The Unpopular Opinion: Prometheus edition
May 17, 2017 10:31 AM   Subscribe

‘Prometheus’ is One of the Boldest Science Fiction Movies in Recent Memory
Let me put it to you like this: what are the most frustratingly nonsensical elements of the movie?...[SPOILERS FOR A FOUR YEAR OLD MOVIE]...Had Prometheus been given more latitude – by studio, screenwriters, or filmmaker – to step outside of Alien’s sphere of influence, we may rightly view this as an important film. Instead, Prometheus is left to people like me to defend it.

Say Something Nice: PROMETHEUS (2012) (Birth. Movies. Death.): The Medpod Scene
This whole sequence plays out over the course of roughly four minutes, and it's easily the best thing in the entire film. It's a borderline masterclass in escalation, the way each new hideous setback is thrown into the mix. It's also beautifully shot and edited, and blessed with an absolutely ferocious performance from Rapace. It is, indeed, one of the high points of the entire Alien franchise. Were the film just a little more loved (just you watch: five years from now, the still-fledgling Prometheus apologist movement will have grown into a very vocal cult following), it'd be as iconic as the original film's Chestburster sequence.
posted by Existential Dread (85 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
bold != good
posted by entropicamericana at 10:39 AM on May 17 [9 favorites]


I still haven't seen a defense of Prometheus that wasn't defending some version of Prometheus that didn't make it to the theaters. Might as well say that Bonfire of the Vanities came from a really good book and starred some really good people, so it couldn't have been a bad movie.
posted by Etrigan at 10:39 AM on May 17 [23 favorites]


I didn't hate it. It surely wasn't on the same level as the first two movies or even good, but from the reaction to it, I think a lot of people think 3 and Resurrection were.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:43 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Counterargument: It was written originally by Jon Spaiths as a fairly solid continuation of the Aliens films with some Von Danikenish bits about the Engineers, the script was then passed on to Damon Lindelof who made a bunch of changes, strengthening the David character but ultimately making the whole thing incoherent, and then it was filmed by Ridley Scott who has no idea if a script is good or bad, he just films it. Given more latitude at least two of those people would make the film even more nonsensical and the third, Spaiths, doesn't really have it in him to do anything truly outstanding.

That one sequence is great though, and the production design is excellent throughout.
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on May 17 [6 favorites]


I still haven't seen a defense of Prometheus that wasn't defending some version of Prometheus that didn't make it to the theaters.

And indeed the defence does describe great swathes of it as borderline unwatchable.

(though they do use the go to criticism of the film - that Charlese Theron doesn't know which way tho run when a big rolling round thing is falling on her, which weirdly I've never that much been bothered by)
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on May 17


Well you just be the best defender of Prometheus you can be!
posted by Naberius at 10:48 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


The only people who find the Medpod scene a great scene or a body horror scene are people who have never been present at the birth of a human baby. Compared to a lot of actual births, that was quick, tidy, only involved a minimal amount of bodily fluids (like, not even any feces), seemed like less pain, and a lot less swearing.
posted by Vortisaur at 10:48 AM on May 17 [33 favorites]


Prometheus is only good if you watch a fan edit of it, one that adds in some of the deleted (for no reason) scenes and trims things up a bit.
posted by Catblack at 10:50 AM on May 17


I don't get it. We don't give other films this kind of (purely hypothetical) consideration.

Yes, it had a great provenance, and there were a few good scenes. You can also say that about most M. Night Shyamalan films, and we're not exactly holding [most of] those up to the same level of reverence.

Prometheus was a big-budget trainwreck, where nobody was willing or able to say 'No.'

There's a potentially-interesting plot beneath the layers of cruft (ie. was this really the B-Team? were they deliberately set up for an embarrassing and deadly failure?), but we don't get to see any of that. We're only left guessing and wincing.
posted by schmod at 10:50 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


>No matter how much you hate or love Prometheus, you can’t deny the beauty of its production design.

