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Prometheus Redux
December 25, 2012 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Turns out many of Ridley Scott's Prometheus' flaws were the result of shoddy editing and mismatching elements from essentially two different scripts.
posted by Foci for Analysis (99 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
THANK YOU, the wonky editing was TOTALLY DISTRACTING among the other things confusing about that movie I kept thinking "are these scenes out of order? did we miss a scene? did we miss several? Was this cut together form like eight different ones? What?"

and now I know.
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 AM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm interested in the premise, but I just can't stand the format, sorry.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on December 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


Is Prometheus a film that really needs so much in-depth commentary? I'm not talking about this trio of videos (for obvious reasons I'm a little busy today, so I've merely skimmed them) but I'm staggered by the amount of work that people had done apologising for Ridley's latest film.

How about this: old man makes a film reflecting things that concern old men (the search for meaning, God, children), but the studio system gives him loads of money and therefore demands that it get pushed out before he can finish it properly. I mean, it's not like Ridley Scott has previous with re-hashing one of his old films multiple times so that collectors buy every version in every format.

Oh. Wait.

Perhaps Scott could half-ass a sequel to Blade Runner, or a prequel to Legend where the fairies are revealed to be really annoyed about young people gathering on the grassy area outside their house. But whatever he does, I'm only going to be thinking of this next time I see his name on a film poster.
posted by The River Ivel at 11:04 AM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


MIlburn still acts bizarrely childishly for a biologist on a field mission but now at least he has a *reason* and *motive*, which he doesn't have in the theatrical cut.

Granted that motive is thinking the geologist is totally cool and they should sit together at lunch and braid each other's hair but still, it's something.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on December 25, 2012


I did not think it possible to further overthink Prometheus, but she does it well. We should invite her to Metafilter.
posted by zippy at 11:11 AM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I watched the videos. Good stuff. Great commentary on the script changes.

Personally, I felt Lindelof stuff made the characters unbelievable and unrelateable. They act in ways that people would never act. The sequence after landing when they rush into the cave so fast that they get caught in weather they KNOW is coming made me anger since no scientist or engineer would ever act this way.

A core premise of the previous Alien movies was that people acted like real people with anger, fear, and humor. In Prometheus, every character but David is one dimensional.

comicbookgirl is correct on all most all her points.

I just don't think they will do a sequel.
posted by Argyle at 11:12 AM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I want 90 minutes of having space adventures with a sassy detached Fassbender head.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on December 25, 2012 [30 favorites]


That being said "Ancient Astronauts" is a stupid theory if only cause it undermines how awesome humans are at doing things. It's also got the old racist "well there's no way these primitive natives could've done this!" stink on it. but whatever, classic SF trope for better or worse.
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 AM on December 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


Do you think John Spaits spends his nights staring at Shane Black from an unlit window across the street?
posted by The Whelk at 11:29 AM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


This looks really interesting - thanks for posting. I especially loved the gag at the opening with the Engineer laptop computer thing. I'm looking forward to watching this.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:30 AM on December 25, 2012


Prometheus was kind of a crazy experience for me, the 3D IMAX was way too much for me from the 4th row, and the extremely pervasive forced-view effect basically gave me a panic attack, and I think I've blamed that for a lot of how crap and incomprehensible I found the film. The more I read afterwards though, the more I realise it really was kinda rubbish. 'cept for David.
posted by Iteki at 11:32 AM on December 25, 2012


sassy detached Fassbender head.

That has great rhythm.

sassy detached Fassbender head
sassy detached Fassbender head
sassy detached Fassbender head
posted by zippy at 11:33 AM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


The entire plot vanishes if people can somehow avoid being space racists to David at every possible moment.
posted by The Whelk at 11:33 AM on December 25, 2012


I'm interested in the premise, but I just can't stand the format, sorry.

That was actually a surprisingly watchable example of the genre.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:35 AM on December 25, 2012


sassy detached Fassbender head
sassy detached Fassbender head
sassy detached Fassbender head


untz untz untz untz
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 AM on December 25, 2012 [23 favorites]


the original script apparently had a chestburster in the middle of a sex scene.


Thats what we lost.


Dammit.
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would have settled for "Stringer bell flies around in space for 2 hours"
posted by hellojed at 11:40 AM on December 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


Charlize Therone walking angrily down corridors glaring at things.
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 AM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


the original script apparently had a chestburster in the middle of a sex scene.

