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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fire From The Sun - Why I Dislike Prometheus


A god and hero, stealing fire from the sun [like the sun would even miss it] was only one of his accomplishments. The creation of man out of clay [sound familiar?] was another pretty big one. He MADE mankind. No-one seems to remember that part of the Bible. What? It's not in the Bible? Go figure. Quick question: if he had stolen fire and not created mankind, what then?

A trickster, like Loki in The Avengers but, unlike Loki, a lover of mankind [well he made us, all makers love their creations, right?], patron god of scientific inquiry - what's this sun thing made of? - and advancement, antecedent of Dr Frankenstein ("Prometheus Unbound"), he was condemned by Zeus, who obviously wanted us to freeze, and eat carpaccio and sashimi forever, to have a quickly regenerating liver that was pecked out every day by crows. Bound and struggling, trying unceasingly to escape from the limitations of his captivity (a metaphor) but never giving up, and no doubt in desperate need of a blowjob (not a metaphor).

Prometheus was an awesome dude.

The movie? Not so much.

Please make sure you get the correct reference here: it's the origin of mankind part, not the fire-theivery that underpins this movie.

But let me give you my opinion of the movie straight up. Ridley Scott, maker of such flops such as A Good Year and, um, others, has over-produced Prometheus into an overflowing chariot of horse-shit. This ridiculously expensive, overdue, over CGI'd, over-thought-out waste of time has no redeeming features. Whatsoever. Ah, yes, like John Carter, is does serve as an example of what not to do. Over this, over that, and I was very relieved when it was over.

Listen to me: Anyone over 12 who liked Prometheus is an idiot. [Harsh, E@L, harsh. But fair.]

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I don't have the movie in front of me to correct the errors which might creep into this post, as the torrents are currently in Handicam versions, but several egregiously execrable scenes and irrational concepts have burned themselves into my psyche the way X-raying my first corpse or losing my virginity (the first time) did. (Equally nauseating and frightening experiences. They were not on the same day nor in the same place fortunately for the corpse.)

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Ron Cobb, who designed the interiors of the Nostromo ship for Alien, has as interesting opinion.

I resent films that are so shallow they rely entirely on their visual effects, and of course science fiction films are notorious for this.
–Ron Cobb on his designs for Alien.[my emphasis]

This is part of the reason why Prometheus fails for me, why I resent it. In Alien the visuals were awesome, gritty and real, and somehow tacit. In Prometheus, they have tried to do this in the ship scenes but the outside scenes of giant CGI visuals are completely distracting and unnecessarily overwhelming. Oh, look giant human-headed pyramid that no-one seems to cares about, ho hum, WGAF, it's merely CGI.

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Woeful science in a science-fiction story grates on me. Scientists who behave illogically and without a Skerritt (sorry) skerrick of scientific objectivity and respect for scientific method drive me batty.

My disbelief has this thing about being suspended, particularly when bad science is combined with 2D characters in 3D movies doing silly and just wrong things, things a sensible or real person wouldn't ever do. In Alien, the characters moved cautiously, everything was weighed, considered, discussed. In Prometheus, people act randomly, independently and irresponsibly.

No1 Son, who has a similar if not quite as rabid as opinion as his dear old dad on this, pointed out how the scientists in good old The Andromeda Strain (which he had first seen only a few weeks earlier) acted like perfectly normal scientists. They didn't run around screaming, they were methodical, careful and observant. If science had advanced to the degree that is required for background inventions, etc... in Prometheus to work, then future scientists would have to be as just as careful, methodical and cool-headed. Unfortunately these were not the type that clambered aboard The Prometheus.

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Here are the 26 Things That Bugged Me Most. Don't worry, there are others.

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a) "Don't come in to the ship!" yells the completely unnecessary [as a character, apart from the sweaty push-ups at the start - I'd do her at this point] Charlize Theron. And then SHE OPENS THE FUCKING HATCH in order to threaten them with one of left-over prop flame-throwers from the original Alien! WTF? "Hey, don't come in through this large and impervious door which I have now opened in order to tell you not to come in through it." Just leave the fucking hatch closed you blonde idiot. Seriously. Who wrote this shit?

b) The prop flame throwers in Alien were wired together in desperation. Dallas and Ripley hope that the unlikely possibility they might work against the invisible beast might lift morale a bit. That and a holiday in Phuket. In Prometheus: "Hey, pass me the standard issue flame-thrower."

c) What's with Elizabeth wearing noting but a surgical gauze bikini. Gauze? Gauze? I mean, seriously, GAUZE? Has she grazed her nipples from running in a marathon without band-aids over them? Apart from being a corny stunt, why bother? We know from TGWTDT that Noomi Rapace has no tits whatsoever, so who gives a rats about her thorax adherent nipples [nipples WTF, male v female, worthy of a blog post]?

d) Geologist? Complete and utter fuckwit. More on this later.