It seems to me that the coolest things in it are the alien navigator and the egg chamber, which aren't due to anybody's beautiful production design except Giger's, for the first movie. Which was VERY cool--so cool, in fact, that they keep making the same movie around it, and it looks like the new one is gonna do it again: a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT bunch of people walk into the same room and goggle at the alien navigator until somebody ends up with something weird on his face, and then they all get eaten. And as cool as it looks, I'm REALLY tired of it--every bit as tired as I am of Batman and Spiderman--and I know they spent a whole bunch of money to make it look great again but I just can't get interested. Whatshername taking Fassbender's head on a field trip to the homeworld--that seemed like it was gonna be interesting, but it doesn't look like that's what they made.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:51 AM on May 17 [14 favorites]


The production designs steals liberally from Giger, Cobb, and anyone else who designed stuff for the first movie. It;s like they flicked through The Book of Alien, picked out all the cool bits that didn't make it to screen, and swiped them.

Still cool.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on May 17


(though they do use the go to criticism of the film - that Charlese Theron doesn't know which way tho run when a big rolling round thing is falling on her,

Haha, we were having this same conversation in the office just a few days ago.

It always comes back to that. RUN TO THE SIDES?!?! JUST 5 FEET TO THE LEFT AND YOU'RE NOT DEAD.

I actually love Prometheus and I feel like it gets the tone of the Alien franchise correct.

That sequence where the scientist has the snake/worm alien grab his arm and then flies into his face to ultimately consume his face. I'm a big fan of that.

Horror films always have people making these types of idiot decisions and I love it.

It'll be interesting to see if Alien: Covenant moves towards Prometheus or the first two Alien films with story/tone. Based on the trailer, it looks like it's trying to do a little bit of both.
posted by Fizz at 11:03 AM on May 17


The space donut is more than 10ft tall.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on May 17


Well, it's more of a space croissant.
posted by loquacious at 11:12 AM on May 17 [19 favorites]


Prometheus is pretty. It isn't beautiful. Alien is beautiful--Moebius' clean-but-lived-in spacescapes, Giger's utterly alien biomechanical world where landscape, architecture and individual all blur into the same desiccated corpse of some...thing we'd probably understand less if we'd stumbled over it when it was alive.

Alien has genuinely alien aliens. The hybrid never really makes sense; is it weapon? mode of reproduction? art? Who knows. It and its relationship to the ship, the space jockey, the egg chamber, etc. are left wholly mysterious. All we know is that facehuggers reproduce sexually with...anything? I guess? like autonomous genitals or animal-seeds. Nothing about that is reassuring or explicable.

Aliens and Alien 3 are fun enough, but lacking a lot of this magic. Resurrection was fun at the time, but I find it hard to go back to now. The series as a whole seems to've suffered a similar fate as Star Wars and most successful fantastic series that become franchises; a gradual shrinking of possibility for that universe. A proper sequel to Alien would've been something purely thematic that's all about a different group of people encountering a different kind of alien alien in a different kind of way. There's endless potential; mostly wasted on retreading a space-marines/truckers/prisoners/scientists-versus-xenomorphs formula. Alien interestingly didn't have that going on much; Aliens set that mold.

What Scott & friends are doing now with Prometheus and Covenant is just...boring to me. It's all about taking these wonderful, beautiful, deeply strange mysteries and slapping on the most unimaginative of sci-fi explanations. A lot of people have talked about how Prometheus is Scott's dealing with mortality and senescence, and that sort of makes sense but not quite in the intended way. I saw Alien as a look out into a universe that could be endless and filled to the brim with wonderful strangeness completely beyond human capacities to understand; I saw Prometheus as a look out into the universe that said, "Nope, not having that" and then promptly buried its head in the sand.

Alien is about humanity encountering something we aren't equipped to understand in a universe that's indifferent to us. Prometheus is about humanity discovering the meaning of life (goo? I think it's goo?) in a universe made especially for us. It still tries to work a horror angle into that, but its fundamental objection to mystery or to a reality indifferent to humanity get in the way.

Sorry to the handful that do like it. I know it gets torn apart every time it comes up.
posted by byanyothername at 11:15 AM on May 17 [31 favorites]


Dead Orbit, the James Stokeo Alien comic that is running at the momemt, is fantastci in terms of Alien-ish look and feel and highly recommended. Also pulls off a kind of comics equivelent toa fake-out jump-scare that I would have thought impossible to do outside of film.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I don't recall much of anything other that the visual aesthetics that was good about it. It had plot holes the size of Texas. I wondered why Ridley Scott allowed such a sloppy movie to be released.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:21 AM on May 17


I mean, you can be a devil's advocate about anything. People keep saying The Fifth Element and Gigli are good, for example.
posted by anem0ne at 11:25 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


It always comes back to that. RUN TO THE SIDES?!?! JUST 5 FEET TO THE LEFT AND YOU'RE NOT DEAD.