This ... this normally never happens ... I'm so embarrassed.
posted by zippy at 11:42 AM on December 25, 2012 [46 favorites]


sassy detached Fassbender head will show up in the next season of Futurama.
posted by arcticseal at 11:45 AM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh hey David can operate the ship and the alien tech cause he can see a broader spectrum then the humans can and a lot of tech is like in, ultra violet and he keeps this information to himself cause he doesn't trust the humans.

Thats...good! That explains things in a way that is organic to the plot and setting and genre and deepens our knowledge of the character and really would not take very long to explain or even show visually briefly.

why is that not in the movie
posted by The Whelk at 11:46 AM on December 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


Milburn plays with the alien thing cause he "wants to impress someone super cool mohawk guy who he's making a friendship bracelet for " and takes the time to mention that the super science suits are basically indestructible and then it goes and gets destructed - that's..basic screenwriting logic, set up and pay off, why is that not in the movie.
posted by The Whelk at 11:57 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


because damon lindelof
posted by elizardbits at 11:57 AM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


"Why are you wearing a condom on your rib cage?"
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:58 AM on December 25, 2012


Also wow David is much more of a clear villain - also HEY TERRAFORMING SUBPLOT LIKE WE'VE BEEN HINTING AROUND THE ENTIRE SERIES HOW ARE YOU TODAY
posted by The Whelk at 12:00 PM on December 25, 2012


why isn't everyone on the ship fighting to be David's bestest friend? I'd like the super hot android with superpowers to be on my side.
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm kinda glad Lindelof isn't available for a second movie because man that script got botched.
posted by vuron at 12:23 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Charlize Theron surly push-ups.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:26 PM on December 25, 2012


Can't Prometheus just be a shitty movie because it's a crappy script obsessed with explaining shit nobody wanted explained directed by an old man who has lost his fastball and hasn't made a good movie in more than a decade?
posted by nathancaswell at 12:28 PM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


I want 90 minutes of having space adventures with a sassy detached Fassbender head.

Wasn't that basically 790 on Lexx?

Because how great would that be? if Prometheus was just a really really early prequel to that particular universe?
posted by quin at 12:28 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can't Prometheus just be a shitty movie because it's a crappy script obsessed with explaining shit nobody wanted explained directed by an old man who has lost his fastball and hasn't made a good movie in more than a decade?

I would blame Hollywood instead. Has there been a good sci-fi movie released by a major studio in the past decade? Something as intelligent as, say, H Plus? It's the nature of Hollywood to churn out shit.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on December 25, 2012


I liked Looper.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is one of the best sci-fi films ever.
posted by The Whelk at 12:45 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean do we count Hunger Games as a sci-fi story? It's set in the future.
posted by The Whelk at 12:48 PM on December 25, 2012


I kind of liked "Timer", even.
posted by empath at 12:52 PM on December 25, 2012


nathancaswell: "Can't Prometheus just be a shitty movie because it's a crappy script obsessed with explaining shit nobody wanted explained directed by an old man who has lost his fastball and hasn't made a good movie in more than a decade?"

No.
posted by boo_radley at 12:55 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean do we count Hunger Games as a sci-fi story?

Sure, but we can't count it as a good movie, so it's a wash.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:04 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Looper is quite good.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:09 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw this recently - I've been trying to catch up with action movies of the last couple of years. There was a point - yes, I suppose it was the same point for everybody - where I just thought "Oh, that's a pity, it's stopped making any sense whatsoever", and gave up. Very pretty, though. I thought everybody did a wonderful job. Certainly everything technical was superlative, and most of the performances were excellent. Just the screenplay was absolutely terrible. My theory is that the screenplay is the one thing committees of studio management can tinker with, so by the time they get round to shooting it, it's been totally mangled into incoherence.

Why go to all that effort to save the Charlize Theron character only to squish her without adding anything? Why crash everyone else into the alien ship? Why make the surgery machine programmed only to do men (doesn't make any sense, really)? If you want to create two minutes of cheap tension, why not make it programmed specifically for the Guy Pearce character (which would, kind of).

I really only watch these kinds of films for the aesthetics and the kinetics, but I don't like my enjoyment to be interrupted by a voice in my head saying "That doesn't make any sense" every five minutes.
posted by Grangousier at 1:11 PM on December 25, 2012


I would blame Hollywood instead. Has there been a good sci-fi movie released by a major studio in the past decade? Something as intelligent as, say, H Plus? It's the nature of Hollywood to churn out shit.

