A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Let’s Set This B!tch On Fire | PROMETHEUS

In Horror, sci-fi on June 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

Hey there. Long time no… read? Been busy, okay, actually been really lazy. Beyond that there just haven’t been any movies post-AVENGERS that I’ve felt the need to write about. And then comes Ridley Scott’s new movie, PROMETHEUS. I haven’t read all the reviews, or all the “see what you missed” or “what did ____ mean”, so I might be a little behind. So I’m going to keep this brief, and also venture into those dreaded things we call SPOILERS.

So watch out!

It’s funny the more I think about the movies from my childhood, that I really loved, few of them are of the space-faring sort. Sure, I liked STAR WARS. And I was terrified by the xenomorphs when I first saw the ALIEN movies. But, for the most part, I liked my science-fiction Earth based. SUPERMAN, THE EXPLORERS, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, ET and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Those are the movies that resonated with me. When the visitors came here… Even now, with the AVATARs and STAR TREKs, I still prefer the DISTRICT 9s and ATTACK THE BLOCKs. I don’t know, there’s just something that I can relate to more when an alien is on my home-turf, rather than floating around in the giant, black void.

Which in no way brings us back around to Prometheus. The movie that returns Ridley Scott to Science-Fiction, and to the franchise he helped create (along with Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, and Walter Hill; names that seem to get forgotten a lot when this series, and movie, is brought up). First of all, he does a stunning job. The movie is beautiful. From it’s opening sweeping panoramic shots of a primordial landscape, to the darker and more industrial setting the majority of the movie takes place. He’s got a bevy of great actors to perform a story that brings a lot to the mythos. And the special effects are pretty amazing. Whether it be the ships or the aliens.

The problem lays in a couple of areas. I have seen enough of other reviews to know that people are commenting on lacking elements in the script. I’d agree to an extent. There are characters that are a little too antagonistic just to be that. There are plot elements that stick out as not quite making sense. But for the most part, I think the movie succeeds in exactly what it wanted to do… Which is my real problem with it.

And here’s where we’re about to dive into…

*** SPOILERS *** (If you wanna skip this part, there’ll be another tag showing where it’s safe again.)

The major problem I have with the movie isn’t that like co-writer, Damon Lindelof’s LOST (y’know that tv show where the people got stuck on the island), it asks more questions than it answered. It’s that this isn’t a fully satisfying movie on its own! It’s like HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1. It’s only the beginning part of a new series of movies. That’s the big difference between Sir Ridley’s movie now and the one he made in 1979. That one wasn’t based on the need to see a second movie. (And it wasn’t until seven years later that we got one!)

Even if Prometheus had been the first in a new series, but at least set up this movie to be a lead-in to ALIEN, that would have been cool. Then I’d be interested in seeing more of this story, and also know where it fits in with the original. As is, it seems as though we’ll have to wait until this series is over to see how we wind up with the Nostromo looming toward its date with destiny.

Since we’re in spoilers, let’s talk about this more in detail. Prometheus takes place in 2093/4 (it crosses the New Year at the end of the movie.) That’s almost/only 30 years before Ripley and her crew land on the planetoid, LV 426. First of all, that’s the movie’s first mistake. It doesn’t take place on the same piece of rock. With that one, little change, this movie would have been fine for me and I’d be ready and roaring for the next in the prequel saga. We have all the details: a space ship of alien origins, with a giant alien stuck in a seat. Little xenomorph egg cylinders, which seem to hatch their own form of Face-hugger. And a planet that at the end still winds up desolate and populated with aliens. Especially since a Queen is seemingly born at the end. This perfectly lays out the ground details needed for the first ALIEN movie and it’s many sequels (or just the first two, if that’s the way you roll.)

Instead, we get a different planet, with the same ships, Aliens, and a whole other slew of mythology that is seemingly only going to make sense – and tie in with the original movies – after this new (seeming) trilogy is completed. Instead of it being the crew of the Prometheus that crashes the alien’s ship after it tries to flee to Earth – with the xenomorphs aboard – that Ripley finds later. This is a planet we’re bound to never see again.

“But, why can’t this be the same planet, with just some continuity errors,” you might ask. First of all, there’s the fact that it opens on a title showing this as a different planet. (“Oh, well in ALIEN it’s never specified what it’s called.”  Well, it is in ALIENS – which not being Scott’s movie, maybe he’s ignoring, but that’s even dumber than placing it on a different planet to begin with! /nerdrant) Because what’s the use in making a prequel unless you’re going to do it right? And I’d think after a certain franchise has already gone down this road, and failed to do just that, we’d want to do better this time.

So, Prometheus ends with a crashed spaceship, but no “Engineer” (or “Space Jockey” as he’s been lovingly called for 30+ years) in the driver seat. Instead of it looking like there’s never been a living soul on the planet there are dead human beings all over the place. And worst of all, the founder of the company that pays for and builds everything in this future – Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce, in atrocious old-age makeup) – dies here, but there’s no memorial for that. (Granted, there’s mention that perhaps everyone thinks he’s already dead.)

The other gripe I have is more of a personal foible about prequels. Though it’s one that was also brought up a lot when the Star Wars movies came out… How is it that this story only takes place 30 years before the events in the movie from 30 years ago (ah, see how that math works!!), yet the technology is completely different? Yes, I know that the Nostromo’s computers look and work the way they did, because that’s how they saw the future in 1979. But, wouldn’t it have been neat to see a 2012 version of that technology today? Something that’s going to seemlessly intermingle with the old movies instead of future viewings (and certainly, nerdy marathons of the whole franchise), being marred by the fact that they went from bright, digitalized ships to dark industrial machines that lumbered through space.

*** END SPOILERS ***

The thing is, I really liked PROMETHEUS. The questions that arise from this story, before the stories we’ve been told before, are interesting. I think the species that is found is cool – and definitely presented interestingly. But, honestly, this felt a little more like MISSION TO MARS and CONTACT than it did the beginning of what becomes a classic horror-genre franchise. (And believe me, this movie is definitely a horror movie!) With repeated Christian iconography, the beliefs of certain characters, and the ambiguity of the alien species who might very well have created us; I think the movie is lesser than what might have been.

Honestly, I’d have loved to see this movie created by a different director. One who doesn’t have ties with the series already, and isn’t already the heralded Duke of sci-fi with ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER as his crowning achievements.   Someone that possibly felt more beholden to the material. (As opposed to in the media, repeatedly flip-flopping as to whether this movie is even related to the series from before.) Someone that could see that creating a visual tie to the technology of that period, as opposed to just thinking that viewers won’t notice… Well, let’s edit that to “fans”. Because, maybe the newer/younger audiences, that aren’t as familiar with this franchise (or only through the lesser movies from the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR series.) would balk at seeing a new movie with dot-matrix computers and beeping lights.

At any rate, the movie is definitely worth seeing. And here’s hoping that the next movies in the series give us more answers.

And yes, this is the brief version of what this review could have been…

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