By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I went back and forth about reviewing this flick, mainly because everyone is talking about it (so who the hell is going to read my review?) and then also because Orrin Grey said it’s like people are getting in virtual knife fights over this. Basically, it’s a love-or-hate situation, right now.
So, if you want to know nothing about the flick and can’t stand spoilers (Why are you reading this, then?), stop reading now. If not, let’s head into a knife fight!
Prometheus has three great things in its favour:
- It looks amazing. Scott has a great eye for set design and detail. You’ll notice things like the little ‘W’ on the android’s thumb (Fingerprints with the company logo! How awesome!) and the cool tech.
- Two decent leads. Noomi in the human heroine role and Fassbender as a super-cool, blond android.
- Some cool set pieces. Foremost, the birth of Cthulhu (more on that later).
Okay, that sounds like an awesome cocktail, right? What could possibly go wrong? Well, the script is like a pretentious Blade Runner fanfic crossed with Alien with a side of Jesus.
Now, let me be honest: I’m not offended by B-movies as long as they deliver what they promise (monsters, in this case), try to maintain a minimum of stupidity regarding their characters (fail in this one) and don’t pretend they’re art house fare (more fail).
Prometheus is a beautiful B-movie with an identity crisis. It fails on the Stupidity Index and its pretensions only muffle the fun. It’s the same lameness that afflicts many sequels (Matrix, the damn Star Wars prequels, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3). It’s like filmmakers want to suddenly be smarter, be cooler, so they scatter a bunch of idiotic nonsense, try to build a mythology, and fail miserably at attaining coherence. In the case of prequels, they also tend to strangle the cool secrets. What does a living Space Jockey look like? How did Darth Vader become evil? It’s never as cool as you imagined (The Jockey looked too small, for example).
So, in the case of Prometheus, the screenwriter decided to be “deep” and “spiritual” by basically combining the age-old UFO-nut theory that we were made by aliens with some random imagery about Christianity (No Muslims ever make it into space except in Pitch Black) and a certain amount of inter-generational conflict.
Essentially, it comes to this: A group of intergalactic space travelers comprised of Noomi, that sexy man-droid filling in for Rutger Hauer, and a bunch of other people who will die randomly arrive at a distant planet. They are trying to find the aliens who created humanity. However, upon entering this gigantic mound, they find a big, Olmec-like head, a bunch of cylinders filled with black goo, which were borrowed from the set of Prince of Darkness,and a dead alien. What follows is the next logical step: exploding alien head, moron with a GPS device who can’t read the GPS device he designed and gets lost, even-more-moronic biologist who tries to reason with a giant penis monster, alien infection, alien infection leading to C-section, and delivery of albino squid…and you get the drift.
There are a lot of daddy issues in the film: Humans want to know why their alien parents created them, Noomi’s dad died and she is sterile, Weyland created a robot to be his putative son while ignoring his daughter, etc. Have you ever read a news story about how young people can’t find work? And, eventually, the conversation devolves into how we should murder the Boomers? And the Boomers reply that these young ones should be skinned because they’re all uppity? It’s like that.*
Now I don’t really mind that there is no clear-cut explanation about what the goo is (I call it the “Prince of Darkness goo” or the “Ghostbusters 2 ooze”), but there are too many gaps in logic and, as Topless Robot puts it, a plot-hole the size of Space Jesus.** Plus, the only two people the movie remotely develops are Noomi and Fassbender. No one can blame Scott for being fascinated with the blond android, but, at times, his performance threatens to steal the whole movie. Compare it to Aliens, where the ensemble cast actually have personalities, and you can see the difference.
But, on the other hand, there is the space squid and the pretty battling with some of the plot stupidity (Charlize Theron, who, until this point, has played the ice queen, conveniently deciding to have sex with a character, preventing them for seeing the gory death of two other characters; someone trying to pet a vagina dentata; not calling the doctor if you have a worm growing out of your eye).
I can’t hate a movie with an albino space squid. I just can’t. But I can’t totally dig Prometheus. It’s a love-hate relationship. Sometimes, it makes me feel dirty.
I still recommend giving it a look. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
* I joked that they shoud do a double-feature of Splice and Prometheus due to their sex/body horror focus. They actually do have a number of items in common beyond that.
** One of the most popular theories right now about what happens in the movie involves Jesus Christ. I kid not.