Looper, Source Code, Moon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Beyond the Black Rainbow (YMMV, it's pretty if nothing else), Sunshine, the second Matrix movie is decent popcorn cinema, District 9, Existenz, The Cube movies (not my cup of tea, but I think the first few are technically proficient on a low budget), A Scanner Darkly, Children of Men, Southland Tales, WALL-E, Protect the Block.
posted by codacorolla at 1:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [28 favorites]


Honestly, I'm one of the people who liked Prometheus, after I had some time to sit with it. I think Ridley Scott is neither clumsy nor stupid. I think this analysis of the movie pretty solid, and it relies on nothing that wasn't put on screen, or part of Fox's marketing campaign.
Prometheus is the most misunderstood movie in recent memory... It's so misunderstood, people actually rated it the "worst movie of the year" because of its GAPING PLOT HOLES.

Well, we're here to tell you don't know what a plot hole is.
Of course, now I have to go watch all of Ms. Pink Mohawk's analysis as well.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:33 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Looper (spoilers ahead) started out all right but turned pretty boring and stupid the moment the magical child showed up, and the plot got stuck in the farmhouse and apparently they were out of interesting stuff to say show or do beyond groping clumsily for a Lesson. Plus: the premise of sending people back in time is because it's so difficult to murder people, then they just shoot Willis's wife, no problem? And, at the climax couldn't JGL have shotgunned his own hand off so Bruce Willis would drop the gun?
posted by fleacircus at 1:37 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would say Looper started out as a somewhat predictable but fun sci fi movie but then took several extremely unexpected turns (starting with +10 years), then hit the farm, slowed down and blossomed into a surprisingly emotional love story, then got incredibly badassed with the kid for a second but couldn't quite live up to its promise and ended rather predictably and unfortunately sepia-toned with a cheesy lens baby effect and an overly explaining voice over. But I loved loved loved the farm section.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems that her central point is that Damon Lindelof should never touch another script as long as he lives, and I agree.
posted by codacorolla at 1:44 PM on December 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Eh. I liked Prometheus and didnt find it confusing or hard to follow at all.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:47 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's also got the old racist "well there's no way these primitive natives could've done this!" stink on it.

Whelk, if it makes you feel better, you see this all the time in totally non-racist situations. People who do stuff with hand tools are often told they've got to be lying because there's like no way whatever it is could possible done without modern power equipment. In fact, I predict that before you die you will meet people who can't wrap their mind around the idea of drawing a straight line or a perfect circle on a piece of paper without using a computer and printer.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:48 PM on December 25, 2012


If you're going to criticize a film for having an incoherent narrative, you probably should avoid doing it with an incoherent criticism.

I swear Ridley-Scott is going to totally fuck up The Forever War.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:49 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you ever make up story elements to make sense of bad plot lines?

Here's my Prometheus story to explain Prometheus's reaction:
all rights given away for free, which is about what it's worth
We may be the only intelligent life in the Universe, or at least it may be very rare. Or the opposite--we don't know. But if it is the first case, then it is our responsibility to spread our life as often and as far as we can. We should start by sending a bacteria bomb to Mars.

Many people are horrified by this idea and would do everything they could to stop it.

Now suppose some group among these very advanced Prometheus people feel the same way. Their technology is so advanced they can affect the DNA of the already existing life on a planet, to guarantee it heads in the right direction toward intelligent life. So they do this. They set up a secret base on a faraway planet and send scouts out to start off the process. Every so often they visit the planets to see how life is progressing, and maybe give some technology hints to any intelligent life that is advancing, and clues to where the secret planet is. Then they sit at their secret planet and wait to embrace the successful species.

But the rest of the Prometheus guys find out, and are horrified. They find the secret planet and blow everything up. What now? Do we go to all these planets and blow them up? Most of them will die on their own. For the rest, they put some battleships on the planet, go into a sleep mode, and wait to see who shows up. If anyone advances far enough to make it to the planet, they kill the monstrosities, then fly off to kill all intelligent life on that planet with their bio-bombs.

If this is the case, then Elizabeth and David have got quite an adventure waiting for them when they reach the home planet.
posted by eye of newt at 1:56 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


posted by eye of newt

they mostly come at night mewstly
posted by nathancaswell at 2:01 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


worst. movie. ever.

there is no need to explain it. i'd prefer to have my corneas sanded and then have lemon juice and Tabasco sauce applied. oh, how I wish to unsee this.

I hate the air R. Scott breathes. He should be hung, then crucified. If I ever get the chance, I'll throw rocks at his parents.

What an abortion.

( e.g., mankind can make it across the visible universe in two years and can't cure infertility and has to use driveway torches to kill alien zombies? god the list is endless. tripe.)
posted by FauxScot at 2:07 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What an abortion.

