Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Dear Ridley Scott,
If the Mayans turn out to be wrong I think the recent showing of your film Prometheus proves that the world is coming to its inevitable end. If you, the director of Alien, can’t make a good sci-fi film connected to the series you originated…there’s no hope for humanity! I know our own Jacob Kunnel gave you the benefit of the doubt in his review but I’m going to be blunt and to the point: Prometheus sucked! Yeah, I’ll probably get hate mail for it but I can’t lie and stroke your ego! Prometheus flat-out sucked. Why? How? I’ll tell you.
Before I begin, some back-story; there’s been speculation about Prometheus and its origins (pun intended) ever since Scott said he was going back to the well. Is it a sequel, a prequel to Alien or what? From there Prometheus has had big shoes to fill. The movie tells of scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) who are funded to go exploring for mankind’s origins. Once they discover the mysterious planet where the beings live the scientists come to discover everyone has a different agenda for why they’re there.
As mentioned in Jacob’s review, the marketing for this film has been HIGHLY misleading. If you’re expecting a science fiction/horror hybrid in the vein of Alien you’re going to come away highly irritated (like I did). Critics are already stating, and I will confirm, this is not an Alien movie! If anything it looks at the world of the mysterious Space Jockey from the Alien franchise and, aside from the obligatory ending moment, has a very tenuous connection to the original characters. That’s not to say there aren’t nods and sight gags that wink to the Alien fans, but that’s all they are.
Let me get the good out of the way because there is some, okay there’s quite a bit but it only proved to me that I’d have rather seen two hours of the good bits than what the majority of the film is about. First up, the setting and special effects are mind-blowing! The alien planet is anything to write home about but the gore effects are grotesque in every sense of the word and really made me squirm in my seat. The best has to be when the face hugger wraps around a character’s arm. It’s not a “gore” moment but the way the scene is shot, the character screaming about what he feels, and the eventual snap of bones breaking is extremely effective and played on all my senses. The movie also includes a fair amount of exploding heads, chest bursting, and other bits that hearken back to the original film’s horror movie elements but all this happens over an hour into the movie! That’s a long hour of talking, philosophizing, and walking around before anything fun or entertaining happens.
The other highlight has to be Michael Fassbender’s character David. Now I could have thrown this in there because Fassbender is gorgeous and great in everything he does but he is truly the light in this movie. His character David is a robot that everyone assumes “has no soul.” Throughout the film characters are telling him about all the things he’s not supposed to want and can’t feel but the audience can see the duplicity of David’s character. There’s a beautiful opening scene showing David’s day involving watching films, learning languages, and even doing his hair. All of this is what an average person does so how is David any less human? That is explored more in-depth than any other character and it’s fascinating. In effect it’s what the I, Robot movie should have been like and I would have killed for this to be David’s story as opposed to who else was featured. There were some questions surrounding David’s story that I felt were deleted at some point. At times he’s portrayed as the villain, at others the hero, and I was ultimately left confused by some of his motivations (especially an alien baby that is meant to be this big plot point but is really a stupid afterthought).
I think that’s what ultimately sullied me on Prometheus; that in two hours and four minutes there are so many freaking stories abandoned mid-way! Scott has said this was the director’s cut but we all know how that worked out in the past with Kingdom of Heaven, a movie that sucked in theaters due to Scott having to cut it and ended up being one of his best Director’s Cut DVDs. If this is his Director’s Cut than it sucked. I can’t believe that though as there’s just way too many balls up in the air that seem to fade away.
I’ll try to limit spoilers as much as I can but to start, there’s a lot of actors included here in cameos that I felt were part of much bigger plots. Like, why have Patrick Wilson in a 30-second cameo as young Elizabeth’s father? Sure they mention his death but to hire a name actor for such a small role (and if you blinked you’d miss him) leads me believe there was more meant for his character, especially as he was such an influence on Elizabeth’s life. On that same note, why hire Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland when he spends the entire movie in laughable J. Edgar makeup? It comes off as hokey because he’s so overly made-up when you could have just hired an already old actor?
The story is also all-over-the-map. Elizabeth is devoutly religious in comparison to her partner and lover Charlie. The religious overtones of using these aliens to answer life’s questions never gels with the overall theme of the story and in many places it feels like it’s shoved into discussion haphazardly. We get it, they want to find answers to life’s questions, but the rest of the crew doesn’t share that issue and we’re left with two religious nuts and a bunch of others who don’t care. Rapace is bland as Elizabeth, resorting to looking frightened and sweaty. Charlize Theron is a bitch as seems to be written in her contract these days and aside from Fassbender’s David the rest of the cast lack character completely. There’s the captain (Idris Elba is wasted), a doctor, and like three other guys whose names I never knew. The only way to differentiate against these superfluous characters is there accents which are laughable because it feels like a United Colors of Benetton ad with the international cast. In Alien you learned as much as you could about each character and here there’s only four worth naming and the rest are…Space Jockey chow I guess.
I’m normally really good about not growing bored in theaters but the pacing on this is slooooooow. Here’s how I fared in the theater. 45 minutes in: The movie will pick up. One hour: Checked my phone (discreetly in my purse). Hour 30: Okay….it’s going to pick up. Checked phone again. Two Hours: Please let this be over. Yeah that’s slow and I’m never one to fidget or check the time.
I’m declaring Prometheus the first big disappointment of the summer, maybe of the year. The story throws in everything and follows what sticks. The characters are bland aside from David and it felt like a lot was left on the cutting room floor. If Scott puts out some Super Duper Director’s Cut I’m crying cop-out because at this point I won’t be giving the movie a second try.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.