June 10, 2012
By J.D. Cook
Extremely disappointing; I was completely ready to love this film with all my heart until about halfway through it. I even wrote an enthusiastic preview which can be read here. Basically this is one instance where I wish the fan speculation and my own speculation about the ending had turned out to be true instead of being surprised because the surprise ending…sucked. This film was billed as a prequel to the Alien franchise whilst being a good standalone entry. What ended up on screen was something that was really neither. It did not clearly tie into the Aliens franchise or truly stand on it’s own. It was not all bad though. I’ll focus on the positives before I move into the negatives.
Michael Fassbender shines throughout as the android David. He really is my favorite actor at the moment and he seems able to keep me glued to any screen while he is on it. This is why every time I watch Inglorious Basterds I’m a bit disappointed he dies so quickly in it, and also the only reason I can stomach to watch X-Men: First Class (Read the review here) which I thought was essentially terrible every time his Magneto was not on screen. Furthermore Noomi Rapace does a great job as the lead protagonist Elizabeth Shaw. Unfortunately another of my favorite actors Guy Pearce is completely wasted as Peter Weyland, a super rich entrepreneur bankrolling the exploits of the film. Pearce has a natural magnetism when he is on screen that is completely off set by making him cripplingly old in the film. The rest of the acting was not bad but the plot mostly ruins any character development, more on that later.
The biggest positive of Prometheus was its cinematography. I’m not sure how well it looked in 2D but in Imax 3D it looked mesmerizing. The film opens with shots of a pre-life Earth that are stunningly beautiful. There are also various shots of Fassbender’s David traversing the spaceship Prometheus while the rest of the crew sleeps that just seem to capture the eye. Sadly the rest of the movie spends time in mostly the same spots that are only slightly interesting to look at, but there is a really incredible shot of a storm on the alien planet that was really fun to watch.
Now onto the negatives; basically the plot is atrocious. The film opens with a ‘proto-human’ creating life on Earth by drinking a black liquid on a river bank. The resulting death of the ‘proto-human’ in the water somehow starts life on Earth by introducing DNA to the water…it was a cool visual at least. Then the plot jumps to Elizabeth Shaw and her hubby finding a picture of a tall man in a cave pointing to a star system. They conclude this is an invitation from an alien race to come visit the system. The plot then jumps to a few years in the future when the space ship Prometheus is heading to the only body in that system that can sustain life.
1st plot hole: It is not explained why Shaw and her hubby believe this picture which is not definitive in any way is an alien invitation and not just a similar picture that a few ancient races drew separate of contact with each other. It is in no way a definitive picture that was impossible for multiple people to draw without influence. Maybe all the ancient peoples liked juggling?
Of course the crew finds a former ‘proto-human’ presence on the planet. Essentially they discover that the ‘Proto-humans’ who created life on Earth were using this planet to create biological weapons…wait, wait, wait…why?
2nd plot hole: Why were the ‘Proto-humans’ creating biological weapons? Did they have a galactic enemy they were waging war with? Leaving things a bit mysterious is great but too much mystery starts to look suspiciously like inept writing.
The more I think about this film the more I think there may actually be too much wrong with it to write a full review…
I’ll keep trying though! So the humans discover a ‘Proto-human’ head and take it back to their ship while two of their crew gets lost within the ‘Proto-human’ ship. The android David takes a sample of the black liquid which started life on Earth which somehow then activates the liquid and causes it to ooze out of its containers in the ship unbeknownst to the humans who leave the ship before this happens.
The two lost members must spend the night in the ‘Proto-human’ ship while the rest of the crew has a night of sex and fun…well except for Shaw’s hubby who is given a drop of the black liquid by the android David.
3rd plot hole: Why does David give Shaw’s hubby this black liquid? There is never an explanation given as to why he would put the entire crew at risk by contaminating a member of it; especially when he had no knowledge of what the liquid would do. Since he is a robot you would think he has no personal motive so what end did infecting this man accomplish?
Because Shaw’s hubby is infected prior to having sex with her she is then impregnated with an alien creature. The crew returns to the ‘proto-human’ ship to find the two lost crew members dead. The ooze turned a couple of earthworms that were crawling around into large serpent like monsters that then slithered into the two lost members suits and entered their mouths…somehow turning them into mutant monsters. Wait…wait wait… I missed a plot hole or two.
4th Plot Hole: The two crew members get lost when they leave the rest of the crew that is inspecting the ‘proto-human’ ship. These two people split off from the main group to head back to their ship due to fear. How do they get lost and not make it back to the ship when they left before the rest of the crew? They had communications devices and more time than the other members of the crew to get back to the ship so how the hell did they get lost!?
5th Plot Hole: One of the two lost crew members is a biologist. He spots one of the serpent creatures of unknown origin and his first instinct is to reach out and try and touch it?! Wouldn’t a biologist know better than to try and touch a creature he knows nothing about?
6th Plot Hole: All of the crew members have cameras on their suits…so why the hell was everyone so surprised when they found the crew members dead?! The biologist even contacts the ship when he sees the serpent and says…”HOLY SHIT AN ALIEN”, well basically.
Ok back to the film…god this is exhausting. Shaw’s hubby breaks down due to infection and Charlize Theron’s character burns him alive to prevent the infection from spreading to the ship. This scene was great and for a second I thought this film was going to be great. You see in every Alien film there is a corporate figure head that is essentially pure evil. The evil corporate character has been clichéd since the 80’s. Anyway when Theron burns Shaw’s hubby it made me think ‘how cool would it be if Theron’s corporate character actually turned out to be the awesome hero who is willing to do whatever it takes to survive and stop this evil from getting to earth’…well that wasn’t what happened at all.