Agreed, that is the one truly great scene in Prometheus.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:10 PM on December 25, 2012 [24 favorites]


It amazes me how much trouble people still go to in order to pretend that Ridley Scott is a reliably fantastic director. It's approaching Gilliam-cult levels, now, but he's made a lot more bad movies than Gilliam.
posted by smoke at 3:02 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'm watching CBG's review and taking notes on where she's getting it wrong. Not all of it, but most. But I'm pulling out the running criticism for its own comment.

ENDLESS are the cricicisms of Shaw & Vickers running in a straight line, <WHINEY_VOICE> which is the only direction that will get them killed. All they needed to do was turn 90° and run perpendicular to the collapsing ship and they'd be fine. It's just so stupid to write characters who do something like that. It's gotta be misogyny.</WHINEY_VOICE>

Wrong. They panicked under stress. (Go to 7:10)

Read Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales about the neurology of survival. Under live-or-die stress situations, you become "a superhero with a learning disability". Yes, you are faster and stronger and have better stamina. AND you can't think straight and tend to perseverate, i.e. continue doing what you're doing regardless of the situation.

In the Spetsnaz episode of Weaponology, they interview a Spetsnaz veteran who's opinion is "Under stress, nobody rises to the occasion, they sink to the lowest level of their training". He was explaining why the then-Soviet/now-Russian special forces employed notoriously brutal training regimes in order to harden their soldiers. So they will be able to think and react under the most extreme circumstances, and better than their enemies at that moment. One of the basic things armies have to overcome in training soldiers is the natural avoidance of actually shooting another person. You have to train and drill that out of people.

Because neurology, deep, lizard-level neurology, has root-level access to the controls under stress.

History is littered with the corpses of people who "ran straight from the falling spaceship". It's part of human nature. The people who, UNDER THE ACTUAL STRESS OF A FALLING SPACESHIP, actually can summon the "TURN RIGHT, TURN RIGHT, TURN RIGHT!" and get their own neurology to respond — THOSE are the people who survive. Vickers, for all her toughness and discipline, turned out to be one of the people who panic when a spaceship falls on them.

This is, IMO, where a lot of the criticism of this scene comes from: people want to say "She made a stupid decision and I would have made a better one" because saying "Wow — the Ice Queen corporate exec who is at the top of a trans-solar terraforming empire freaked out and died" is the scarier option.

No one wants to admit "I could be the one to freak out and die when a spaceship falls on me, and there's almost no way of knowing how I'll react until it happens".

I saw no problem with that scene because I saw a common human reaction played out.

You wanna argue the dramatic arc would have been better served by people with heroic neurology, I'll counter with I prefer a little pathetic humanity in the face a stress because that's real and people will surprise you.

At least that's an argument worth having.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:26 PM on December 25, 2012 [24 favorites]


Does any of this explain why they cast Guy Pierce to play a 90 year old guy in bad makeup? When I saw that, I assumed there would be a scene with proper-aged Guy at a pivotal point. That was the first clue to me there was a massive rewrite after filming began.
posted by Mcable at 3:34 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I prefer to think that Guy Pearce stayed in makeup so that most people didn't associate him with Prometheus.
posted by arcticseal at 3:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's touched on in the first video, Mcable - there's not really a satisfying answer, considering they had originally cast an older actor, but there were scenes with young Guy Pearce that were cut out of the final film.
posted by Gordafarin at 3:55 PM on December 25, 2012


Having seen the movie recently I have to echo many of the comments previously mentioned.

I think the worst part for me was feeling like I was only watching part of a movie and that there was like 50% more material lying somewhere on the cutting room floor that would've improved understanding of the plot even if it made the pacing even worse.

It seems like Ridley Scott believes in a show instead of tell method of storytelling but then neglected to show us what we needed to know. The result is just endless cutscenes with some interesting visuals but hardly any narrative to guide them.

Is the extended sequence with David by himself meant to show that he's gone insane due to a lack of contact with other people? That would be an interesting story but then we shift gears. Are we supposed to care about all the random people dying that we don't really get to know? Are we really supposed to give a shit about Shaw's quest to find their home planet?

I just was left with hardly any reason to care about any of the characters and a feeling like this project was just slapped together with no real thought at the last moment by people in a rush to get back to projects they actually give a shit about.

Considering the love people have for the Aliens franchise (at least parts 1 and 2) to have this be the legacy especially when it was ballyho'ed as being an awesome return of Ridley Scott to sci-fi just seems like a cruel joke. I'm not sure it's quite as vapid as the AVP subfranchise but it's pretty bad and it had so much potential.

