Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Spoiler alert
June 10, 2012 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Prometheus: what was that about? Ten key questions (SLGrauniad)
posted by panaceanot (455 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw the film yesterday - anything that needs this much explanation needed some more work. ( WARNING: LIVEJOURNAL )

Interview with Ridley Scott from Collider.com.

Of course, spoilers in each.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:00 PM on June 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


There's always two ways to go with questions like these: you can say "well, it's because of this and this and that" e.g. the doctor was running around after the operation because there were nano-things that stitched her muscles back together. Or, you can say "Because it's a holywood production that you supported by paying $7.99 for $.34 worth of popcorn."

Personally, I much prefer the former :)
posted by rebent at 8:00 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bruce Willis was a ghost.
posted by Damienmce at 8:01 PM on June 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


I kind of like how there are no questions about Vickers (save the "running away" one) since everything I've seen has commented on the fact that--whatever our initial impressions of her--she's one of the most rational operators in the film.

Also, thank God for TVTropes.
posted by psoas at 8:02 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


man of twists and turns- I was just stepping in to link that same insanely thorough explanation.

Upon leaving the theater last night, we all decided to reserve questions until the inevitable directors cut comes out in a few years.
posted by haplesschild at 8:04 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prometheus makes Event Horizon look like Alien.
posted by fryman at 8:07 PM on June 10, 2012 [22 favorites]


All this will be answered in the Prometheus sequel, "Rosebud: Sled of the Engineers"
posted by Stoatfarm at 8:07 PM on June 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh, actually, here's one more: if the magical medical device is only set to operate on male patients (Jesus, really?), why did Vickers...no, actually, I'll just leave it at what the fuck, space sexism?
posted by psoas at 8:07 PM on June 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


I know people are going to be permanently unsatisfied with this film. That said, SPOILERS, I really like the movie's reversal of what Cameron brought to the film, which wound up being sort of theme of the series -- that the encounter with aliens tests our ability to be good parents.

In this universe, for unexplained reasons, parents and children and inevitably engaged in a genocidal war against each other. The film leaves unanswered the question of why the engineers decided to destroy humanity, but, with the exception of Noomi Rapace's father (who died of an illness almost exactly like what killed the engineers), parents and children are constantly offing each other in this film. And, at the end, she's on her way to the engineer's home planet in a ship that we can presume is filled with death gel, leaving behind the second-generation of her own progeny -- a proto xenomorph.

It may not make much sense, but it's a pretty entertainingly grim view of evolution, in which survival of the fittest extends even to whether the child or the parent will survive each other.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:08 PM on June 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's a straight up D&D dungeon crawl. Once you accept that, it's a pretty good movie.
posted by robcorr at 8:08 PM on June 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


SMS Dialogue between Noomi Rapace and and Engineer
posted by the duck by the oboe at 8:09 PM on June 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


(The sexism is pretty bad, though. Which supports my D&D thesis, sadly.)
posted by robcorr at 8:09 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


psoas, it was for one character. Who wasn't Vickers. And who is that level of arrogant/blind.

I am trying not to spoil, honest.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:12 PM on June 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


psoas, Vickers had it because it was intended for Weyland. If anyone on that ship rates the automatic surgeon, it's the space trillionaire. The rest of the plebs, executives included, can make do with the human doctor.

As for why it's only set for male patients, my theory is that only twelve were ever built because it failed at market when it became clear it was designed and manufactured by a massive misogynist.
posted by figurant at 8:12 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, actually, here's one more: if the magical medical device is only set to operate on male patients (Jesus, really?), why did Vickers...no, actually, I'll just leave it at what the fuck, space sexism?
I think it was more of a nod to how fucked up things can get in multi-generational family businesses. See also: VW Audi Group's rules about how many Porsche family members can have senior roles at the same time, or the weirdness in the Murdoch clan before Lachlan finally stepped down.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:13 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of WTF criticisms (which the movie does engender) don't seem to acknowledge that the engineers who created the biological weapons seemed to have screwed themselves - or did no one else get that impression? I mean the ship's captain pretty says exactly that.
posted by Shit Parade at 8:14 PM on June 10, 2012


Also, Space Sexism is kind of a theme in the whole Alien(s) franchise.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:15 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


why did Vickers...no, actually, I'll just leave it at what the fuck, space sexism?

It's because Vickers is a robot, right? I NEED TO KNOW IF VICKERS WAS A ROBOT OR NOT YOU GUYS.
posted by elizardbits at 8:17 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean obvsly it's because the machine is really for Weyland's use, but ALSO IS VICKERS A ROBOT Y/N.
posted by elizardbits at 8:18 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


You'll have to wait for the directors cut with the voiceover.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:18 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


This one was pretty interesting, particularly the last question.
posted by four panels at 8:18 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Two things:

David very obviously hates them all. It is staggering. Why is this never commented on?

"Why yes, running away from this linearly moving object along its trajectory is CLEARLY the best option!"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:19 PM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I dunno, I thought everything in Event Horizon was explained pretty well. Plus it has nearly every horror movie convention available in it, which I thought was impressive. Well ok, there wasn't a cabin full of hormonal teenagers, but pretty much everything else.
posted by bitterkitten at 8:19 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


David very obviously hates them all. It is staggering.

David is my forever robot.
posted by elizardbits at 8:20 PM on June 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


WARNING: LIVEJOURNAL

An honest and hilarious warning.
posted by four panels at 8:21 PM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shit Parade: Exactly. Whatever the engineers were up to for Earth, it's pretty clear that containment was breached on their bioweapon while on LV 233.

This is what prevented them from going ahead and deploying the payload on that ship 2000 years ago. If the accident hadn't happened, it would have been a quickish hop over to Earth and bombs away.
posted by figurant at 8:21 PM on June 10, 2012


four panels

"But then with Prometheus – which I thought was bloody well intellectual – that wasn’t my idea." - R. Scott.

Wow. I know not everyone gets the benefit of a grounding in the classics, but wow.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:22 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


A wizard technologically advanced alien race did it.
posted by axiom at 8:22 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only problems I had with the movie were a) there didn't appear to be any reason for Charlize Theron's character to be involved at all; b) the DIY Cesarean; and, c) the too-obvious set up for a sequel. Unless this film is an absolute fail at the box office, it's pretty much a given that this is the beginning of a series which will end up at the first Alien film. There wasn't any need to hit the audience over the head with it.

I saw the film yesterday - anything that needs this much explanation needed some more work. ( WARNING: LIVEJOURNAL )

If anyone's interested, there's a somewhat thought-provoking reddit discussion of that LJ article.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:24 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't entirely pick up on David's perspective until that conversation at the pool table with Holloway. Gentle, Peter-O'Toole-inflected dialog has never been so vibrantly furious.

Since infecting Holloway with the goo doesn't seem to serve any reasonable medical purpose for Weyland, I think David may just have done that for the fuck of it.
posted by figurant at 8:27 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It may not make much sense, but it's a pretty entertainingly grim view of evolution, in which survival of the fittest extends even to whether the child or the parent will survive each other.

That just sounds like a boneheaded view of evolution. Survival of the fittest means progeny, without whom evolution cannot happen. Any species that somehow manages to evolve to fight its own offspring for resources is doomed, sooner rather than later.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:29 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fig - yeah, I was wondering exactly wth that was about.
posted by bitterkitten at 8:30 PM on June 10, 2012


Since infecting Holloway with the goo doesn't seem to serve any reasonable medical purpose for Weyland, I think David may just have done that for the fuck of it.
Are you saying Blade Runner is a prequel to Prometheus?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:32 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Survival of the fittest means progeny,

The history of evolution is filled with divergent species from a common ancestry going to war with each other. Since we're not like the engineers, and they still exist, we stopped being their children and became a competing species.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:32 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, the name of the movie is Prometheus. And Prometheus created man and gave him fire in defiance of the gods. We could guess a similar thing was happening here. The Engineers were actively trying to undo the creation of humanity.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:33 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, but tbh I don't think David really hates anyone, does he? It's not in his programming. I'm not entirely sure he feels jealous about all the things that Holloway taunted him about either - not being A Real Boy, etc. And it's a core part of his programming that the simulated anger he can display will only be displayed if it is absolutely vital in reaching a pre-programmed goal.

What I do think is that he feels superior to them all, because he is, in fact, demonstrably superior. Impenetrable confidence that you are vastly superior to the other life forms around you probably looks a lot like evil robohate.
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


b1tr0t, it is a little interesting that Scott now has two of his three SF movies featuring creations trying to confront their creators to demand more life.
posted by figurant at 8:34 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since we're not like the engineers, and they still exist, we stopped being their children and became a competing species.

Right, fine, but that's a bit different than what I was specifically responding to, namely, "in which survival of the fittest extends even to whether the child or the parent will survive each other."
posted by adamdschneider at 8:35 PM on June 10, 2012


Ridley Scott: the new George Lucas?
posted by simms2k at 8:35 PM on June 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


So much of Prometheus was unexplained or just plain stupid that it made me rethink Ridley Scott's previous work. I think he may have gone all George Lucas on us.

What is particularly frustrating is that the film flirts with big ideas (religion, mankind's origins, parenthood, etc) but either ignores the implications or contradicts them in the next scene. I'm all for films that require intereptation but this is just stupid, stupid, stupid. (my longer review)
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:37 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was probably not going to see this movie anyway, but damn I am enjoying the snarky responses to it.

Here's my favorite so far: Prometheus: An Archaelogical Perspective

Archaeologist Noomi Rapace is excavating a crevice in a cave with a paintbrush. Shining a small torch into the crevice, she smiles, and tells her assistant to shout to Dr. Holloway, who is excavating a fair distance away down the hill. You can tell he’s an archaeologist, as opposed to another kind of doctor, because he is sieving soil. When his name is called, he instantly throws the sieve to the ground, and pounds up the hill to the cave. Because, as we all know, archaeology can be extraordinarily hard to catch.

It just gets better from there.
posted by emjaybee at 8:41 PM on June 10, 2012 [40 favorites]


elizardbits, David claims to not feel emotions, but is that true?

I understand human emotions, although I do not feel them myself *single tear*

Alright, it's promotional material rather than the movie itself, but the point is that David isn't necessarily trustworthy all the time.
posted by figurant at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2012


Aside from my crazed roborantings, my main other unaddressed issue is what exactly happened to Milburn? They found Fifield back at the cargo bay gone all tharn. But when the snake thing leapt out of Milburn's throat back in the gross alien goo chamber, he looked pretty dead and not... chestbursted, right? It seems kind of illogical that he's not going to turn into something else awful and murderous.
posted by elizardbits at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll be relieved if it turns out to be full of unanswered questions. It looked to me like they put the whole damn movie in the trailers.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:43 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Right, fine, but that's a bit different than what I was specifically responding to, namely, "in which survival of the fittest extends even to whether the child or the parent will survive each other."

It's how it plays out in this film. Parents produce murderous and competing progeny, and they go to war with each other. Is it good science?

No, this film is more a fantasy than anything else. But, then, Alien was more a horror movie than science fiction, and Blade Runner was more noir than science fiction. We shouldn't expect good science from Scott -- it's not really his wheelhouse.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:43 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best comment from the Reddit thread:
But with a script that raises about a hundred different ideas - and resolves precisely zero of those ideas - there's bound to be a handful of themes that you COULD read into the film. There's bound to be some level of profundity that COULD be inferred from the final product, since the final product leaves every single tangential rambling or thought that it contemplates completely unresolved. Conversely, there are a far greater number of moments which completely collapse on further analysis. There's a monstrous amount of bullshit that the above critique chooses to completely ignore.
posted by nixt at 8:43 PM on June 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


People who are comparing this movie to George Lucas' output really need to get ahold of themselves. Prometheus is not a perfect film, but it sure as hell isn't Phantom Menace bad.
posted by boubelium at 8:46 PM on June 10, 2012 [26 favorites]


"Why isn't anybody telling me what happened? Where are my answers?"
posted by boo_radley at 8:48 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Where is my sexy spaceman Idris Elba action figure? Does his space shirt come off?"
posted by elizardbits at 8:50 PM on June 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


Add in Pandora. Prometheus' meddling caused Pandora to be sent as punishment. The character of Shaw is much like Pandora, hopping to find the hippy-dippy creators and instead leads humanity to the WMD bio lab of the gods, which is set to bomb earth.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 PM on June 10, 2012


elizardbits: ""Where is my sexy spaceman Idris Elba action figure? Does his space shirt come off?""
Includes Space Flip-Flops and Autographed Concertina!
posted by boo_radley at 8:58 PM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


No guys it was 'cause the black goo goes into the guy and then he gets worm-eyes and bad skin and gets all super strong and wants to die so they light him on fire plus when he has sex he makes a giant squid baby that grows exponentially larger immediately and tries to eat everyone oh except when instead the black goo makes people completely dissolve or when it makes that other guy get all bendy-weird and FUCK I'M HIGH RIDLEY GOT THAT GOOD SHIT.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:03 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


but robots
posted by elizardbits at 9:07 PM on June 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


elizardbits: "but robots"

I think this is what annoyed David more than anything. "I AM AN ANDROID, NOW YOU EAT BIOWEAPON UNSHORN ARCHAEOLOGIST."
posted by boo_radley at 9:12 PM on June 10, 2012


Oh, maybe The Engineers were Yuuzhan Vong? Which explains the size, hairlesness, and the first person the only one around chooses to destroy? Also, why they prefer the organic superweapon option.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:15 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, thank God for TVTropes.

For real. The Idiot Ball section is right on. "Breathable atmosphere? Sure, let's take off our helmets."
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:17 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: but robots
posted by Stoatfarm at 9:19 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I had an enumerated list of Huge Goddamn Mistakes but gave up after Milburn decided to cuddle with the horrible alien snakebeast. Dude was the worst biologist on the entire planet, which admittedly is not saying much.
posted by elizardbits at 9:19 PM on June 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


But with a script that raises about a hundred different ideas - and resolves precisely zero of those ideas - there's bound to be a handful of themes that you COULD read into the film.

Christ, it sounds like they got a writer from Lost or something.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:19 PM on June 10, 2012 [47 favorites]


Wait are you guys saying this isn't a good movie? I don't want to hear that!! I'm sitting here in India, itching to get back to the states precisely so I can watch this film and you are telling me it's a mess. *plugs ears and scrunches eyes closed* LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe the engineers were just trying worried that organic life would build sentient life which would inevitably wipe out organic life so they decided to wipe out organic life so they wouldn't build oh fuck it.
posted by figurant at 9:21 PM on June 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Christ, it sounds like they got a writer from Lost or something.

Are you hamburgering or do you actually not know that Lindelof wrote the movie? I CAN'T TELL BECAUSE NYQUIL.
posted by elizardbits at 9:23 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe the engineers were just trying worried that organic life would build sentient life which would inevitably wipe out organic life so they decided to wipe out organic life so they wouldn't build oh fuck it.

Hey man, Mass Effect spoiler tags please.
posted by Nomiconic at 9:23 PM on June 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


NYQUIL ROBOTS ELIZARDBITS
posted by boo_radley at 9:23 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


i am going to sleep because that's where i get to make out with vikings and also spaceman idris elbas
posted by elizardbits at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


they got a writer from Lost or something.

In the first draft of the script, Press Secretary CJ Cregg was behind the whole thing all along.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was about 2.5 hours and $26 I'd like back.

LOL!

Seriously though - What happened with that movie? An opening act with so much promise that leads into a sloppy mess of diarrea.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 9:29 PM on June 10, 2012


You know, I've never seen a single one of the Alien movies before this, so I might be in the dark, but man, those guys were all terrible scientists. I mean, seriously, a trillion-dollar budget, and those adult children were they best they could do?

I mean, it was a pretty fun Sci Fi film with some great suspense moments, but they seriously should have brought Joss Whedon on to De-Lucas all of the characters and actors. Spoiler: Everyone dies, and the only one I was remotely sad or anxious about was the fucking robot.

I'm not even that concerned about the holes in the plot, because the motivations and decisions of all of the characters were just completely incomprehensible. The only thing I'm curious about is why the robot had an apparent evil streak... I feel like I only got to see half a movie.
posted by schmod at 9:32 PM on June 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have been amusing myself trying to decide whether Snow White and the Huntsman, which I saw last night, or Prometheus, which I will most likely skip but have now read two or three recaps of, had the most incoherent plot. I think Snow White might actually hang together better.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:35 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


schmod, Alien (SF/horror) is great. Aliens (SF/action) is also great, but in a different direction. I really recommend them.

They don't have any scientists in them, so making science mistakes is forgiven. Unlike Prometheus.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:38 PM on June 10, 2012


WARNING: LIVEJOURNAL

This is a thing?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:46 PM on June 10, 2012


NYQUIL ROBOTS ELIZARDBITS

This is my new password because SO MANY BITS OF ENTROPY.
posted by The Tensor at 9:48 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


No no, go see Prometheus because it's very, very pretty. Plot, schmot. The holes are there to punish people who think about plot instead of looking at all the pretty.

David wasn't evil. His prime directive was to serve Weyland, and Weyland's chief interest was the goo. The whole thing is about who you serve and opening Pandora's box and it's all a bunch of callbacks to various people and androids doing terrible things in the service of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and Irrevocable Discoveries.
posted by gingerest at 9:48 PM on June 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


anything that needs this much explanation needed some more work

Wow. That's radically different (and I think worse) than what I had been thinking. Space Jebus?

I'd been primed by Del Toro's remarks about Prometheus being Lovecrafty, and so I didn't see the Engineers as beneficent at all. I saw them as powerful and amoral beings who go around creating and destroying and whatnot for whatever eldritch purposes they have. They made us and, fuck it, didn't really care either way. As Holloway says to David, it was just something they could do. And killing us all is also just something they can do, so why not? I don't know that they're even actually hostile to us or hate us, any more than you're actively hostile to your gut bacteria or a Sim you won't give any bathrooms to.

In a lot of ways, the Engineers struck me as The Company with a few million years of research behind it -- fantastically powerful, still at best amoral, still focused on short-term (to it) horizons, still looking for new bioweapons. And they found a doozy before, whoops, it got loose and killed them all 2000 years ago. Elsewhere, I'd even wondered if the Engineers made the goo themselves or just found it somewhere else in the wreckage of an even older, even more powerful, just as amoral civilization.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 PM on June 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


That Prometheus: An Archaeological Perspective that emjaybee posted above is pretty hilarious. I think this is my favorite part:

Colourful displays shimmer into being – motion sensitive read-outs unfold and hover in front of him, their only goal in life is to provide him with information, and look great. Fassbender smiles, perhaps marveling at the possibility that one day in the not so distant future, all this marvellous technology could be replaced by clattery keyboards, blinking LEDs and monochrome cathode ray tubes
posted by adamdschneider at 9:57 PM on June 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


The bad scientists didn't bother me too much. On the one hand, the group of scientists who would respond to the WeylandsList ad "Wanted: Geologist and biologist for several year interstellar trip to unknown planet. Reason for travel is need-to-know. Characteristics of planet are need-to-know. Probable job duties groundside are need-to-know. Other crew members are need-to-know. Hazard pay at standard rates" might draw more heavily from bottom-feeders looking for any work they can than it does from ivy league departments. On the other hand, Vickers doesn't seem like the best judge of character to be picking from that restricted group.

It doesn't surprise me that they'd end up with a geologist whose first reaction is the entirely understandable "I signed up to look at rocks. This: not a rock. Fuck this sideways." Or a biologist who is Future Space Steve Irwin.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:02 PM on June 10, 2012 [32 favorites]


So this is where I get to rant about Prometheus, right?

begin rant!

All this arguing over what the point of the movie was seems to miss the point that the movie sucked and had no point.

This movie had more in common with "Scream" or "I Know What You Did Last Summer" than it does with Alien or Aliens. But even those movies were more believable.

Seriously, a trillion dollar mission to a distant planet where every single crew member acts like an impetuous teenager. Nobody has any sort of plan for anything, they're just out there half-a-billion trillions of miles out in space and they're just gonna wing it.

The best and the brightest scientists and technicians just get into some sleep pods to travel for two years and they don't know where they're going or why.. and then when they wake up, they get a 5 minute briefing where they are told they're looking for aliens.. OK LETS GO OUTSIDE AND CHECK IT OUT NOW!

Instead of bringing a surgeon they have a "very expensive" medical pod that isn't calibrated for women?! WTF?

Facile doesn't even begin to deal with the problems of this movie. Seriously, fuck this movie.

I saw Battleship two weeks ago and I have to say, as dumb as that was, at least it had an entertaining and semi-coherent plot! It had characters that I wanted to root for and see them succeed.

Everyone in this movie acted like a moron, how am I supposed to give a shit what happens to anyone? Just dumb, bad, lazy writing. Disgusting.

Alien and each of it's three sequels is more watchable and entertaining than this crap. Even the hilariously convoluted Alien: Resurection had more believable characters than this movie.. mainly because they didn't act like complete morons the entire length of the film.

end rant!
posted by j03 at 10:06 PM on June 10, 2012 [28 favorites]


That's it man, thread over!
posted by Flashman at 10:07 PM on June 10, 2012 [28 favorites]


out there half-a-billion trillions of miles out in space

It's half-a-billion miles.

Space miles.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:08 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prometheus goes 35 light yrs into space, but CharlizeTheron gaffes "We're a half billion miles from Earth"- just past Jupiter -NDT
posted by j03 at 10:10 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


j03, I figure the dollar must have been heavily, heavily devalued by the late 21st century, and thus a trillion dollar mission really isn't all that impressive. Either that, or the howling geologist is literally the only man in the world with the requisite skill set necessary to operate those laser drones.
posted by figurant at 10:11 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Instead of bringing a surgeon they have a "very expensive" medical pod that isn't calibrated for women?! WTF?

It's only configured for Weyland.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 PM on June 10, 2012


For all of you asking "why didn't they just sidestep the ship LOL?". Imagine this: You've just traveled to a moon half a million miles away from your home planet. You see your significant other burned to death after being infected by... something, you just had sex with them only hours before, you give birth to a squid-like-thingy, there's an asshole robot, some douche who looks like he works out in his moms basement too often (the engineer), your spaceship just smashed into another spaceship, you have no other feasible way of getting off the moon, and, oh yeah, THERE'S A HUGE FUCKING SHIP ROLLING TOWARDS YOU--YOU'RE FUCKING, SCREWED, BONED.

My point is, I don't think you would be thinking strait either. Besides, it's Hollywood. You have to admit that scene was more interesting that "LOL sidestep".
posted by Somnolent Jack at 10:17 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Btw, this movie both sucks and is great.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 PM on June 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Is it half a trillion miles? That makes more sense. Woops.
posted by Somnolent Jack at 10:19 PM on June 10, 2012


How much do you think it sucked to work on this movie? I mean, you spend all day working with Charlize Theron and Idris Elba and Michael Fassbender, and then you go home and look in the mirror and think, "I look like a bag of rotting meat."
posted by Rangeboy at 10:21 PM on June 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Christ, it sounds like they got a writer from Lost or something.

The sad thing is that Lindelof just got hired to work on the World War Z script. Failing upward!
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:27 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


longdaysjourney: "Christ, it sounds like they got a writer from Lost or something.

The sad thing is that Lindelof just got hired to work on the World War Z script. Failing upward!
"

I can't wait to see how faith will reaffirm mankind in a zombie scenario.
posted by boo_radley at 10:36 PM on June 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


As someone who enjoyed the movie in spite of the numerous plot holes, I sincerely hope no Zombie Space Jesus Engineer makes an appearance in Prometheus 2. That would really cheapen what is already a silly yet evocative story. Sprinkling in Jesus will just make it tired and clichéd and ultimately inconceivably boring.
posted by nonmerci at 10:43 PM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ebert loved it. I'm so conflicted, now.
posted by maxwelton at 10:48 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Instead of bringing a surgeon they have a "very expensive" medical pod that isn't calibrated for women?! WTF?
It's only configured for Weyland.

YOU'RE TRYING TO TELL ME IT CAN'T BE CONFIGURED FOR MORE THAN ONE SEX?!

This movie is a lot like Idiocracy, everyone and everything in the future is dumb!
posted by j03 at 11:11 PM on June 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've loved alien for so long. I was worried about the space jockey's origin ruining the lovecrafteaness of the first movie. Midway through I felt pretty good. Then noomi took off in the spaceship that haunted my childhood and I died inside.
posted by Brainy at 11:16 PM on June 10, 2012


My only question: How many people would have lived had more than one person been remotely kind to David or sensitive to his feelings?
posted by Slackermagee at 11:22 PM on June 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't know what it was, but a lot of the scenes in this movie had this weird feel to them that reminded me of those reenactments in PBS documentaries on Lincoln or whatever. It made it seem cheap somehow. When the two scientists are in the cave in the beginning, and the person turns on their flashlight is when I first noticed it. I may be alone here.
posted by Pope Xanax IV at 11:33 PM on June 10, 2012


I am having a hard time reconciling the amount of negative flack this movie is getting with peoples' stated reasons for thinking the movie is bad.

"The scientists didn't act like scientists! Why would they take their helmets off?! Why would they join this the expedition if they didn't know what it was for?! How could Shaw be running around right after a Caesarian?! Why would the machine not handle pregnancies? And just run sideways, Charlize!" Those are the complaints? They all strike me as totally trivial things that could be handwaved away with sci-fi explanations or just comfortably ignored. They're not important plot holes. Sure, there are some slight leaps of logic and bad line reads ("...father"). But who cares? It's like watching the whole Internet bash a new James Bond movie because "It's so unrealistic that the bad guys always miss! And tanks don't go that fast!"

On the other hand, the movie had a lot of mysterious and barely comprehensible bits that were obviously intended to be mysterious. Why does the black goo work in that way? What's it for? Why are the engineers sometimes benevolent and sometimes malicious? Why is David sometimes benevolent and sometimes malicious? The fact that there aren't easy answers to these questions is a plus; they make a cool movie. I think people are frustrated that they don't get this movie on these grounds, so they conclude that it's a weak and incomprehensible script; in order to justify their unwillingness to engage, they point to the trivial things as evidence that the movie is weak. I was excited to read "ten key questions" about Prometheus, but thought it was ridiculous that genuine questions (what was the engineer in the prologue doing?) were mixed with entirely insignificant needling (why was Shaw running around after having surgery?).