Returning to the plot the robot David finds a ‘proto-human’ in stasis still alive while Shaw is put under quarantine because her hubby had been infected with something. David returns and tells her she is prego with an alien. He and the others want to put her under stasis and bring her back to earth.
7th Plot Hole: WHY!? What good would brining a potentially hostile creature to earth serve?! These people are fucking stupid!!!
Shaw escapes the clutches of David and crew and enters a machine that performs surgery. We then watch in abject disgust and horror as the machine opens her abdomen and pulls out the alien fetus before stapling her back up. It’s pretty nasty but also a good scene because she has to escape the machine while this alien is in it with her. It was probably the only scene I was actually tense during.
8th Plot Hole: The whole crew is concerned with containing and putting Shaw into stasis but then she escapes and no one follows her? No one even seems to care that she just performed surgery on herself to remove an alien which is now in their ship when she returns to them…and you read that right; she returns to them they do not find her. Apparently it’s out of sight out of mind on this ship.
So Shaw returns and finds out the eccentric rich dude who funded everything, Guy Pearce’s Peter Weyland was actually in stasis aboard the ship. He came because he “naturally” assumed that if these ‘proto-humans’ created life on earth they would surely know how to live forever…right? We’ll just forget the fact that they obviously don’t live forever if they have to go into stasis pods to survive extended periods of time.
9th Plot Hole: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH How does that make sense?! Even if the ‘proto-humans’ are godlike why would they grant Weyland immortality!? “Hey I came here…so that makes me worthy of being immortal?” I’m just going to chalk this up to Weyland being senile.
Ok so Weyland, Shaw, David and some other crew members I don’t care about go back to the alien ship to wake up the sleeping ‘proto-human’ and ask him for immortality. WAIIITTTTT! I forgot that Charlize Theron’s character confronts Weyland and wipes away any possibility of her character being interesting by stating that the only reason she came on the mission was to insure that Weyland died at the end because she was his daughter and wanted to take over his company…really? Were any of the writers even fucking trying!? Oh yeah and David says something to Shaw along the lines of, “Don’t all children want to see their parents die?” because Weyland orders him around and is sort of his father. WHAT!? Who the hell wants to see their parents die? How is that an insightful robot thing to say! It’s completely asinine!
Moving the fuck on…Weyland, Shaw and David wake up the ‘proto-human’ who proceeds to kill everyone…for no reason…Shaw of course escapes somehow.
10th Plot Hole: So these ‘proto-humans’ were apparently super smart and sophisticated because they created life on Earth, but their first reaction upon being awoken from a stasis sleep that would have in all likelihood lasted forever if humanity hadn’t freed them…is to rip off the head of David the android…the only thing that can communicate with them? ….
Shaw tells the crew on the space ship Prometheus that the ‘proto-human’ plans to go to Earth and wipe it out…because…that was its plan 2000 years prior….when they were all killed by something. The only character I actually liked in the film was the Prometheus Captain who then sacrifices himself and two crew members by ramming his ship into the ‘proto-humans’….oh wait…I forgot something again.
11th Plot Hole: While Shaw is giving herself surgery one of the two crew members who got mouth raped by the serpents comes back to life and kills a bunch of people in the ship’s cargo hold. After they kill him…nothing is mentioned about it…nor is it explained what the hell happened to the other guy who was mouth raped by a serpent. Why didn’t he come back and try to kill people too?
So then the ‘proto-human’ ship crashes down and kills Charlize Theron…the only character who had real potential. Shaw returns to a small life craft ejected from the Prometheus before impact which contains the alien she took out of herself. The ‘proto-human’ decides that with his ship crashed he must now revenge himself on Shaw and he finds her. Luckily she opens the door containing the monster from her abdomen which turns out to be some sort of face hugger from the Alien films. It then mouth rapes the ‘proto-human’ as Shaw escapes again.
12th Plot Hole: When the alien ship crashes down Shaw’s suit is ruptured. She is told she has two minutes in which she can breathe in the atmosphere. She reaches the life craft and is fine but then the ‘proto-human’ breaches the ship and she must flee…in the already ruptured suit. How did she survive more than two minutes in the atmosphere?! Furthermore how did the ‘proto-human’ that breathes the same air regular humans do make it to the life craft in the first place if he had to run across the planet first?
Now the decapitated head of David and Shaw are the only two things left on the planet. She records a warning message saying not to investigate. Then the two take another alien ship to go confront the ‘Proto-humans’ because Shaw wants to know why they created life on Earth and then decided to destroy it! Basically it’s a shameless set up for a sequel.
13th Plot Hole: This whole film is obsessed with creation. It’s a deep question…Why? Why are we here? A smart person will say the why doesn’t matter as long as you make the most of your life. Shaw misses the point of life completely by being obsessed with how it started. Sure ‘proto-humans’ may have created life but does that negate all that humanity accomplished?
Last scene: a creature that looks like a legitimate alien from the Aliens franchise erupts from the chest of the ‘proto-human’.
14th Plot Hole: How does this really connect to the Alien franchise in any way? The last alien creature isn’t even a full Xenomorph! I assumed since this was a prequel that by the end of this film the beginning of the first Alien film would be explained. Essentially how the derelict ‘proto-human’ space ship ended up where it did with so many alien eggs within.
Prometheus has lofty goals and deep questions when it begins. None of them are answered in the end and the audience is left completely unfulfilled. Good acting performances are completely wasted due to the inept and mostly stupid plot. I hate to say this but avoid this one it’s really nothing but a bunch of clichéd themes and plots in one film. It really makes it apparent that video game science fiction may have truly surpassed film science fiction. Games like Dead Space and Mass Effect present much more interesting and insightful views on evil aliens and deep philosophical questions. Ok I’m done…how did I even write this much.