Just disappointing but honestly given Scott's recent track record maybe not too surprising.
posted by vuron at 3:59 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked the alien at the end of the movie. They should do a movie about that, could be good.
posted by Pendragon at 4:18 PM on December 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


All of the other problems with the plot aside, my main problem remains that the movie un-aliens the whole universe. It destroys the idea that the problem is human hubris in the face of the unknowable; it makes the "aliens" all about US. It's not just something we stumbled on, wanted to control, and failed to; it's a part of our creation and genetics.

That is counter to the single overriding theme in all of the other movies, and it bugs the shit out of me, because that theme is what resonates with me the most.
posted by flaterik at 4:49 PM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I liked all 3 segments, but, for me, the clincher was her mention that, in the commentary, Scott was yammering on about his obsession with the film's pacing, to the exclusion of being concerned about narrative cohesion, plot, or character development.

I mean, it's perfectly fine to have an obsession and want to focus on it, but Jesus H. -- when a studio gives you mucho dinero, Ridley, maybe you can take your hobbies to the weekend, instead?
posted by gsh at 4:57 PM on December 25, 2012


I didn't get to see this until the DVD came out. Come spring I'm taking the Blu-ray out to the farm for some target practice. I cannot believe what a waste of $20 this was.
posted by Ber at 6:24 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that stuck out to me was where she says that the first thing the second screenwriter pitched was the self cesarean gag and that that's what got him the job.

That seems so Hollywood to me. "There's your hook, Ridley Baby! There's your water cooler moment! NOW we got a movie!"

It totally reeks of the boardroom.

I've got a question, actually. I never saw this movie in a theatre. Did that scene get a laugh at anyone's screening? 'Cause, dam.
posted by Trochanter at 6:26 PM on December 25, 2012


I was laughing cause it was so gnarly in an awesome way.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:08 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like, Alien is all about the fear of impregnation, it's all penises and injection and turning your stomach into a womb, then Aliens is all about the mother/daughter relationship (Ripley and Newt vs Alien Queen and eggs) so it just seems pretty apropos to me to have a scene where a character has to give herself a c-section / abortion.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:12 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dude.
posted by Trochanter at 7:12 PM on December 25, 2012


Prometheus is the worst movie I've seen since the last time Ridley Scott made a movie and it will remain so until he directs another one.

Looper, on the other hand, kicked ass. Johnson now has the same number of awesome movies that Scott has (2) and he's only been at it a few years.

Read Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales about the neurology of survival. Under live-or-die stress situations, you become "a superhero with a learning disability".

You know this is a fictional movie, right? It ain't a documentary. These characters weren't running straight because the filmmakers were concerned with the reality of human behavior, they were running straight because the filmmakers thought it would look cool to have them crushed under a rolling space ship. That, and they didn't respect their audience enough to realize that they'd let the awesome-looking-ness of something they were watching be trumped by the believability of it.

This movie was a piece of shit. Up and down, in and out, through and through.
posted by dobbs at 7:14 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Dude.

I'm confused. Do you disagree? A face hugger looks like a vagina and latches on your face an shoves a proboscis down your throat and forecibly impregnates you with an offspring that is half you and half alien terror whose head looks like a cock and whose mouth contains a cock with another mouth on it.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:20 PM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Actually, that was for the comment before yours and yours snuck in between.

To your comment I would say that the scene in question is apropos if you are intent on hitting your audience over the head.

A Ridley from another time might have had his crew find some corpses where oh my god it looks like they've cut their own bellies open or something metaphoric. Maybe someone commits suicide by sticking a coat hanger down their gullet.

("Trochanter, Baby! THERE'S your movie!")
posted by Trochanter at 7:58 PM on December 25, 2012


Just watched it for the first time last night and I'm happy I didn't pay theatre prices to see it. And while I enjoyed it, clumsy is the right adjective. It definitely felt choppy in places.

I also found out a few months ago that my mum wouldn't be surprised if aliens deposited human life on Earth. Okey dokey, Mum.
posted by deborah at 8:40 PM on December 25, 2012


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: These fellows were making some (not all) reasonable points, but I had to stop watching the video because of the absolutely overwhelming level of whiny smugness in their presentation.

The broader point stands, though, that unless there is an artistic reason for a plot point to seem obscure until you puzzle it out (e.g., in a murder mystery) then an obscure plot point might as well be a plot hole. There are (or were, anyway) all sorts of puzzling details in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but one of the more important themes of that film was the limits of human knowledge.