The Livejournal link in the first comment sure is awesome. That should have been the FPP.
posted by painquale at 11:37 PM on June 10, 2012 [31 favorites]


I'm really enjoying the trip on this schadenfreude train, and will gladly ride it until it derails. I don't think I've seen such a quality, gleeful, internet-wide snarkfest in awhile.

Also, not having watched the movie (the trailer was plenty thank you), I'm going to pretend that all these David The Robot character quotes people keep posting are being acted out by this guy.
posted by bionic.junkie at 11:37 PM on June 10, 2012


My favorite theory so far is that we broke Space Jesus.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:59 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a shit sandwich that movie was. Holographic aliens? Talk about the shittiest plot device ever.

In the original Alien, you were scared. This hot dump of a movie was such a passive experience I almost fell asleep. I did not for one full minute give a fuck about anything.

And what the fuck was that Asian guy doing in the movie? Give me a break. So disappointed.
posted by phaedon at 12:00 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damn. T'was already posted. Right at the beginning. N' I felt all clever. -DAMN-.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:01 AM on June 11, 2012


How many people would have lived had more than one person been remotely kind to David or sensitive to his feelings?

Well both he and is creators were saying that David doesn't have emotions. It seemed clear to me that that was not in fact true, but we were sort of given a privileged view of things. If you take his claims at face value, saying jerky things to or about him is not really much different than saying a car is a piece of crap.

I don't see any reason to think David knew what would happen when he infected Holloway with the goo. Certainly using him as a test subject was shitty, though right before he did he checked what he was willing to sacrifice to get answers - he said "everything".

The thing I don't get is why he wanted to cryofreeze the pregnant Dr. Shaw. Did he by then know what the alien was? What was he going to do with it? Does he also want to destroy mankind?

If there is the sequel that the final scene promises, there are a lot of questions I'm sure it won't answer, but I'm optimistic that these will have some light shed on them.
posted by aubilenon at 12:09 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The scientists didn't act like scientists! They all strike me as totally trivial things that could be handwaved away with sci-fi explanations or just comfortably ignored. They're not important plot holes. But who cares? It's like watching the whole Internet bash a new James Bond movie because "It's so unrealistic that the bad guys always miss! And tanks don't go that fast!"

It's fine for bad guys to always miss because the Hero is better than they are, and tanks going fast is of course easy to ignore.

The character description in this movie is scientist and they all act like teenagers in a haunted house movie. That's not something I can just handwave away. One or two dumb scientists ok, maybe to advance an important plot point, but it's not one or two in this movie. It's every single character! I can't think of a single logical thing anybody did in the entire movie that wouldn't make an already convoluted plot more convoluted!

I think David poisoning that guy with the black goo was the single most mind bogglingly stupid thing in the entire movie.

1. He doesn't know what the goo will do. He could end up contaminating the entire ship and killing everyone aboard including Weiland who he was purportedly trying to save.

2. He does know what the goo will do because he could read the alien writing. It turns people into superstrong monster zombies. Soooo... he gives it to the main scientist on the ship and lets him roam around when he could potentially turn into a zombie at any moment and start killing people. ????

3. There is no scenario in which this action makes any logical sense other than he is a psychopath. But if that's the case, his character then doesn't act consistently at all. Sometimes a psychopath sometimes not, for no reason at all other than the writer wanted some 'cool stuff brah!' to happen.

The film has no internal logic or consistency.. it's just Deus ex machina ad nauseum.

All I wanted from this movie was someone to root for against astonishing odds. Instead I suffered as the characters flailed against their own astonishing, eye-rolling idiocy.

I mean, sure, all movies suffer from one plot hole or a character doing something dumb here or there... sometimes it's a whole pile of plot holes and dumb things. But usually, you have a character or characters redeem themselves at some point.

In this movie, it was just a never ending barrage of one stupid, inconsistent, illogical action after another. I never was able to grasp on to one character to pull me through the movie without them taking some baffling action.

To paraphrase my favorite critic speaking about a different movie.., "It's like they took the first draft of the script and just went with it and nobody pushed back that made no sense at all and was a stupid, incoherent mess."

OK, seriously... I'm done ranting now. I'll shut up finally.
posted by j03 at 12:09 AM on June 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't like spiders and snakes and that ain't what it takes to make quality science fiction.
posted by telstar at 12:22 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought the LJ post was decent. I'm convinced that the main theme is sacrifice through death to create life. That part of the analysis seems quite solid - but then it goes way off the rails when it starts going on about how the engineers are mad because we killed Jesus. If sacrificial death is a good thing and they visit planets to sacrifice themselves, why would this be such a problem? I don't think the film has some big moral lesson, I think it's much more ambiguous.

This ambiguity is reflected in the weirdness of the black slime. It isn't a bioweapon. It's the exact same substance that the engineer drinks in the first scenes, used to create life. It transforms everything it touches into life, it is something like pure life energy.

The message of the movie is that life is not some unalloyed good, but actually profoundly ambiguous. Imagine it from the perspective of the universe before biological life. It was relatively quiet, and things happened slowly, on geologic time scales of millions of years, mostly matter crashing into other matter. When life emerges, it appears as something filled with a raw, irrepressible, unstable energy, a pure excess. Life as a kind unnatural monstrosity which writhes around, pulsates, reproduces, oozes disgusting substances and refuses to die. In other words, the monsters produced by the black slime appear to us as horrifying and evil, but this is exactly how the non-living universe must see us.

So the engineers were planning on bringing the black slime to Earth but not to wipe out humanity. It was to transform us into some new, even more radical form of life that would necessarily be perceived as a cataclysmic disaster from the perspective of the previous order.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:27 AM on June 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


j03: So actually upon further reflection, David does actually say "Doesn't everyone want their parents dead?" He seems to be talking about Weyland, but if he's talking about humanity, that goes some way towards explaining his actions.
posted by aubilenon at 12:28 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


It was to transform us into some new, even more radical form of life

If you mean radical in the ninja turtles sense, I 100% approve of this plan.
posted by aubilenon at 12:31 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I just want to make sure I understand the updated xenomorph life cycle. Please chime in if I got anything wrong. Ahem...

Black goo infects human and changes his DNA > Infected male human impregnates normal female human > normal female human gives birth to weird squid thing > weird squid thing grows to extraordinary size and impregnates Space Jockey > Space Jockey has proto Alien thing burst out of this chest.

Is that right? Cause if so that alone makes this the dumbest movie I've seen in years.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 12:33 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think David poisoning that guy with the black goo was the single most mind bogglingly stupid thing in the entire movie.

The fact that it wasn't explained was one of my favorite things in the movie. David is as alien as the aliens.
posted by painquale at 12:42 AM on June 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


The sad thing is that Lindelof just got hired to work on the World War Z script.

I am FAR more worried about Star Trek.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:44 AM on June 11, 2012


But wait - there's more...

The mohawk geologist who mapped the entire inside of the cave and who has a direct link back to the ship where the captain can see not only the entire layout of the structure but also where everyone is in relation to one another....GOT LOST ON THE WAY OUT? You couldn't have come up with a better way to separate those two from the rest of the crew?

The idiot biologist after seeing a crazy alien worm thing while trapped inside a creepy temple on a far away planet decides that this is the cutest thing he's ever seen so he HAS TO PET IT!!

The main female character takes a giant logical leap from there are cave paintings that point to a distant galaxy to ALIEN DNA MADE HUMANS. When queried about what evidence she might have for undoing hundreds of years of proven Darwinian evolution she responds that she has faith. Cut. End of scene. A Lindelof moment if there ever was one.

A super advanced medial device capable of complex surgery on demand is somehow not configured for females?? Of all the possible surgeries programmed into this device how many could possibly be specific for women only? Maybe the sales person tried to upsell Wayland on the co-ed model and he decided to pass.

The awful awful awful awful old man makeup on Guy Pearce. Ok, I get it. He was in the (interesting) TED promo video. But if he's supposed to be 100 years old now then just CAST AN OLD MAN! I wanted to laugh every time he came on screen.

And finally (though I could keep going) - Wayland and crew return to the ship, resurrect the Space Jockey, and begin to query it for answers to life, the universe, and everything. The response? PUNCH! SMASH! DECAPITATE! Rawrrrrr. Talk about having no fucking idea how to wrap up a bunch of sophomoric philosophy and plot holes (another Lindelof moment if there ever was one).

Honestly, quality production values, good cinematography, and a solid marketing campaign don't make up for a hackneyed script, gaping plot holes, hollow characters, and muddled philosophy. From here on out when I watch Alien I will just pretend that Prometheus was some laughable fanfic.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 12:52 AM on June 11, 2012 [36 favorites]


Big let down unparalleled. Like the last episode of "Seinfeld"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:57 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sandor Clegane:

The fact that they got stranded overnight let them have some bad stuff happen to them, but - the snake going down that guy's throat didn't really seem to do anything other than make him dead, and the other guy turning into a zombie just meant some disposable people got disposed of, before he got put down. Do those people even have names?

The fact that the medical thing is calibrated for men? That means she has say a few more sentences to trick it into doing the c-section. Inconsequential.

If these things were stupid because they have to be for the story to work, well that's dumb and they should have written a different story. But it's also egregious to have stupid shit like this when cutting it out or fixing it wouldn't affect anything else. I'm not sure which is worse.

The interactions with the alive engineer, on the other hand, I think are central to the movie. That said, I'm not sure what you were hoping for there. Were you expecting him to say "Yes, as a matter of fact, I was about to go to Earth and destroy all life there. But before I do, I'd like to take a few moments to explain exactly how and why I'm going to do it."

I wonder what David even said to him.
posted by aubilenon at 1:22 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not that I was hoping for anything specific. But you have two characters (IRL Wayland and the Space Jockey) introduced in the final act of the movie. Wayland spends a fair amount of time talking about trying to live forever, meet his maker, what have you. And the resolution to all of this is a brief fight leaving just about everyone dead. It just feels like a really bad setup that comes out of nowhere and gets resolved (rather poorly) within 15 minutes.

The only way to save this movie, IMO, would have been to ditch this script altogether and head in a different direction. There's just too much wrong with this movie at a real fundamental level. Maybe somewhere on the floor is an interesting draft of the script. But what they chose to film isn't it.

So with that said I will give credit where credit is due and say that the first act showed at least some promise, the early scene of David wandering around the ship was totally inspired, and that David was BY FAR the most interesting thing in the film.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 1:36 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


without slipping into the sexist thing, i'm wondering why we saw no female engineers. now that would be an awesome sight.
posted by helion at 1:44 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's the question I haven't heard anyone address yet: if the Engineers were inviting us to meet them, why did they give us directions to their military installation? The geologist or biologist says to the other humans (and so to the audience) that the Engineers were smart enough not to do the R&D for their megadeadly bioweapons on their own planet out of fear that it might go wrong (which it did), so they developed the black goo on a planet that wasn't their homeworld. Either his on-the-nose exposition is wrong (in which case, why would the writer have him tell the audience that?), or the Engineers gave us directions to the wrong planet.

If the Engineers decided to destroy us approx. 2,000 years ago (which seems right, given that the dead Engineers on the ship had been there for 2,000 years, and is also supported by that long LJ post), why did they give us directions to their military installation 35,000 years ago?

I guess you could say that it was their homeworld, and that when they turned on us 2,000 years ago they abandoned it and left the ships and black goo there just in case we did come there, but leaving the goo there and hoping that we come seems like a really roundabout way of destroying us. If that is the case, why not communicate that to the audience?

At some point, not having answers stops being mysterious and starts being confusing and annoying. There are holes in every level of Prometheus, from the themes and narrative to the characters to continuity. Maybe there'll be some Blade Runner-esque Final Cut that makes it better. I hope so, because I was so looking forward to seeing this film.

Oh, and the last scene? 100% unnecessary. Not only is it dumb pandering, it breaks everything that's already been established about the xenomorph lifecycle. So dumb. There were already enough callbacks/forwards to Alien in the movie.
posted by scottjacksonx at 1:58 AM on June 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


One thing really got to me about this movie. They took their helmets off because the atmosphere was safe. Apparently real scientists are worried about contaimination of samples by human breath/organics (skin, for example)/microbes and indeed of scientists by the samples.

Ask a Mayan or Native American how that kind of microbe exposure goes.
posted by jaduncan at 2:12 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Re: the surgical machine only calibrated for men

After I watched the film I was talking to my husband about all the holes in the film and for this specific point I came up with my own half-arsed theory - the writers made the machine male only so that the audience would not have to be presented with a woman undergoing a premature c-section/abortion, regardless of it being a crazy alien squid baby. Instead she has to go through a freakin' menu system to remove a "foreign object" from her "abdomen". Yes, I am that paranoid that studios worried about riling up anti-choicers.

Personally, I think that makes as much sense as the machine being a limited Weyland edition.
posted by like_neon at 2:34 AM on June 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


When those two guys went off on their own in the really really scary alien place, it was just pure Shaggy and Scooby. I couldn't recover from that.
posted by colie at 2:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


the writers made the machine male only so that the audience would not have to be presented with a woman undergoing a premature c-section/abortion, regardless of it being a crazy alien squid baby.

This is likely, in my opinion. Heroines in action movies just do not shout 'Give me an ABORTION!'
posted by colie at 2:44 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


scottjacksonx: that was the glaring question for me too - combined with why their command on the homeworld didn't do anything when they lost contact - nuking the facility and finishing the job with Earth the people at the facility failed to do.
posted by edd at 3:15 AM on June 11, 2012


[Milburn] was the worst biologist on the entire planet

Out of all the other stupid things in the movie, he's the one that almost had me yelling at the screen. Has Lindelof ever actually met a scientist?

MILBURN: I am a biologist!

SHAW: Hey, look--a two-thousand-year-old corpse from an intelligent alien species no one in recorded history has ever encountered, much less studied and written career-making papers about.

MILBURN: NOPE NOPE GOIN' BACK TO THE SHIP HERP A DERPITY DOO.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:17 AM on June 11, 2012 [28 favorites]


Hooray, it's Inception all over again.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 3:33 AM on June 11, 2012


And it turned out it was all a dream.
posted by Segundus at 3:33 AM on June 11, 2012


Now I would like to read Jon Spaihts original script before Lindeloff rewrote it...
posted by samelborp at 4:17 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually really enjoyed Prometheus - sorry that I am not jumping upon the latest nerd-rage bandwagon, though I can tell people have been having fun all over the internet- but I will say that it read like some Hollywood executive interferring at one point: "yeah, great. So, this is all slow and stuff. Can we get some KABOOM and BANG and CRASH. And so heroic moments, dude?". Yet another Ridley Scott film where I am waiting for the Director's Cut.
posted by kariebookish at 4:40 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday, Joel.
posted by ymgve at 4:45 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking some more about this. Some people around the web seem to be saying that the audience shouldn't overthink Prometheus, that it's just a good action movie, and you should just let it be mysterious and not think about it.

I don't buy that.

I'm reminded of the Steve Jobs thing about vice-presidents and janitors. I don't question Final Destination 5 because it's allowed to have storytelling faults. Its purpose is to be gore porn, so the story not making sense doesn't take away from the movie's purpose. FD5 allowed to have a shitty story because the story isn't the high-order bit of the movie. But the latest movie by the guy who made Blade Runner? At that calibre of storytelling, you're held accountable for your mistakes, and you don't get to use excuses like "don't think about it too much". If your story is asking me to question things like how and why life was created, if you're tackling questions and ideas that big, you bet your ass I'm going to think long and hard about it.

In Alien, the Space Jockey's crashed ship was mysterious. What was this huge ship? Why was it there? How did it crash? Who was that big guy sitting in what looked like a gunner's seat? The mystery surrounding the crashed ship makes the egg, facehugger, chestburster, and xeno even more mysterious. In Alien, the mystery serves the purpose of the story, which is to make the xeno seem as bad, as alien, and as scary as possible.

But in Prometheus, we're told things and then given either zero or (even worse) contradictory evidence to support them. That's not mysterious, that's sloppy storytelling.

Again, I hate saying this. I was really excited for Prometheus. When the title card came up in the trailer (which is another whole thing — give away the whole first two thirds of the movie much?), I got chills.

(In Prometheus' defense: I thought some of the horror parts were great. I was freaked right the fuck out when Shaw was getting a shmashmortion and she was waiting for the Med Pod to finish stapling her up. Those little tentacles flapping about, that alien baby looking like it's about to slip right out... just really, really tense. I thought that was well-done. Scary without resorting to jump-scares. Anyway. Also, everyone's already namechecked the sequence at the start where David is the only one awake on the ship. Even though I'm not sure why David doesn't go into cryosleep but Bishop does a hundred years later in Aliens, I'll let it slide because the David sequence is so great. And, all other criticisms aside, Prometheus is a good-looking movie. So there's that.)
posted by scottjacksonx at 5:42 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Holy crap, I've figured it out:

Prometheus is reality TV.

This explains everything. David is the producer, constantly stirring the pot and playing people off against each other (he even spends time delving into the dreams of one seemingly-bland contestant just to find good fodder for later episodes), while maintaining a (false) air of neutrality and having only loyalty to himself. The crew are ideal reality TV fodder, chosen not for their competencies but for their mayhem potential, from the geologist who's as dumb as a box of "I love rocks!" to the 'leader' who can't tell a billion miles from a trillion or figure out that the best way to escape a runaway train is to get off the tracks. There's even a 'night that everyone has sex' episode.

The only question then is, who's the audience? I think it's Weyland himself. Born just after the birth of reality TV, he's never known a world without it and he's seen it all. He latches onto one last hope for actual entertainment by throwing himself into the episode as a surprise last-minute addition, and things go as entertainingly wrong as a Springer episode.

(Okay, there are tons of other questions. But it at least makes the human elements make sense.)
posted by jiawen at 6:08 AM on June 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


How is it that I have never heard of Starcrash before?!
posted by Meatbomb at 6:16 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Even though I'm not sure why David doesn't go into cryosleep but Bishop does a hundred years later in Aliens, I'll let it slide

Bishop was a secret plant, meant to pass as human to the rest of the crew.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:20 AM on June 11, 2012


"It was configured for Weyland" is the new "red matter".
posted by adamdschneider at 6:27 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alien gods and black space goo? Seems like 130 million dollars ought to buy more than a remake of the first X-Files movie.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:36 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It was entertaining for a movie night and had high production values and all, but this movie has nothing to do with, and doesn't hold a candle to, one of the greatest movie stories of all time, Alien. It's story didn't add anything, in my opinion, to that tale.
posted by agregoli at 6:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bishop was a secret plant, meant to pass as human to the rest of the crew.

I don't think Bishop being an android is a secret. Paul Reiser is even taken aback when Ripley freaks out that Bishop is an android, because by the time Aliens takes place, having an android onboard is standard practice for Weyland-Yutani.

Now, Ash, from Alien? He was planted by the company, so him going into cryosleep to pass as a human makes sense.
posted by scottjacksonx at 6:39 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bishop goes into cryosleep because the point of Bishop is that he is the good company man; Ripley is initially distrustful of him because of what Ash did to her and the rest of the crew of the Nostromo, but she learns to trust him. Putting him in cryosleep humanizes him and makes him a sympathetic.

Contrariwise, not putting David in cryosleep dehumanizes him, and emphasizes how different his is from the rest of the crew, since you're not supposed to find him sympathetic.

It doesn't make sense in-universe, but it makes sense in terms of themes.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:47 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why David doesn't go into cryosleep but Bishop does a hundred years later in Aliens

What if part of the reason David went bad is because he got to spend years and years by himself, alone, thinking about how he was being treated? What if they figure, between Prometheus and Aliens, out that synthetics do better, go bad less often, if they are treated just like the rest of the crew? Same reason he wears the helmet, only inward-facing.

Ultimately this is a handwave, of course, but I don't consider the cryosleep issue to be an actual plot point here.
posted by gauche at 6:49 AM on June 11, 2012


Anyone care to explain to me why Noomi's Alien in her belly turns into a giant squid, but the Space Jockey's alien has a humanoid structure? ANYONE!?!?!?!?!?! I THOUGHT WE HAD THE SAME FUCKING DNA!
posted by phaedon at 6:54 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone care to explain to me why Noomi's Alien in her belly turns into a giant squid, but the Space Jockey's alien has a humanoid structure? ANYONE!?!?!?!?!?! I THOUGHT WE HAD THE SAME FUCKING DNA!

Midichlorians.

No, really. This is precisely the sort of thing that I don't think should be explained, and maybe even shouldn't have been showed at all.

I don't think we should ever see the actual genesis of the Xenomorph, in large part because the Xenomorph represents, in distilled and potent form, death in the darkness* beyond the meager light of our campfires. It comes from outside, and it destroys, and in a sense it's not just another organism competing for resources: it's an organism that is cannot even exist but out of the mangled and bloody death of another. Seeing how it could come into existence (as a species) is almost too quotidian for such a creature.

The appearance of proto-Xenomorph was, for me, one of two big mis-steps of Prometheus, because it rendered in far too much detail something that is best seen in flashes and broad, dark strokes.

*See the final paragraph of that review, specifically.
posted by gauche at 7:10 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I got Bishop and Ash confused - I was talking about Ash in Alien.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:29 AM on June 11, 2012


"It was configured for Weyland" is the new "red matter"

I agree - its a fundamentally weak explanation. I was attempting an in-universe explanation, but I think the more relevant story decisions come from out-of-universe considerations.

1: like_neon's interpretation - can't have our heroine getting an abortion, can we?

2: it lets them stretch the scene a little, with suspense. This could have been done elsewhere, not a significant reason

3: We get more emphasis on that jerk, Weyland, who is on the ship. Did we mention he's a jerk? And on the ship? Becuase he totally is, that jerk.

I feel like audiences aren't trusted with subtlety - it was obvious to me who Vickers was and how much she resented Weyland - and his proxy, David - pretty much 30 minutes in. But we got beat over the head with the jerk Weyland, who came along. And because we aren't trusted with subtlety, we get mystery instead. Why did The Engineers decide to destroy their project on Earth, and then not? Why do they seem to want to maintain a close watch, and then forget about us?

These are big holes. These are not 'lol, howcome ftl travel?' or 'howcome artificial gravity?' which are pretty standard SF plot devices that allow the story to be told. These are the story.

Unless the storyl is that the Universe is a dark, inscrutable place, with beings of extreme power and little discernable motivation. I can get behind that one.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you saying Blade Runner is a prequel to Prometheus?

I haven't seen Prometheus (not a horror movie person at all and self-surgery hits my major medical squicks) but I've been theorizing for a while that Prometheus and the Blade Runner sequel were going to tie in together somehow. The shitty reviews I've generally been seeing for Prometheus have me dreading the Blade Runner sequel.
posted by immlass at 7:38 AM on June 11, 2012


I just thought it was kind of hilarious that the Space Jockeys/Engineers ended up being Tom of Finland caricatures wearing H.R. Giger suits. It's two, two, two fetish artists in one!
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:13 AM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


No no no. Not a prequel to Alien. A sequel to Dark Star.
posted by Hogshead at 8:22 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


The fact that the medical thing is calibrated for men? That means she has say a few more sentences to trick it into doing the c-section. Inconsequential.

I'm pretty sure that Vickers' Doc-In-A-Box being calibrated only for men is intended as a very unsubtle clue that Weyland is with them. That was my immediate reaction, anyhows.

Wayland and crew return to the ship, resurrect the Space Jockey, and begin to query it for answers to life, the universe, and everything. The response? PUNCH! SMASH! DECAPITATE! Rawrrrrr.

Nope. That part was good; we meet our creators and they're amoral horrors. If only he'd been stronger, what do you think Tyrell would have done when Roy showed up asking those questions? What do you think a puppy-miller would do if one of their brood bitches walked up and asked those questions?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:23 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder what David even said to him.

I want more life, fucker.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:24 AM on June 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


Instead of bringing a surgeon they have a "very expensive" medical pod that isn't calibrated for women?! WTF?
It's only configured for Weyland.

YOU'RE TRYING TO TELL ME IT CAN'T BE CONFIGURED FOR MORE THAN ONE SEX?!

This movie is a lot like Idiocracy, everyone and everything in the future is dumb!


Its only going to have a limited number of drugs, fully sharp cutting tools, etc. that was one of the things that made sense to me.

The complete lack of any safety protocols or dude having two guys lost so decides to bang the boss, and the two guys refusing to go into the urn room until they are trapped? Thoae are the far less belivable plot elements.

The Engineer stuff and the David android? Totally excellent. But the writer couldn't tie those together. Surest sign was that the big reveal had to be said out loud.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:28 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just want to make sure I understand the updated xenomorph life cycle. Please chime in if I got anything wrong. Ahem...

Black goo infects human and changes his DNA > Infected male human impregnates normal female human > normal female human gives birth to weird squid thing > weird squid thing grows to extraordinary size and impregnates Space Jockey > Space Jockey has proto Alien thing burst out of this chest.

Is that right? Cause if so that alone makes this the dumbest movie I've seen in years.



It's a bio weapon. It has multiple independent vectors. The slime is just the easiest to deliver and what is carried by the Bomber ship.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:34 AM on June 11, 2012


The only problems I had with the movie were a) there didn't appear to be any reason for Charlize Theron's character to be involved at all; b) the DIY Cesarean; and, c) the too-obvious set up for a sequel. Unless this film is an absolute fail at the box office, it's pretty much a given that this is the beginning of a series which will end up at the first Alien film. There wasn't any need to hit the audience over the head with it.

She was not supposed to be on the ship. She thought her dad was dead and was high up in the company or running it. I think she only inured out her dad was aboard later. Alternately she knew he was aboard but wasn't expected to go. He said he was surprised.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:38 AM on June 11, 2012


The surgery machine was calibrated for men only because they wanted an abortion scene without having to make abortion seem normalized. By making the machine for men only, they skirted around the issue and made her hunt through the menu tree for an abdominal surgery.
posted by weinbot at 8:41 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree, Weinbot.

As an atheist, I don't know if I am for or against the movie's message of "Jesus is Real...ly a space alien!"
posted by rebent at 8:44 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am going on my laptop because I need a real keyboard if I am going to be able to complain about all the many flaws in Prometheus, but I wanted to get this in.