Of all the stupid things in that movie, the idea that someone might panic and run the wrong way when a giant thing is falling on them is by far the least stupid. It's not even in the same galaxy of stupid as the biohazard protocol the alleged "scientists" don't even think about following when they encounter alien life forms.
posted by straight at 11:25 AM on May 17 [16 favorites]


I wondered why Ridley Scott allowed such a sloppy movie to be released.

The sloppiness is all in areas he doesn't give a shit about.
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


I liked Prometheus! It was entertaining in a mysterious way. Plus Idris Elba and space stuff.

People who are into Alien are, like, SUPER into Alien. I have things I'm unreasonable about too, so I get it, but I think for certain people the elevation of Alien into The Best Movie of All Time makes it impossible to enjoy other things which are pretty good but not literally perfect in every way or whatever it is that Alien people think about Alien. I can say this because I'm married to one of those people. I'm not allowed to say out loud anymore that I liked Prometheus. I asked if he wanted to see the next one that's coming out shortly and he got mad and wouldn't talk to me. It was just a question. Jeez.
posted by something something at 11:31 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]


The whole premise of Prometheus is against the premise of the Alien franchise - we are alll alone in the universe, in the idea that we're all vulnerable organisms and prey for bigger, badder ones. We're not unique or interesting and can be way out of our depth in certain environments. Prometheus instead said we are HIGHLY interesting, because we've been engineered (whether by god or aliens, same old boring theology). '

IT IS NOT SCARY TO PROMOTE WARM FUZZY FEELINGS OF SPECIALNESS AND PURPOSE
posted by agregoli at 11:32 AM on May 17 [11 favorites]


What Scott & friends are doing now with Prometheus and Covenant is just...boring to me. It's all about taking these wonderful, beautiful, deeply strange mysteries and slapping on the most unimaginative of sci-fi explanations.

Yes. Deeply boring.
posted by agregoli at 11:33 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I don't get it. We don't give other films this kind of (purely hypothetical) consideration.

No particular brief for Prometheus here, but I think a lot of fandom is trying to pick interesting stuff out of the detritus of broken TV and film, especially.

Even in the more culturally respectable context, try talking about The Magnificent Ambersons to a film scholar.
posted by praemunire at 11:43 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


From the Say Something Nice review:
Shaw monkeys around with the med-pod's controls (some people have pointed out that it makes no sense that Vickers would have a med-pod "calibrated for male patients only", but that's actually a clue: the pod's calibrated that way because it's not there for Vickers at all, but her extremely old father, Peter Weyland, who's secretly tagged along on the mission), injects herself with what I imagine to be a serious amount of painkillers, and then climbs into the pod.
On the one hand, yes, some people did seem to miss that the pod was really for Peter, not for Vickers. That was certainly a real complaint that existed. But the secondary critique, which this doesn't address, is what the narrative justification for having a men-only med-pod is in the first place. It doesn't make a lot of narrative sense: surgery is surgery. Scanning is scanning. Data is already cheap, and presumably even cheaper in the future. And the pod is 'calibrated for male patients,' plural and generic, not 'a specific male patient.' So it's presented, in the plot, as a generic med-pod for a specific person. Why would you manufacture a product that could only serve half the population? Why would actively do this? Why would you go into a working machine that could help everyone and block out half the people who could use it? And having done that -- it clearly works anyway, which undermines the idea that the calibration matters at all.

Given that, it's seems likely that the 'calibration' really exists to (1) make it impossible for Shaw to pick an abortion off the menu (even though that's clearly the metaphor they're going for), and/or (2) amp up the tension of the scene by creating an artificial barrier to her resolving her situation. My complaint would be -- AS WITH SO MANY LINDELOF PLOTS -- things exist to drive the plot in particular ways or to establish particular scenes, even when they make no sense in the context of the world in which the plot is set. It's artificial, it's designed, and it's very much the opposite of the design ethos for the original Alien.