The obscurity of these various points in Prometheus, though, feels more like sloppiness, and frankly I don't think it's fair to expect film viewers to do additional homework before they can figure out what the hell is going on. It's the job of a Ridley Scott to communicate his vision, and if a lot of people seeing his movie are saying "how come Shaw and Vickers are running in a straight line," then that's Scott's failure, not the audience's. It's certainly not fair to scold that audience about how ignorant they are about panic reactions.
posted by La Cieca at 9:09 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also found out a few months ago that my mum wouldn't be surprised if aliens deposited human life on Earth.

I can't say it would particularly surprise me either. Since the current leading theory for life on Earth boils down to an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of amino acids, my standards in this area are quite low.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:45 PM on December 25, 2012


so it just seems pretty apropos to me to have a scene where a character has to give herself a c-section / abortion.

I thought, as much as Prometheus explored any theme involving birth, it was about paternal creation. There's a lot of denial of women and motherhood. The engineers we see are all male, just by their name they are designers of unnatural things. Of the two women on the ship, Charlize isn't mom material and Lisbeth Salander can't have a baby naturally. The robodoc is not set for women. Weyland wants a son so bad he makes one, and thinks he's a god for creating life but it's something every mother does. (Do we ever see a Mrs. Weyland? (And really, there's no offspring sex selection available to billionaires in the future?)) Even the c-section is an engineered birth.

If A1 was a perversion of sex and birth and A2 a perversion of motherhood then maybe Prometheus is a perversion of fatherhood. Or whatever, I dunno.

I saw no problem with that scene because I saw a common human reaction played out.

Suppose you're standing in the middle of the street, and a car up the street starts to roll down straight at you. Maybe at first you start running directly down the street away from it, but I bet you pretty quick get the idea of running for the sidewalk, a doorway, behind another car, whatever. I'm saying no one runs straight down the street, for a whole minute, until the car finally squishes them. "Something is coming gwwwaah get somewhere safe zig zag whatever!!" is probably pretty well covered in our monkey brains.

If the movie'd wanted to communicate your point of you-never-know-what-you'll-do, they could have much more easily had Charlize stare up at the spaceship, too overwhelmed to even think of running, while Lisbeth ran off to the side more intelligently. (That would have been a better in any case.) Having them both run, it's sort of indistinguishable from plain old dumb action scene.
posted by fleacircus at 9:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm gonna finish watching this, but her whole thing about us not knowing how the pyramids, Greek temples and Easter Island heads were built is fucking nonsense and really discredits her as an analyzer of science fiction. Still interested in her analysis of film, though.
posted by cthuljew at 10:27 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that part was farly lame.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:33 PM on December 25, 2012


If I had to do a hard rewrite of the movie to fit it into the established Alien movie themes of sex, pregnancy, parenthood, etc, I think the right path to take would be about responsibility/stewardship. It's there in the script already, there are so many bad parents, where just creating the thing is enough and not taking the time to oversee its development or make sure it doesn't grow up wanting to totally murder you is all up in the subtexts.

Then again I kinda like the idea that humanity was basically a biological weapon they lost control of and are HORRIFIED that it eventually found its way back to them.
posted by The Whelk at 10:42 PM on December 25, 2012


I mean you could tie the theme of stewardship to the extended terraforming theme too, Weykand Yutani exists to build better worlds, build better androids, etc. but they totally botch the execution by being blindsides by profit.
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


blindsided by profit prophet

FTFY
posted by cthuljew at 10:54 PM on December 25, 2012


I do agree that Prometheus should have been better, oh well.

But Looper was much worse, terrible plot hole and issues that just don't make sense. If anything, both would have (eventually) benefited from cooperating, but some pitch in a meeting some where, someone said "he could be fightinh himself, from another time line!" and they just couldn't resist that cliché.
posted by lundman at 11:02 PM on December 25, 2012


Looper was saved by a science torture bit that made me close my eyes in the theatre and I havent done that since I was ten.
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 PM on December 25, 2012


Also all the cars in the slums having solar panels haphazardly strapped to them, Looper had some great little production design details.
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 PM on December 25, 2012


It's a testament to the franchise that I watched two of those videos. That woman is straight-up intolerable.
posted by eamondaly at 12:39 AM on December 26, 2012


eamondaly: " That woman is straight-up intolerable."

I liked her better when she was hanging out with that angry squirrel.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:57 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


As Science Fiction, I think Prometheus kinda stinks.