e) How much did they pay Dr Manhattan to play the giant, unfriendly precursor human?

f) Surly red-headed guy with raptor haircut. A complete arsehole from word go. Don't they do psychological assessments before these long flights? The guy should be in a nuthouse, or a prison, not in a confined spaceship with people he obviously detests. The surly crew in Alien [Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphett Koto, whom this character is meant to parallel, no doubt] were troublesome to a degree and certainly disrespectful, but psychopaths?, no.

g) That spaceship is covered in awkwardly jutting spars and omnidirectional antenna like every movie space-ship since Alien. It's a future-gothic thing I guess. What's wrong with the sleek lines of The Enterprise, which was an magically simple, and the iconic design of Discovery One, whose construction made sense: living quarters at front, storage quarters middle, nuclear reactor as far away as possible. Inverse square law. The Prom is just a big brother of the CGI helicopters from Avatar, but is the ride comfortable?



h) Ignorance, and/or the ignoring, of the basic laws of physics abounds. Why are the spaceship's engines running all the time? [A common Sci-Fi movie error.] No friction in space, people. Momentum, one blast at the start will do it unless you are accelerating or decelerating, in which latter case the rocket thrust should be directed FORWARD [in the movie, it's not]. Did no-one on the set study Newton's first law? BTW did anyone check the gravity of this 1000 light year away planet (see next criticism) before we left, to check it we could get anywhere near its surface without getting crushed on landing or if we can generate enough thrust to get to escape velocity?

i) Two years asleep? Some have said that this would put them only halfway to Alpha Centauri, but that it true of you are referring to two earth years, that is, for the people back on earth. Assuming the Prometheus could approach the speed of light, to say 90% [its mass would more than double!], and overlooking the year or two of acceleration and then deceleration it would take to get up to that speed and then slow down without intolerable G-forces ripping everyone apart, one year on earth would equal slightly less than one day for the actors astronauts. Therefore, in their relativistic perception, Alpha Centauri is only 4 days away. Two years asleep at that speed? That would mean that back on earth it is now close to 1000 years later.

I shouldn't be too critical here. 2001, Alien, Aliens and Alien3, and others no doubt, all suffer from this flaw. It's a shrug now, right? It has become a cinematic cliche to put long-haul astronauts into the freezer. Shut the fuck up E@L.

If you want accurate relativity physics in Sci-Fi space-travel, read Forever War by Joe Haldeman. A big sigh coming up. Ridley Scott, sigh [there it is], has the film rights to this book and it is slated for release in 2013. Please don't fuck it up, Sir Rid.

j) I hate inappropriate adrenalin manipulation in intrinsically unexciting situations. Everywhere, but most ridiculously, when the Lunar Rover vehicles and their adherent tricycles, as seen from a soaring overhead CGI shot, seem to RACE to the big-headed pyramid to the thumping stress-inducing half-diminished sevenths and the walking tritones [duh duh DUH duh...duh duh DUH duh...duh duh DUH duh...] of a Hitchcokian horror fillum. Why? They are not being chased by anything, they are not off on an urgent mission to save humanity before the self-destruct sequence is finished or Harvey Dent blows up. They just charge out full-tilt for no reason. What is the fucking RUSH? This aeons old pyramid is not going anywhere in the next few minutes. And shouldn't you be looking out for everyone's safety and confirming that these convenient "roads" are safe to travel on at any pace? And if they are, who's been maintaining them over the millenia?

k) Why are the spacesuits more advanced than those in Alien? Lightweight and clear bubble-helmets? Luckily they knew that the planet would be relatively pleasant. Oh, look we can take out helmets off inside the cave so the audience doesn't have keep up with whether the condensation inside the mask has been wiped off recently or not. Or has the "problem" of condensation itself been solved by this time and yet forgotten by the time Alien comes around.

l) Ditto the stasis (suspended animation) pods, much sleeker. I am never a fan of suspended animation though. Do you need it? See above re: time compression. And yes, well, show me a cure for frost-bite first and I might suspend my disbelief for this. [BTW I have looked very hard the for the first cut of the equivalent scene in Alien, where they were all naked. Or was that an apocryphal story meant to tease old pervs like me...]

m) OK. Listen This is the one that completely kills me. Inside the cavern/spaceship under the giant yet ignored head, the geologist guy is hanging with red-head anti-sidekick (what does he do again?), and says in effect: "Oh look, a cute little alien eye thing on a stalk [cue: War Of The Worlds] has emerged from the black oily slime [cue: The X-Files], which itself oozed from metal canisters in suspiciously good condition considering their 30,000 years of existence in an oxygen rich environment, and this goo's sudden obsidian oleaginous icky appearance was most sinisterly triggered by our mere presence. Isn't it cute? Maybe it is friendly and speaks English."