I didn't mind the Running Away From The Torus scene -- it didn't feel necessary for it to be in the film, but it didn't bother me. The "lets take our helmets off so that we can get infected later" scene, yes; the "lets land the ship far away from the thing we need to explore so we can get some dramatic visuals of driving around alter," sure; and, generally, the way characters seemed driven by plot rather than having the plot be driven by characters.

The aesthetics of the film, the performances -- certainly excellent. Talking about Prometheus is an interesting case study in how a movie can be half-brilliant and half...not. Calling it bad does a disservice to the parts of that are praiseworthy, but calling it 'bold' is...both true and also not an accurate summary.
posted by cjelli at 11:45 AM on May 17 [9 favorites]


Sure. "One of" the boldest recent major sci-fi films that isn't Arrival. Why not? (that's assuming that boldness != courage of one's convictions, because Prometheus lacked that *cough* proto-Xenomorph *cough*)

Am happy to defend the run-L/R-to-avoid-giant-killer-hula-hoop scene though. Did detractors not notice that that thing was effing huge?
posted by comealongpole at 11:46 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I actually love Prometheus and I feel like it gets the tone of the Alien franchise correct.

It has the tone right, yes. It had some great performances as well, and the visuals and such were great. Unfortunately, it's kind of a mess for the rest - I felt like it was a film where the writers had some big idea they were trying to express/explore, but they kept changing their mind on what that idea was every five minutes or so. I don't hate the movie or anything, I just feel like it squandered an opportunity to do something interesting and in the end just produced something kinda bland. This franchise is not alone in this problem; sometimes the more we try to mine the success of previous stories in a particular universe, the more we dilute their magic or just plain get wrong what made the magic work the first time around. I'm coming to believe that sometimes the important creative decision is to realize that something is done, that you can't tinker around with it or extend it anymore without taking away from it or losing what made it special in the first place. But we live in the age of the tentpole media franchise, so...yeah.

It's not even in the same galaxy of stupid as the biohazard protocol the alleged "scientists" don't even think about following when they encounter alien life forms.

I've always been fond of the theory that suggests the only crew they could get for this crazy mission was a bunch of the worst scientists & specialists out there; that no one else was either available or dumb enough to go. Which is why they all act like idiots even when dealing in their alleged areas of "specialization."
posted by nubs at 11:56 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]


I don't get it. We don't give other films this kind of (purely hypothetical) consideration.

I agree, but I think it's a little important to make a distinction between simply bad movies -- hollywood makes scads of those every year -- and interesting failures.

If nothing else, interesting failures are JUST SO MADDENING because you can see in them the outlines of what the interesting success would have been. Do not insert coin or you will get lecture.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:56 AM on May 17 [10 favorites]


I agree, but I think it's a little important to make a distinction between simply bad movies -- hollywood makes scads of those every year -- and interesting failures.

Yes, this. I consider Alien 3 an interesting failure, and I can see how for many people Promethus is also one. There is a lot to learn from an interesting failure.
posted by nubs at 11:59 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


The problem with every movie after Aliens (or, arguably, Alien) is that the Scary Thing has already been revealed -- there is no meaningful surprise left, and they can't seem to think of another one. The central conceit of the antagonist has slowly turned from a unique but horrifyingly familiar shock to cheapened, overexposed body horror; just mutilation, debasing transformation, and rape, and death, over and over again. It's the worst kind of boring.
posted by clockzero at 12:00 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


>RUN TO THE SIDES?!?! JUST 5 FEET TO THE LEFT AND YOU'RE NOT DEAD.

When I was a kid I used to see a clip from some old black-and-white Tarzan movie all the time. Tarzan has summoned the elephants, and they're trooping down a jungle path. Thick jungle to either side with no elephants in it, and a rank of elephants trooping down the path, and what do the Evil Poacher Guys do to get away? They run down the path. JUST STEP INTO THE JUNGLE FOR GOD'S SAKE, but no, they don't teach you that in Evil Poacher School I guess. The jungle's probably full of Queen Snakes, and if you're an Evil Poacher in a Tarzan movie you're gonna get what's coming to you one way or another, but still...