Yes, the MediPod dealie is configured for men only because Weyland = Jerk.

BUT! If we go with the Space Jesus interpretation, the fact that only 12 were made becomes significant. There are twelve apostles in the Bible, and the fact that iit is only condigured for men is a stab at the whole Catholic notion of Apostolic Succession, and all the apostles were men, which is the rationale for why only men can become"priests, Pope, etc.

And Elizabeth Shaw having an abortion (bothered me that she even said Caesarean instead of abortion in the movie and I still wonder if worry about movie content ratings played a part in that?) is another way of giving Catholicism the finger.

Makes sense in a crazy ass kind of way, as much as anything in this movie makes sense. I can just see the people who made this film thinking: "Hey, what's big in the news right now? The birth control debate? Let's throw some of that in here,too!" and then patting themselves on the back for making the movie even more profoundly mysterious.
posted by misha at 8:45 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


they skirted around the issue and made her hunt through the menu tree for an abdominal surgery.

It also introduced another obstacle into an already tense scene and showed the heroine's resourcefulness in overcoming that obstacle. I don't know whether the implied in-universe explanation is great, but I think it worked from a dramatic perspective.

Actually, I wonder if it would have been better to have the voice say something like "that procedure has been deleted" instead of "this machine is configured for men only". The implication being that someone (David?) has deliberately gone and fucked with the machine in anticipation of her actions. This would also explain why David is not monitoring the Doctor-Pod the whole time.
posted by gauche at 8:48 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


They could have cut out most of the crap easily. They all get into the complex, get the urn, a scrape of the head and leave. Everything is quarantined, but David breaks it in hope that the black goo will revive a human and doses the guy. They take a easy second trip but the illness interrupts it, she does the abortion, and the story goes fom there.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:50 AM on June 11, 2012


A lot of these logical flaws that people have raised don't bother me that much because they can get explained away somehow. What cannot be dismissed is the implausible manner in which people held conversations and exchanged information in this movie. There seemed to be a lack of incredulity in the face of incredulous situations. Everything was taken at face value and no piece of information, no matter how shocking, actually caused shock.

There are countless examples, but one that seemed particularly bizarre was near the end of the film, when Dr. Shaw was talking to the captain of the ship. The captain said that all the Engineers were dead, and she replied that no, there was one still remaining. He then said something about how it was his duty to make sure that nothing from the planet makes its way back to Earth. Okay, good. But there was never any kind of, "HOLY SHIT, REALLY? HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? ARE YOU SURE? HAVE YOU SEEN HIM? THAT'S CRAZY!"
posted by weinbot at 8:57 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


The reason all the humans acted without any sort of logic, consistency, or rational thought is because they all had Space Madnesstm. Where's my No-Prizetm?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok... so now you have me all conflicted...

I attempted to see it Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful. Beautiful (although I could see some plot holes... Why would an android be dying hair at the roots... It doesn't grow, right... A scientist accepts that there was/is no darwinian evolution based on "faith", the scientists take off their helmust, David has no problem reading/interacting with the devices in the alien-complex, horrible choice of ancient actor for Weyland (really bad makeup), "billions of miles", no surveying the entire planet, pre-landing...)...

But, my phone kept buzzing and buzzing, so I had to step out, and see what emergency was happening, and ultimately leave.

So... While it was very pretty to look at, I already had some "issues", after this thread, I am not so sure I would spend my money to go back, and instead just wait for home release (maybe they will make a "special edition" with some extra footage...)
posted by jkaczor at 9:06 AM on June 11, 2012


Space Madness? Wasn't that.... TA DUM.... PANDORUM ?
posted by jkaczor at 9:07 AM on June 11, 2012


I enjoyed the movie, it was beautiful to look at, it was thrilling, despite being bothered by a lot of the stuff above - scientists taking off their helmets, LOST-style answerless questions, etc.

But what really, really gets my goat is now I learn that the Engineers were after us, not just because of the cool Prometheus metaphor (which is one part of the mystery stuff that I thought, until now, worked) but because we crucified Space Jesus.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but what really bugs me about this is "you suck because you killed Jesus" is usually an anti-Semitic and nonsensical sentiment.

Even if the anti-Semitism is a weird coincidence / something I'm imagining, it's definitely still nonsensical because of all the other stuff about the Engineers thinking self-sacrifice to create life was so awesome (as others mentioned above).
posted by fireflies at 9:13 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, did anybody else think that Old Man Weyland looked an awful lot like 2015 Biff Tannen?

I guess we haven't made any progress in old man makeup since 1989.
posted by gauche at 9:24 AM on June 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


Ok, so I really enjoyed the movie despite it having some glaring faults.. I won't re-hash here.

The idea that the Engineer in the opening sequence is a rogue though, really emphasizes the myth of Prometheus and grounds the whole story about why they wanted to eradicate human life.
posted by djseafood at 9:25 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Honestly, I assumed she wanted a C-section because that would be the absolute fastest way to get that ghastly thing OUT OF HER. Otherwise you have to wait for the cervix to dilate and whatnot, and it's not always as straightforward as "push button, dilate cervix, remove hideous alien babymonster".

Plus, come the fuck on, they're not going to show a roboarm sliding up her ladyparts and coming back out with a hideous alien babymonster, now are they. And showing the actual surgery is a big part of the horror aspect of the movie.
posted by elizardbits at 9:25 AM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


elizardbits, that would have been scary and cool as hell.
posted by weinbot at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and either totally X-rated or done far less effectively than it should have been.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on June 11, 2012


Nope. That part was good; we meet our creators and they're amoral horrors. If only he'd been stronger, what do you think Tyrell would have done when Roy showed up asking those questions? What do you think a puppy-miller would do if one of their brood bitches walked up and asked those questions?

Tyrell would not have crushed Roy. He was way too in love with his creation to just trash it once it was on his doorstep, the unfortunate fates of other space soldier Nexus models aside. I also doubt a puppy mill owner would kill a talking dog. I'm taking you over-literally because my point is that sentience is fascinated with other sentience, and for that not to be the case the superior sentience would have to be light years ahead of the other, which doesn't seem to be the case here. The "amoral horror" interpretation is a stretch because the simplest explanation is that a failure of imagination on the part of the writers led them to write that scene as if the Engineer were the same as any other dumb space monster. As my friend put it after we left the theater, in the silence between when David talks to the Engineer and when it grabs his neck you can hear the writers saying "fuck fuck fuck what do we do now???"
posted by invitapriore at 9:35 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


All of the Space Jesus theories seem to be counting on the same quote from Ridley Scott saying that they thought about putting that into the movie but then decided not to. Aside from the fact that the head was carbon dated (with no understanding of its baseline physiology or the backround radiation history of its environment) to about 2000 years, there really isn't anything in the film as released that indicates that Jesus was an alien.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can totally buy that the Rogue Engineer Prometheus created life on Earth, and the Not-Rogue Engineers decided, oh hells no, these earth-vermin are bad news, let's go drop some roach bombs on the planet. And then when something goes horribly horribly awry, the single surviving Not-Rogue Engineer goes into cryosleep, wakes up to a room swarming with earth-vermin, so what does he do? Obviously he reaches for the nearest telephone book and starts mashing them as quickly as possible.

One of the things I'm hoping for in the sequel (heh heh, James Cameron's PROMETHEUSES) is the discovery that they were really really wrong about a lot of the assumptions made and ridiculous, shoddy conclusions that they came to in Prometheus.
posted by BrashTech at 9:40 AM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


The most believable part of the film was when Capt. Janek leaves the monitoring station to ramma-jamma Vickers.

If I was in charge of monitoring two mefites who were lost in an alien cave and Charlize Theron wanted me to come to her station and play "hide the sausage", well then two mefites are going to be left in the dark for a little bit.

Try not to cuddle the venomous gyno-cobra while I'm away, ok?
posted by Renoroc at 9:43 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I want to read elizardbits's script.
posted by Jestocost at 9:43 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


In Star Trek The Next Generation there's an episode that explains why (other than budget constraints) almost every alien in the serie has humanoid form:

STNG Episode 146
When the alien race first explored the Alpha Quadrant there had been no humanoid-based life other than themselves, and so they seeded various planets with their DNA to create a legacy of their existence after they had gone. The alien ends its message by saying that it hopes that the knowledge of a common origin will help produce peace.
posted by samelborp at 9:51 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, I really do not understand this hatred. My theater seemed to love it, at least; everyone clapped at the end, and there a lot of people excitedly speculating away in the lobby afterward. This critical reception reminds me of the one that followed AI (which I loved). In both cases, a highly anticipated scifi movie is critically lambasted upon release, but to me, all the complaints in all the reviews strike me as entirely besides the point---they're about as damaging as the complaint that the costuming was no good.

Yes, fine, they shouldn't have said the pod was for men only. And I'll accept that the humans acted cartoonishly, weren't psychologically complex, and had simple motivations. I don't care. This isn't a story about the people. Behind all that stuff there was a great and ominous story about these huge inscrutable beasts that might have created us, mirrored by a story about an inscrutable being that we created, and everything is a dark mystery that is just out of reach. Dark gods and robots using slithery alien things as tools for cryptic purposes; that is awesome.

I was looking forward to reading a bunch of theories about the goals of these beings (why did it say "try harder?"), the nature of the goo, the role of the xenomorphs, etc. The Space Jesus essay is a complete triumph of imaginative criticism, and I hope we get some competing theories popping up. But in the meantime, it's totally dispiriting to me to see pretty much the whole internet not bothering to engage and just talking about how dumb the writers are.

One of the things I'm hoping for in the sequel (heh heh, James Cameron's PROMETHEUSES) is the discovery that they were really really wrong about a lot of the assumptions made and ridiculous, shoddy conclusions that they came to in Prometheus.

I totally agree. All of the speculations on the part of the crewmembers seemed wildly off base to me. I highly doubt that the goo is meant to be a weapon.
posted by painquale at 10:00 AM on June 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Forget Prometheus, when do we get the Lawrence of Arabia remake with Michael Fassbender?
posted by Rangeboy at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2012 [33 favorites]


why did it say "try harder?"

It was Weyland who said "try harder," wasn't it? To David via the cryosleep helmet of glowing yellow space magic?
posted by elizardbits at 10:06 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I totally agree. All of the speculations on the part of the crewmembers seemed wildly off base to me. I highly doubt that the goo is meant to be a weapon

The goo contains the bio weapon tadpoles. Plus Scott already said the original Alien ship was a "bomber" with the Aliens aboard in the DVD commentary track for the first film.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on June 11, 2012


Tyrell would not have crushed Roy. He was way too in love with his creation to just trash it once it was on his doorstep

Tyrell crushed Roy the instant he made him. Roy was never anything but crushed. If Tyrell were in love with his creations he wouldn't have made them slaves.

Why would an android be dying hair at the roots... It doesn't grow, right...

Lots of SF androids have growing hair or a full outer organic layer. See: T-800/T-101.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2012


The goo contains the bio weapon tadpoles.

Those tadpoles were worms that mutated after the goo got on them. They weren't in the urns.

The Space Jesus essay incorporates some a theory that makes the goo something other an a bio weapon. So there's at least one possible alternate reading.

It was Weyland who said "try harder," wasn't it? To David via the cryosleep helmet of glowing yellow space magic?

Hm, apparently that's a scene from the original script that was cut out of the movie. (And it explains why Guy Pearce was hired to play an old man: here's an interview.) I misunderstood that scene: I thought Vickers was asking him what the exploding head had said. Oops.
posted by painquale at 10:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


My coping mechanism to explain all the "let's take off our helmets" and the clearly wildly incompetent mission team is that this was not an official mission, but just the crazy wild-ass scheme of rich crazy Weyland. He did it as under the table as possible, because what board of directors in the universe is going to sanction a mission based on the insane ramblings of those two "archaeologists." Shaw and whatsisname aren't real scientists, they're the crazy hair guy from the History Channel meme. Looking for aaaalllliens. It's only dumb luck that they turn out to be right. No reputable scientist would join such a team, so the people they do get are incompetent and just in it for the money.

This explains everything pretty well, including that the only remotely rational character is Charlize Theron, who isn't really supposed to be there. (Too bad her daddy issues end up messing things up for her in the end.)
posted by Wretch729 at 10:38 AM on June 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


Too bad her daddy issues end up messing things up for her in the end.

Well, that and not remembering to turn left. Or right. Either way, really.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:39 AM on June 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I guess she wasn't an ambiturner.
posted by elizardbits at 10:44 AM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


But she does a mean Blue Steel........
......
......
......
Father.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wretch729

thanks for crystallizing one of my big plot point problems. The rag-tag team's recklessness seemed like a big plot blunder to me. This goes a long way in explaining it. Also, if Weyland was so close to death his invisible hand might have been what influenced the team to be so eager to get right to the site on the planet.
posted by djseafood at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2012


The goo contains the bio weapon tadpoles.

Those tadpoles were worms that mutated after the goo got on them. They weren't in the urns.

The Space Jesus essay incorporates some a theory that makes the goo something other an a bio weapon. So there's at least one possible alternate reading.

It was Weyland who said "try harder," wasn't it? To David via the cryosleep helmet of glowing yellow space magic?

Hm, apparently that's a scene from the original script that was cut out of the movie. (And it explains why Guy Pearce was hired to play an old man: here's an interview.) I misunderstood that scene: I thought Vickers was asking him what the exploding head had said. Oops.


Pretty sure the tadpoles were in the goo to start. The urns are bombs with the bio weapon of the Alien in them. In the original DVD commentary, Scott said the ship was a bomber that Nostromo encountered and tat the Aliens were a weapon. This is confirmed by the Idris Elba character.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2012


One of the things I'm hoping for in the sequel (heh heh, James Cameron's PROMETHEUSES) is the discovery that they were really really wrong about a lot of the assumptions made and ridiculous, shoddy conclusions that they came to in Prometheus.

Yeah, but I don't have a lot of hope for something like that. This movie was so awfully exposition-heavy that it lacks any sense, to me, of the scriptwriters playing games with characters having imperfect information or speaking out of a non-transparent agenda.

I thought Prometheus was head-and-shoulders better than the Star Wars prequels, but it felt alike to them in this respect. When Yoda says "fear lead to anger ... anger lead to hate ... hate lead to suffering" you have the sense that he is describing the world, and not just as he sees it but as George Lucas sees it. When Shaw (I think) says that they decided, 2000 years ago, to come and destroy us, I likewise have no doubt that she is speaking a sentence from the Official Backstory.

Ultimately this is a problem of the writers not having developed the internal lives of their characters, which is evident throughout the film. The characters view of the world is as much about themselves as it is about what they are seeing, and it really seemed like they were all seeing the same thing, and their differences came out of what their different agendas were rather than out of what their different characters were.
posted by gauche at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wretch729: "My coping mechanism to explain all the "let's take off our helmets" and the clearly wildly incompetent mission team is that this was not an official mission, but just the crazy wild-ass scheme of rich crazy Weyland. He did it as under the table as possible, because what board of directors in the universe is going to sanction a mission based on the insane ramblings of those two "archaeologists." Shaw and whatsisname aren't real scientists, they're the crazy hair guy from the History Channel meme. Looking for aaaalllliens. It's only dumb luck that they turn out to be right. No reputable scientist would join such a team, so the people they do get are incompetent and just in it for the money."

That would have made for a much more interesting movie, harkening back to the blue-collar crew in Alien. But, given that Vickers is on board as an official corporate rep, too implausible.
posted by mkultra at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2012


But, given that Vickers is on board as an official corporate rep, too implausible.
isn't her role to keep them in lie though? She's the corporate interest incarnate & she seemed pretty straight forward about it. She was certainly no Burke from Aliens.
posted by djseafood at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2012


in LINE, dadgummit
posted by djseafood at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2012


The only way anyone, captain included apparently, know that she's there as a corporate rep is because she says so and the robot doesn't dispute it. It's obvious from the initial "briefing" that the crew doesn't know each other. Weyland, who set up the mission in the first place, acts surprised that she came. I don't think she's an official corporate anything except founder's daughter.

I can dress professionally, do some push-ups, and act brusque. Doesn't mean I am who I say I am. (I am an alien.)
posted by Wretch729 at 11:18 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only way anyone, captain included apparently, know that she's there as a corporate rep is because she says so and the robot doesn't dispute it. It's obvious from the initial "briefing" that the crew doesn't know each other. Weyland, who set up the mission in the first place, acts surprised that she came. I don't think she's an official corporate anything except founder's daughter.

That's interesting, actually, and it explains the chagrin on her face when Hologram Weyland tells the crew that Shaw and Holloway are in charge.
posted by gauche at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ultimately this is a problem of the writers not having developed the internal lives of their characters, which is evident throughout the film.

Yeah. Every complaint I have about it reduces to the fact that it was lazy. Lazy exposition, super lazy denouement, lazy characterization, and, worst of all, a lazy attempt at tackling more abstract themes head on that are invoked with lazy questions and lazy answers. That last part was, I thought, the whole point of this movie -- Alien and Aliens had a nice parsimony of subject and setting, and Prometheus was going to zoom out to show what sort of universe it was that could allow those events to happen. Maybe it's naive to think that that movie would ever have been green-lit. Just because it was fun to watch doesn't mean I'm not disappointed that it didn't follow through on what it promised.
posted by invitapriore at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Vickers' sole interest in being on that expedition is keeping her eye on Weyland. She has no expectation that they'll find anything in LV 233, and she's going through the motions to humor the old man before he dies and she assumes control of the most powerful organization in human space. They're elaborate, very expensive motions, but she's definitely not letting Weyland out of her site until he's dead.
posted by figurant at 11:22 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only way anyone, captain included apparently, know that she's there as a corporate rep is because she says so and the robot doesn't dispute it.

In her opening speech in the gymnasium, she mentions that some of the assembled team members will know her because she conducted their interviews and hired them back on Earth (or at another Weyland outpost planet).
posted by elizardbits at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did Charlize do naked push-ups in the film?
posted by Jestocost at 11:31 AM on June 11, 2012


ach, elizardbits is right, now that I think back. Crap, that puts some cracks in my coping mechanism. Maybe Vickers doesn't believe in the mission, thinks that Shaw and Holloway are crazy, and is humoring the old man as figurant suggests. That actually jibes with the mission being done under the table, and who cares if the crew is incompetent if there's going to be nothing to find? Actually it makes far more sense that Vickers hired a cheap expendable crew rather than that anyone in corporate HR with half a brain planned this thing.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure the tadpoles were in the goo to start. The urns are bombs with the bio weapon of the Alien in them. In the original DVD commentary, Scott said the ship was a bomber that Nostromo encountered and tat the Aliens were a weapon. This is confirmed by the Idris Elba character.

There was an establishing shot of little worms in the dirt that eventually got covered in goo. What was that shot doing there if not establishing a mutation? Also note that David opened one of the capsules and didn't find a tadpole creature in there.

On that point, here's an interesting theory I read on a forum elsewhere: there might be two goos. Firstly, there's the oily black substance that bubbles out of the tops of the urns and coats the ground. The urns in the cargo room don't bubble, so it might be something particular to the room with the big head. This outer goo seems to have the power to mutate. It turns worms and geologists into monsters with xenomorph-like qualities like acid blood, but the tadpoles don't reproduce and turn into chestbursters when they inhabit the biologist. Secondly, there's the stuff that's actually contained in the crystals in the urn. David only gets at it by snapping the crystal. This black substance has a different consistency, and contains the seed of a xenomorph. Holloway is infected, but he doesn't really become a monster. He's always in control, though he's in pain from being inhabited by a parasite. The geologist, being exposed to outer goo, becomes a monster himself.

There are also various sizes of urn in the storeroom. They might contains different sorts of seeds and be used for different purposes.
posted by painquale at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


In her opening speech in the gymnasium, she mentions that some of the assembled team members will know her because she conducted their interviews and hired them back on Earth (or at another Weyland outpost planet).

Does anyone actually acknowledge that she interviewed them? That could have just been a crafty thing to say to a crowd of strangers.
posted by painquale at 11:34 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Maybe Vickers doesn't believe in the mission, thinks that Shaw and Holloway are crazy, and is humoring the old man as figurant suggests.

Vickers states this explicitly in the private meeting she has in her lifeboat quarters with Shaw and Holloway, when David was mixing everyone cocktails.
posted by elizardbits at 11:34 AM on June 11, 2012


This is confirmed by the Idris Elba character.

Forgot to respond to this. Idris Elba's character was just speculating. There's no reason to take his word as confirmation of anything.
posted by painquale at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The urns in the cargo room don't bubble, so it might be something particular to the room with the big head.

The big head room urns only begin to bubble and ooze when the outside atmosphere fills the previously sealed room. They then leave that room sealed for at least one day. Conversely, the cargo room is not opened until the next day when David is looking for the glitching Spectragraph that is stuck outside the cargo room door. It is possible that those urns would also have begun oozing the next day, but not enough time passes to know for sure before everything done blowed up.
posted by elizardbits at 11:37 AM on June 11, 2012


There's no reason to take his word as confirmation of anything

Sexy Spaceman Idris Elba would not lie, hdu.
posted by elizardbits at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's always hilarious to see the reams of fansplaining being done when a sloppily written movie comes out.

Forget Prometheus, when do we get the Lawrence of Arabia remake with Michael Fassbender?

Ugh, god, no.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


They then leave that room sealed for at least one day.

UNsealed for at least one day, ack. Also, when David leaves the cargo room and ship's bridge w/the alien cryotubes, he closes the door behind him, because he doesn't want anyone else finding it. The cargo room urns are preserved at whatever temperature they were meant to be conserved at, presumably.
posted by elizardbits at 11:39 AM on June 11, 2012


Also I assume the way the murals on the ceiling of the big head room began to change (or react) when the outside atmosphere was introduced was meant to be indicative of how the green alien goo itself in the big head room would change (or react) when they were introduced to the outside atmosphere.
posted by elizardbits at 11:42 AM on June 11, 2012


Sexy Spaceman Idris Elba would not lie, hdu.

There were definitely not enough captain scenes. He was really wasted on that role. I felt like watching Luther when I got home as some sort of consolation.
posted by invitapriore at 11:44 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to love this movie, but it has the stink of bad writing all over it. I should have known when Lindelof got involved that there was going to be some Freshman writing here. The red herrings are too numerous to count. Rather like the Xenos themselves, they seemed to multiply at a prodigious rate as the movie progressed. That there's so much debate about these logistical plot points shows that the writing was purposely obfuscating a total lack of substance. Mentioning God, life's origins, the nature of belief, and so forth are total wastes of time in a film that is not at all equipped to deal with these issues in any meaningful way.

I loved Fassbender's performance. He rose above the source material. Noomi Rapace was wasted here. She goes from "I choose to believe in these friendly space-daddies" to "why do they hate us?" in a blink with no attention to what that change means for her character.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


That there's so much debate about these logistical plot points shows that the writing was purposely obfuscating a total lack of substance.

I don't think these are logistical plot points that are being debated. I'd be disappointed if they were flat-out explained.
posted by painquale at 11:51 AM on June 11, 2012


Oh, and I thought Vickers' death was totally gratuitous. For a moment I thought there might be some interesting conflict with Vickers & Shaw as the final survivors, but instead she got squashed. It's like the writers were saying "that's what you get for realistically trying to survive!" Also a cheap final ploy for tension in a movie that lacked quite a lot of that.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:51 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah. Every complaint I have about it reduces to the fact that it was lazy. Lazy exposition, super lazy denouement, lazy characterization, and, worst of all, a lazy attempt at tackling more abstract themes head on that are invoked with lazy questions and lazy answers. That last part was, I thought, the whole point of this movie -- Alien and Aliens had a nice parsimony of subject and setting, and Prometheus was going to zoom out to show what sort of universe it was that could allow those events to happen. Maybe it's naive to think that that movie would ever have been green-lit. Just because it was fun to watch doesn't mean I'm not disappointed that it didn't follow through on what it promised.

I agree. It's especially frustrating given the scenes that do work, and the overall potential of the premise and the series.

Anyway, people have covered why I disliked the movie, but I will say that I enjoy what the Alien series does as a whole in involving different sectors of society in their interaction with the Xenomorph:

Alien - Blue collar workers and miners
Aliens - The millitary
Alien 3 - The prison industrial complex
Resurrection - Let's make like everyone else and just pretend this movie doesn't exist
Prometheus - Academia

Depending on what sort of reading you want to give to the perfect Other character of the Xenomorph (I prefer corporate capitalism - hyper efficient, consumes and assimilates everything it sees, born of humans but ultimately antihuman) there's a lot of interesting ideas you can toss around.
posted by codacorolla at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


I don't think these are logistical plot points that are being debated. I'd be disappointed if they were flat-out explained.

I'm talking about the properties of the goo, why the engineers left the star map, what they were doing on the moon, how the squid-baby became a monster in a sealed room with no food, and so on and so on. These are all questions that were sloppily dealt with in the movie. The withholding of that information serves no narrative purpose except to make the writers' jobs easier by removing any logical barriers to the Deus-Ex-Machina fest.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


they seemed to multiply at a prodigious rate as the movie progressed.

OMG. The red herrings in this movie are where Tribbles come from.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:57 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Forget Prometheus, when do we get the Lawrence of Arabia remake with Michael Fassbender?
Ugh, god, no.


The in-universe remake that David, who plays every part, sweded using late-21st-century holo technology during his two years of solitude (when he wasn't busy reconstructing Proto-World)? OH GOD YES.
posted by The Tensor at 11:58 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


how the squid-baby became a monster in a sealed room with no food

Same place as the Hulk's extra mass.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:04 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm talking about the properties of the goo, why the engineers left the star map, what they were doing on the moon, how the squid-baby became a monster in a sealed room with no food

The first three are perfect examples of things that I do not think should be explained outright in the movie. The movie would be worse for telling us. As for the latter, well, if that's a problem, then it's also a problem for Alien, which has the xenomorph grow from chestburster to adult size in just a few hours.
posted by painquale at 12:08 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


So is the movie a fun mindfuck, of the Primer/Memento variety, or is it just confusing and annoying?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:21 PM on June 11, 2012


it's a pretty mess: fun to watch but you can't think about it afterward or the whole thing falls apart. It would help to be stoned when you watched it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:29 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree. I regret not taking a fifth with me.
posted by rebent at 12:35 PM on June 11, 2012


It's fun and tense and some of the concepts are interesting. It's just ... the characterization is a bit lazy, and that leads to some points where you just have to say, "okay, I guess we're doing this now."

