Sunday, 10 June 2012
Prometheus Revisited (Massive Spoilers)
I came out of the cinema buzzing, gave the movie a four star review the following morning and was happy with that. Then I started reading the issues people were having which led to me questioning some of the story. In fact, much of the story. I still like where the movie ends up (in the final scenes) and I out right love the first hour or so. But there's the bit in the middle where characters do odd stuff and... well if you haven't seen it, don't read on.
The trouble with any movie, set in the Alien universe or not, dealing with big themes like where we come from and faith, is it has to actually look at them and not flirt with the subject. There's lots of interesting ideas in Prometheus but they've taken a fairly minor moment in Alien, the discovery of the Space Jockey, and attempted to flesh out a story around that. Maybe it's just me, but all the Space Jockey did in Alien was give you some idea of what might happen to John Hurt. Here the Space Jockeys, renamed Engineers, are the creators of life on Earth. Or we assume they are. Is it deliberate? Who knows. Might be. Might not be. I've read a dozen theories about the Engineer on Earth at the beginning of the film and his possible motives but because we have no idea whether it's deliberate or not (he does look a bit surprised when his leg falls off...) we don't know whether they meant to make us or not. I mean it sort of seems like they came back and visited because we've been drawing cave paintings of the star system where they keep their weapons of mass destruction. And why exactly are we drawing that map? Are the cave paintings actually a warning? 'DON'T COME HERE. HERE IS BAD. LOOK, I'M POINTING AT WHERE NOT TO GO.' Odd. So the Engineers may or may not have deliberately made us and then they may or may not have deliberately told us where not to come.
For me, looking at the movie a week or so later that's not the biggest problem. The answers to the questions around what happens at the start we'll probably get in a sequel. David and Elizabeth are off on their quest to find out why the Engineer want(ed) us dead. Yep, they want us dead. Or at least they did two thousand years ago. So why aren't we then? Oh because something went wrong on this outpost planet where they keep the bad stuff two thousand years ago and they couldn't take off because something horrible happened. Oh... what about the rest of them? You know, the ones on their home planet? Where are they? Why haven't they pitched up during those two thousand years to wipe us out? Too busy painting caves?
And that's still not the worst of it.
David infects Holloway with the goo. I've seen some suggest he doesn't. HE PUTS HIS FINGER IN THE GLASS! David then sleeps with Shaw and she becomes pregnant with a large face hugging like beast which in turn face hugs the Engineer who then has an Alien burst from his chest. Ok... so you've got that? Goo>infection>sex>pregnancy>face-hugger>face hugging>chest burst>Alien. Now in the previous Alien franchise we've seen the whole Alien life cycle. Alien Queen gives birth to pod containing face-hugger. Hugger hugs. Burst. Alien. I kind of like its weird simplicity and horrible consequences. The suggestion in Prometheus is that in order for the cycle to start you need an infected human to have sex with.... well you get the rest. I fear Ridley Scott has a problem with that because if there are going to be sequels to the prequel then he has to explain the chest burst in the derelict in Alien. Not to mention the two thousand year old chest burst Engineers the two idiots stumble in to during Prometheus in the corridor of the structure on LV-223. So, although the film sort of plays it as the first Alien being created that's clearly not the case. So do the Engineers want us dead because we're part of the makin' the Alien equation? But then it's sort of suggested the Engineers worship the Aliens.... dear me.
Have you got a headache yet?
I can't help but feel Scott is trying to answer questions in Prometheus no one was asking in the first place.
Questions there are now though. Lots of them. As I said in my review, I quite like being left with things to think about in the right circumstances. I didn't mind at the end of Lost being left with all kinds of gaps to fill about the Island and when I left the IMAX last week I didn't mind Scott leaving me with more here. The trouble with Prometheus though is it isn't standing up to the scrutiny. With Lost I cared way more about the characters and their arc getting completed, but here I wasn't as invested.
Even the simplest things start to look a bit silly. Vickers not running sideways to avoid the ship. Silly. Why not run sideways Vickers you silly bint? Oops, you've been squashed. Mainly for the sake of the story I suspect, you know, so it's just Shaw and David left at the end. Speaking of Shaw, she gets over having that operation pretty quickly doesn't she? Silly.
Despite all this I still loved much of it. Mainly because it's a visual treat. That's probably a bit shallow. I can live with that, I liked the last Transformers film because it was pretty. I do think the amount of debate Prometheus has created will be part of its long lasting appeal. Scott may not choose to answer any of the above and we'll be talking about it for years as a result.
'He's not, it's just the CGI.'
'He's a rogue Engineer.'
'No he's not, there's a massive ship above him!'
'It's not even Earth at the start.'
'Could be anywhere.'
'It's not the same goo.'
'It has to be!'
'What if its not?'
'Maybe he thinks it's a different goo but it's been switched for the other goo by an angry lady Engineer who's pissed at him for shagging the fit lady Engineer when he said he was just working late.'
Genius? No. A bit shit? Well no. A mixture of both? Yep.