As mythic tragedy, I think you need to dig into Dante or The Bacchae to top a king being bludgeoned to death with the head of his adopted son.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:43 AM on December 26, 2012


I liked the alien at the end of the movie. They should do a movie about that, could be good.

I think that scene was the final insult to the audience. It felt precisely like a late stage decision to clumsily weld Prometheus to Alien.

The fact that David was completely fluent in the Engineer's language and how to fly their ships made me want to turn a flamethrower onto the people responsible (why does the Prometheus have a flamethrower onboard? never explained).

I noted that in the runup to the release of the film that Scott went to great pains to acknowledge Aliens as part of the chronology. That, I suspect, is why we had a selection of social misfits as part of the Prometheus crew. Ridley, that works for space marines, not so much for professional hand-picked scientists on a special mission.

That said, the production design was very nice.
posted by panboi at 8:45 AM on December 26, 2012


if ridley scott fucks up Forever War i shall hunt him down in Hawaii and steal his house and his cats. If he is a dog person, I get his doggies too. You don't fuck up Forever War w/o extreme shit in the way of consequences.
posted by angrycat at 9:18 AM on December 26, 2012


Also all the cars in the slums having solar panels haphazardly strapped to them, Looper had some great little production design details.

Yeah, like the tubes running from the exhaust pipe back to the gas tank on the trucks.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:39 AM on December 26, 2012


Looper (spoilers ahead) started out all right but turned pretty boring and stupid the moment the magical child showed up, and the plot got stuck in the farmhouse and apparently they were out of interesting stuff to say show or do beyond groping clumsily for a Lesson.

Wow, did we see profoundly different movies by the same title starring the same people.

****SPOILERS BLOCK****
Plus: the premise of sending people back in time is because it's so difficult to murder people, then they just shoot Willis's wife, no problem?
*****
Nowhere in the movie is it implied that it's no problem. She was shot by accident, and now they're on the hook for dead body as the universal tracking nanites everyone planetwide is implanted with at birth note time & place of death with the central registry. Those hitmen fucked up. They still have to close Joe's loop, but after that, they gotta answer to the boss about doing the one thing this whole operation is designed to avoid. Except Joe killed them first.
*****
Was that such a cavernous leap to make?
*****
And, at the climax couldn't JGL have shotgunned his own hand off so Bruce Willis would drop the gun?
*****
No. Because a 1 handed man desperately trying to save his wife and get back to the life he had is capable of hunting down and killing a little boy. A one handed man can still kill a little boy's mother in front of him, and that scarred little boy escapes on a path where he grows up to become Tetsuo Corleone.
*****
And in the end, Joe saw that it was him trying to kill the little boy. HE became the kind of person who would kill a little boy to get back the memories of a full life he'd already lived. He saw the kind of person he was capable of becoming. He had proof positive that his future led him to a place where he was willing to kill a woman to kill her child behind her.
*****
Like he says in the movie, "I saw it all laid out in front of me. So I changed it"
*****

Looper is brilliant, the performances are awesome, it's excellent sci-fi, and I am really wondering what people were seeing as they were watching it. I really do.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:05 AM on December 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


It should've been three hours of Janek and Meredith Vickers travelling through space, being snarky to each other, and occasionally having sex.

At least one half hour would consist of Idris Elba playing his squeezebox and singing. Another half hour would be Charlize Theron doing push-ups.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2012


Tetsuo Corleone

heh.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:38 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Okay, another criticism people level is How can Shaw be running around doing all this stuff, getting gut-punched, with her belly stapled shut just after a caesarean?

CBG19 just cant get behind the idea of "future medicine is that advanced". That is an abjectly pathetic answer for a purported sci-fi fan to come up with.

(10:52 on the upthread vid) I count Shaw getting at least 4 injections from the airhypo dispenser. That's not only painkillers, that's trauma-nanites she's injecting. The staples are just there with a little bit of spray glue to hold things together while the nanites make their way through her body and start knitting stuff back together. Yes, there are painkillers involved with the multiple shots, but she's also NOT SUPPOSED TO BE WALKING AROUND WITH RECENTLY STAPLED GUTS and the newly-knitted wounds are getting torn before they heal properly. MOAR NANITES.

Really? Sci-fi fans couldn't infer that much? The default reaction is
That couldn't happen
rather than
Given what I'm presented with, what else would be required for that to happen?
I think the former argues for an impoverished imagination that wants things pre-chewed for them.

Can I recommend a nice Michael Bay movie?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:43 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If future medicine were that advanced it is highly unlikely scars or staples would be present. Healing the epidermis that quickly would be child's play if you could heal the internals.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:21 AM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess Weyland bought the extra-special staples that do a really good job and those are just painkillers. That future medicine is awesome.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:25 AM on December 26, 2012


Given what I'm presented with, what else would be required for that to happen?