It's also not a real mindfuck as much as it is squicky and a bit jump-scary. Which is to say, the concepts are interesting, but we only really see the surfaces of them.

Part of the fun of Alien was the bi-modal life cycle (facehugger -> chestburster/xenomorph), because even if you don't think about it consciously, that's a pretty elaborate way to propagate a species. So there's a paradox there, built into the question, who laid the eggs? That obviously can't be a closed life cycle. What we've seen is pretty fucking scary but there's obviously a big question mark here somewhere, and I bet it's a pretty scary question mark.

I feel like the story gaps in Prometheus aren't like this. They don't unsettle, they just kind of frustrate. Couple this with weak characterization and it's an easy movie to pick apart afterwards, but make no mistake, it's still a gut-wrenching ride while you're on it.
posted by gauche at 12:35 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


One more thing has been bothering me and sorry if it's been discussed earlier. Several times in this movie some really wild events take place that more or less get ignored by the crew. The worst of which seems to be the robot abortion.

Shaw is being tended to by two of the crew members, prepping her for hypersleep. She knocks them both out and runs to the med lab to have her robot abortion. After the horrific scene she leaves the room with her belly stapled up, hopped up on pain meds, and in her skivvies. She then arrives in the room where Wayland has been woken up and nobody seems to acknowledge what just happened.

It wasn't even a matter of not asking what on earth happened to her squid baby. But nobody even said - hey..are you OK? Why do you look like such a crazy mess? And none of the other crew members asked why she knocked them out? David never even wondered what happened?

Did I just completely miss this or is it really as bad as I described above?
posted by Sandor Clegane at 12:36 PM on June 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yeah, Dr. Ford, the ship's medic, is one of the people Shaw knocked over during her escape. Ford later accompanies Weyland's team back to talk to the Engineer. Maybe she was just really surprised that Weyland was there, and, uh. Forgot that Shaw whacked her on the head?

David says something like "I didn't think you had it in you, LOLOLOL", and that he admires her survival instinct.
posted by elizardbits at 12:39 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, the FPP in Related Posts announcing the movie is an interesting read now.

For some reason Bob Seger's line "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then," comes to mind.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:45 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


All this talk about the black mutigenic goo reminds me of the William Gibson script draft for Alien 3, which completely ignores Ripley (because at the time Sigorney Weaver hadn't signed on) and introduced a "scientific" (at the time) reason that the xenomorphs, well, were xenomorphs. It was pretty awesome but was totally out of canon since Aliens had introduced the whole queen aspect and there was a lot of cross-over between the Alien and Predator franchise.

Still, black goo, mutagen thingy whatever, alien bioweapon. All feel completely drafted from other sources, and done so badly.

I will watch this when it hits Netflix or whatever. It's very much in the Alien:Resurrection line of reasoning, though.
posted by daq at 12:50 PM on June 11, 2012


Meatbomb: How is it that I have never heard of Starcrash before?!

I guess you haven't been hanging out with me. Everybody I know has been subjected to Starcrash at least once.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2012


I wonder what David even said to him.

"Hey there, big fella, would you mind ripping off my head and beating this old guy to death with it? Thanks!"
posted by webmutant at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


You can tell by his face that it's some smarmy brown-nosing bullshit. The Engineer responds like one of those sadistic teachers who likes to crush the hopes of the overachievers in the class. I had to stifle a laugh in the theater because in my head the Engineer decapitated him while yelling "shut UP you obsequious FUCK!"
posted by invitapriore at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The idea that there are two black 'goo's is very interesting. The goo that mutated the worms and Fifield seemed to melt out of the pod casing (after being exposed to the outside atmosphere and/or the increased room temperature?) Perhaps this first goo is a kind of defense mechanism designed to protect the inner contents sealed in the glass vial?

David appeared to take precautions in handling the pod he collected from the ship. Prior to opening, it looked like he pulled it out of cryo, presumably to keep the case from melting and activating the defense goo. If the internal vial contained a different substance, that would explain why Charlie didn't (yet?) seem to be heading down the zombie-monster path. If anything, it looked like he was transforming into an Engineer.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 1:28 PM on June 11, 2012


Prior to opening, it looked like he pulled it out of cryo

It was literally in the fridge next to the milk, which I found indescribably hilarious.
posted by elizardbits at 1:31 PM on June 11, 2012


Is it bad that I felt more sense of loss for Stephen Stills' concertina than for any of the characters?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:38 PM on June 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I guess you haven't been hanging out with me. Everybody I know has been subjected to Starcrash at least once.

posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:58 PM on June 11 [+] [!]


Note to self: Do not get to know computech_apolloniajames.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:39 PM on June 11, 2012


No Stella Starr for you!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:47 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apologies if it has already been posted up-thread, but io9 pulls together a Q&A with cast and crew: All Your Lingering Prometheus Questions Answered. This includes why David spiked the drink and the motivation for the Engineers. It also pretty much confirms a sequel.
posted by kariebookish at 2:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the internal vial contained a different substance, that would explain why Charlie didn't (yet?) seem to be heading down the zombie-monster path. If anything, it looked like he was transforming into an Engineer.

I thought the same thing. That would certainly square better with David's question to Charlie about what he'd be willing to do to meet the Engineers before he dosed him with the stuff, and it fits with the fact that David is focused on Weyland's quest to stay alive, but how would David have known what the stuff was going to do?
posted by The Tensor at 2:02 PM on June 11, 2012


As to how Punky Brewdog and Future Steve Irwin got lost - they tossed the drones out, but didn't actually have a visual readout of the map itself. That info was all collected on the ship bridge, and the bridge crew were busy communicating with the scientists who were currently *not* being tremendous pussies and doing something that approached actual science, or at least something interesting. Everyone who was currently engaged with something interesting just assumed they'd know how to get out, and didn't bother keeping tabs on them when there were bo-na-fide alien bodies waiting to be poked at. Then when the storm kicked off, they were too far out to make it to the vehicles on time.

The comment saying that their capers at this point were a Scooby and Shaggy element were exactly spot on, for multiple reasons. 1) The Rocker Geologist is clearly smoking weed in the scene immediately prior to the 'lets put our finger in the vagina-snake' moment. He says it's tobacco, but with fifteen-foot-tall neon air quotes around 'tobacco'. 2) there is CLEARLY a deleted scene with these two in the several hours they are trapped alone where he shares his weed with the nerdy biologist, because the bioguy goes from being a complete wuss to a giggly devil-may-care xeno-fiddler, throwing caution to the wind in the manner of an inexperienced space-toker. Clearly this scene of silly debauch was pegged for editing, leaving the audience to puzzle out exactly WHY the fuck anyone in their right mind would even attempt to jam their finger in the face of an alien spitting cobra / vagina dentata crossbreed.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:05 PM on June 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


Apologies if it has already been posted up-thread, but io9 pulls together a Q&A with cast and crew: All Your Lingering Prometheus Questions Answered.

From the interview:

Why is Holloway such a jerk to David?

Logan Marshall-Green: It's something that I wanted to implement and I really, really liked it. Michael and I had a blast with it. It's something I haven't seen in science fiction, which is a sense of racism or bigotry towards androids and synthetic life.


Dear Logan Marshall-Green: You might like watching the Alien franchise, then.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:12 PM on June 11, 2012 [26 favorites]


from kariebookish's link (everyone go read it) :

It's something I haven't seen in science fiction, which is a sense of racism or bigotry towards androids and synthetic life.

Uhh..... ok.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:12 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also hope for the continuing popularity of books like 'Chariots of the Gods' in high school and college logic courses, as object lessons in sloppy thinking. I know of no recent books so riddled with logical and factual errors as the works of von Däniken.
—Carl Sagan, Foreword to The Space Gods Revealed
posted by benzenedream at 2:16 PM on June 11, 2012


Oh, and I thought Vickers' death was totally gratuitous. For a moment I thought there might be some interesting conflict with Vickers & Shaw as the final survivors, but instead she got squashed.

Just a thought on this: it is at least possible that Vickers is on Shaw's ship. If I recall correctly, we don't actually see her get crushed, and then the very next thing we see is how Shaw survives the same fate. The ship would have rolled right off of Vickers' body when it came down on Shaw's. Vikers being an uninvited presence on the ship would be a good twist on the classic Alien trope of the Xenomorph accompanying Ripley in her escapes.

I mention this because Scott explicitly claimed (somewhere) that Vickers would survive the whole movie, although he's maybe not been the most reliable about these details, and it's also possible I'm misremembering how much they showed of the rolling ship coming down on Vickers.
posted by gauche at 2:31 PM on June 11, 2012


...and it's also possible I'm misremembering how much they showed of the rolling ship coming down on Vickers.

I think it's the sound design that conclusively decides in favor of dead, because you hear a definite crunch that doesn't happen when the thing comes bearing down on Shaw.
posted by invitapriore at 2:33 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought the movie delivered on the whole mythic perspective with David as a weird mix of trickster and Pinocchio, gods impregnating women who give birth to monsters, ambitious unacknowledged children contemplating patricide, and that delicious scene of Weyland bludgeoned to death with the head of his own son/creation.

But in terms of the science fiction parts, I couldn't tell if the biology didn't make a lick of sense because the gods work in mysterious ways, or if it didn't make a lick of sense because the writers were in a rush to get oogly boogly monsters on the screen. While the original Alien had a bit of that magically-growing monster problem, it generally did a better job of delivering horrific mystery rather than bafflement.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:34 PM on June 11, 2012


gauche: I mention this because Scott explicitly claimed (somewhere) that Vickers would survive the whole movie, although he's maybe not been the most reliable about these details, and it's also possible I'm misremembering how much they showed of the rolling ship coming down on Vickers.

Yeah, but he also explicitly claimed that we wouldn't be seeing a xenomorph.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:41 PM on June 11, 2012


And, strictly speaking, we didn't.

To be sure, that thing was clearly intended to be a proto-Xenomorph of some sort, but I'd bet that Scott feels like he's clearly navigated that loophole anyway.
posted by gauche at 2:46 PM on June 11, 2012


My biggest question is this: knowing the height of weapons technology available to to humans 2000 years ago was a sharp pointy piece of metal, what's with the biological warfare? Land one of those ships in the middle of Rome and you've got a bunch of worshipful sheep you can dispatch as you please.

Or you could, y'know, develop a virulent bio-weapon that could wipe out your own species if it ever got loose.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:49 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sequel "pretty much" confirmed? I doubt anything short of no one going to see this could have stopped it.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:32 PM on June 11, 2012


My friend who saw the film with me asked "Why didn't they let Idris Elba speak in his native English accent instead of some unidentifiable regional American patois?" elizardbits, you'll have to watch Luther to get your Idris fix.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:42 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a very reproductive-health-professional thing to be fixated on, but even granting that the "remove foreign object protocol" business was to avoid mentioning or performing abortion, there's a whole whack of things in the lower abdomen of the normal female that would be objects foreign to a male abdominal cavity. Not to mention the part where the pod took out the alien without opening the uterus (there was one incision and it was nothing like deep enough). Maybe Shaw couldn't have children because she had no uterus, but then she'd have requested foreign object removal in the first place.

Also, the whole "using an optical microscope to sequence DNA" thing made me cackle. If it's all FUTURE SCIENCE, why a glass slide with a cover slip?
posted by gingerest at 4:45 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


How many people would have lived had more than one person been remotely kind to David or sensitive to his feelings?

I loved this part. The humans were acting like the Engineers, not giving a shit about the life they created, despite clear evidence that David had feelings. The ability to create life gave the creators an arrogance that is echoed in a great Bill Cosby line: "Son, I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it. Don't matter to me, I'll make another one that looks just like you."

Why should life be precious if it can be whipped up like a cake? If you're a baker, you do a lot of experiments, have a lot of failures and don't cry over the mistakes. If you're seeking perfection, you know a few eggs have to be broken, but it's not a concern, just an aspect of seeking a larger goal.

The film seemed choppily edited in the sense that scenes were edited out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


You seem to be saying that cake is not precious. You are WRONG.
posted by elizardbits at 5:54 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You seem to be saying that cake is not precious. You are WRONG.

Cake is simple and can be purchased pre-made, in a box or whipped by a few simple elements. With the power of creation comes the blind arrogance of knowledge.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:00 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is confirmed by the Idris Elba character.

Forgot to respond to this. Idris Elba's character was just speculating. There's no reason to take his word as confirmation of anything.


Except Ridley Scott's DVD commentary on the first Alien where he says the Alien is a bio-weapon and the ship the Nostromo finds is a bomber.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 PM on June 11, 2012


Did Charlize do naked push-ups in the film?

I work in the industry and have some insider connections and I can tell you that the scene as originally filmed featured a nude Charlize Theron doing pushups...but was later reshot with the 5th Element style wrappings. Maybe we'll get a deleted scene on the DVD...but I doubt it...

Besides concurring with almost everything everyone in this thread has said regarding the failings of this movie it also occured to me that the containers that house the black goo are essentially Pandoras jar.

In Greek mythology Zeus takes vengeance on humanity for Prometheus' transgression by presenting mortal Pandora with a jar that contains "all the evils of the world" in it, which she then, out of her stubborn mortal curiosity, opens and you know the rest...

I'm not totally sure how that figures in with the rest of this convoluted Lindelawful flick...but it jives with that Live Journal writeup...which blew my goddamned mind.

Oh and you know what moment just jerked me right out of the movie? When the captain decides to kill himself and tells the copilots that they could go in the lifeboat and basically try to survive (with a total babe no less) and instead they are just like..."nah man it's whatever...we'll just stay here and I die with you I guess." Out of all of the bizarro no-person-would-act-this-way-in-real-life moments of this film...that one takes the cake...
posted by jnnla at 7:07 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


As it will be several months before I abuse myself with an .mkv of this film, the following comment cannot be remotely interpreted as insightful.

But when the last Prometheus thread brought me to look at wikis on the writers on this project, the pictures of their smirking, smarmy faces made my heart sank. I immediately thought, "How could these douches write something I admire?" Particularly Spaihts, whose sickly-looking wormy pursed lips and self-satisfied, pampered-looking babyface made me want to scream out loud (and whose other projects seemed inadequate), but also tuque-sporting television writer Damon Lindelof, who co-created the excuse-for-endless-clever-dick-dicktastic-plot-twists series "Lost." They both look like they have 24/7 masturbation-machines stuck to the linings of their underwear.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Out of all of the bizarro no-person-would-act-this-way-in-real-life moments of this film...that one takes the cake...

I had the sense that they were a team, knew each other from before, had trained/served/worked together. But due to lack of character development, it was a very fleeting association, like a whisper in a crowd.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:27 PM on June 11, 2012


If it's a machine masturbating you, then does it really count as masturbation, and can the machine which is doing this truly be called a 'masturbation machine'? Sounds like the sort of big question that's right up Lindelof's alley.
posted by codacorolla at 7:28 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have a feeling one of the scenes that didn't end up in the final cut is a ballet interlude, with a nine foot tall, super-buff Space Baryshnikov dancing elegantly to that Chopin prelude that plays in Vickers' swanky pad. They were totally hinting at it the whole movie, what with Mr. Tastefully-Naked at the beginning and then those sparse, crystalline living quarters that effect the sense of a stage? It's only reasonable to assume that it happens off-camera at some point.
posted by invitapriore at 8:00 PM on June 11, 2012


When the captain decides to kill himself and tells the copilots that they could go in the lifeboat and basically try to survive (with a total babe no less) and instead they are just like..."nah man it's whatever...we'll just stay here and I die with you I guess."

I thought that was a pretty rational decision, actually. Choose between saving the earth and everything you care about, or being stranded on a hostile alien planet until your oxygen runs out. Tough choice there!
posted by me & my monkey at 8:05 PM on June 11, 2012


This is confirmed by the Idris Elba character.

Forgot to respond to this. Idris Elba's character was just speculating. There's no reason to take his word as confirmation of anything.


Except Ridley Scott's DVD commentary on the first Alien where he says the Alien is a bio-weapon and the ship the Nostromo finds is a bomber.


The other thing is that it was such stupid and necessary explication--obviously tacked on--that it had to be true.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was this movie really that hard to understand for people? Seriously, the plot itself seemed to pretty much spell things out clearly. I think every reasonable question that someone may have is easily answered with "Plot hole and/or lazy writing."
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:56 PM on June 11, 2012


The movie begins in 2089. By 2091, they have built or outfitted a ship, the Prometheus, with what it needs to take a crew of 17 people -- including a completely lifelike android, by all appearances as sophisticated as the androids in the other Alien movies -- however many light years in space to this planet. And by 2093 they have made it to said planet.

THAT IS 81 YEARS FROM NOW. Seriously, that is most unbelievable part of the movie, that humans will have that sort of technology readily available by the end of the century.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:17 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


THAT IS 81 YEARS FROM NOW.

Really? I guess human society hasn't done anything amazing in the last 81 years, why expect it for the next 81 years?
posted by j03 at 9:22 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


81 years ago was 1931. Much of modern life would appear as magical to native from that era.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:34 PM on June 11, 2012


Sure, 81 years is a long time for rapid technological advances, but Prometheus is some flying car, personal-jetpack, Mr. Fusion type shit, not cellphones and the Internet.

One of the plot holes that really bothered me but that no one has commented on: how did they not know what happened to the biologist and the geologist who were stuck in the Engineer building overnight? Yes, I know that Capt. Elba went to the Bone Zone with Charlize Theron, but couldn't someone have, like, rewound the video tape from their suit cameras? I mean, we know they were continuing to broadcast (they found the whole mound of dead Engineers and everyone on board saw that). Wouldn't it just be standard operating procedure for them to, you know, KEEP FUCKING RECORDING THE FEED?

"Hey, where are those two guys? Well, let's rewind the footage back to the last time we saw them last night when they were wondering around and OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK THAT VAGINA LIZARD JUST FACE-RAPED HIM LET'S GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!!!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:58 PM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm treating this movie just like I treated LOST after all the bullshit last season unresolved let downs.

I don't want answers.

I just want to hate it.
posted by buzzv at 10:01 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


^My grandmother, who died last year, was 17 in 1931. 81 years is not that long. Faster-than-light transportation? In 81 years? I think not. Especially not in a world where we're still using staples to close incisions, topically applied chemicals to bleach hair, and refrigerators to store opened milk and alien goo.
posted by gingerest at 10:14 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


In terms of sheer unbelievability, does anything trump the holographic recordings of the Engineers running down the hallway or operating the star maps with a flute. I mean, what the fuck was that. I did not think it was possible for Prometheus to be such a colossal failure on such a basic level, but it was.
posted by phaedon at 10:18 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe the autodoc is an antique, and David is a pretentious hipster.
posted by figurant at 10:23 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it's a machine masturbating you, then does it really count as masturbation, and can the machine which is doing this truly be called a 'masturbation machine'?

There are... a lot of videos I could point you towards as research material.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, 81 years is a long time for rapid technological advances, but Prometheus is some flying car, personal-jetpack, Mr. Fusion type shit, not cellphones and the Internet.

In 1931, the first non-stop flight across the Pacific occurred.

Robert Goddard was struggling to send one of his rockets to the amazing height of 2.5 miles high.

It would be eight years before the first jet engine aircraft flew.

Penicillin had only been around for 3 years.

Amazing things have occurred in the past 81 years in fields other than phones or the internet.

..does anything trump the holographic recordings of the Engineers running down the hallway or operating the star maps with a flute.

Y'all should read the link in the first comment of this thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:31 PM on June 11, 2012


..does anything trump the holographic recordings of the Engineers running down the hallway or operating the star maps with a flute.

Y'all should read the link in the first comment of this thread.


I'm not sure I follow. Maybe you can point me a little more specifically to something that discusses what I brought up?
posted by phaedon at 11:15 PM on June 11, 2012


Read the last paragraph of the article.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 PM on June 11, 2012


I'm not saying the flute is stupid, I'm saying a holographic recording of someone playing the flute is stupid. Do you have any ideas why a military ship would have recordings like this?
posted by phaedon at 11:25 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The flute was used to start the console or engine, correct? Essentially it was like recording him pushing buttons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 PM on June 11, 2012


So why would recordings like this exist? To assist passersby?

It's just so convenient that these holograms show the last thing that happened in the hallway and help David operate the ship. It just disgusts me how thinly veiled these plot devices are.
posted by phaedon at 11:36 PM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


So why would recordings like this exist? To assist passersby?

Why wouldn't a society be recording everything that's going on at the dangerous bio engineering facility? If something bad happens, others would want to know.

It just disgusts me how thinly veiled these plot devices are.

I know the feeling. When a film doesn't connect for him, I find myself thinking of all details the creator flummoxed and getting distressed how things could have been better.

But the film is done. Trying to fix those mistakes is fruitless and wastes valuable time that be spent watching other movies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:45 PM on June 11, 2012


Why are academics so obsessed with Alien and its sequels?
posted by painquale at 2:37 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trying to fix those mistakes is fruitless and wastes valuable time that be spent watching other movies.

That's kind of a strange criticism to be making in a thread specifically about discussing a particular film in which you yourself are an active participant.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:54 AM on June 12, 2012


What's Prometheus?

LOL
posted by j03 at 6:46 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ha!

"Is he an expert in things that have never ever happened?
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:04 AM on June 12, 2012


That's kind of a strange criticism to be making in a thread specifically about discussing a particular film in which you yourself are an active participant.

It's one thing to be discussing a film, another to be obsessing over a minor point in the movie and using it as major example of what made the film so terrible.

Sure, it's common when one dislikes a film, especially if you really wanted to like it. But getting caught up in the these details and becoming angry because the film didn't live up to your expectations is understandable, but strange to go on and on about.

The film is what it is and clearly having a logical consistency wasn't one of its goals. So you might as well explore it on its own merits, not the ones you think or expect it to have.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2012


I'm afraid that a scene of Vickers doing nude calisthenics would probably remind me of Totally Nude Island and send me into fits of laughter. Not that ace-bandage space-bikini was much better.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:29 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Totally Nude Island is NSFW for vintage nudist, beefcake, and burlesque footage.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:31 AM on June 12, 2012


Steven Novella on the science of Prometheus

"First, what do the dots represent? It would seem that they must be stars and that the pattern of dots is a star map of sorts. This is problematic for multiple reasons. There are so many stars, even just in our neighborhood, that there would likely be many possible matches to a random clustering of five stars. Further, is the clustering their real location with respect to each other, or their apparent position as seen from earth? Either way, there is an additional problem that the star map was tens of thousands of years old, and stars move, so the precise real or apparent relationship would be slowly shifting over this time. Any star map, in other words, would be outdated – even if a cave painting could depict the star relationship with sufficient precision to be useful as a map.

All of this, however, is difficult to reconcile with the statement that “there is a star in the system” – so what were the five dots if not stars? Are they planets? That would make absolutely no sense, many systems would have five planets and in any case the five dots did not give relative positions of planets. Finally – what kinds of systems don’t have stars in them?
(...)
There is good mystery in fiction, however, and then there is just head-scratching confusion created by sloppy science writing. Unfortunately Prometheus is the latter."
posted by martinrebas at 7:46 AM on June 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


having a logical consistency wasn't one of its goals.

I just don't understand people's need to make excuses for what is a very poorly written script.

"It'll all be explained in the *next* movie!" "It wasn't meant to be logical or make any sense!" "You're just too stupid to understand how complex the story is!"

No, sorry, none of the above. It's just a crap script. And sure, normally, who cares, lots of crap movies get made. But Alien was a great film that I could watch a million times and never be sick of it.. so I was excited, hyped in fact, about seeing this movie. So yeah, I had expectations that it wouldn't suck. I was wrong and I feel cheated out of my $12.

I would rather watch Jersey Shore. At least those clowns are consistent!
posted by j03 at 7:57 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The movie felt like a commercial for whatever sequel the hollywood gods will shit out at us in a year or two.

First off, $12 seemed like a total rip for the regular non-3d edition before I even got in the theater (last regular movie I saw at this particular chain A FEW MONTHS AGO was $9.75). Then I sat through a half hour of various ads for movies. Then the "please silence your cell phones" message, then more ads. Ok, whatever.

Maybe I just haven't seen a big blockbuster style movie in a while but I was pretty much offended by the shittiness of the chacterization, plot, and pacing. The Alien throwbacks are supposed to be par for the course YOU KNOW SINCE IT IS AN ALIEN PREQUEL AND STUFF. The stereotypes and tropes went insultingly beyond the original alien ones, and way into the popular bullshit let's-add-CGI-and-christ-figures "sci fi". I don't think this movie was made with Alien fans in mind, other than the set design (awesome!) and the non-abortion abortion scene.

All I could think about is what if they took all the money that went towards making and selling these stinkers and put it towards space travel?

ARGH! I want my 3 hours back.

*simmers*
posted by ghostbikes at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2012


Brandon Blatcher: I'm still trying to figure out what the goals of the movie were. If it's an oogly boogly man-vs-monster movie, it suffers from a great deal of underdeveloped philosophical baggage. If it's an attempt at philosophical science fiction about existential horror in the face of unfathomable mystery, then it needs to offer some form of narrative logic to the audience to sell "gods work in mysterious ways" over "sloppy writing." If it's mythic in the same vein as its title, then many of the conflicts appear to be underexplored and struggle to frame it in sci-fi set dressing is a distraction. If it's a science fiction story about people in space confronting an alien biological threat, then handwavium would have been better than what the story actually gave us: hints about mechanism that range from the vague to the just plain wrong.

One example where the film isn't as astute at exploring its themes as it pretends to be is the use of angry unlikable straw-evolutionist as the sole voice of skepticism of the film's panspermia. The result is that one of the film's biggest doses of handwavium isn't explored so much as dictated to the audience.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:30 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


HOW THIS MOVIE COULD HAVE GONE FROM SHIT TO AWESOME WITH ONE LINE AT THE END:

First, a word on how much I liked Alien, and Aliens, and even Alienseses: plenty. And mostly because of the strong, kickassedness of Ripley. "Get away from her you bitch!" Did that just give you chills? Sure it did. That line gets me every time. She's a fucking hero-monster-mother-warrior. She makes the movies great. Ripley takes the fight to the aliens and whoops some ass on them.

