I’m going to preface this review by saying that I haven’t watched Alien (or Aliens), don’t know what it’s about, and am not that interested in finding out. Which obviously taints my opinion of Prometheus, which I viewed entirely as a separate entity.
In my humble opinion, Prometheus sucked, and I attribute it to the fact that the film was born, bred, and sterilized in the Hollywood factory system, which is run by ladder-climbing idiots who approach reading scripts with the same gusto that they do sucking their immediate boss’s dick. Except for my friends who work in the industry, of course, who are all brilliant and talented and I LOVE YOU.
Prometheus opens with an image of an alien looking man, watching a disc of a spaceship riding off into the ether, leaving him alone at the top of a waterfall. With much flourish, he produces a round globe, which he twists apart to reveal a small container of writhing, silver material.
He tenderly removes the container, throws his head back, and with much gusto, swallows it. Almost immediately, his body starts to morph, and he falls down the waterfall. In the depths underneath, the camera zooms first through his veins, then through his cells, and finally through his DNA, which rots and breaks apart. To that tune, the opening credits roll.
Now, this could have been interesting had it been made clear during the course of the movie if this man became the eponymous Alien, or the biological weapons the predated it. Or if he had become a new type of human. But it’s never made clear, because nothing makes sense. All that is known is that there were humans who traveled to outer space, who, based on a theory developed on the basis of a few cave paintings, thought that they might find our creators. Why this creator could have been Prometheus, rather than Adam, or Zeus, or any of the other mythological progenitors of our species—and this assumption is based on the title of the movie, along with some very obvious references in the screen play—is beyond me. I mean, there’s not even any fucking FIRE, besides that emitted from all sorts of stupid weapons, and the inevitable—given that this is a Hollywood action movie—explosions that finish off the movie like a fireworks display at the end of a wedding. Which, if you think about what a Hollywood movie really is—a marriage of convenience between players who trade favors to get credits—is an appropriate way to signal that the movie is, finally, about to end.
After credits finish rolling—or soon after, I think there might have been a stupid montage in the Scottish highlands—we are introduced to David, a man played by Michael Fassbender—whom everyone loves, and I know nothing about. He alone is awake on a spaceship that tumbles at a fast past through the dark void. The rest of the passengers are in sleeping pods, having dreams, which David watches on screens above their bodies, to pass the time. The rest of the day, he learns languages, he plays basketball, and he enjoys films, from which he seems to take queues on his appearance.
When the spaceship arrives at its destination—and the rest of the crew wakes up—it is revealed that David is a robot, at the mercy of the human scientists on board. And a very mean Charlize Theron, whose role seems completely irrelevant. Almost comical, in fact.
This is where the movie completely ceases to be interesting, and starts to veer off into nonsense.
The crew are briefed, before they dock, about their mission. Which is to find out if God exists? Or if they can believe their belief systems? Or become rich? This is all done in a holograph by a man who looks like the Austin Powers’ character Goldmember.
What proceeds next is something like a mixture of Transformers meets the Lost Ark meets Independence Day meets Lost meets Star Trek meets whatever. The crew disembarks. They head towards a gigantic dome that at first seems empty, but the reveals itself to be full of holograms, dead bodies, vases, a gigantic stone Buddha-esque statue, dormant black liquid, penile snakes, and rocks tunnels. I won’t reveal what this dome turns out to be, but I will say that its contents are summed up by a crew member as being a “weapon of mass destruction.”
Like, seriously though? Weapon of Mass Destruction? Is fucking George Bush still President or something?
The crew navigates the dome, members of the crew die, they make discoveries, they are betrayed. They are all fucking annoying as hell, not a single one sympathetic. And to add insult to injury, not a single one of them is that hot.
By the end of the movie, not a single theme has been tied together, but there has been a caesarian section without anaesthesia, a flame thrower, a sulfate storm, a battle scene, a suicide bomb, the reappearance of Goldmember, and a final act of supreme “heroism” in the form of a kamikaze spaceship pilot. Sound interesting to you? Go fuck yourself.
Now, what I don’t understand is, how can some people in the entertainment industry make Battlestar Gallactica, a show so nuanced and brilliant that for a while, in my imagination, it gave me entree into another world, and some people make a piece of shit like Prometheus? Is there really such a divide between films and television that one cannot influence the other, not even a little bit?
I think the answer is no. When you have a system of ass kissing as intricate as the Hollywood film studio, you turn artists into sychophants, so afraid of offending someone—or even more horrible, failing—they literally stop thinking. Creativity halts. Revisions to screenplays are made. Things are released that appeal—presumedly—to almost no one, but are, if you shut off your brain, mildly entertaining.
I’m not sure how television works differently. Maybe because they are so creator driven? I’m thinking of Matthew Weiner and Mad Men. Or Joss Whedon and Firefly. There is a singular vision, and that singular vision manifests itself, if the creator is unfettered, brilliantly. That used to be how it went with films. Today, they’re just cluster fucks of director, producer, executive producer, writer, re-writer, second re-writer, actress, actor, agent, studio, cinematographer, and whoever else has a position of influence in a production.
In movies like Prometheus, the product lacks focus, and the result is a piece of crap.