Anyway, having seen that as a kid, I'm comfortable thinking of poor evasive maneuvering as a Cinematic Tradition.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:11 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I really like and/or love Alien 1-4. They're cold, gross space movies with well-realized, flawed humans at the core of every story. The aliens are terrifying but then you get back to these very human humans and it's such a relief. In my mind at least, all 4 films have very memorable characters. My biggest problem with Prometheus is that there's not much to the humans. They just aren't very interesting, and it makes the film feel flat.
posted by heatvision at 12:16 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


lets land the ship far away from the thing we need to explore so we can get some dramatic visuals of driving around

This is also not even slightly stupid. There's a reason we don't launch and land spacecraft in the middle of an urban area, much less right next to an important archeological site of unknown fragility.
posted by straight at 12:19 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


Talking about Prometheus is an interesting case study in how a movie can be half-brilliant and half...not.

I think this, and the concept of an Interesting Failure, nails it for me. There's just enough promise to the really good parts of the movie that make the awful parts worth enduring. Hell, I'll go to the mat to defend Steve Tucker-era Morbid Angel; those albums have some of the most interesting songwriting in metal, despite the fact that the production is, let's say, on par with the stoner scientist moron getting nailed by the evil xenoworm.

I also think it's interesting that the 'Boldest' article gets into the fact that the movie flips the "humans are special and imbued by their creators with destiny in a universe created for them" on it's head: the religiosity exhibited by Holloway and Shaw is destroyed by the realization that actual, their creators hate them and want to see them destroyed. If Alien's "alone in an uncaring universe" vibe was your thing, then I can see why you'd be annoyed by Prometheus, but the way they deal with it is worth considering, to me.

Lindelhof is still in dire need of an editor, though.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:30 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


The whole premise of Prometheus is against the premise of the Alien franchise - we are alll alone in the universe, in the idea that we're all vulnerable organisms and prey for bigger, badder ones. We're not unique or interesting and can be way out of our depth in certain environments. Prometheus instead said we are HIGHLY interesting, because we've been engineered (whether by god or aliens, same old boring theology). '

Yes. This is where the slashfilm article just plain wrong. The idea of humans being created sorta-accidentally by aloof, uncaring gods aliens isn't really bold, interesting, disturbing, or unique. It's like two-thirds of the non-monotheistic mythology in human history and a whole lot of science fiction.
posted by straight at 12:31 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]




TBH I think the lifecycle hieroglyphs Alien almost had made for a much more interesting quasi-mythological backstory.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Of all the stupid things in that movie, the idea that someone might panic and run the wrong way when a giant thing is falling on them is by far the least stupid.

A big part of a movie's success in getting it's ideas across is how it sells them. I'm not saying she could have escaped a ship the size of a small city by running sideways, but surely she could have made a smarter decision that audiences could agree with. Running sideways and still getting smooshed would've at least stopped a lot of eye-rolling at that scene.

then it was filmed by Ridley Scott who has no idea if a script is good or bad, he just films it.

IIRC he wanted a bunch of kooky nonsensical stuff in the script that eventually made it into the film, and he was the one who requested several of the rewrites.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:45 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Of all the stupid things in that movie, the idea that someone might panic and run the wrong way when a giant thing is falling on them is by far the least stupid. It's not even in the same galaxy of stupid as the biohazard protocol the alleged "scientists" don't even think about following when they encounter alien life forms.

I cannot like this enough. That being said, I still think it's my favourite thing, watching a scientist make the decision to try to touch this alien life-form without any knowledge of how it might react/behave, it makes me giddy, cuz you know that nothing good will come of this decision.

It seems every Alien film in the franchise has this one moment where we watch them make this dumb decision to let someone into their ship/room/safe-place. And then we just sit back and wait for chests to burst.
posted by Fizz at 1:07 PM on May 17


On the ship, without any fuss, the chests were bursting out.
posted by comealongpole at 1:11 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


Where is the touching-all-the-things gif when you need it?
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I mean, you can be a devil's advocate about anything. People keep saying The Fifth Element and Gigli are good, for example.

If you want to argue that 5th Element's visual design and sense of humour aren't enough to make it a good movie, fine, but comparing it to Gigli is a trollish hot take that even Slate wouldn't publish.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:36 PM on May 17 [12 favorites]


I want something at least on the level of Showgirls as my supposed bad movie choice!
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


People hate the fifth element, now? Don't they know that its love? Seems like they could use a little more of the fifth element.
posted by lkc at 1:41 PM on May 17 [11 favorites]


It seems every Alien film in the franchise has this one moment where we watch them make this dumb decision to let someone into their ship/room/safe-place.