If you just fill in the holes for them, there is no incentive to do any but the laziest writing.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:31 AM on December 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've not even thought about the surgery/staples thing. More difficult for me is the lack of a plausible alien lifecycle from nanites to space zombie/worm to Starro to xenomorph. This is in contrast to John Carpenter's Thing which seems to have some oggly boogly elements of design continuity in spite of multiple iterations and shapes.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:36 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looper is a pretty good movie that aborts everything it did in the first two hours via the last five minutes. Don't -- DON'T -- mention different time lines, because M Theory and Chaos Theory. Too many variables.
posted by New England Cultist at 2:27 PM on December 26, 2012


I think one is suffering from basic film illiteracy if one can't understand why audiences were annoyed by her getting up and running around after that much trauma. If the whole scene with the alien abortion didn't matter, why was it in the film?
posted by empath at 3:55 PM on December 26, 2012


Nowhere in the movie is it implied that it's no problem... [etc]

Nowhere is it acknowledged it's a problem, IIRC, and that's a problem. Yes, one can provide some bullshit justification for it as you have done, but it was bad craftsmanship for the movie to do that like it was nothing and then show no acknowledgement that it had broken a big weird rule it set on the world.

You seem to be missing the point a lot. When people make the kinds of complaints you are seeing about plot holes and such, they're not always saying that they think there's no explanation possible. Sometimes they're saying it's a problem that the story doesn't offer one, and in fact the story acts like there's no problem at all. That's a flaw in the story, it jolts people out of it, and that's just the way it is. If you have enough of those moments—Prometheus does—your movie just starts to look like some sloppy, stupid crap.

No. Because a 1 handed man desperately trying to save his wife and get back to the life he had is capable of hunting down and killing a little boy ... And in the end, Joe saw that it was him trying to kill the little boy.

A problem with your explanation is that we in the audience knew that JGL, by falling in love with Emily Blunt, was going to perform some major change to his own future, and that the Bruce Willis future version of himself was going to be obsolete. The implication was there that the future could be written differently, that JGL didn't have to be like future Bruce Willis. That's how the long long time at the farmhouse makes any sense at all.

Anyway, JGL already knew Willis was going around killing kids, and so he was doing what he could to stop it. He could have killed himself at any time and saved those other kids; waiting until he had no other way of hurting Bruce Willis beyond hurting himself made it seem like a desperation move, not a "finally now I understand" kind of thing. Nor was it shown to be a realization of himself and his future vs. him just being willing to go all the way.

Just like above, I think really the movie was just trying to play around with big, incredibly cliche dramatic moments (zomg, his wife was shot; zomg he has to kill himself to save the magic child) that it forgot to be consistent and clever with its time travel world, which is really the sort of thing I like in a time travel movie, and by giving that short shrift they lost my willingness to buy into some major points of the story.

I am really wondering what people were seeing as they were watching it. I really do.

I hope I've made it clear, then, and btw I am not looking for any further discussion with you.
posted by fleacircus at 5:17 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So to clarify, it looks like the original script scene of the medpod, the part that got Spaihts the job of writing the whole thing, was Shaw using it not to have an abortion, but to survive a chest buster. She knew what was about to happening, got into the medpod, and as the aliens burst out, the med robots tosses it aside and goes to work fixing the damage.

That scene would have been awesome, and filmed from her perspective, allowed to use the transitions in and out of consciousness to show the alien destroy things around her in snippets. Then have a wake up scene like 28 days later where she walks thought the wreckage of the ship.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:00 AM on December 28, 2012


More difficult for me is the lack of a plausible alien lifecycle from nanites to space zombie/worm to Starro to xenomorph.

The problem I had with Alien from the git go was how that little eyeless limbless ratsnake pops out of John Hurt's chest and scurries off to grow and grow and shed its skin and grow and grow to seven feet tall with metal teeth in under 24 hours and how does that happen again ? Supersquid at the end of Prometheus just compounds the injury. How do those little chestbursters and vampire squidlets bulk up to giganto-size when there are no Outer Space Super Supplement stores around to sell them protein shake mixes ? Not mention the personal trainers they would need...
posted by y2karl at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2012


I cannot believe what a waste of $20 this was.

Me, I want my $4 back. I just watched the damn thing and now I have to return it. Like I haven't wasted enough time on it already...
posted by y2karl at 1:37 PM on December 30, 2012


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