Cut to this lumpy turd of a movie, Prometheus. I like Noomi Rapace (whatta name!) and her character of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. I want good things for her because she's kind of sweet and she misses her daddy, and--okay--she's naive, but that naivety gets literally sliced out of her by the Slap-Chop of surgical instruments ("Only 12 of them were made!" Wha?).

So...she's pissed. Understandably. But her scientific curiosity is still stronger than her rage. And so she accompanies the team to meet their maker. And he's an asshole, too. So she runs back to the escape-pod (Why all the books? No Kindles in space?) and...whoops! Like a Jack Chick tract on steroids, her aborted space baby wants a few words with her. And there's that asshole again!

So...now, she's doomed. Everything she needs to survive is gone. Ships are crashed. She's fucked. Hello, hello! David says that he can fly one of the ships (and why not? She's an scientist. No problem putting his robot head back on his robot body, nevermind all the torn wires and shit).

And so David's like, "Fuck it. Let's go home." And then AND THEN! Here's her chance to knock it out of the park. What she says is something along the lines of, "We're going to the alien homeworld because I still want to see where we come from because blah, blah, blah."

WHAT SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID IS:
"We're going to the alien homeworld so I can jam this broken Funyun of a spaceship full of cancer-monster goo up their collective pasty white asses."

And then we'd have left the theater pumping our fists and being all, "I can't wait until the sequel when she totally fucks these dudes up." Because we want to root for a nutcrushing lady scientist who wants a little bit of her own back.
posted by ColdChef at 8:37 AM on June 12, 2012 [30 favorites]


Prometheus: Schience fiction or religious fiction? from TOR.com

"But, in Prometheus we get not one, but two scientists who don’t even vaguely feel like real scientists. Shaw and her husband Charlie come across more as hobbyist UFO watchers than people who actually engage in scientific pursuits for a living."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:42 AM on June 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah, of all the big questions that Prometheus asks, I think the biggest is "how the fuck did any of these brain-dead bastards ever manage to secure a PhD in [science] when all of their classwork was evidently going towards a degree in nose-picking?"
posted by invitapriore at 8:51 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact, the film seems to go out of its way to build Shaw's expertise by portraying anyone who disagrees with her as not only wrong, but unpleasant enough that we won't mind them getting mauled by an alien menace. This is in contrast to Alien where professional tensions among the crew gave them a certain credibility.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:01 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


ColdChef, I would see that movie. Or at least the last 30 minutes of it.
posted by emjaybee at 9:25 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because we want to root for a nutcrushing lady scientist who wants a little bit of her own back.

I haven't seen it, but isn't that close to the plot of _Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS_?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:28 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I could have overlooked all of the plot holes, bad science and cardboard characters if it weren't for the absolutely terrible score. One of the things I have always loved about Alien is the understated use of incidental music. The lack of sound helps contribute to the pervasive tone of emptiness and dread. But Prometheus' use of music was just the opposite, in the most hackneyed Hollywood way: bombastic, intrusive, and consistently telegraphing THIS CHARACTER IS SAYING SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW or BIG SCARE COMING UP SOON or CHECK IT OUT THEY'RE GOING TO CRASH THE SPACESHIP THIS IS EPIC HEROISM RIGHT HERE. Completely eliminating the music would improve the film by at least 57%.
posted by googly at 9:41 AM on June 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Damon Lindelof on Androids, Alien Rape, and His Anxiety Over Prometheus

"Here I am, the guy who ruined Lost, and now I'll be the guy who ruined the Alien franchise."
posted by ColdChef at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Jeez, I now feel bad for liking the movie since apparently it's one of the worst things ever according to the majority of opinions here. :-(

I was disappointed that they didn't do more exploration of how the Engineers' interactions with us shaped myth and religion: why weren't more symbols and rituals from Terran belief systems associated with the Engineers, for example? It would have been cool to see things evocative of, say, the eye of Horus, the cross, the half-fish/half-human figures from Sumerian in the Engineers' designs and technology.

My take on David -- via his "sometimes you must destroy in order to create" line (which echoes things some creator gods do/say) -- is that he wanted to use the bioweapons to wipe out the humans and make more Davids.

I'm also among those disappointed that there were no female Engineers -- unless they're a species that doesn't exhibit much sexual dimorphism. Whether it's Tiamat, Shekinah, Nut, or Gaia, the feminine is frequently a major part of creation/order from chaos cosmological narratives, so it was strange to see that there were apparently only male Engineers involved in this take on the origin story.

I still trust Ridley Scott, so I'm going to assume the director's cut DVD will explain a lot more, and that the sequel will correct the various missteps and flaws from Prometheus -- including getting rid of Sexy Spaceman Idris Elba.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:44 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


He can be smarmily self-effacing all he wants. No quarter from me. He is a lazy hack of a writer.
posted by kaseijin at 9:44 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't get me wrong. I didn't think it was *as* bad as a lot of people did. There's a lot of nerdrage over it, some justified, some not so much.

I left the theater having had a fairly good time. Some squicky scenes, some tense scenes, some beautiful production design. But the script was weak. And on further post-movie dissection, that weakness just chafes more and more.

Damon Lindelof is a hack writer who is failing upward with remarkable efficiency. I winced when I heard he was attached to my most-anticipated movie of the past five years, and I sadly was right to be worried.

Lindelof confuses opacity, pseudo-religious masturbation, and jerking the viewer around with being lofty, deep, and profound. I'm all for mystery, but he doesn't know how to achieve it.
posted by kaseijin at 9:49 AM on June 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Lindelof confuses opacity, pseudo-religious masturbation, and jerking the viewer around with being lofty, deep, and profound. I'm all for mystery, but he doesn't know how to achieve it.

Otherwise known as the M. Night Shyamalan Effect.
posted by emjaybee at 9:52 AM on June 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


Pretty much, yep.
posted by kaseijin at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2012


The film is what it is and clearly having a logical consistency isn't one of its goals.

Come on, this isn't some art film. A supposed science fiction film that doesn't at least aim for general logical consistency has failed before a single character of the screenplay has been written.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I guess I could draw the line thus:

If it's a mystery because it is a genuine mystery, or some unexplained artifact of some lost or alien civilization...well okay. Bueno.

If, on the other hand, something is a mystery only because you need it to be able to do everything and then some in order to tie your mess of a plot together, and do so while deflecting any questions with a "JUST BECAUSE"? Hack.

See: Black goo. Red matter. Pretty much the entire plot of LOST.
posted by kaseijin at 10:06 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lindelof confuses opacity, pseudo-religious masturbation, and jerking the viewer around with being lofty, deep, and profound. I'm all for mystery, but he doesn't know how to achieve it.

Yeah, I gotta agree with that. Seems to me he frequently has the basis for some compelling stories banging around in his head, and then he helps himself to a big cup of Fail while he's writing them out.

I think he needs to work with a team that includes at least one person who isn't afraid to say, "Damon, that's a good starting point you've got there, but the details you're adding are pure shit. No. Just...no. Let's work it out like this instead...."
posted by lord_wolf at 10:06 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the "Space Jesus" theory: was Jesus one of the Engineers, or created to look like a human? Because, I don't remember the gospels mentioning that Jesus was a 7 foot tall, super-ripped albino.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:31 AM on June 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


WHAT SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID IS:
"We're going to the alien homeworld so I can jam this broken Funyun of a spaceship full of cancer-monster goo up their collective pasty white asses."


You were totally listening to my wife and I on the way back to the car after the movie.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ripley would have said it. I'm just saying.
posted by ColdChef at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Leave it to RedLetterMedia to rip this movie a new one.

Damon Lindelof responds - I can answer at least four of these questions.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 10:46 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Prometheus Species Origin
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Why all the books? No Kindles in space?)

Lots of spacegoers have book collections. Why? Perfect invention.

I admire their purity.
posted by ikahime at 11:59 AM on June 12, 2012


I don't remember the gospels mentioning that Jesus was a 7 foot tall, super-ripped albino.

You're clearly not familiar with the realistic crucifixes in Catholic churches. Jesus was cut.
posted by The Tensor at 12:01 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


ricochet biscuit: "Dear Logan Marshall-Green: You might like watching the Alien franchise, then."

I prefer to call him "Not Tom Hardy."
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:59 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, seriously, a trillion-dollar budget, and those adult children were they best they could do?

During the film, I said to my friend, "a trillion dollar mission, and this is the crew they came up with?"

That and, just prior to the sex scene, "when did this switch from Alien to General Hospital?"

I saw the movie 20 minutes ago, and I'll just add "wait, alien spaceship launches, gets slammed, crashes, and rolls like a hula hoop, and David's head is still on the floor next to his body?"
posted by zippy at 4:56 PM on June 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am so torn - I was utterly thrilled by the spectacle but deeply perplexed by the idiot scientists. I'm very much liking the theory espoused here that the crew of the Prometheus were indeed a ragtag gaggle of bad professionals funded by a trillionnaire with naught to lose, but I'd have to extend that to the activity on Skye. I totally get the film-makers, writers, producers having no clue about actual scientific protocol in actual space but goddamit, the stamping around the floor of a chamber containing 35,000 year old cave art really got my goat - those contextual images of horses were lifted directly from the walls of Chauvet Cave, had no-one on this production seen Cave of Forgotten Dreams? It's even in 3d! Stop with the stamping!
posted by freya_lamb at 5:11 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


had no-one on this production seen Cave of Forgotten Dreams? It's even in 3d!

God the post-production 3D in Cave of Forgotten Dreams was so awful. Didn't they watch it once before sending it off to theaters?
posted by aubilenon at 5:16 PM on June 12, 2012


Logan Marshall-Green sure comes off as an idiot in all of these interviews. Why is he the one we have to listen to? How about Rapace or Fassbender? MG's "insights" on science fiction and human-on-android racism are laughably pedestrian (even more so since he clearly fancies himself a pretty deep guy, and a greatly talented actor).
posted by nonmerci at 5:19 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


During the film, I said to my friend, "a trillion dollar mission, and this is the crew they came up with?"

Yes, the uber adventure funded by the greedy CEO for his own selfish desires, managed by his creepy android "son" and pissed off daughter, did indeed do a shitty job in hiring people.

Shaw wanted to know why the engineers decided to wipe out humanity. Considering the idiotic humans, full of their own various delusions, that came to meet, it's not really a question anymore is it. Their experiment was flawed, horribly so and they knew that 2,000 years ago. We managed to escape annihilation by accident, yet didn't mature very much during those two millennia.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:21 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


funded by a trillionnaire with naught to lose
Maybe in 2089 a trillion dollars doesn't buy what it once used to It didn't even buy them a properly weathered and broken in ship like the Nostromo.

They probably just rented a ZipCarSpaceship, and Weyland is the aging proprietor of a local corner market. Vickers has been humoring dad's senile fantasies of corporate empire by making up shareholders and board meetings. In reality, she's just hoping that he won't plunge the family into further debt before he finally kicks the bucket.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:22 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


...aging proprietor of a local corner market.
Wait, make that "aging proprietor of an interstateplanet truck stop." That would explain why space-trucker Ripley is the next to encounter the Xenomorphs.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:26 PM on June 12, 2012


Yes, the uber adventure funded by the greedy CEO for his own selfish desires …

I think Peter Weyland should have been played as a paranoid, reclusive Howard Hughes, with long fingernails and a soon-to-be ironic aversion to contamination.
posted by zippy at 6:28 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Logan Marshall-Green sure comes off as an idiot in all of these interviews. Why is he the one we have to listen to? How about Rapace or Fassbender? MG's "insights" on science fiction and human-on-android racism are laughably pedestrian (even more so since he clearly fancies himself a pretty deep guy, and a greatly talented actor).

So his character wasn't much of a stretch for him, then.
posted by invitapriore at 6:40 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Driving home, I came up with the perfect theory to explain about 99% of the movie:

The year is 2093, yes, but for reasons unknown we reset the clock in our 2093, so the year is actually 4186.

For thousands of years, a small group of scientists and top-level government agents has known about this planet. They know about the Engineers. They know about the bioweapons. They know about all of it.

And for thousands of years, they have been using this planet to get rid of asshole bajillionaires and the world's worst scientists.

It's actually a moon of Saturn, and the ship only cost about as much as the Space Shuttle. They just dress it up nice, charge the asshole bajillionaire a trillion dollars for it, and program the android du jour to think that everyone's been asleep for three years. Then they launch the B Ark at Titan, pour themselves a drink, and wait.
posted by Shepherd at 6:46 PM on June 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Shepherd, or it's all a simulation for an ordinary Joe or Jane who wishes they were a real scientist (hey, it could happen!), noble ship's captain, über-android, or Charlize Theron.

We can remember it for you, wholesale retail remainders table.
posted by zippy at 7:38 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, I'm so sad I missed this thread. I blogged about how the whole Ms. Vickers death thing bugged me just so I could get it out of my system, but I probably could have gotten into a much more enriching discussion about it here.

I think it was the characters that bugged me the most. They could have been fairly one-dimensional stock characters, but they didn't even act consistently. One minute stoner and glassy guy hate each other, the next they're inexplicably BFF. WTF?

Also all of Lindelof's usual "because faith!!" stuff. That, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:16 PM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know who else Logan Marshall-Green isn't? He isn't Justin Chambers, from Grey's Anatomy. This explains so much about why I kept expecting him to make really bad decisions.
posted by gingerest at 9:50 PM on June 12, 2012


Hey everyone, I figured out why everyone is dumb in this movie.

Earth's population is so small that we've been breeding incestuously by Engineer standards, and by 2089 we're all inbred mouth breathers.

See, the goo (when ingested by an Engineer, who then dissolves) is a planetwide DNA booster shot. Mixes it up and prevents Global Stupiding. But it only works for two thousand years. The Engineers missed a delivery in 2000 AD and now, the cream of the labor pool available for a space mission are: Dr and Mrs Dr Chariots of the Gods; Not Jeff Goldblum, biologist; Dope fiend McClueless, geologist; Captain Insensible; Hollywood Upstairs Medical School, MD; Red Shirt Security Dude; Female Michael from The Office; Robo-Toole; and Old Man Weyland.

In the future Earth, title inflation means one obtains a PhD after completing sixth grade without too many absences. Its the equivalent of a Food Safety Certificate from Hamburger U.
posted by zippy at 11:58 PM on June 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't know what I did to prep myself for viewing - there was no herbal or chemical supplementation involved, although I was ungodly tired - but I found it a rather joyful experience. I recognize the validity of everyone's complaints, although at the time I don't think I noticed them - not until I was driving home and discussing w Ms J, but really, even after several days of thinking about the movie and reading screed after screed my feelings are not changed. I loved that movie.

I think perhaps that I experienced it purely emotionally, with a positive-receptor-vibe, rather than watching it w a rational perspective, and thus maybe was able to disregard inconsistencies, cliches, etc and instead just soak in all the good stuff that was there, and IMHO there was much. I sat in the theater and smiled the whole time.

I do think that many folk are comparing it to 'Alien/s' uncharitably, w/out taking into account the benefit of hindsight. Those first two are some of my favorite movies, but to view them as flawless and then compare this (admittedly flawed and muddled) new film w that perspective is a little unfair.
posted by J0 at 10:19 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I thought it interesting that not only does a multi-billion dollar investment buy a lot of shiny holographic interfaces, it apparently buys an "upgrade" from Fruit of the Loom to Ace Bandages. (Not to mention a lot of booze, and an entire closet of identical uniforms for Vickers.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:03 AM on June 13, 2012


J0: "I do think that many folk are comparing it to 'Alien/s' uncharitably, w/out taking into account the benefit of hindsight. Those first two are some of my favorite movies, but to view them as flawless and then compare this (admittedly flawed and muddled) new film w that perspective is a little unfair."

When a director returns to the franchise that he launched, and which essentially launched him, only to take a Lucas-like dump on it, it's 100% fair.
posted by mkultra at 11:09 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was so incredibly excited to see this movie.

Coming out of it, my first comment was "Well, at least they didn't cheese out with any of the characters." And it's true, none of them were cheesy, but they were forgettable. The whole thing was pretty forgettable - with the exception of how incredibly awful and distracting the old man makeup was. Seriously - that's the only thing that I can remember clearly.

My second comment was asking why they didn't just hire an older actor to play Weyland. During the movie, I was expecting that Weyland would somehow be made young again, and that would be the reason for not choosing an older actor. That didn't happen. I think making a serious misstep like that just so you can have some viral videos to promote your movie is ridiculous. Lindelof is to blame for this awfulness:
You had this viral campaign with Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace, and Michael Fassbender in character that gave some insight into the movie's backstory: Peter Weyland's 2023 TED Talk, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw's solicitation for the the trip, the David commercial.

I think about viral all the time, and it all boils down to additional content. The ideal is something between two and four minutes, because people have the attention span online long enough to grab their coffee at Starbucks. If it's over five minutes and you're watching it at work, you feel indulgent. So the first rule is keep it bite-sized, and the second rule is don't think about it in terms of it being viral or marketing the movie.

What they did with The Avengers was genius — because at the end of each Marvel film, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, they had an extra scene, which linked the films together — Nick Fury shows up in the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark shows up in the Hulk movie, Agent Coulson shows up in the second Iron Man movie, and so on. That was viral six years later. You're finding out about the team, what the MacGuffin is going to be, and it's all coming together. Genius. So I was thinking about how that method and how those videos would be really effective at character introduction. So you meet David the robot, without spoiling it. One of the things I was thinking of for that were those iPhone commercials. So I talked to [executive producer] Michael Ellenberg, "Can we do a commercial for a robot? If we have commercials for iPhones, wouldn't they have commercials for robots?"
So, instead of focusing on the movie at hand (Prometheus), they're wasting time trying to emulate the extras from recent comic book movies. Awesome.

But I think what disappointed me the most was that the trailer was so good. It looked amazing, it sounded amazing, and it pretty much told the whole story. I wanted to see the movie from the trailer. What I saw was something else. I don't even know what it was, because I can't even really remember most of it. Where was that music, and the corresponding intensity and terror?
posted by MsVader at 12:19 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


When a director returns to the franchise that he launched, and which essentially launched him, only to take a Lucas-like dump on it, it's 100% fair.

This isn't a return, more like a riff off some similar ideas:
Scott: For all intents and purposes this is very loosely a prequel, very, and then you say “But how did that ship evolve in the first Alien?” Then I would say “Actually he’s one of the group that had gone off and his cargo had gotten out of control,” because he was heading somewhere else and it got out of control and actually he had died in the process and that would be the story there. That ship happened to be a brother to the ship that you see that comes out of the ground at the end. They are roughly of the same period give or take a couple hundred years, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:28 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually thought all of the ARG material from LOST was way better than the actual show, too, though it never really coalesced into anything great (as was the case with AI--which was actually a great SF movie, with a great SF ARG advertising it). Unsurprising that the same is the case here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:45 PM on June 13, 2012


"When a director returns to the franchise that he launched, and which essentially launched him, only to take a Lucas-like dump on it, it's 100% fair."

What I meant to mean is that the comparison, while obviously a rational one, is filtered through hindsight, and that we *may* be viewing the first two (WHICH I LOVE) in a little bit of an unfair light (too generously). I have no problem judging this flawed film on its own, and have no problem comparing it to the previous films, but I want to compare fairly.
posted by J0 at 2:49 PM on June 13, 2012


we have to be honest here. the idea that a guy dissolves after eating something, his DNA is shredded and somehow that evolves to be exactly like him DNA wise?

Nuts.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:28 PM on June 13, 2012


I think making a serious misstep like that just so you can have some viral videos to promote your movie is ridiculous. Lindelof is to blame for this awfulness

That's not what happened. They hired Guy Pearce because there were originally a bunch of scenes of him in the movie as a young guy. David spoke to Weyland in his dreams, and in his dreams Weyland was a young guy on a boat. But they cut all these scenes out in post, and it was too late to do anything about the fact that Guy Pearce was now only an old guy. They weren't happy about this. The TED talk video was just a way they figured they could get some mileage out of the fact they could film a young Weyland; it was a post hoc decision, not a motivation in casting.
posted by painquale at 4:14 PM on June 13, 2012


Ebert loved the movie. I loved the movie. Y'all are wrong.
posted by Justinian at 7:15 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I think it's just rude to have an abortion in someone else's med-pod without asking first. Leaving the mutated killer squid fetus out on the counter is just insult to injury. I've had bad housemates before, but that was just beyond the pale.
posted by elwoodwiles at 7:25 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


painquale, thanks for pointing that out. I didn't know about the deleted scenes.
posted by MsVader at 8:21 PM on June 13, 2012


Don't believe it is a med pod. Weyland's daughter is an unreliable narrator, Shaw is so blinkered by preconceptions she thinks a hazardous waste warning is an invitation, and Old Man Weyland is profoundly impractical (see for one his crack crew of space-wussies)

So what is it then? It's a disguised sushi-bot, and Ripl..Shaw was on her way to inventing space-ika.
posted by zippy at 8:27 PM on June 13, 2012


Now we need a prequel which explains the relationship between the Engineers and the Predators as background for Alien vs. Predator. I figure the Engineers are galactic arms dealers, and the Predators commissioned Earth as a game preserve and the Xenomorphs as prey from them. Maybe the Engineers were going to destroy us because the Predators didn't pay their bills.
posted by homunculus at 9:13 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The soundtrack and sound design were both pretty good, but where the hell was the music from the trailer?
posted by azarbayejani at 11:19 PM on June 13, 2012


I'm going to watch the trailer a few times and drink the rest of my beers.
posted by azarbayejani at 11:20 PM on June 13, 2012


I recently read some interview with Lindelof in which he explains that he just likes to write big, open-ended, Mad Lib kinds of stories, gosh darnit!

To which I reply: Sir, this is not the Iowa Writer's Workshop, this is Hollywood. Your drivel is meant to be consumed, for profit, by the public. And moreover, you choose to dabble in sci-fi, which is a very, very specific genre with a very particular fan base. This means that you don't get to don a beret and dance the Tarantella while you feed your artistic inclinations.

Also, learn to tell a story, you hack.
posted by gsh at 7:02 AM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Marathon in which all the Alien and Pedator movies are watched and ranked.

That's a lot of sitting.
posted by rewil at 7:44 AM on June 14, 2012


I saw this movie last night, and I thought it was beautiful. Looking over this thread... yikes.

So the only thing I'll add is that the Engineers reminded me a lot of Seth from Street Fighter IV.

That Seth was one of a series of genetically engineered superhuman clone body for M. Bison could also somehow be relevant, but I just like Street Fighter and I'm busy today.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:52 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it was the review in Forbes that said the Engineers look like "Albino Woody Harrelsons."
posted by zippy at 8:33 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


“But how did that ship evolve in the first Alien?” Then I would say “Actually he’s one of the group that had gone off and his cargo had gotten out of control,” because he was heading somewhere else and it got out of control and actually he had died in the process and that would be the story there. That ship happened to be a brother to the ship that you see that comes out of the ground at the end. They are roughly of the same period give or take a couple hundred years, right?
Coming back to this discussion after a few days, I think another big misstep was making it so that the Engineers / Space Jockeys wanted to destroy us. Giving the Engineers higher thinking, and showing that they had intentional thoughts about us, made them in a lot of ways inferior, as adversaries and as a dramatic force, to the Xenomorphs. The Xenomorphs no more hate humans than beetles hate crumbs of food.

Meeting God -- which is what we're set up to expect from a thematic standpoint -- and discovering that God hates us and wants us dead, tried to kill us and failed, and has been sleeping for two thousand years: all of this reduces God to something not only understandable but almost pitiable. The Engineers weren't unscrutable, which is what we should expect from a race of thousands-of-years-old beings who which seeded life on at least one planet (and by Scott's implication any number of them). They were just destructive. We could understand their motivation, even if we could not understand their language, because we can imagine ourselves in their shoes.

And they fail. Over and over. They fail all the way across the damn galaxy -- they build a military installation and task one of its ships with destroying human life. That installation is itself destroyed in an industrial accident (of their own making?) and either they don't bother to follow up OR they try to follow up and keep failing. Maybe the original Space Jockey was sent to find out what happened on LV-223. Who knows?

So, we not only can understand what the Engineers want, we see them failing to achieve it. These are meant to be the Big Bad of Prometheus.

I realize it's a tall order, but when you set your characters up to meet God, and you present them with a pale pillar of human physical fitness with a comprehensible psychological makeup -- that nevertheless has performed all of the acts necessary to meet your in-story definition of God, but has failed at almost their every endeavor -- you've failed to deliver on your promise. This isn't man-behind-the-curtain deflation of the characters' expectations. This is a failure of the storyteller's imagination.

Like I said, it's a tall order. But I think the only way to the dramatic payload would be for the Engineers to be brain-breakingly difficult to comprehend, such that we would not even be able to say whether the Engineers failed or succeeded to achieve their desired outcomes. Super-powerful starfish aliens, at the least. Like I said above, part of the reason the Xenomorph is scary is because, in Alien, it's very life cycle implies some big dark question marks, and another part of the reason is that it's actions are both hostile and inscrutable. It doesn't want, it just kills. Ripley is only able to kill it by leveraging the far greater and darker force which is the vacuum of space. (And, to be precise, she doesn't kill it. It's still out there somewhere.)

The Engineers fail. They are wiped out by a damn containment failure and a biological weapon which they themselves either made or harnessed. Thus, the Engineers fail.
posted by gauche at 9:50 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I realize it's a tall order, but when you set your characters up to meet God, and you present them with a pale pillar of human physical fitness with a comprehensible psychological makeup -- that nevertheless has performed all of the acts necessary to meet your in-story definition of God, but has failed at almost their every endeavor -- you've failed to deliver on your promise.

that was precisely the point. to destroy the gods.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 AM on June 14, 2012


that was precisely the point. to destroy the gods.

Do you mean to destroy the concept of Gods? To show how the Gods are literally just like us, just taller and paler and with cooler toys?

I guess that's the best possible reading of the film. After the prologue, the first think you see one of the Engineers do is run away in terror, trip on something and have his head cut off in the door. That is, to die clumsily in a freak accident.