To be completely fair, in the first film that decision was made by a being that had a specific mission to ensure a sample got on board; what at first appeared to be poor decision making is eventually revealed to be betrayal. (I mean, John Hurt still had to put his face over the egg to begin with as bad decision #1 - but he was a space trucker in an unusual situation). But everything that happens in the subsequent films pretty much is a result of somebody not listening to Ripley.
posted by nubs at 1:42 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


People hate the fifth element, now? Don't they know that its love? Seems like they could use a little more of the fifth element.

I'm working on the sixth element, which is indifference to the hot takes that other people have of the media I love and/or hate. Life's too short.
posted by nubs at 1:46 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


It seems every Alien film in the franchise has this one moment where we watch them make this dumb decision to let someone into their ship/room/safe-place.

There was a reviewer who contended that the REAL meaning and moral of the Alien series is the necessity for proper biohazard protocols.

I kinda agree. Don't give me any of this "Oh humanity encounters something in the vast universe they cannot comprehend" crap. NONE of the movies would have had a major problem if obvious biohazard protocols had been followed.
posted by happyroach at 1:49 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]


Why would you manufacture a product that could only serve half the population? Why would actively do this? Why would you go into a working machine that could help everyone and block out half the people who could use it?

Because then you can sell the Female-oriented options as extras. Capitalism!

There is a casual cruelty implied in the construction of a men-only medical device. I can feel the structural sexism at play behind it. See, there's people, and then there's female people. Men are the default. Females are non-standard and require extra licensing.

For some reason this makes me think of Futurama's Tinny Tim. Someone intentionally manufactured a crippled orphan robot. They made him that way. Who would do such a thing?
posted by curiousgene at 1:50 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


i will not judge you for failing to like The Fifth Element, but I will probably judge you for not realising that is a failing on your part.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]


There is a casual cruelty implied in the construction of a men-only medical device. I can feel the structural sexism at play behind it. See, there's people, and then there's female people. Men are the default. Females are non-standard and require extra licensing.

Obs-Gyn package for the medpod is DLC you have to buy with MedCoins(tm).
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Where is the touching-all-the-things gif when you need it?

yo
posted by Aznable at 2:32 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


My headcanon backstory for Alien is that the xenomorphs were created by the alien equivalent of Weyland-Yutani as a living weapon to use against another civilization during a galactic war but they got out of control and wiped out both sides of the conflict. I'm not sure how you'd film that since the story wouldn't have any human characters but it makes more sense to me than whatever story Prometheus was trying to test.
posted by octothorpe at 2:48 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


*logs back in just to press a coin into ROU_Xenophobe's palm*
posted by Leon at 2:49 PM on May 17


It seems every Alien film in the franchise has this one moment where we watch them make this dumb decision to let someone into their ship/room/safe-place.

See also: every damn zombie movie ever, with the possible exception of the original Night of the Living Dead.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:02 PM on May 17




My headcanon backstory for Alien is that the xenomorphs were created by the alien equivalent of Weyland-Yutani as a living weapon to use against another civilization during a galactic war but they got out of control and wiped out both sides of the conflict. I'm not sure how you'd film that since the story wouldn't have any human characters but it makes more sense to me than whatever story Prometheus was trying to test.

So kind of like Predator then.
posted by Fizz at 4:14 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]




Of all the stupid things in that movie, the idea that someone might panic and run the wrong way when a giant thing is falling on them is by far the least stupid.

I'm not saying she could have escaped a ship the size of a small city by running sideways

When Noomi Rapace falls down she rolls sideways two seconds and she's clear.

I don't like Cinema Sins style hurr durring — but really no really, it's super dumb and indefensible as portrayed. It's also sort of the action set piece climax of the movie and I think Prometheus deserves all the roasting for it.

I agree though that it shouldn't overshadow all the other dumb things in the movie such as everything else about it.
posted by fleacircus at 4:16 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


I kind of like the gag where the two bumbefuck scientists stumble onto the spacecraft because they are reading the map upside down. At least, that;s my interpretation of that scene, needed a bit more polish to make the joke land.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on May 17


When Noomi Rapace falls down she rolls sideways two seconds and she's clear.

