even more so, I am glad you found it thought-inducing. The greatest compliment I can be given is that I made a person think. =D

    That said, anyone who has further questions about Prometheus, check this link here

    It is a compiled list of official quotes from Director Ridley Scott and Screenwriter Damon Lindelof, explaining a great deal of the unanswered questions most of us were left with after Prometheus.


    ~ Godzello

  5. I really wanted more development with Weyland's character. Even if the movie takes place 75 or so years after the TED viral, it was left to the viewer to understand the context of why Weyland would fund such a procedure instead of perhaps colonizing another planet or something.

    David was a complete mystery. Again, in context of the viral, it was smart to keep an android on the ship to make sure it functions while everyone else was in stasis. And the brief scene from "Lawrence of Arabia" ties the TED viral back to the movie. As for talking to himself, I'm really not sure if he was or not. I thought it to be him addressing the organism(s) in the goo. He is able to carry out directives without consideration of moral ramifications, which could also explain his actions. What begets life, perhaps?

  6. Hey, Wheels xD, I concur about Weyland. Guy Pearce is a fantastic actor and based solely off of the Viral video, I was itching to see more of him in the film. It seemed wasted.

    If you look at this link, ( you can find reference to colonization.

    "Writer Jon Spaihts says his drafts involved a meeting in Weyland's office — which at various times was either on a space station, or actually on the surface of Mars, right in the middle of the terraforming project. 'Terraforming was much more Mr. Weyland's burning dream in my drafts,' says Spaihts."

    I agree about David, although there are hints for those who go looking beyond the film (although I am loathe to think that anyone be forced to do so).

    Fassbender's commented that David develops "its own ego, insecurities, jealousy and envy", and that "David's views on the human crew are somewhat childlike. He is jealous and arrogant because he realizes that his knowledge is all-encompassing and therefore he is superior to the humans. David wants to be acknowledged and praised for his brilliance."

    While this is prominently displayed in the course of the film, none of it is directly explained (or even hinted at) which, again, frustrates me to no end. Not a single character comments upon his behavior, and even his participation in Charlie's death is never brought to light.

    It's not the question of ethics that bothers me, is that no indication of his programming sheds light on the unanswered 'why'. In the original Alien film, Ash behaved the way he does because his main directive is to ensure the retrieval of the Xenomorph, and in pursuing that goal, the crew is expendable. Because this information is shared with the audience, his actions are perfectly understandable, even rational.

    In the list of quotes, Lindelof answers the question of, "Why David infects Holloway?" this way.

    "I'd say that the short answer is: That's his programming. In the scene preceding him doing that, he is talking to Weyland (although we don't know it at the time) and he's telling Weyland that this is a bust. That they haven't found anything on this mission other than the stuff in the vials. And Weyland presumably says to him, "Well, what's in the vials?" And David would say, "I'm not entirely sure, we'll have to run some experiments." And Weyland would say, "What would happen if you put it in inside a person?" And David would say, "I don't know, I'll go find out." He doesn't know that he's poisoning Holloway, he asks Holloway, "What would you be willing to do to get the answers to your questions?" Holloway says, "Anything and everything." And that basically overrides whatever ethical programming David is mandated by, [allowing him] to spike his drink." ~ Damon Lindelof

    BUT! And again, this is a hellova big BUTT! ... this scene is not in the film. So ... pffft, all fat lot of good it does the audience.

    I am pretty convinced that Prometheus, like most theatrical releases of Ridley Scott's films would benefit a good Director's Cut.

    ~ Godzello

  7. In your review, you mentioned David’s behavior as being odd. And later in another quote you said: “Not a single character comments upon his behavior”

    This isn’t really true. Charlie comments when David wears a suit. David explains that he was designed to be human-like. And if he didn’t wear a suit, it would defeat that purpose. This makes sense. This even explains why he may talk to himself. Talking to oneself is a human behavior and one that could be programed into a robots personality. Is a robot talking to himself more disturbing or one that is actively thinking but doesn’t reveal what he is thinking unless asked? Even if no one is around, the programming would still function. Unless of course the programmers decided to end such behavior is there was no one around. But that would require another(and unnecessary) step in an already mind-bogglingly complicated program.

    Really, when it comes to androids replicating humans, there is no right answer because the accuracy of the replication is always some shade of gray.