Thinking about it now, I think that the Engineers were presented in a way that is almost comforting -- not only aren't we alone in the universe, but we've found some people whose beliefs and motivations are mappable to our own with little remainder, and once we get over the language barrier (something a motivated sex-bot can do in two years in its spare time) and can convince them that they don't need to destroy us, we can all be friends. Oh brave new world!

Literally nothing in the movie suggests to me that the above paragraph couldn't work. And if diplomacy doesn't work, don't worry, they've been tripping over their own shoelaces trying to destroy us for two millennia already, there's no way we're in danger of losing this war.
posted by gauche at 10:14 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


So then it would be possible, with the theme of old life making way for new (a king has his reign) and also competition to evolve (Darwin and natural selection), that what the Engineer is doing in smacking down David and Weyland is, consciously or not on his part, a test to see whether the new life is worthy of succession, as combat is a pure and natural way of testing the worthiness of a successor.
posted by zippy at 10:15 AM on June 14, 2012


The Engineers weren't inscrutable, which is what we should expect from a race of thousands-of-years-old beings who which seeded life on at least one planet

Why should we expect the Engineers to be inscrutable?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:20 AM on June 14, 2012


Well, they've scruted up nearly everything they've attempted up to this point.
posted by zippy at 10:22 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why should we expect the Engineers to be inscrutable?

Because virtually none of their formative experiences would be anything like our own. Even taking the common DNA (which was not handled at all well by the movie) into account, you're talking about an evolution that would have diverged radically by the time the movie was set.
posted by gauche at 10:27 AM on June 14, 2012


Because virtually none of their formative experiences would be anything like our own.

I don't see why not, can you explain why you think the Engineers formative experiences would be vastly different from ours?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:32 AM on June 14, 2012


Nope; it's inscrutable.
posted by painquale at 10:41 AM on June 14, 2012


Okay, I guess that I'm kind of rejecting the bit in the movie where they talk about the DNA being a 100% match, because that just plain didn't make any sense to me at face value. I just don't think that the Engineers can be the same kind of organism as homo sapiens.

But really, I think it's the decision to present the Engineers as tall pale humans at all that I feel is the dramatic mis-step. Maybe I can allow for the idea that those Engineers, the ones in the movie, would have a psychological makeup that is similar to humans. It's more that putting those Engineers into the movie foreclosed the possibilities for creeping cosmic horror that I was expecting to see.

To employ an analogy: if you allude to Cthulhu in the beginnings of your story, and then when you reveal him in the second act he wears a beret and smokes a cigarette and speaks French and loves his mother and is really kind of clumsy, then even though he's a serial killer and eater of sailors with no regard for human life, you have foreclosed a lot of the dramatic possibilities that you've raised by having Cthulhu in your story in the first place.

From the setup to Prometheus, I feel that it would have been a better dramatic decision to present something more like Cthulhu and less like a tall, pale person.
posted by gauche at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


if you allude to Cthulhu in the beginnings of your story, and then when you reveal him in the second act he wears a beret and smokes a cigarette and speaks French and loves his mother and is really kind of clumsy, then even though he's a serial killer and eater of sailors with no regard for human life

I would watch this. Can you get a spec back to me by Monday morning?

Otherwise, it sounds like you're asking for a gentle and loving God, which was what Shaw and Holloway seemed to be expecting.

But the ability to create life isn't that mysterious or wonderful. People do it everyday and have been doing it for millions of years. Yet humanity is far from enlightened. There's no reason to expect the creator of the human race would be much wiser than us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:05 AM on June 14, 2012


it sounds like you're asking for a gentle and loving God, which was what Shaw and Holloway seemed to be expecting.

Hmm. That's funny, because I wanted the Engineers to be utterly foreign and without any regard at all for mankind one way or another. We're left, at the end of Alien, with the belief that, although we're not alone in the universe, whatever it is that is here with us is terrifying and hungry, and certainly better at eating us than we are at not being eaten. I wanted more of that feeling. That cold emptiness.

We're left, at the end of Prometheus, with the knowledge that there's a totally relateable race of tall pale dudes with awesome toys that we can drive. Their desire to kill us just sort of seemed petty, and, coupled with their inability to do so, they were just greatly diminished as a dramatic force.

I feel like Ridley Scott spent a ton of money and took us across the universe to a CGI wonderland with robots and penis/vagina snakes, for the apparent purpose of evoking the disappointment that comes with awareness of one's parents' shortcomings.
posted by gauche at 11:29 AM on June 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


We're left, at the end of Prometheus, with the knowledge that there's a totally relateable race of tall pale dudes with awesome toys that we can drive. Their desire to kill us just sort of seemed petty, and, coupled with their inability to do so, they were just greatly diminished as a dramatic force.


Except that was the plan from the start. Remember on the DVD commentary track of the original Alien, Scott gave it all away, describing the "Space Jockey" ship as a bomber carrying bio-weapons from a long gone war. This was the way it always was.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2012


Remember on the DVD commentary track of the original Alien, Scott gave it all away, describing the "Space Jockey" ship as a bomber carrying bio-weapons from a long gone war. This was the way it always was.

I think all of that could still be true without making the Engineers basically human.
posted by gauche at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2012


> Add in Pandora

With all of this Event Horizon talk, I wonder if Pandora (or Pandorum) might have been a better title for this Ridley Scott film. The net effect of the events on LV 233 are going to leave a planetful of plagues there for the next visitors, so why not Pandorum?

And the failure of Paul WC Anderson's Event Horizon is that it switches genres 2/3rds of the way through its 95 minute running time. For the first hour, it is science-fiction and then it turns into shapeless British horror. While the title Prometheus may ultimately be inappropriate, Ridley made sure that the film remained in-genre.

Vickers is Other. She may not have been a robot, but I do wonder if she wasn't a Replicant.
posted by vhsiv at 12:51 PM on June 14, 2012


Perhaps Engineers and humans have the same DNA, but the humans differ from Engineers because of some, possibly goo-related, change to our developmental environment. That is, our DNA, while the same, expresses differently as a result of some factor that isn't normally present during the Engineer's development.

If we take the theme of evolution in the movie (Engineers beget humans, humans beget androids) then it is possible that the Engineers made us to be superior to them. In spite of their imposing form, their ships show no characteristics more advanced than the Prometheus (both ships have cryo-pods: while they can travel far distances, trips take years; both ships have 3D displays; both ships have control panels; both ships have space suits).

And the Engineers in the movie do not demonstrate smarts. They do not attempt to communicate with the humans before resorting to violence, when the human ship crashes into theirs, instead of walking to the next alien ship and using that, the survivingEngineer instead goes on an unarmed Rambo mission to kill Shaw, walking through an atmosphere that is likely fatal to him (elevated carbon monoxide, unlike the environment inside the alien ship).

The humans may be start as naive and fearful and, ok, dumb, but by the end of the film the surviving human, Shaw, has purpose and acts intelligently. The last Engineer by contrast acts like a complete meathead.
posted by zippy at 1:15 PM on June 14, 2012


Except that was the plan from the start. Remember on the DVD commentary track of the original Alien, Scott gave it all away, describing the "Space Jockey" ship as a bomber carrying bio-weapons from a long gone war. This was the way it always was.

Here's Scott on the DVD commentary: “I figured the Space Jockey was somehow a pilot, and he’s part of a military operation, if that’s the word you wanna apply to his world, and therefore this is probably some kind of carrier, a weapon carrier, a biological or biomechanoid carrier of lethal eggs,”

There are two things to note here. Firstly, the Jockey is part of a military operation "if that's the word you wanna apply to his world." All the hedge words ("probably", "some kind") suggest that Scott didn't have the right words for describing it; he thought it was something bigger and more inscrutable.

Secondly, he "figured" that the Jockey was a military pilot. He was himself just speculating, as he didn't write the Space Jockey scene; he was given it by the screenwriters. (I wonder what they had intended?) Scott is just musing here as if he himself were a fan viewer, and his thoughts are inchoate... he says elsewhere on the commentary track that he wants revisit the Space Jockey so that he can figure out who this character is. In other words, at is point, Scott really didn't know anything about the Jockey himself. So I don't think you can say that Scott "gave it all away." I wouldn't at all be surprised that Scott developed a different story about the xenomorphs entirely over the last thirty years, and had Idris Elba voice his own incorrect musings about the nature of the xenomorphs from thirty years earlier.

Maybe the bioweapon theory is right, of course. Actually, one theory I like a lot is that all of the Engineers' biohackery was in the service of making weapons... not only were the xenomorphs made to be weapons, so were we.
posted by painquale at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the link in the other Prometheus thread that just started today:
There was definitely a gap between the movie I was expecting this to be and the movie I ended up watching. Which was OK with me — but I was actually primed to digest a bigger mess of philosophical gobbledygook, based on people's initial reactions. That Tree of Life/Discovery Channel opening, the Chariots of the Gods setup — that's a misdirect. It's a monster movie! It's a fantastic monster movie, too — I'm not mad at all. I think it uses the our-search-for-the-Creator mumbo-jumbo to make you believe you're watching something slow and meditative and then slips the death-eel inside your faceplate.
And that, I think, is kind of close to what I'm getting at, too. I think I wanted more of the horror to come out of the where-did-we-come-from, we-aren't-alone-but-that-is-cold-comfort side of things and less of it to come out of the "black goo will turn your lover into a zombie and impregnate you with a squid-baby" side.
posted by gauche at 2:01 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The audience would have been better served if it had been able to skip proceedings aboard Prometheus, and instead just settle in for three hours with David's DVD of Lawrence of Arabia.

I kinda wish Lindelof had seen it as many times as he implies David has... or perhaps had watched it just once, and learned something.

Prometheus is one terrible film.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:37 PM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not really familiar with any "fantastic" monster movies that can't really decide what kind of monster they want to throw at you, though. In fact, the only mishmash monster movie I can think of off the top of my head is...Van Helsing. Yeesh.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:58 PM on June 14, 2012


if you allude to Cthulhu in the beginnings of your story, and then when you reveal him in the second act he wears a beret and smokes a cigarette and speaks French and loves his mother and is really kind of clumsy, then even though he's a serial killer and eater of sailors with no regard for human life

I would watch this. Can you get a spec back to me by Monday morning?

Here's the pitch
posted by figurant at 4:25 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw the film Saturday. What a disappointment. But I don't understand why people hold up Ridley Scott as the greatest film genius ever anyway. Gladiator was decent, but it doesn't exactly speak to the human condition in new and moving ways.

He makes better than average summer popcorn movies, that's all. And like Blade Runner was so logically coherent anyway, before all the lucas-esque revisionism. DECKER WAS REALLY A ROBOT!
posted by Chekhovian at 5:28 PM on June 14, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi's blog post about Vickers' death is pretty righteous.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:40 PM on June 14, 2012


I'm still convinced that Shaw's faith has less to do with some dogma represented by the cross around her neck as opposed to the "what do you believe" posed by her father. He faith, imho, is the act of questioning and the cross a representation of her father teaching her at an early age to ask QUESTIONS & EXPLORE the universe as we humans should do.
posted by djseafood at 9:14 PM on June 14, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi's blog post about Vickers' death is pretty righteous.

"All of this seems to be setting us up for the ultimate question of, 'Who will be the final girl?' I have to admit that I hoped the answer would be 'both.'"


For a brief moment, when one of them stumbled, I thought the other was going help and that they were both going to survive. But no, it turned out just as PhoBWanKenobi described. Feh.
posted by homunculus at 10:01 PM on June 14, 2012


He faith, imho, is the act of questioning and the cross a representation of her father teaching her at an early age to ask QUESTIONS & EXPLORE the universe as we humans should do.

What does that have to do with faith? As presented, her faith seems to be more along the lines of, "I don't care if the evidence says X, I choose to believe Y."
posted by adamdschneider at 10:03 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Faith that we are here for a reason, even if that reason is simply to ask "why are we here"
posted by djseafood at 10:06 PM on June 14, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi's blog post about Vickers' death is pretty righteous.

Daw, thanks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:10 PM on June 14, 2012


He makes better than average summer popcorn movies, that's all. And like Blade Runner was so logically coherent anyway, before all the lucas-esque revisionism. DECKER WAS REALLY A ROBOT!

Deckard being a replicant was always supposed to be an ambiguous point, much like the ending of Inception, which gets equal hater emphasis, and comes from another director who makes relatively smart popcorn movies. I'm not looking forward to the Blade Runner sequel and I'm hoping Nolan doesn't get bribed to do one for Inception.

Also, I know a lot of people loved Gladiator, but I hated it and found the ending so infuriating that while I haven't been boycotting his films deliberately since then, I'm not sure I've seen another one. I actually turned down the Robin Hood film despite having Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea in as the bard because I was so convinced he was going to muck it up.
posted by immlass at 10:30 PM on June 14, 2012


I'm hoping Nolan doesn't get bribed to do one for Inception

Don't you mean James Cameron's Inceptions, coming to theaters Summer 2015?
posted by Chekhovian at 10:34 PM on June 14, 2012


I know a lot of people loved Gladiator, but I hated it

I blame it for the rise of frenetic, so-close-you-can't-really-tell-what's-going-on sequences that reached their apex in The Bourne Ultimatum. God, I hate that bullshit.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:38 PM on June 14, 2012


so-close-you-can't-really-tell-what's-going-on sequences

Huh, I'd thought that the Bourne Identity shakey cam predated that, but Gladiator was 2 years earlier. I'd still place Saving Private Ryan as patient zero in that disease though.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:47 PM on June 14, 2012


Now we've gone too far and made William Gibson sick:
But my anxiety over whether or not I'll like it has become so acute as to make me ill. Today I took to bed. May see it Monday. In 2D.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:38 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope Gibson decides not to see it.
posted by Mezentian at 2:11 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd still place Saving Private Ryan as patient zero in that disease though.

But...you can tell what's going on in SPR. Gladiator, I remember sitting in the theater squinting at a gout of blood on the screen thinking, "who just got cut?" The Bourne Identity was directed by Doug Limon and had, if I recall, fine camera work. It wasn't until the Bourne Supremacy and the switch to Paul Greengrass that things went to shit. I don't think we can blame Oliver Wood (DP on both Supremacy and Ultimatum), because he also did Die Hard 2 and Face/Off, neither of which I remember being this way. Greengrass, on the other hand, did Green Zone, which very much did look that way from trailers (I didn't actually see it).

I remember when Ultimatum came out, my girlfriend at the time and I had plans to see it one day, so the night before we watched Identity (which she had not seen) and Supremacy (which neither of us had seen). Identity went fine. Supremacy on the other hand...well, I had, uh, acquired both films in a certain fashion, and when we were watching Supremacy, I started wondering if it was one of those bootlegs where someone was sitting in the theater with a camera, because it was so goddamned shaky all the time, like even when two characters were just sitting in a cafe having a conversation. But, no, the sound was too good, it was just filmed that way, bizarrely. Ultimatum continued that, unfortunately.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:23 AM on June 15, 2012


Actually, one theory I like a lot is that all of the Engineers' biohackery was in the service of making weapons... not only were the xenomorphs made to be weapons, so were we.

now that would have made for an interesting movie, and a surprising twist on the Alien universe that would have justified all the religious mumbo-jumbo: humanity goes to find its creators, and discovers that all Earthlife is descended from a primitive bioweapon that got out of control. The explorers endure various terrifying hardships, thrown at them by the Engineers for no apparent reason, only to discover that the Engineers are simply scared shitless, watching this apparently unstoppable horde of ancient hideous monster-weapon humans stalking them and making it past the Engineers' every defense.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


This still of a scene left on the cutting room floor makes me even more inclined to believe the Director's Cut will provide us with a better story.

For those who can't view the image, it shows an "elder Engineer" standing with the dude in the cloak we see at the beginning of the movie.

I also read somewhere that there were subtitles for everything said in the Engineer's language, but Scott nixed them for the theatrical cut.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:25 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


all Earthlife is descended from a primitive bioweapon that got out of control.

Reminds me of the story Danger - Human.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:49 AM on June 15, 2012


Don't you mean James Cameron's Inceptions, coming to theaters Summer 2015?

I would love to see that. In spite of my initial love for Inception (I'm sure you could go through my history and find some embarrassing posts about it, in fact) I've really cooled on it. Maybe Cameron could actually make the movie dream-like, or at the very least not a boring videogame tutorial level.
posted by codacorolla at 11:10 AM on June 15, 2012


I think it was the review in Forbes that said the Engineers look like "Albino Woody Harrelsons."

Somebody on the AV Club comment threads started calling them "Giant Angry Powders" or GAPs, which I really like.
posted by Shepherd at 1:16 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sure, 81 years is a long time for rapid technological advances, but Prometheus is some flying car, personal-jetpack, Mr. Fusion type shit, not cellphones and the Internet

posted by Saxon Kane at 12:58 AM on June 12



We had the first heavier-than-air human flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903. We put a man on the moon in 1969--sixty-six years later.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:58 PM on June 15, 2012


Aha! Maybe the cave art was made by Neanderthals after they were visited by the Engineers on another trip, and the Engineers were going to wipe out Homo sapiens as punishment for driving the Neanderthals to extinction.
posted by homunculus at 5:08 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also read somewhere that there were subtitles for everything said in the Engineer's language, but Scott nixed them for the theatrical cut.

I will say this: Scott sure knows when to just leave things out, because nothing the Engineer could have said would have redeemed anything. Better to be vague and rely on the audiences imagination sometimes.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:18 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prometheus: Stringer Bell INNN SPAAAAaaaaaaccccceeee
posted by hellojed at 10:57 PM on June 16, 2012


Saw it last night. Love it or hate it, it sure made me think a lot about it. On balance I find I liked it, with a few exceptions. The intricate levels of detail make me want to see it again.

However, I couldn't get past the Johnny-Knoxville-grandpa makeup routine. I kept expecting Spike Jonze to show up as a naked old lady.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:29 PM on June 17, 2012


Saw it today. The many annoyances were indeed distracting. The level of professional incompetence displayed by all the characters (except Vickers) made it look like Airplane! sequel. Leslie Nielsen should have played old man Weyland. Still, I ended up liking it a lot. At least there was an actual sci-plot there, not just eye candy + the usual good vs evil stuff. Fassbender and Theron were great.
posted by elgilito at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2012


Prometheus, Viewed As A Roleplaying Game
posted by webmutant at 11:56 AM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I haven't gotten through the last 300 or so comments, but I have to say that the MeFi community is awfully passionate about their sci-fi, and I'm right there with the 88% disappointment on this.

Like so many others here, I feel a bit shorted by Ridley Scott, David Giler and Walter Hill for slutting their franchise out too much and letting at least one over-reaching writer-director take a liberty one too many.

As far as I can recall, Alien is the last big franchise that I had a(n) (probably unhealthy) investment in. I have at least 3 friends who are as deeply invested. Any of them could have charted the plot-points that Prometheus would have had to touch to satisfy them and likely make a box-office success, if not a genre classic.

Many of these people are very talented and hold advanced degrees and such.

I know it's probably ridiculous to suggest this, but shouldn't the studios -- who should want the greatest possible return on their investments -- be canvassing niche audience groups like MeFi, reddit and Barbelith for input?

I'm not suggesting the kind of fansourcing that flattened Universal's returns on Serenity/Firefly. (How many times can you have advance previews before you're just giving away tickets to people who would otherwise be customers?)

OTOH, I guess I'm just suggesting that FOX/Universal/WB/etc. hire panels of outside consultants to pass these story-points along to the directors and producers or something like that.
posted by vhsiv at 6:07 AM on June 19, 2012


On second thought, that's what they did when they hired Joss Whedon to write Alien Resurrection, no offense intended to Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
posted by vhsiv at 6:18 AM on June 19, 2012


So I read this thread... and I went and saw the movie on Sunday, expecting to dislike it pretty intensely. But... instead... I liked it. A lot! A lot of the plotting was pretty silly, but it was well-acted, entertaining and visceral, with some really sumptuous visuals, and it stuck with me. I've been thinking about it ever since. And I've hated most of Ridley Scott's movies since Gladiator too.

I really find the sheer amount of kvetching about this movie to be kind of ridiculous. Sci-fan fans really can be a bunch of picky bitches, can't they? Oh well. I'd rather hear people going on about Prometheus than the Hunger Games or Twilight franchises yet again.

Anyway, you gotta love a movie that has a hot robot in it. David8, I loooove you! Now I can't wait to see the upcoming Prometheus sequel... The Adventures of Elizabeth and David's Head.

Oh man, that sounds dirty, doesn't it? I sure hope so... I mean, yeah. *coughs*
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really find the sheer amount of kvetching about this movie to be kind of ridiculous. Sci-fan fans really can be a bunch of picky bitches, can't they? Oh well. I'd rather hear people going on about Prometheus than the Hunger Games or Twilight franchises yet again.

Meh. Most of the complaints I've heard are narrative, not SF complaints.

But, yeah, we're picky. That's why Shatner wanted us to get a life and all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:51 AM on June 19, 2012


And on a lighter note, the alien look-alike solar prominence.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:51 AM on June 19, 2012


Any of them could have charted the plot-points that Prometheus would have had to touch to satisfy them and likely make a box-office success, if not a genre classic.

What would those be?

I thought that the main arc and the major plot-points of Prometheus were strong. The complaints that I'm hearing people make seem to be about features that wouldn't be apparent from a gross synopsis of the plot. Most alleged missteps could be corrected by retooling individual scenes or shots or lines of dialogue.
posted by painquale at 9:16 AM on June 19, 2012


I thought that the main arc and the major plot-points of Prometheus were strong.

I'd disagree, in that, while the individual plot points might have sounded fine on paper, the internal logic and character consistency was all off. Essentially, it was an idiot plot, which required each character to, at some point, act stupidly, non-sensically, or contrary to earlier characterization in order for the story to arrive at the beats and scenes that Lindelof wanted. And I wouldn't call any movie whose function is predicated on the main characters acting inconsistently or like idiots as having a "strong" main arc.

I agree, though, that it could have been fixed with relatively small tweaks. For example, two objections--that "the scientists didn't act like scientists" and the inconsistent characterization of the xenobiologist (at one moment, the xenobiologist is terrified by a long-dead alien, and the next, he wants to pet a little penis demon) could have been fixed by making the guy really really excited to see the alien corpse. Maybe he's obsessively nutty about alien life (as a xenobiologist would be?), to the point where it alarms other crew members and they have to drag him away from the corpse because, I don't know, the medic is afraid of some sort of alien bacteria on it, or whatever. Then, when he's all "Hi, cute alien!" the behavior would have made more sense in the context of both the scene and the overall film.

(Honestly, I think most of the movie's failures were failures of characterization and internal logic.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:27 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Peter Watts has seen this movie. Covers a lot of the same ground that others have, but darn if he can't turn a phrase.
posted by figurant at 10:10 AM on June 19, 2012


I thought that the main arc and the major plot-points of Prometheus were strong. The complaints that I'm hearing people make seem to be about features that wouldn't be apparent from a gross synopsis of the plot. Most alleged missteps could be corrected by retooling individual scenes or shots or lines of dialogue.

Thankfully, a full re-write and re-shoot is admissible by that standard.

But, seriously, a "gross synopsis" of a plot maps to an infinite number of plausible implementations, so it's not a very convincing quality metric. This particular implementation relied for its furtherance on a cascading series of totally illogical events perpetrated by cardboard characters. It's a bad movie in spite of the global narrative curve it outlines.

The other frustrating thing is that Alien and Aliens were both masterful at marshaling plot points large and small in the service of the themes they were interested in exploring. This movie tells you straight out what those themes are (for instance with all of the bullshit "faith" dialog) and then utterly fails to engage them meaningfully, which is way crappier than just quietly failing to explore any themes coherently at all.
posted by invitapriore at 11:15 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Essentially, it was an idiot plot, which required each character to, at some point, act stupidly, non-sensically, or contrary to earlier characterization in order for the story to arrive at the beats and scenes that Lindelof wanted.

I dunno, I don't think many story beats depend on the characters acting nonsensically. The xenobiologist and the geologist are pretty Scooby-Doo-cartoonish, granted, but they're just a couple of inessential redshirts. The only other relevant complaints I've seen is that it doesn't make sense for Weyland to think the Engineers will save him, and that people wouldn't sign on for a secret mission without knowing what it was for. I don't find either of those as nonsensical as others do.

The characters do act weirdly at points, but their weird behaviors aren't plot-related and don't serve to drive the story forward. A lot of people have been saying that there are plot holes in the movie, and I just don't see them. Other criticisms might be valid, but not plot-related ones. That conversation about faith was pretty dumb, but it's not like it messed with the plot. Same with the scientists taking off their helmets, the medbay pod being for men only, or other missteps.

(Oh wait, I just remembered that the alien DNA being the same as our own is inconsistent with natural selection. Ok, that's a plot hole, but one that's reasonably permissible in sci fi. Star Trek did it too.)

This particular implementation relied for its furtherance on a cascading series of totally illogical events perpetrated by cardboard characters.

Like what?
posted by painquale at 11:27 AM on June 19, 2012


The xenobiologist and the geologist are pretty Scooby-Doo-cartoonish, granted, but they're just a couple of inessential redshirts.

My husband and I were talking about this as we left the movie. He called the minor characters "stock." Thing is, they weren't stock--they were a collection of inconsistent characterizations, essentially whatever was required for the story to reach certain scenes at certain moments. so Tattoo Face Weapons/Geology (?) Guy is just there for the money so hates everyone one minute and in the next is making best friends with Scared of Aliens Xenobiologist.

That's the thing about cartoons--they're usually strongly drawn, iconic. These weren't, and most of the ways the characters could be described easily were directly contradicted by stuff that happened later in the story. And not in a "complexity of nuanced character" sort of way but in a "we really don't know who these people are or what drives them" sort.