This geologist, consummate idiot, against all laws of scientific inquiry and common sense, [I shake my head], then smiles like a moron and leans forward into the standard Leap Into My Mouth You Snake-like Creature position. Wrong! SO fucking wrong. 'Run Away' is the correct scientific response in this situation. Like the others RUN!

n) What is it with the fucking alien crappy hologram things running through the tunnels? Seriously, what? Seriously, why? BTW there is zero dramatic tension is this entire cavern sequence.

o) What's with fucking holograms altogether? They didn't need them in Alien.

p) Girls, girls. Listen. When a large hoop-shaped spaceship is rolling on its edge towards you, run... to... the... side...

q) Hey, fellow pilot, let's commit suicide cheerfully for reasons we don't fully comprehend because we were in the frackin' main cabin the whole time. I for one wouldn't do this.

r) Why is Michael Fassbinder so much more handsome than either Ian Holm or Lance Hendriksen [who isn't?]? Who later decided ugly androids integrate better than cute ones?

s) If Fassbender only needs his head to function, why does he need the rest of his body in the first place?

t) Where did the medical team appear from? Didn't Theron yell out, "Get a medical team down here!" at one point? Where did they go afterwards? And why would she not know their names? "Get Dr Frankenstein down here now, and make sure Cloris Leachman comes too."

u) Jesus, what happened to Guy Pearce? Did he fall face first into a bucket of half-set play goo?

v) Why the fuck would the do-it-yourself home-surgery machine have a set of delivery forceps as its default tool? Stunned by the inanity of this.

x) It's not just me: according to NYT's A. O. Scott - "But the virtuosity on display makes the weakness of the story — the screenplay is by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof — all the more frustrating. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but “Prometheus” kind of spoils itself with twists and reversals that pull the movie away from its lofty, mind-blowing potential... There are no revelations, only what are called, in the cynical jargon of commercial storytelling, “reveals,” bits of momentarily surprising information bereft of meaning or resonance."

y) Why? Ridley, why? Alien was fine. Leave it alone! Get back to Forever War!

z) The giant Navigator's mask isn't a hood or respirator. The dude snores like fuck: it's a CPAP mask



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Speaking of illogical crazy SciFi movies, 5th Element was sooooo wrong, but it had the enormous advantage of taking itself 0% seriously.

It all boils down to this - Prometheus is neither Blade Runner nor Alien.

There are no moments of "It has acid for blood!" dread, no completely unexpected chest-burster scared shitless moments, no touching, awe-inspiring "Starships on fire over the belt of Orion," moments...

It's just... Not. Good. Enough.

E@L

9 comments:

Michael McClung said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
savannah said...

just so you know, sugar, i had absolutely no intention of seeing this movie! thank you for letting me know my first reaction to it was justified. i am in your debt. now, answer this: where you able to see the birthday youtube vid i posted for you on fb? xoxoxoxo

blooberrymuffin.com said...

But I liked it! And I'm over 12!

a) I'm pretty sure the other crew members needed to get into the ship... She opened it to let them in AND torch Holloway if required.

p) One girl was able to escape sideways, one girl was not. Symbolic of their personalities/way of thinking.

q) Agreed.

s) He was made to resemble humans, it was done on purpose. They mentioned that on the ship.

expat@large said...

Bloobs, didn't Charlize get squished and Noomi get saved, not by going sideways but because, ooops, she tripped next to a rock that of course protected her because they need her in the sequel to the prequel. I'm not the only to have brought this point up btw!

Michael McClung said...

Couple general sci fi notes, not having seen the movie: cryo generally presumes cure for frostbite. If there's cryo, then that issue has been settled, otherwise there would be no cryo. My personal favorite treatment of the subject is being injected with a sort of bio antifreeze to keep crystallization from damaging / bursting cells. Also the idea of stasis, which does not involve freezing at all.

As for relativity and cryo, a decision has to be made regarding faster than light travel. Possible? How? Wormholes? Other? If not possible, it will still take an inordinate amount of subjective time to get up to that kind of velocity, and an equal amount of time to brake, so cryo concept is still useful.

As for gravity, well, if people are walking instead of floating on board, then gravity has been mastered in the future tech. Issue sidestepped.

expat@large said...

Oh I completely maintain my objections to everything I have mentioned. What, you'd think I'd stretch it all out just to make 26 problems? What sort of person do you take me for. 2001 was only 33 years in the future from when the movie was released and yet it took another 8, or was it 9, for the iPad to come along? 2089 is only, um, 77 years away, who knows...? Beam me up Scotty!

blooberrymuffin.com said...

But Shaw/Noomi did roll sideways! LOL!

It is possible Vickers could be alive though. Did you mean Charlize or Noomie getting saved by the rock?

Skippy-san said...

One slight correction, in 2001 Discovery was only going 100,000 miles an hour-so hibernation would have been necessary.

Murli said...

You're hilarious when you're grumpy!

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