Ridley Scott’s recent re-entry to the world of sci-fi, Prometheus, is a movie that should have been incredible. Scott revolutionized and redefined the genre with his seminal classic Blade Runner, so his return to it was heralded with more hype than most of the other films released last summer. Considering that Prometheus shared theaters with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, two films which its target audience had been anticipating for years, the hype for Prometheus was surprising in its fervor.
Unfortunately – and I’ll put this rather bluntly – Prometheus is terrible. It isn’t just disappointing, it is legitimately an awful motion picture. For a film which purports to be about big ideas concerning the meaning of life, Prometheus doesn’t actually explore these ideas in any depth. It seems more concerned with provoking questions than answering them. Now, this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but the failure of Prometheus is in its seeming refusal to conform to any standards of logic which normal humans must abide by. Not a single character in the film performs an action which makes sense given their circumstances. The few characters that have goals to attain don’t even try to work towards them. One scientist, whose life’s work has been proven correct by the discovery of alien life, is somehow disappointed by this revolutionary find. Why? Because the alien in question is dead, not alive. Who cares if it’s alive or not, it’s still the most important scientific discovery of the last century!
The movie is full of crap like this. For instance, if you haven’t seen the film, much of the plot revolves around this black goo, and the horrible effects that it has on everyone who encounters it. Do we know what the goo is, or how it works? No, but that’s usually okay. But there’s a deeper problem here. Here’s the list of everything the goo does in the movie.
- Melts down a tall, pale alien into more black goo, which flows into a waterfall and ostensibly becomes the building blocks of human life.
- Infects one crew member, slowly weakening him with sickness. He then has sex with his sterile girlfriend, impregnating her with a rapidly growing squid creature, which later impregnates one of the tall, pale aliens with what looks like an early ancestor of the Alien from the original film.
- Infects another crew member, turning him into a rage zombie.
See what I’m getting at here? There are no rules as to what the black goo does or can do. If it was clearly established that the goo has a specific effect on humans, the movie might have had some tension, but instead the goo just does whatever the movie needs it to do to move the story along. In a similar vein are the bizarre character motivations, particularly from Michael Fassbender’s David character. Nothing he does makes a lick of sense. Nothing Charlize Theron’s Vickers does makes a lick of sense. The cast is good enough that they sell the actions scene-to-scene, but when you look at it as a whole it all falls apart. These unexplained actions and motivations are ostensibly for the sake of moving the story forward, but the story never actually goes anywhere.
I’m still not entirely sure exactly what the point of Prometheus was. It surely wasn’t made to appeal to Alien fans, as it has almost nothing to do with that franchise. However, I doubt it was meant to start a new franchise, because although the ending is open-ended, the story can’t go anywhere from here. There’s nothing more for the characters to do because they never do anything in the first place. It’s one thing to have a passive hero, it’s another to have a passive cast. These unexplained actions and motivations are ostensibly for the sake of moving the story forward, but the story never actually goes anywhere.
I’m still not entirely sure exactly what the point of Prometheus was. It surely wasn’t made to appeal to Alien fans, as it has almost nothing to do with that franchise. However, I doubt it was meant to start a new franchise, because although the ending is open-ended, the story can’t go anywhere from here. There’s nothing more for the characters to do because they never do anything in the first place. Are there scenes here and there that are successful? Perhaps. But two or three good scenes do not a movie make, especially when they are surrounded by so many moments which are embarrassingly stupid. Prometheus is a tragic misfire, and if it taught me anything, it’s to never judge a movie by how awesome the trailer looks.