It's like, okay, look, I see this a lot with writer friends who are overly reliant on Blake Snyder's Save the Cat method--beat sheets and all of that. And it happens a lot in movies, too, probably because the writers are writing to formula, or because they want to include lots of cool scenes. Your writing can be engaging and well-paced and still be a pile of horse-shit in terms of cohesion, logic, and character consistency. You might be able to strong arm your characters into doing whatever is necessary for the plot (Xenobiologist needs to go off on his own with Tattoo MacFace, so he's written as having an inconsistent interest in alien life). There are other ways to tackle this, though, ways that are more logical and better respect the story's overall cohesion. You can reconceptualize the character from the ground up. Tattoo MacFace is a weapons guy; Xenobiologist is a geologist who has no interest in alien life and is, in fact, scared of people, much less aliens. He just wants to look at some rocks! Maybe Tattoo MacFace needs to be the one to pet the alien cock, and Xeno warns him not to. The scene would have worked just as well, then. Or you respect your characters as initially conceived and have them act accordingly, and let the plot grow organically from there--but that means giving up on these beats, these scenes that are perfect callbacks to the prior movies, and so on.

What you have here, instead, are characters strong-armed into roles that aren't fitting for what we see on screen. Vickers, for example, plays the plot role of villain without ever acting villainously. When she dies, it's filmed like the death of a villain, and this looks good, in the immediate, but makes less sense when we're talking character, theme, or overall artistic cohesion.

The best you can ever hope for with a plot like this is that it's a collection of pretty enough scenes that viewers don't notice the gaps in logic until later. That doesn't mean the logic is sound, though. It just means that the writer is able to distract us long enough that we don't walk out of the film.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:43 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Like what?

Like that the mission (which we have no indication is especially "secret," and what difference would it make if they were briefed on Earth?) is based on a reckless extrapolation made by someone who is supposed to make measured hypotheses with available evidence? Your argument that these things are plausible seems to ignore the number of extra-textual deductive steps required to justify them, which seems important. Anyway, even if you can come up with a background theory that results in the movie having a coherent plot, a coherent plot is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a good movie.
posted by invitapriore at 11:53 AM on June 19, 2012


PhoBWan, I was nodding along with you up until that final paragraph. I mostly agree with you about the redshirts, though I don't think their quick friendship is quite so unbelievable, and I don't think they're very important anyway. They certainly could have been made more human. And I agree that Vickers did not need to be presented as a villain and I would have preferred her to stay alive. But these complaints are not complaints about any gaps in logic or plot holes, which is what you pick on in your last paragraph. They're complaints about character, theme, and artistic cohesion, as you say. I don't see the fridge logic.

Like that the mission (which we have no indication is especially "secret," and what difference would it make if they were briefed on Earth?) is based on a reckless extrapolation made by someone who is supposed to make measured hypotheses with available evidence?

There are all sorts of reasons Weyland could have wanted to keep the mission a secret... I hardly think this is problematic or something that should have been spelled out. The extrapolation that the Engineers created us was totally unwarranted, true, and I thought all of Shaw's discussions about faith underpinning her belief were pretty stupid. But she is at least explicit and honest about her belief being motivated by non-epistemic reasons. She and Hollaway do have evidence that aliens existed, and has perfectly good reason to explore that part of the universe. Weyland is dying and has one last shot at continued existence: Shaw's unwarranted speculation being correct. So it makes pragmatic sense for him to take on the mission. No one acts stupidly or recklessly here. The movie totally makes sense as a movie about people rationally seeking alien life while also having hopes and faith about what it will amount to. I don't think I had to undergo unreasonable explanatory gymnastics here: this is how I naturally understood the movie as I was watching it, and I haven't really been disabused of this reading by anything commenters have said.

Anyway, even if you can come up with a background theory that results in the movie having a coherent plot, a coherent plot is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a good movie.

I agree, but I just wanted to take on the charge that the movie has plot holes and logical inconsistencies. Arguments that the movie is a thematic success can happen separately. One step at a time.
posted by painquale at 12:25 PM on June 19, 2012


But these complaints are not complaints about any gaps in logic or plot holes, which is what you pick on in your last paragraph. They're complaints about character, theme, and artistic cohesion, as you say.

"A xenobiologist would be fascinated by an alien corpse" is a massive frigging hole in logic. Character and plot are deeply intertwined. That's part of what I suspect Lindelof doesn't realize here. He uses inconsistent characters to further and prop up a weak plot (one which is based around individual scenes, rather than, as you put it, "arcs"). Arcs are created through narrative tension and character growth. Here, both suffered because the people on the screen were fundamentally unknowable or otherwise inconsistent.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:34 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"A competant xenobiologist would be fascinated by an alien corpse"

See, all these problems can be solved by assuming that all the scientists are total idiots. Prometheus is like Dumb and Dumber in space.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:42 PM on June 19, 2012


I'm not sure a xenobiologist necessarily has to be so fascinated by alien corpses that his curiosity will overcome the fright caused by a bunch of surprise holographic giants on a deserted spaceship. He was understandably freaked out. When he calmed down, his academic curiosity kicked in. Does a competent biologist have to never feel fear?

Anyway, I'm willing to concede the xenobiologist. I just think he's not very important. If he's the worst plot hole in the movie, then the movie's doing pretty well.
posted by painquale at 1:03 PM on June 19, 2012


I'm not sure a xenobiologist necessarily has to be so fascinated by alien corpses that his curiosity will overcome the fright caused by a bunch of surprise holographic giants on a deserted spaceship.

Why did he panic so much over the "surprise holographic giants", though, when they had all just seen a hologram of Weyland? I felt like that was a problem, too, that these people seen so blown away by an automated hologram that is not even as advanced as their own technology is. Seemed like a stupid executive decision to have Weyland projected so clearly and the Engineer technology be so stark in comparison (because of course you are going to compare them, seeing as how the scenes are so close together), especially given how incredibly bad the "old man" makeup was.

Now, being surprised that the giants looked human, sure, I get that. Certainly, the guy getting his head cut off in the door would be shocking.

But if you watch the film, they all seem to react as if the hologram itself is just amazing magic they cannot comprehend, which is imbecilic. Especially given the way they seem to react to most things with analytically detached observations up until then.

More stupidity: the women are incredibly careful to scan the skull in its helmet, and then declare it "sterile." But after David takes the helmet off, neither says, "Wait, we need to scan this again now that we have exposed a decaying body to the elements!"

Holloway is intent on insulting robot David, for no real reason. It's an odd character quirk, and probably explains to some extent why David chose him for the alien goo, but given that, perhaps Holloway is not the best choice for the romantic love interest of the female protagonist. Basically, what we know about the guy is that he's a jerk who wants to find God. It would have been much better to create a more sympathetic character, especially given that his death by black goo scene is the one that pits the others against Vickers (who did the right thing in flaming him).

I just see so many examples of stupid decision-making in this production of this film, far and above the plot holes...

There are supposedly 17 passengers on this ship. That's flashed up on the screen right before we see David (also that the mission is classified). I notice stuff like that, so even though I didn't know Weyland was on board, I was wondering where everyone was. But my point with that is that I doubt anyone here can name even half of those characters. Go ahead, give it a try.

No. No, you can't. You get Shaw and Vickers, David, Holloway, Weyland, maybe you remember the captain's name. I could even give you half credit for differentiating the biologist and geologist from the other crew members. But do we even know, for instance, who the Asian navigator on the ship was? I *think* he was the navigator, anyway. I'm still not sure.

I was excited when I saw some diversity in the crew, but none of the characters are ever fleshed out enough to give a damn about them. Compare that to Aliens, where we can all remember Hudson, Hicks, Valdez, Burke, Bishop, Ripley, Sarge, etc. right off the top of our heads.

It's just sad. Prometheus could have been, should have been, so much better than it was.
posted by misha at 1:52 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


(It was actually 17 crew members, not passengers. I am not sure if they were counting the scientists as crew members, tbh. Also I can name every character whose name was given but that is kind of my halfassed second job, so.)
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on June 19, 2012


But do we even know, for instance, who the Asian navigator on the ship was? I *think* he was the navigator, anyway. I'm still not sure.

Oh, that's easy. He's the same navigator who fucked up the Icarus II in Sunshine. In all possible worlds, one man is destined to have terrible luck with spaceships named for Greek mythological figures.
posted by figurant at 2:24 PM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anyway, I'm willing to concede the xenobiologist. I just think he's not very important. If he's the worst plot hole in the movie, then the movie's doing pretty well.

The worst plot hole in the movie is that their math puts them just past Jupiter. Oh, or the fact that the relative position of the stars would have changed between the eras of Egyptian and Mayan civilization, so an identical "star map" left behind by the Engineers makes no sense. Or the fact that, again, the scientists on the ship all act extremely incompetent as scientists; if we're to assume that crazycakes ol' Weyland is there to meet his maker, then it's also a safe assumption that he'd want to hire competent scientists to help him achieve this goal. He obviously has the financial means to do so. And so on, and so forth.

The xenobiologist stuff is not the worst offender of bad writing here. It just typifies it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:40 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if you watch the film, they all seem to react as if the hologram itself is just amazing magic they cannot comprehend, which is imbecilic.

I thought they were reacting to the fact that there was working technology, to the scary aliens being beheaded, and to the fact that it happened so suddenly. If you entered a cave and a huge screen lit up showing an alien dying right where you are standing, you'd probably be amazed and freaked out even though it's just a boring old TV screen.

More stupidity: the women are incredibly careful to scan the skull in its helmet, and then declare it "sterile." But after David takes the helmet off, neither says, "Wait, we need to scan this again now that we have exposed a decaying body to the elements!"

That's a kind of trivial and picky complaint for a sci-fi movie. Demanding "realism" for the sci-fi scanners and sci-fi medicine will make the first Alien movies also culpable, along with most every movie with sci-fi scanners.

Holloway is intent on insulting robot David, for no real reason. It's an odd character quirk

Well, you're objecting to the choice because of the emotional impact on the viewer, so that's not really a plot hole, and not a counterexample to the claim that there are no serious plot holes.

In any event, I wholly disagree that Holloway should have been nice to the robot so he'd be a relatable romantic lead. It is vital to the movie that the humans are huge dicks to David. The humans are all mystified that the Engineers made them but then left them alone and then decided to destroy them, while completely blind to the fact that they treat their creations in just as callous a manner. The coolest thing about this movie is that everyone is warring with both their creators and their creations: they all have a complete and fundamental inability to comprehend one another. That's the driving theme behind the movie, I think: a kind of species-centered solipsism. That's why it's great that we don't really know why David poisoned Holloway.

(It was actually 17 crew members, not passengers. I am not sure if they were counting the scientists as crew members, tbh. Also I can name every character whose name was given but that is kind of my halfassed second job, so.)

When watching the movie, I was wondering whether every crew member's death was accounted for. Do you happen to know, elizardbits? (I gotta say that I'm pretty in awe of your knowledge about this movie already!)

The worst plot hole in the movie is that their math puts them just past Jupiter.

Aw, that is pretty nitpicky.

Or the fact that, again, the scientists on the ship all act extremely incompetent as scientists; if we're to assume that crazycakes ol' Weyland is there to meet his maker, then it's also a safe assumption that he'd want to hire competent scientists to help him achieve this goal.

It's actually hard to say whether they're competent scientists, because we didn't get to see them do much science. They're not very professional. And they don't act like movie scientists. But I'm not so sure they don't act like actual scientists. They just landed on the planet, and they're exploring and taking it all in before getting down to brass tacks and analyzing stuff. This happens in just a few hours! And most of them only just discovered that they're looking for alien life! So they react to weird holograms and weird rooms with awe and fear and apprehension and yeah, some stupidity, as if they were tourists. I don't find that so unrealistic. Real scientists are people too.

And then there's the "scientific sloppiness" like taking off their helmets in an alien environment and not rescanning the alien head once exposing it to air... eh, it's the future, they have better sensors or whatever. It's not a big deal.
posted by painquale at 3:46 PM on June 19, 2012


The coolest thing about this movie is that everyone is warring with both their creators and their creations: they all have a complete and fundamental inability to comprehend one another.

But it's such a two-dimensional conflict. Holloway is transparently an asshole to David, for no real substantiated reason. It merits some justification on account of its anomalousness; everybody else is pretty polite to him (with the exception of Vickers, who in her jealousy ironically ends up treating him very much like a real person, which I grant is a nice touch), and although the thread of humans wrongly projecting lack of sentience onto David could have been interesting, David is pretty much the only one who brings it up, which in a way is hilariously meta. And, again, I have trouble reading "inability to comprehend [their creations]" on the part of the Engineers when the woken one's simplistic antagonism is more easily read as plot fuel.
posted by invitapriore at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aw, that is pretty nitpicky.

Look, I know that sci-fi writers have no sense of scale, and there's a long tradition of that, but that's a 10-second googling. They just didn't try.

They're not very professional. And they don't act like movie scientists. But I'm not so sure they don't act like actual scientists.

I can't help but wonder if you know Actual Scientists. I do, and they were all agog at the "scientists" in the movie. Moreover, I once made the mistake of asking a plant biologist a question about her field and got a 2 hour talk culminating in raving about how amazing it is that we have roughly the same number of genes as all other organisms. Yeah, scientists are normal people, but they're also both incredibly well-trained in protocol and also frequently amazed by the amazingness of life. If Lindelof wanted to give us silly character actions due to the latter, I would buy it. Instead, he gave us idiocy justified by massive lapses in the former. And it makes no sense. Especially when, once again, he's setting us up for a dichotomy between faith and science. It seems like it's a conversation that he's not well-informed enough to have.

I get that it entertained you, and you enjoy it, but you're moving the goalposts by insisting that character inconsistencies have no impact on plot cohesion or logic, and that actual lapses in plot cohesion or logic aren't important. Maybe they don't matter to you, or aren't an impediment to your enjoyment, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:16 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I get that it entertained you, and you enjoy it, but you're moving the goalposts by insisting that character inconsistencies have no impact on plot cohesion or logic, and that actual lapses in plot cohesion or logic aren't important. Maybe they don't matter to you, or aren't an impediment to your enjoyment, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

TBH, from my perspective it looks like the reverse... people who didn't enjoy the film are saying that it has plot holes and lapses in logic in order to provide some "objective" measure of their dislike, but their dislike arises from something else entirely; any lapses in logic or plot cohesion are actually pretty minimal and shouldn't account for it receiving this much criticism. I agree that my enjoyment of the movie doesn't mean there are no plot holes... what convinces me there are no plot holes is that people say really trivial things when pressed for plot holes (and I note that a bunch of them that people mentioned in the beginning of this thread have been dropped. Progress!). Something about this movie really irks a lot of people and I do not think that it can be located in basic and inarguable lapses in logic. I don't think it is as categorically easy to say that this is a bad movie as critics in the pile-on want to do.

People can say they didn't like it because they didn't relate to the characters and they think that's important in a movie, or that they don't like not having certain mysteries explained, or they didn't like the fake science, etc. That's fine, although I disagree. But I think going for the jugular and saying that the movie is illogical or inconcistent is a mistake. It's a quick way of scoring a win, but it's also something that can be shown to be wrong.

(I don't think I'm moving the goalposts; I'm responding to goalpost-moving. I'm mostly trying to argue against the idea that there are plot holes, but along the way I'm also responding to other arguments people are making about theme and character.)

I can't help but wonder if you know Actual Scientists.

I do, but I know at least one who hates scary movies; I think most of them would be too scared to work well on an alien planet. Following protocol in the lab and having conversations about DNA is one thing; I don't think that really tracks how well they'd do in a Gigership after years in hypersleep. They'd probably do things that other scientists would be agog at, if judged on professionalism.

I don't really want to argue this part too strenuously... the characters did seem fairly unscientific. But I don't think they were so unbelievable that it resulted in flat-out character or plot inconsistencies. Scientists are hardly ever portrayed perfectly in movies, but it's usually easy to explain away any bumbling, and I don't think you have to squint much harder here to remove the imperfections than you do in comparable films.

But it's such a two-dimensional conflict.

See, I disagree with this, and I guess that might be one area where conflict between movie likers and movie haters lies.
posted by painquale at 5:19 PM on June 19, 2012


Following protocol in the lab and having conversations about DNA is one thing; I don't think that really tracks how well they'd do in a Gigership after years in hypersleep.

It doesn't make any sense for that individual to become a xenobiologist, then. It certainly doesn't make sense that Weyland would hire such an individual on a mission that might depend on his skills. The Watts article upthread is particularly insightful about this stuff, and why it matters.

(But you're right--the plot treated them as redshirts to be chewed up and spit out. That they filled this role in the plot doesn't mean it's good writing, though. The whole redshirts thing was kinda stupid even when Star Trek did it, and that's speaking as a Trekkie.)

I agree that my enjoyment of the movie doesn't mean there are no plot holes... what convinces me there are no plot holes is that people say really trivial things when pressed for plot holes (and I note that a bunch of them that people mentioned in the beginning of this thread have been dropped. Progress!).

If it's any help, I'm with you that it's not problematic that we never learn why "our creators" made us in the movie, or why they wanted to destroy us. I think Holloway's hatred toward David is plausible, though thinly written and given insufficient context. I'm fine with David's nature (whether he acts as programmed, or acts despite his programming) being a mystery. All of that, fine, cool.

But scientists not acting like scientists is still a problem. Big face-palmy math and science errors are still a problem. Inconsistent characters are still a problem. Treating characters like villains based on their prescribed role in the plot rather than by nature of their actions is still a show of bad writing. Dismissing Darwinism for Chariot of the Gods stuff in one breath is still stupid, even if it's in service of your plot. Having the engineers have identical DNA to ours is still stupid, even if you don't trust the audience to understand that they made us via any other device. All of this shone a light, for me, on the bad writing. You say the overall arc is sound. What arc? How did Shaw grow, or change? How were the tensions increased organically through character conflict that made sense for the characters as introduced? How was the ending satisfying in light of what we learned about the characters over the course of the film?

One thing that's frustrated me here, with Lindelof, and previously, with Lindelof, is that he thinks that his refusal to meaningfully answer "the big questions" excuses him from broader criticisms of his writing (he tweeted about how he knows some of the answers in the red letter media video, for instance). But a refusal to answer is not the same thing as a meaningful exploration of metaphysics; even the central themes here, about faith and science, felt muddled. I know Lindelof views any science fiction as "a cautionary tale" because I've seen him say that in interviews, but the argument he's building about science being dangerous in this movie was really muddled. It's faith that get Holloway, Shaw, and Weyland into trouble, and yet Shaw ends the movie reaffirming her faith (which makes her look . . . stupid. Lindelof could have really had us follow her character through some deep stuff and get us to understand her thought process and it could have been meaningful. But the writing was slapdash and nonsensical and even Rapaace's acting felt wasted, because it sure didn't let me empathize with her character, at least). The scientists don't act like scientists--with any genuine scientific curiosity--and so it's not a very incisive or interesting criticism of science. I could go on, but honestly, Film Crit Hulk says it better than me.

That might all be stupid nitpicks for you, and that's fine, but it all really kept me from enjoying the movie. Other than looking at Fassbender. God, those first ten minutes. Robot watching helpless humans in cryosleep, what a stellar premise. But really, honestly, it all felt very wasted to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:47 PM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can forgive a fair number of plot holes, the use of crew members as redshirts, and the Mary Sue writing of making Shaw look good by establishing that almost everyone else is both wrong and unlikable.

But the central horror sequence doesn't make a lick of sense or logic to me. We get two different tentacle-rape beasts on screen with two different origins but similar features. Are they related? I don't really see how. Why does tentacle-rape beast #2 have radial symmetry when it's apparently derived from human DNA?

Then you have the ape/zombie transformation monsters with no apparent connection, and the White Gods who are alternately running to and away from the scary black dripping goo, which may or may not be the same as the nano black goo unlocked by David.

I can't help but compare Prometheus to The Thing. The Thing also gave us something alien that the characters barely understood, but at least there was something of a twisted logic and continuity that helped us to understand that we were seeing variations on the same beastie.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:39 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


How can there be any agreement or even understanding? Whatever you say does not matter to painquale. You accuse (too harsh a connotation, but there is no better word) each other of the same failings and give every appearance of being unable to understand each other's viewpoint (although honestly I can't understand painquale's viewpoint either and have put it in the "blithe dismissal" box in my head). Branding Blatcher wanted to know why he should think the engineers should be incomprehensible to us; it's because we are basically incomprehensible to each other, so why would an alien species be easier to understand?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:39 PM on June 19, 2012


I gotta say that I'm pretty in awe of your knowledge about this movie already!

I saw it 4x in 2 days and then banged out 15k words of madness about it, basically.

In the imdb listing for the film, there are 19 people who were present on the ship; this leads me to believe that the 17 crew mentioned in the scene where we first see the Prometheus was everyone listed minus Shaw and Holloway, as they were the invited guests of Weyland.

Of those 19 people:

01 Shaw - alive, escaped with David
02 David - alive, escaped with Shaw
03 Vickers - smooshed under the space donut
04 Janek - died with Chance and Ravel while destroying the donut with the Prometheus
05 Weyland - killed by The Last Engineer
06 Holloway - poisoned by David, flambeed by Vickers
07 Fifield - attacked by mutant space worm, flambeed and run over by Janek
08 Millburn - presumably dead in the goo vase chamber
09 Chance - died with Janek and Ravel while destroying the space donut
10 Ravel - died with Chance and Janek while destroying the space donut
11 Ford - killed by the Last Engineer

12 Mercenary 1 - killed by the Last Engineer
13 Mercenary 2 - possibly killed by the Last Engineer but I don't remember exactly
14 Mercenary 3 - no idea, presumably died when Janek crashed the ship
15 Mercenary 4 - no idea, presumably died when Janek crashed the ship

16 Mechanic 1 - killed in the cargo bay by Alien Fifield
17 Mechanic 2 - killed in the cargo bay by Alien Fifield
18 Mechanic 3 - killed in the cargo bay by Alien Fifield
19 Mechanic 4 - killed in the cargo bay by Alien Fifield
posted by elizardbits at 8:59 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's faith that get Holloway, Shaw, and Weyland into trouble, and yet Shaw ends the movie reaffirming her faith

You know, I did not get that from the ending. I thought her faith got shaken to the core and she developed a new drive to find new answers. Kind of like someone who loses their religion and then casts about for a new one. Doesn't she say something to David's head about how she now accepts that the Engineers are malign, but now she needs to know why they made us? Her faith previously had to do with the Engineers being beneficent. What does she still have faith in at the end?

I think she's got nothing, but it's not nihilistic, because now she's on the hunt.

I think I'm lucky to have seen the movie without knowing anything about Lindelof. (I'm of the opinion: only consider the intentions of the author of a work if it makes the work better.)

How did Shaw grow, or change? How were the tensions increased organically through character conflict that made sense for the characters as introduced? How was the ending satisfying in light of what we learned about the characters over the course of the film?

I think Shaw changed in the way I said above... but all your questions above are about character, and I don't really see this movie as a character study. Phillip K Dick and H. P. Lovecraft short stories are just great, but I don't expect to see any strong characters or any non-perfunctory character development in them. Prometheus is in their tradition. The Engineers are Lovecraftian; the robot is Dickian. (It's comparatively rare for a movie to slight character development. I presume this is because movies have meddling execs who have gotten it drilled into their brains that every good story needs strong characters who grow, just like every story needs a romance.)

The narrative arc on its own is pretty simple: Man goes to meet his creator with hope of some kind of salvation, but finds a malevolent and incomprehensible being instead. It's not much more complicated than the arc of the original Alien.

But the central horror sequence doesn't make a lick of sense or logic to me. We get two different tentacle-rape beasts on screen with two different origins but similar features. Are they related? I don't really see how. Why does tentacle-rape beast #2 have radial symmetry when it's apparently derived from human DNA?

I'm a little torn on this. On one hand, it does veer into arbitrariness. On the other hand, the xenomorph life cycle had become way too codified. In Alien, every stage was new to us, but now we know way too much about them. I like that they've reinjected some WTF into the biohorror. The Thing comparison is pretty good.

Whatever you say does not matter to painquale

That's not true. This is a discussion, and we are at least presenting each other with reasons for our beliefs. I'll admit that I'm probably defending some parts more than I ought, which is a product of my trying to be as charitable as I can toward the film to counteract kneejerk negativity: I'm certain that many criticisms are not very good and that the movie is being unfairly maligned in certain respects (e.g. claims that there are logical inconsistencies), but I'll probably change my mind about some other things in a few days based on what's said here. No need to toss me in a 'blithe dismissal' box and shut conversation down.

I saw it 4x in 2 days and then banged out 15k words of madness about it, basically.

Do those 15K words exist anywhere for the public to read?
posted by painquale at 10:14 PM on June 19, 2012


But the central horror sequence doesn't make a lick of sense or logic to me. We get two different tentacle-rape beasts on screen with two different origins but similar features.

I bet this movie is making bank in Japan among the Hentaï/Tentacled Rape Monster crowd. Does anyone have any box office numbers for Asia?
posted by vhsiv at 11:21 PM on June 19, 2012


Do those 15K words exist anywhere for the public to read?

webby link in profile
posted by elizardbits at 5:12 AM on June 20, 2012


I thought her faith got shaken to the core and she developed a new drive to find new answers. Kind of like someone who loses their religion and then casts about for a new one. Doesn't she say something to David's head about how she now accepts that the Engineers are malign, but now she needs to know why they made us? Her faith previously had to do with the Engineers being beneficent. What does she still have faith in at the end?

I should probably bow out of this discussion, as much as I'm enjoying it, because I have books to write today, but this is the exact same model of "faith" we're shown that she has at the beginning of the movie. Her father, who wears a cross, tells her to ask questions about our origins.

She's a static character, which would be fine, but the way the narrative is framed, her ultimate decision is treated as revelatory, as if this is earned character growth. It's much the same way Vickers is treated as a villain due to her role in the film. But not shown as a villain.

Seriously, I recommend you read the film crit hulk stuff I linked. He's really, really insightful about why Lindelof's take on the religious component here falls flat.

(I should note, too, that Scott and Lindelof have widely touted this as a hard sci-fi film, which invites scrutiny of the SF components like the length of their journey. And while I do think that David's character and the explorations of AI were some of the best here, I don't think they were really explored adequately or thoughtfully. Honestly, it just made me hanker for Spielberg and Kubrick's take, which was a much more philosophical and interesting exploration of a robot transcending his programming--or not. That, to me, was effective and relatively hard film science fiction. This . . . not so much.)

