Warning, this is all spoilers so stop reading if you don't want any
Wow, I was excited about Prometheus the moment I saw the first trailer. Aliens is arguably one of the best movies of all time IMO and Ridley Scott has made a bunch of really amazing movies. Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator wasn't bad either. So I was hoping for something great. Of course I also tempered my expectations by remembering he's made lots of forgettable movies as well.
Well, what can I say. Prometheus was FAR WORSE THAN I COULD EVER HAVE EXPECTED!
It starts off with people discovering some cave drawings in Scotland 35,000 years old with an image of some guy reaching for the stars. Cut to a space ship that is about to arrive at those stars and it's explained that the same image of the same stars were discovered in several different ancient carvings across the world from different cultures
How they jumped from that to "it's an invitation to visit" I have no idea but I let that slide. Okay, maybe. I'm certainly intrigued.
Then all of a sudden the characters start arguing, not getting along and all and basically being total dicks to each other. WTF? It's like the writer watched the other 2 movies and then just didn't have a clue how they worked. That unbelievable fighting with no context continued through at least the first half of the movie.
So, they land on the planet and find these clearly non natural structures, as in made by aliens. They land, go in and immediately take their helmets off. These guys are supposed to be smart scientists and yet apparently they've never heard of viruses or bacteria. At that point it started seeming like a really bad horror movie. The kind where you know, there's an ax murderer in the basement, the power is out and the girl decides it's a good idea to go down there.
Next up, guy gets poisoned, sleeps with girlfriend, she has baby alien next day. WHAT? First off, maybe that would be okay if this was a movie with no prior history but it's not. It's the 5th movie of a series. Since when do the aliens from that series start with some kind of virus that can genetically mutate into a giant squid monster? And yea, I know Aliens 4 had some mutation but Aliens 4 required a bunch of scientists to clone Ripley a bunch of times to get anything viable out of it. And besides, even though I enjoy Aliens 4 it's clearly more of a lite comic book than the other 4 that are far more serious. Prometheus started feeling like some 3rd grader wrote it. "And then daddy the monster sprouts tentacles and 7 mouths and fights a giant pasty guy"
Next up. 2 guys get lost (really? no gps? no digital map? no cell phone?) and then stuck in the ruins for a bit. While in there they find a bunch of corpses and become scared. They then find snake like creatures and one of the guys practically cuddles up to it before it kills him. WHAT THE FUCK!!! Seriously? Really? You see something that looks like an alien python snake and you coochy coochy coo it? No dude, no one cuddles up to strange snakes on Earth let alone alien snakes in slimy oil like goo. More 3rd grade writing.
In other thread, the girl scientist decides this wasn't an invitation. These alien people are evil and they will try to kill the Earth. Where did we make that leap? Seriously? Sure bad things have happened but there's nothing to suggest at this point that any of it was intentional.
So they find one of these alien people alive in a suspended animation pod. Upon reviving him he immediately kills everyone and is apparently going to forth with fly directly to Earth and kill everyone? WHAT? Why didn't he do this before? What, he was just waiting there 2000 years for some earthling to find him so he could go "HA HA HA. I'm going to kill ur planet! Mu ha ha ha". It made absolutely no sense. If he wanted to fly to Earth he could have done it at any time.
There were other ridiculous, contrived and unnecessary story threads. One, even though this was way too obvious. There's an old secret old human on the ship, with a big secret that the girl in charge is his daughter. What was the point of that? It added nothing to the story.
The old guy apparently hopes the aliens will save his life. Um, ok. That whole story point felt just thrown in there. I felt no sympathy for him nor righteous indignation against him. Good writing would have promoted one or the other but this bad writing promoted neither.
I'm sure I can think of other things. Like the glitchy holographic playback of the people aliens. Why glitchy? Why did those recordings exist at all? What was their purpose? More bad writing. A trillion dollar expedition to visit this planet has a crew of goofballs? Uh, ok. The captain and his 2 buddies merrily suicide crash? Um, yea, right. I'm not saying a captain wouldn't do that but the way it was written they might has well have been ordering hamburgers at a drive through for all the emotional investment the writing produced. How about the girl. She had an alien in her with alien blood from the same substance that killed 2 others. Why didn't she become a zombie? Oh, did I mentioned the 2 zombie humans in the movie?
I often wonder. how does shit like this happen? Could they not tell the writing sucked? Was it edited into suckiness? Did they just wing it the entire time and this is the best it could be on the budget they had because they didn't start with good writing? I guess we'll never know.
About the only good thing I can say is it was pretty.
I watched Alien again at a local event and it reminded me of another problem with Prometheus. In Alien when they find the alien with an exploded chest the captain says "bones are bent outward, like he exploded from inside". In Prometheus they re−write that into those are alien spacesuits and the aliens actually look like humans.
This to me is even worse than the Matrix 2. In Matrix Neo ends up as superman. He can jump into any "agent" and explode it. In Matrix 2 in nearly the first scene he runs into more agents and with 1 word, "upgrades", throws away the entire climax of the first Matrix.
Similarly, re−writing basic parts of the Alien universe in Prometheus is just poor writing.
Also, 3 links to share
One is Roger Ebert's review. He basically loved the premise and although I agree with everything he said I don't understand how he was able to look past all the obvious flaws and unbelievability of the character's actions.
Interestingly he acknowledges how shitty the writing is which still makes it strange to me that he have it 4 stars.
Another is this post about way too much symbolism and deconstruction of Prometheus. It's interesting but even that post eludes to the problems mentioned above.
Then there's Red Letter Media's take