Not to mention the fact that she's running and jumping just minutes after having her abdominal muscles sliced apart.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:22 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Space science.
posted by Artw at 5:21 PM on May 17


*logs back in just to press a coin into ROU_Xenophobe's palm*

Can we call them ROU_Xenomorph for the purposes of this thread?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:36 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


So, Alien was an elegant series of terrible decisions.
Guys! There's a signal coming from this supposedly uninhabited planet. Let's stay the fuck away from it!
No, we gotta go.

OK, the planet has a methane-storm atmosphere. Let's just chill here in the ship then head home.
No, let's suit up and explore.

OK, this big room has what appears to be a giant alien skeleton. We should prolly bolt, right?
No, let's check out those big leathery eggs.

Um, they look like there's something alive moving around in there. How 'bout we amscray?
No, Imma poke at it with this pen.

HOLY SHIT! A FUCKING THING JUMPED OUT ON HIS FACE! Let's cut our losses, ditch this dead fool, and head on back to Earth!
No, let's bring him back to the ship. Maybe he'll be fine.

We Can't let him back on the ship - he has to be quarantined.
Nah, he be aight. Let's bring him on.

OH FUCK! The thing just burst outta his body and ran off! Fuck this noise, let's get in the escape pods and slide the fuck on outta here!
No, let's find the slithery thing.

Jeesus Christ, guise, it has acidblood and it's eating everybody! How's 'bout that escape pod! We can all fit! Come on!
No, let's hunt it down. We have a torch.

Etc. etc. etc.

On the other hand, Prometheus was just a mess.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:36 PM on May 17 [13 favorites]


So kind of like Predator then.

I don't think that I've ever actually seen that. Or if I did it was 30 years ago half stoned while watching it on HBO so I don't remember it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:21 PM on May 17


Alien has a surprise robot o help them make the wrong decisions. That's less of an excuse in Prometheus.
posted by Artw at 6:37 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I loved Prometheus but I somehow didn't know it was related to Alien till I watched it so everything was a surprise. I guess I had zero expectations so was not disappointed. I thought it was more interesting than any of the alien movies after Aliens. And way better than interstellar ... blech!
posted by freecellwizard at 6:46 PM on May 17


My recollection of the point where I gave up on Prometheus - and correct me if I'm wrong because I haven't ever wanted a rewatch - is that immediately after the guys get lost and attacked by the snake the next shot is Stacker Pentacost pointing out his location on their 3D map. The same one they just established couldn't determine the guy's location.
posted by thecjm at 8:11 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]




I actually love Prometheus and I feel like it gets the tone of the Alien franchise correct.

I watched Prometheus at a friends with no background on it at all. I've seen Alien a dozen times and at no point in the movie did I pick up that they were related. I actually refused to believe it after we were done watching until someone googled it.

Ah yes, the 3D map that the surveyors who kept getting lost made, after the scientists decided to ignore all the biohazard protocols. They all deserved to die. And the DNA thing made me lol. There's suspension of disbelief and there's lol'ing at DNA seeding the universe via a river or whatever that was at the end.
posted by fshgrl at 9:59 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Noomi Rapace and the severed head of Michael Fassbender is the name of my Eurythmics cover band.
posted by kreinsch at 12:41 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


A lot of people have talked about how Prometheus is Scott's dealing with mortality and senescence,

Mostly by denial, I think. A look at IMDB shows that the 79-year-old Scott has 65 projects listed as "upcoming." By way of comparison, Nicolas Winding Refn (She 46) has four, 46-year-old Kevin Smith likewise, and Steve McQueen, age 47, has three.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:06 AM on May 18


So, Alien was an elegant series of terrible decisions.

the crew of the nostromo were basically space truckers; the crew of the prometheus were supposedly the best and brightest
posted by entropicamericana at 8:38 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Alien: Walking around in the dark and stepping on a nail.
Prometheus: gleefully consuming a bowl of nails.
posted by Artw at 8:44 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


So, Alien was an elegant series of terrible decisions.

Just because I'm a nitpicker:

-the computer is programmed to wake the crew under certain conditions, which include transmissions of either unknown origin or distress signals;
-under the terms of their contracts, they are obligated to check it out:
DALLAS
Mother is programmed to
interrupt the course of our
voyage if certain conditions
arise. They have •••
(pa.use)
We've received intermittent
sonar transmission from
quadrant points QBR 157, 052.
Somebody's gone down.
BRETT
So what •
• KANE
We're obligated under Section
B2 •••
PARKER
Christ. We're a commercial.
ship not some rescue team.
This kind of duty Is not in
our con-tract •
ASH
You better read your contract.
Transmission received in
noncommercial lanes •••
Ash, of course, is the trojan horse on the mission, sent along to make fucking sure that the crew investigated the transmission. The corporation knew about the transmission in advance, and sent the Nostromo into harm's way knowingly, with an agent on board to make sure that whatever it was got found and brought back. Ash is the one who opens the hatch, against the explicit orders of Ripley. Ash is also the one who keeps Kane alive despite having the knowledge that something is growing inside him. The decision to hunt the xenomorph is based on the fact that they feel vulnerable about going into hypersleep with the thing that just burst from Kane's chest still running around - they are six weeks off course, and by the time they discuss the shuttle they are down to three crew members:
RIPLEY
We leave in the shuttle and
then blow up the ship.
LAMBERT
The closest lane where we'd
stand even a remote chance
of being picked up is six
weeks away. There Is enough
oxygen in the shuttle to
last the three of us two
weeks.
RIPLEY
Not if we took all the reserve
tanks and the pressure suits.

LAMBERT
Right. Make that three weeks.
And it's interesting, the script I'm looking at - which claims to be the final shooting script - makes no mention of a hypersleep chamber in the shuttle; I'm not sure when that was added nor how many the shuttle contained. If there were in fact multiple chambers, it makes the final act of the movie overall make less sense because Lambert and Brett were running around grabbing extra oxygen and food that they didn't need if that was the case.

Anyways, in short - a lot of the "bad" decisions made in Alien aren't there they way we'd like to think they are. Kane's decisions in the alien ship are likely the only major unforced errors, and he's a crew member on a refining ship, not a scientist or someone with training/experience in dealing with extra-terrestrial life.
posted by nubs at 9:18 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


Ripley straight up wants to leave a guy out on the planet surface rather than let an obvious threat on the ship. And she's right.
posted by Artw at 9:25 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


I've come to the conclusion that all of the problems in Alien/Aliens/Alien3 come down to the fact that people don't fucking listen to Ripley and do what she says.
posted by nubs at 9:31 AM on May 18 [8 favorites]


Always.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I loved Prometheus. It reminded my of an early 80's sf pulp. Grungy, silly at times, surely confusing but thrilling all the more. The engineers were captivating. The fight between the proto-morf and an engineer was insane...all the crew in it for themselves. The things that didn't make sense to a human didn't make sense to the crew, they way it would be, I think..if and when we ever make contact. I think I'll watch it tonight then go see the new one this weekend.
posted by judson at 9:37 AM on May 18


Oh and Aliens being created as a bioweapon instead of being awesome creatures who evolved awesomely is also a boring and depressing storyline to me. Why does everything have to have a human explanation? That means Aliens are an expression of human cruelty instead of being an indifferent natural thing, which is way not as cool.
posted by agregoli at 10:32 AM on May 18 [8 favorites]


I've seen Alien a dozen times and at no point in the movie did I pick up that they were related.

I still don't really get how it is, but I've never bothered, the movie was hard enough to get through and unenjoyable. It's one of those things where listening to people talk about it is odd, because all I remember is "group of wacky misfits go bumbling around in dark tunnels". A second rate Scooby Doo episode, except all the characters were annoying.

My Mac insists that "unenjoyable" is not a word.
posted by bongo_x at 11:50 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to leave this here: The Great Unknown - The Story Behind Jerry Goldsmith's Score for Alien
posted by nubs at 12:52 PM on May 18


And, because it's apparently Alien week over at Balder & Dash: Things Have Changed a Great Deal - A Re-appraisal of the Alien sequels
posted by nubs at 1:06 PM on May 18


Just watched Covenant. About on par with Prometheus. Would rather have watched Gaurdians 2 a second time.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:13 PM on May 19


Guardians 2 is pretty great. I think I missed a credits scene.
posted by Artw at 6:12 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]




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