I agree that not all movies need characters who grow. Shaw's particular lack of growth makes her look stupid, though, which makes audience identification difficult. For me, that's just another way this movie fails narratively. And again, you can't have a good plot without effective characters. They're the vehicle by which the plot movies, and here the movement is stuttering and nonsensical from scene to scene--as I said above, only functional because all of the characters, at one point or another, do really, really stupid things.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:40 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, if you want to check out a movie with a similar premise to Prometheus which is done in a less maudlin way, then John Carptenter's Prince of Darkness works with similar premises, but actually manages to make a horror film out of them (although, admittedly, it's flawed) instead of a boring Lost-like 'big questions' session.
posted by codacorolla at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2012


I hadn't realized that Lindelof had written the screen play for Cowboys vs Aliens too...what a stinking pile of shit that movie was too. I mean I suppose you could argue that he was just being true to the comic book maybe (I haven't read it), but his first responsibility should have been to make a good movie, not just transcribe the source material.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2012


I should probably bow out of this discussion, as much as I'm enjoying it, because I have books to write today, but this is the exact same model of "faith" we're shown that she has at the beginning of the movie. Her father, who wears a cross, tells her to ask questions about our origins.

I don't think that's what the movie means by faith. If having faith means wanting to ask questions about your origins, then it's certainly not incompatible with science: science would demand faith. In fact, you want to scientists in this movie to have more faith. I don't understand asking questions about creation is interpretable as faith. If anything, faith is the exact opposite.

I take it that her faith consists in her having beliefs that she can't justify with epistemic reasons. At the beginning of the movie, she tells us that she can't say why she thinks that the Engineers created us; she just chooses to believe (which causes David to give a little twitch of disapproval). By the end of the movie, she's given that up. She doesn't choose to believe in anything anymore; she's going to go find it. What's the alternative reading?

I didn't really find much in the Film Crit Hulk piece that rang true, mostly because it was a critique of Lindelof rather than a critique of the movie. Most criticisms of the film were either assertions or arguments of the form, "Lindelof wrote this and Lindelof has proved himself to be juvenile, so this handling of the theme is juvenile." I dunno, it seemed to be a forced reading of the movie as another episode of Lost. Like, he says that Prometheus is just a string of people having this dynamic: A: "Pass the Wheaties." B: "But whyyyyy?". I have no idea what he's talking about; I never got that sense from the movie at all, and it seems like a huge misread in the service of an attack on the screenwriter.
posted by painquale at 9:21 AM on June 20, 2012


Maybe I'm being overly harsh to Cowboys and Aliens. But here's a review snippet that encapsulates lots of the problems there, as well in Prometheus:
With a title like Cowboys and Aliens, Jon Favreau’s movie seemed destined to be either a big, silly mess or a big, crazy good time. Somehow Favreau dodged the obvious and instead delivered a movie that’s a big, empty bore.

That’s the last thing I expected from Cowboys and Aliens, but thirty or forty minutes in it became clear I didn’t care about a single thing happening on screen. None of the characters clicked, nothing felt innovative or interesting, and the story was in no way compelling. To be fair, I didn’t hate the film - the actors are amiable enough and cinematographer Matthew Libatique’s photography is often stunningly beautiful - but I in no way liked it. I did not care.

How is that even possible? The film has a murderer’s row of cool, fun actors - Daniel Craig as a high plains drifter who has lost his memories and gained a mysterious alien gadget on his arm, Harrison Ford actually present in the moment as a cold-hearted cattle baron, Walton Goggins as a bandit, Clancy Brown as a tough-as-nails preacher, Olivia Wilde as a beautiful and dangerous mystery woman - and while most of them are individually watchable, they don’t add up to much of anything.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:22 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem with Cowboys and Aliens was it barely had any cowboys in it. It had crooks and priests and mayors and stuff riding around on horses with guns, but the only cowboys were those three guys who got buzzed by the aliens near the beginning.
posted by aubilenon at 6:28 PM on June 20, 2012


The linguistics of Prometheus - What David said to the Engineer
posted by homunculus at 12:22 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isolated from the rest of the film, David asking that question in carefully rehearsed Proto-Indo-European, only to have his head ripped off and used to bludgeon Weyland to death is arguably one of the most awesome horror-movie deaths in cinema history. It's like an inverse Goya or Carpeaux. It's reminiscent of Loki bound with the entrails of his son. It's a moment of mythological horror that makes it clear that the White Gods have more to do with The Bacchae than our interpretations of The Bible.

That they would go to the mythic lengths of murdering fathers with the skulls of sons, impregnating women with monsters, and driving your companions into a cannibalistic frenzy for the inferred sin of using the debased newspeak of Proto-Indo-European, arguably makes them the ultimate linguistic prescriptionists.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:02 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah to have their DNA magically match ours, that's one thing, but then to have that DNA somehow program our language is a whole different one. What are we a race of 5th Element Leeloos, with infinite information contained within our triple helix, or whatever it was?
posted by Chekhovian at 2:30 PM on June 21, 2012


palinquale, I get that you think we're being nitpicky. I love movies, love going to see them, enjoy the whole movie experience, so I didn't hate Prometheus or anything; I enjoyed it for what it was, which to me was a typical action horror film that just happens to be set in space.

I'm just sad that a film which began so well--we all agree the scenes with David are fabulous!--had a huge budget and lots of names behind it, and a wealth of already established canon to draw from, didn't aim higher than that.

People can enjoy the original Star Wars movie and still point out that Han Solo insisting the Millenium Falcon, "Made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs" doesn't make any sense, and that the franchise is really a fantasy set in space than true science fiction.

The star maps bugged me right off, because from carvings on walls, with no way anything could be in scale, apparently they found the only place in the--universe? galaxy?--where a few stars are clustered together in just the *right* way, but I let that go.

When Holloway took off his helmet because the composition of oxygen, etc., were roughly the same as Earth's, without a thought for viruses, bacteria, germs, and the other scientists were all yelling at him for being so stupid and yet took their helmets off, too because he didn't drop dead that very second...ugh. I can't see any scientist in any field liking that scene! It makes them look like know-nothings. Not only that, but wimpy know-nothings who cave at the first sign of peer pressure.

When the brilliant little mapping spheres were sent out along the caves? I approved. Smart move, map the caves so you know how deep they go! Finally, some common sense (I would have called the littler spheres "Ariadnes"). But then two scientists get LOST IN THE CAVES anyway. Prometheus, you are making it really hard for me to suspend my disbelief now!

I really like the idea that the two guys were high, btw, because that would have explained their behavior so much better than the editing we were left with. I honestly cannot understand why that was not included in the film.

Moving on, the Captain asks Vickers if she is a robot, and in return she evasively tells him to meet her in her cabin for Sexy Sex Times. Aha! I think to myself. This is where we explore the mystery of Vickers! Is she a robot? Is she human? Maybe they will throw us a curveball with the Sexy Sex Times scene. Either we'll find out, or we'll think we've found out definitively, but really it will be misleading, and the truth won't come out until later in the film. Okay. Wonder how they are going to do that?

They have Charlize Theron, who we know looks good in next to nothing. Do they move the scene to Vickers' chambers and then pull away? Do they, instead, have the Captain just suddenly turn up dead somewhere in the next scene, making us suspect Vickers isn't human, but still not clueing us in completely? Do they have the Captain start avoiding Vickers, acting standoffish but not volunteering an explanation? Maybe, instead, they have him assure the other crewmates salaciously, "Oh, believe me, she's flesh and blood, all right!" and lull the audience into a false sense of security before Vickers snaps, goes all Robot Postal, and turns on the crew.

So what do the film makers do? Which path do they pick?

None of those! Nothing, nothing at all happens as a result of that little exchange. So many possibilities, and all we get is the Captain not being right there when the Vagina Cobra Alien attacks. Which doesn't even matter, because we'd already established there were "storms" keeping anyone from helping the two lost scientists, anyway, an incredibly overused plot device if ever there was one.

Finally, a pivotal moment: we meet the Engineer! This godlike creator. What can we learn from him?

Now, I'm a huge fan of cool action scenes, but when the huge Engineer attacked David? That really bothered me. Not because I expected the Engineer to be all, "Hey, welcome guys, so glad you made it!" But because David is the established Other in the group. If only for that very reason, he shouldn't be attacked--why should the Engineer care about him?

Aren't the Engineers all pissed at humans? Can't this Engineer, a member of the race who created our entire human race, tell the difference between real humans and synthetic beings (one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong...)?

If you have him go on a rampage, at least it should just be the humans the Engineer attacks.

But, okay, maybe he is just supremely pissed, and they want to have a cool Head Ripping Off scene, just like with Bishop in Aliens. Whatever. They could still make the Engineer strike at David first. If only they had done it better, I'd be fine with it.

If they had made it clear that the Engineer wants to take out this synthetic guy because we, the humans, have dared to create David in our own image, thus arrogantly "playing God", when only the Engineers are allowed to do that, and he is supremely pissed at our audacity, that would have been great! It wouldn't explain why they decided to kill off our species, of course, but it would at least make some logical sense. I would have been cool with that.

Even better, hey, let's edit this scene to include Vickers there in the cave. Have the Engineer hurl David aside like he did, sure, kill the humans around him, BAM, turn to Vickers in his rage and then....hesitate. Sure, it's been done before, but it has the advantage of at least increasing the Is Vickers a Robot or a Human or Something Else? suspense. And maybe, when Shaw comes to get David's head later, she isn't sure what to expect. Maybe Vickers wil be alive, waiting for her there too, but maybe not. Or maybe when Shaw goes back, Vickers' body is missing, without explanation. That would leave room for a sequel and yet keep the suspenseful tension going, which the whole Engineer Killing Spree didn't do at all.

So. Many. Possibilities. And not one of them really explored! It just seems like such lazy movie-making.

Honestly, it just makes me want to start screen-writing myself, since obviously the bar is set pretty damn low.
posted by misha at 4:21 PM on June 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


> it just makes me want to start screen-writing myself, since obviously the bar is set pretty damn low.

Perhaps you should. If market forces continue to prevail, a Rob Zombie remake or Paul W.C. Anderson retcon of Prometheus is only about 8 years away.

Your ideas alone indicate that you have a better feeling for the genre than Scott currently does.



(What a strange thought! --- it's just occurred to me that Prometheus might just be a remake and not a prequel. It doesn't make the movie any better, mind you, just curious about producer motivations.)
posted by vhsiv at 10:01 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weyland Industries Presents Space Scientist Training 101
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, I finally saw the movie and I enjoyed the spectacle but there were false notes going off everywhere and I have this sinking feeling that midchloriains are going to pop up in the sequel. I've quickly read through the thread now and really enjoyed it and I just wanted to add a couple of things.

So, when you have just returned from exploring a spooky spacecraft on a mysterious planet, on spotting a little worm in your eyeball, the proper reaction is:

A. Say nothing and indulge in sexytimes with your partner.

B. Shakily ask your partner to look in your eye and verify that you aren't hallucinating.

C. (My personal favorite) Emit an ear-piercing shriek and flail around the room screaming for a doctor because you have a fucking worm burrowing into your eye get it out get it out now.

I'd more easily accept option A if there were some hints of alien eye-worm mind control, which could itself add to the horror with the infected person in complete denial of their increasingly horrific symptoms. I don't know, maybe I missed them.

One more thing. When David deliberately infected Holloway, I thought it was a fantastic plot twist - Prometheus was just a ship packed with guinea pigs and David was really the only scientist on board (or rather a very sophisticated scientific instrument). The real expedition could come later and they would know not to pet the penis cobras. Finding out that Weyland was aboard shot that lovely theory all to hell.
posted by gamera at 12:12 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Moving on, the Captain asks Vickers if she is a robot, and in return she evasively tells him to meet her in her cabin for Sexy Sex Times. Aha! I think to myself. This is where we explore the mystery of Vickers! Is she a robot? Is she human? Maybe they will throw us a curveball with the Sexy Sex Times scene. Either we'll find out, or we'll think we've found out definitively, but really it will be misleading, and the truth won't come out until later in the film. Okay.

The thing is, I think that Ridley Scott believes that the question was definitive settled by Vickers saying, "Come, let us shag.". On the commentary track for Alien he has stated that Ash's quixotic method of attempting to murder Ripley (rolled-up magazine down the throat) is because androids are sophisticated enough to have a sex drive, but lack the parts to actually do anything about it. So it is not just thematically linked to the rape horror that underpins the story, this is as close as Ash can get to actually raping Ripley. A strange idea, and one that would be easier to dismiss totally if it had come from anyone else but the director of the movie.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:42 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


People can enjoy the original Star Wars movie and still point out that Han Solo insisting the Millenium Falcon, "Made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs" doesn't make any sense, and that the franchise is really a fantasy set in space than true science fiction.

Actually, the expanded universe books have managed to retcon this into making sense. Though I am 100% sure it was not Lucas' original intent. Explanation from the Wookieepedia:
The Kessel Run was one of the most heavily used smuggling routes in the Galactic Empire.[3] Han Solo claimed that his Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs". A parsec was a unit of distance, not time. Solo was not referring directly to his ship's speed when he made this claim. Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance.
As for Prometheus? I managed to avoid this thread until seeing the movie, after hearing that there was some nerdrage regarding the film I decided to avoid any and all discussion of it. Was it perfect? Nope. Did I enjoy the hell out of it? Oh yes, I certainly did. It's rare that I come out of ANY movie theatre these days wanting to actually talk further about the movie at ALL. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
posted by antifuse at 7:27 AM on June 25, 2012


Prometheus was just a ship packed with guinea pigs and David was really the only scientist on board (or rather a very sophisticated scientific instrument).

30+ years of watching Alien on VHS tape and then, DVD has supplied me with the idea that Weyland-Yutanni's acquisition of a bio-weapon is, in fact, the C or D plot-line of the original Alien, something that Scott seems to have entirely forgotten. IMHO, the villainous corporation is the plot-line that Prometheus -- and AvP before it -- ought to have pursued, since von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods is such a painfully tired and worn-out cliché.

I'm aware that it's 2012 and all, but I grew up in the '70s and '80s, when dubious programming like Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of  trotted out some new variation on Daniken's ideas week-after-week. (Hell, the SciFi Channel has been creating and rebroadcasting that kind of tripe since the early '90s. (Consumer research should have had something to say here.)

Lindelof was only born in 1973, so he would have been in grade school during most of that series' run. Were Lindelof been 5 or 6 years older, the Daniken storyline would not have seen any light.

I blame David Giler (b.94?) and Walter Hill (b.942) for mismanagining the brand.
posted by vhsiv at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


^ Aha! I think to myself. This is where we explore the mystery of Vickers!

This was the only new twist in my anticipation for this movie, and sadly, it went unfulfilled.
posted by vhsiv at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I blame David Giler (b.94?) and Walter Hill (b.942) for mismanagining the brand.

In all fairness, they were still producing good movies well into their eight hundreds, but nobody lasts forever in show business.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, the expanded universe books have managed to retcon this into making sense.

This is everything wrong with fandom.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


The star maps bugged me right off, because from carvings on walls, with no way anything could be in scale, apparently they found the only place in the--universe? galaxy?--where a few stars are clustered together in just the *right* way, but I let that go.
Oh it's bigger than that: it is Lindelof having no idea what he is writing about and being apparently unable to spend twenty minutes on Wikipedia learning. The six dots, Holloway tells the assembled crew (and the audience), represent "a system" which he goes on to specify has a sun and a planet. What the grunting fuck is "a system" if you discount the stars and planets in it?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:09 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lindelof got his diploma from the Joss Whedon School of Astrophysics.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lindelof got his diploma from the Joss Whedon School of Astrophysics.

Aargh! I know! It was such a stupid and unnecessary mistake to set (or retcon, I think) all of Firefly within the same solar system. There was literally no reason for it except to add a thin hard-sciencey veneer, and it totally breaks the logistics of the show.
posted by gauche at 10:12 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I had an enumerated list of Huge Goddamn Mistakes but gave up after Milburn decided to cuddle with the horrible alien snakebeast.

I've just saw Prometheus a few days ago, so I can finally respond to this thread. Milburn isn't a very smart guy (they establish that early on as his character trait) and he was probably trying to impress Fifield when petting the snake. But, to be honest, the guy was wearing an environmental/space suit with his helmet on. He probably the thought he was pretty safe and the worst thing that could happen was he gets rug burn from the snake-thing trying to wrap around his arm or something. Not that he was going to have a mouth party.
posted by FJT at 11:19 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well. My point with that assessment was more that he was terrified of a humanoid alien corpse that was ~2,000 years dead but somehow cretinously fearless with a living snakething. There isn't much to be said for a concrete character trait other than inconsistency and bad science being his character traits.
posted by elizardbits at 11:47 AM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


^ Oh it's bigger than that: it is Lindelof having no idea what he is writing about and being apparently unable to spend twenty minutes on Wikipedia learning.

Metafilter: Building smarter consumers of popular entertainment, every day.
posted by vhsiv at 2:24 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if you watch the film, they all seem to react as if the hologram itself is just amazing magic they cannot comprehend, which is imbecilic. Especially given the way they seem to react to most things with analytically detached observations up until then.

Well, admittedly, the Engineer holograms are magic. When the holograms are running down the corridor toward the group, David steps into the path of them and has his hair visibly blown around by what everyone believes to be a recording.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:51 PM on June 26, 2012


Lindelof got his diploma from the Joss Whedon School of Astrophysics.

Aargh! I know! It was such a stupid and unnecessary mistake to set (or retcon, I think) all of Firefly within the same solar system. There was literally no reason for it except to add a thin hard-sciencey veneer, and it totally breaks the logistics of the show.


Be that as it may, the astrophysics were never the point of Firefly: during the TV series run, Whedon deflected clueless interview questions about the speed of the ship by decreeing that "it moves at the speed of plot." To my recollection, only a single episode of the show -- "Out of Gas" -- needs a specific locale defined in relation to other locations, and what that needs is "off the beaten path."

This is a long-standing tradition in science fiction. Star Trek never sat us down to explain exactly how fast different warp speeds were -- it sufficed for us to know that warp N+1 was faster than warp N, and that the Federation was large enough that the Enterprise did not have ready assistance at all times and was sometimes far enough out that even communications would take a notable length of time.

In contrast, Prometheus wears its science like a dunce cap: based on a few dots on a wall, a trillion-dollar, multi-year mission is sent hundreds of light-years. These dots, we are confidently told, depict "a system" and from Holloway's briefing, they seem to be celestial bodies, but they are then apparently ruled out as being either stars or planets. If you draw our attention to the way they decided to go where they decided to go, it is not too much to ask that it make some sort of sense.

In much the same vein, there is the portentous declaration that the atmosphere is "3% carbon dioxide" which will leave anyone dead in two minutes. As I understand it, 3% carbon dioxide would leave you with a headache and it would kill you in four to six weeks, but I guess that is not as dramatic-sounding.

I am perfectly happy when watching sf not to have a ten-minute lecture on how the drive system or the artificial gravity works: the simple fact it is needed for the requirements of the story is fine, so now let us get to the story.

And with all due respect to the viewers who want to find fault with everything about the movie, Vickers is speaking pretty loosely and conversationally with the "half-a-billion miles" line (as I recall, she is shooting down Janek's pass at her by saying "if I wanted to get laid, I wouldn't have gone half-a-billion miles away from the nearest man" or something close to that. In holding that she must be speaking precisely about her location, critics put themselves into the same category of devout fanboys who laboriously calculate from internal clues that such-and-such and episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation takes place on September 6, 2365 and then extrapolate from a line of Picard's that "this probe was launched three hundred years ago" to grandly pinpoint the date of launch of such-and-such a probe as September 6, 2065 for their websites. There is a lot amiss with Prometheus already without inventing stuff.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:25 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


In much the same vein, there is the portentous declaration that the atmosphere is "3% carbon dioxide" which will leave anyone dead in two minutes. As I understand it, 3% carbon dioxide would leave you with a headache and it would kill you in four to six weeks, but I guess that is not as dramatic-sounding.

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that. When I was watching, I assumed I'd misheard carbon monoxide and let it go. They really weren't trying very hard on the science side of this, were they?

And I shouldn't have such a problem with it, but the more I think about this movie the more annoyed I get. If this was a Paul W.S. Anderson entry in the Alien franchise, I'd be totally fine with it, along with all the other little bits of movie science and character and plot hiccups. It would be a nice trashy monster movie with a few fan-baiting references to Alien and minimally-developed characters getting bumped off in various grisly ways. I can totally see myself enjoying that.

The problem is that that's the movie we got from Ridley Scott. Beautifully shot, some good acting, but basically a bad monster movie with some pretensions to thematic depth that it can't follow through on. It's like the exact opposite of Alien, which promised you a man-in-a-monster-suit movie and instead gave you one of the better films of the 20th century. The not-entirely-unrealistic expectation from a few months ago, when that great trailer came out, was that Prometheus might be a new modern classic. I don't think that's what we got.

There's an opinion floating around out there that Prometheus must be a great film if we're still debating the fine details of it weeks after it came out. I think we're debating the details because we still haven't noticed we got Alien vs. Predator instead of Alien. Because nobody cares if Alien vs. Predator wants to say that 3% C02 in an atmosphere will kill you.
posted by figurant at 9:44 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's an opinion floating around out there that Prometheus must be a great film if we're still debating the fine details of it weeks after it came out.

Man, do I hate that argument. That a work is interesting discuss does not in any way mean it's good.

That being said, the analysis of why Prometheus didn't work has been some of the richest discussion of story I've seen on the internet. I think that's a win for the perceptiveness and intelligence of geek culture, though, more than the movie itself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we're debating the details because we still haven't noticed we got Alien vs. Predator instead of Alien.

Would that we did. I am a tireless -- some would say obstinate -- defender of the breezy shlock that is Alien vs. Predator. Paul W.S. Anderson, for all his aiming low, grasps the fundamentals like pacing and editing. Compare AvP with its sequel, and see what happens when the thing goes into the hands of people who don't even get how fucking lighting works.

Anyway, save for a few dogged contrarians, pretty much everyone agrees that Alien is a good flick. It is the magic triumvirate of story, direction and performances that make it solid. Movies (sf or otherwise) rarely get an ensemble as good as Alien did, so that is hard to recreate. However, the other two pillars of support have both now revisited the franchise: Ridley Scott directed Prometheus to a generally mediocre result, but I would point out that the story for Alien came from Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, who also are credited for the story in AvP.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2012


ricochet biscuit, I have a similar vocal affection for Resident Evil. There's no way that movie should have worked nearly as well as it did. It was the very first DVD I ever bought for myself, after being very pleasantly surprised in the theater. I've only ever watched the first half of AvP, and I think I'm going to need to give it another go.

I assumed the O'Bannon/Shusett credit was just a "based on characters created by..." for the Xenomorph, but it looks like they're credited for the original story that the screenplay came out of. I definitely need to dig out that DVD tonight.
posted by figurant at 1:59 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The commentary in this thread really enriched my perspective on the symbolism in the movie. It seems to me that the references to Jupiter (2001) as a destination and naming the android David (AI) are both references to Kubrick. The story symbolism seems heavily weighted with Classical mythological references-- the Engineers are Jupiter symbols of the larger than life aspects of the male hero idealism, and the Xenomorph the aspects of the wildest aspects of organic being---the Chimera. Many puns here on the folly of the quest for our origins implied by the choice and interaction of the characters.

It's interesting that many people in the thread felt the most admiration for the David character, and he seems trapped in a loop of constructed perfected projected images that describe feelings and sensations he can never understand, including death. David becomes a portable rationality device paired with a female antihero in their quest for the blue fairy a la AI. A striking contrast in every way to films like The Avengers.
posted by effluvia at 7:00 PM on June 27, 2012


Paul W.S. Anderson, for all his aiming low, grasps the fundamentals like pacing and editing.

Paul W.S. Anderson claimed to be a proper fan of the franchise and promised to tie up many of the loose ends about Charles Bishop Weyland character, played by Lance Henrickson, and then he didn't deliver.

But Resident Evil is one of the few good sci-fi movies made in the past decade. I wish the sequels had all been as good as fthe first one.
posted by vhsiv at 7:30 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I assumed the O'Bannon/Shusett credit was just a "based on characters created by..." for the Xenomorph, but it looks like they're credited for the original story that the screenplay came out of.

Yeah, likewise. I probably noticed their contribution when I saw it in 2004 but I had long forgotten it. It wasn't until Prometheus' flaws got me thinking about the revolving door of screenwriters for the franchise that I went back and looked up who had written AvP and was pleasantly surprised. Paul W.S. Anderson wrote the final screenplay, of course, but I see more of what Ridley Scott calls "the alien DNA" in the 2004 film than the 2012 one.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:44 AM on June 28, 2012


But Resident Evil is one of the few good sci-fi movies made in the past decade.

I dunno that I would call it good, exactly, but there are quite a few sci-fi movies in that stretch that have aimed high and fallen short (Prometheus, Star Wars prequels, the recent The Day The Earth Stood Still) and a bunch more that have had more modest aims and still not succeeded (AvPR, Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles, Battleship). Resident Evil, as I recollect, is a pretty solid B movie with modest ambitions and fairly satisfying for what it is. It is no District 9 or Children of Men, though.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:55 AM on June 28, 2012


Resident Evil, as I recollect, is a pretty solid B movie with modest ambitions and fairly satisfying for what it is.

I wish that more people in Hollywood would have the courage to think SMALLER. Alien was a small film and other classic genre films like The Thing and Resident Evil were executed on a smaller scale.

Not every movie needs to be a $200M tentpole, but I'm told that's what the studios are all after these days.
posted by vhsiv at 7:20 PM on June 28, 2012


Resident Evil was surprisingly great. But the best part is that not only is the series still going, not only is Milla Jovovich still in it, but she gets giddy on Twitter about learning new stunts for it. Makes me so happy.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:55 PM on June 28, 2012


We finally saw Prometheus last night. Did anyone else think of Moon during David's opening scenes?

I didn't like the movie. As other people have said, it teased with too many awesome concepts to explore and then explored none of them. That livejournal synopsis salvaged it a little for me, though, so thanks for that.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:02 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


We finally saw Prometheus last night. Did anyone else think of Moon during David's opening scenes?

Yes, definitely. The design of the ship seemed really close to the station in Moon.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:56 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older I've lost track of the many reasons that have been...  |  Iconic photos uncropped: Tank ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments