Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PROMETHEUS: My Two Cents

If you're looking for a spoiler-filled decipherment of Prometheus's scientific and spiritual messages while dissecting the rapidly mutating organism that is the movie's plot, you've come to the wrong blog. Google "prometheus explained" and you'll discover pages upon pages of eye-crossing interpretations and verbose theses. That being said, there are still some spoilers ahead. Read at your own uninformed risk.


I've only seen Prometheus once, so I don't understand a damn thing about what it's saying or what the hell happened on LV-223. And to be honest, that's not why I was disappointed when the credits rolled. Generally speaking, I enjoy a complex motion picture experience with breathtaking visuals and enough metaphors to make Franz Kafka shit a brick. My favorite movie last year was The Tree of Life, after all. I plan on seeing Prometheus again (and possibly again), so I'm confident I'll make sense of everything eventually. Truth be told, if this were a stand alone movie, I probably would have gushed over how brave and brilliant Prometheus was. However, as a new prelude to the Alien anthology...it's a total let down.

I love the first four Alien films. That's right. I even appreciate the one where Fincher cut his teeth on directing a feature...and the one where Winona Ryder runs around all doe-eyed and weepy. And I've been excited about Prometheus for months because Ridley Scott's Alien isn't just my favorite film in the franchise, it's one of my favorite films. Period.

The problem I have with Prometheus is that it's completely devoid of the elements that make Alien great in the first place. And I'm not complaining about the fact that alien-esque lifeforms don't show up until about halfway through the movie. I'm also not complaining about how Charlize Theron's character doesn't really do anything except get squashed once she FINALLY gets her ass off that damn ship and onto the planetary surface where all the action is taking place--though that is a valid complaint.

What I love about Ridley Scott's Alien is its simplicity. At its core, Alien is a movie about the survival of the fittest. Watching it for the first time is almost a primal experience. The plot is easy to summarize: one vicious alien ends up on a spacecraft with six vulnerable humans* (plus one android) and only the strongest will make it to the end of the movie.

However, it's not really that simplistic.

See, Alien is also full of metaphors and messages. One could argue that each character represents a different side of mankind's nature. You've also got the notion that corporate power is inevitably lethal to humanity. And, in Ellen Ripley (brilliantly portrayed by Sigourney Weaver) you've got the first female character to kick ass in an action movie--which is nothing to sneeze at when you consider the decades of male-centric heroism in the preceding history of cinema. It's groundbreaking.

What's absent in Alien? Lengthy discussions about how the characters feel about what's going on in the plot. There's no time for that shit. They've got two options: fight or flight. And as an audience we're on the edge of our seats waiting to see who will live to share their feelings about what happened once the credits have rolled and we've left the theater. And that's my problem with Prometheus. For a movie so complex, there are too many scenes where somebody tells you exactly what their character is supposed to represent.

CUT TO:

Michael Fassbender: I'm the handsome android created by Man who will help Man find his Creator. Did I mention that I'm created in Man's image so that he will be more "accepting" of me, his Creation? I just wanted to make sure that you, the audience, caught on that I'm here to mirror the theme of conflict between a Creator and its Creation...and the Creation's conflict with its Creation...and the Creation's Creation's desire to be viewed as equal to its Creator...and that Creator's desire to... Okay, okay. You get the picture. I'm also very handsome.

Charlize Theron: Shut up, Robotic Brother. I'm the stone cold bitch who represents the evil corporation back on earth. I'm going to stay inside my bubble of security while the more daring scientists explore new worlds while I scoff at their belief that they'll discover something worthwhile. Oh, and if they do happen to find something during their pointless exploration, I will be prepared to exploit their discoveries for my own gain. See how I wield this flame thrower? I am the master of my own destiny. I am the one who decides what will and won't survive.

Noomi Rapace (clutches cross): I humbly represent the turmoil that resides in every man and woman on the planet earth. I have Faith that a Creator exists, yet I still struggle with questions about my place in the universe. I wish to have all my questions answered, as does...

Logan Marshall-Green: I'm the dogmatic scientist who believes that research can explain away the theological mysteries of the universe. I can...AAAAAH!!! AAAAAAH!!! I'M GETTING BURNED ALIVE!!!!! GAAAAARRGH!!

Charlize Theron (clutches flame thrower): Take that, mother fucker!!

***

Apologies for that tangent. But, if you made it to the end of Prometheus then obviously you're the type of person who doesn't mind sitting through some lengthy tangents to get to (what you hope will be) a sensible point. And here it is:

As an entry in the genre of overtly pretentious sci-fi films, Prometheus is ten times better than, say, Avatar. But as a prelude to one of the most-groundbreaking anthologies in cinematic history, this Creation probably should have been deconstructed and redesigned by a different set of Engineers.

*And one very fussy cat.

15 comments:

Nick SantaCroce said...

I unapologetically loved that movie. CHILL WILL!

Nick SantaCroce said...

I unapologetically loved that movie. You should change this blog to CHILL OUT WITH WILL!!!

Nick SantaCroce said...

I unapologetically loved this movie. Maybe you should have gone and seen Snow White instead!

Nick SantaCroce said...

I unapologetically loved that movie. Maybe you shoulda gone and seen Snow White or That's My Boy

Nate said...

Nailed it. Well done Will... I was disappointed with Prometheus also, and I find a lot of people making concessions for it and explaining away why it actually is a brilliant movie. However, in the end it remains a good film (better than most out there right now) that had so much more potential than it fulfilled.

ChillwithWill said...

I DID see 'Snow White and the Huntsman.' I've had a week of Charlize Theron at the local cinema. They should have cut two things out of Snow White: half an hour of unnecessary scenes, and any time Kristen Stewart opens her mouth. Then it would have been a perfect film.

McSharroga Cast said...

Hey Will. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I'm more or less on the same page with you. As someone who thinks Alien is one of the greatest films ever made, period, I was heartily disappointed by Prometheus. Would I have liked it more if I hadn't seen Alien? Perhaps.

Other than the logical inconsistencies, one thing that bothered me was this hoopla about how Prometheus wasn't an Alien prequel, but observant fans would notice 'Alien DNA'. Bullshit, lol, this movie was a straight prequel. Why give everyone the runaround, Ridley?

Nick SantaCroce said...

I just wanted to make sure you realized how unapologetically I loved this movie.

Cyn said...

I'm still not quite sure how Nick feels about the movie.

Kogwheal said...

But Will, Kristen Stewart has her mouth open at all times, even when not talking (much like Tom Cruise). So... do you want that re-cast, or do you propose that a 30-minutes-shorter Snow White movie without the Snow White character would be a perfect movie?

Kogwheal said...

But Will, Kristen Stewart has her mouth open at all times, like Tom Cruise. Do you want the role recast, or do you propose a 30-minutes-shorter Snow White movie, minus the Snow White character?

Brian Gillespie said...

Well put. I'm pretty much on the same page as you. However, I had a problem with the lack of "hows" and "whys" in the movie.

I agree that the archetypes were obvious, but what most bothered me was the severe lack of objectives to support actions. We were presented (again, pretty ham-handedly) with "who" these people are. But then we never really saw "why" they were doing what they were doing or "how" certain things came to be. Which, for me, is one of the greatest things about Alien.

Brian Gillespie said...

Well put. I'm pretty much on the same page as you. However, I had a problem with the lack of "hows" and "whys" in the movie.

I agree that the archetypes were obvious, but what most bothered me was the severe lack of objectives to support actions. We were presented (again, pretty ham-handedly) with "who" these people are. But then we never really saw "why" they were doing what they were doing or "how" certain things came to be. Which, for me, is one of the greatest things about Alien.

Runs Like A Gay said...

You forgot Idris Elba: I'm so horny my first priority isn't my crew lost on this inhospitable planet it's getting into the pants of the ice queen corporate type. (Although most of the audience were probably with them)

Sean Menzies said...

I loved and love THE TREE OF LIFE, the Creation footage alone is worth Sean Penn endlessly walking around on a cell phone looking for his dead brother. Amazing, jaw-dropping stuff. Douglas Trumbull can still pull it off. :)

I thought I'd figured out PROMETHEUS: The Queen born at the end crawls to another buried ship, lays her eggs, and dies. A Cosmonaut on that ship awakes from hyper sleep, pokes around the eggs, gets face-hugged, then takes off on his mission. During flight he begins to chest burst and crash lands the horseshoe he is flying on LV-426, where he sends off his distress signal later picked up by Nostromo. The only problem, Ridley Scott claims that the fossilized Cosmonaut in ALIEN has been dead for thousands of years, not nearly forty. Anyway, I still like my idea but you're right. The people on Prometheus are more a product of Hollywood than of Earth.