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Disappointing
Just watched Prometheus, and I have to say, I was disappointed. It started off strong, but I’m afraid the ending was weak in terms of resolution and, more to the point, ugly, unpleasant, and mean-spirited.

I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t horrible. Even the parts I disliked had amazing visuals. But compared to the first two Alien movies, it was both overwrought and underwhelming. I also didn’t care about any of the characters, except for maybe the captain. Elizabeth Shaw is no Ellen Ripley.

Speaking of Alien, a lot of scenes from Prometheus felt lifted directly from its predecessor. The amoral robot getting his head ripped off, the “egg” chamber, etc. I imagine it was to create a sense of continuity, but all it did was remind me of a better movie I could have been watching.

On the other side of the coin, I was disappointed by some things that were different from Alien. Specifically, the fact that the look and behavior of the “living weapons” was very different from the Xenomorph from Alien. Of course, it’s plausible that the Engineers / Space Jockeys had more than one variety of living weapons, but from a narrative viewpoint it’s just conspicuous and annoying. I was also disappointed to learn that the Space Jockeys aren’t actually elephant men, just big, bald, gray humans who wear helmets with trunks.

I also hated the “alien C-section” scene. The “magical pregnancy” trope is something I hate whenever it pops up in fiction, and seeing it here was just viscerally disgusting, and not in an entertaining way, but a mean-spirited way.

So yeah. That’s what I thought of Prometheus. I didn’t despise it, but I’m glad I didn’t pay full price to see it in theaters.
I agree, there were a lot of nods to Alien that made it seem far too related, especially after it was hyped to be only a distantly-related prequel. The Xenomorph-like thing at the end was way too much, I think. Granted, it wasn't quite a Xenomorph, so Ridley Scott wasn't exactly lying when he said there wouldn't be any in the film, but it just seemed forced.

Also, the Engineers are basically Phyrexians, as far as I can tell. Anyone familiar with MTG lore would spot the similarities almost immediately. A single drop of mysterious black oil mutates normal things into hideous, aggressive monstrosities? Check.

The thing is, I did really like the thematic and visual content of the movie. If I could forget that I ever saw Alien in the first place, I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more. On its own merits, it was a pretty good movie. Not without flaws (I too thought the pregnancy thing was over-doing it, and I saw it coming a mile away when Shaw was sad about being barren), but overall a pretty decent film.
comment #16239 JobanGrayskull 24th Sep 12
It should be noted that the Engineers are essentially new Phyrexians. Old Phyrexia didn't infect things with oil; the oil only became infectious after Yawgmoth's death.
comment #16241 Scardoll 24th Sep 12
Even if they taken all the actual alien-similar things out, it would till not have worked as a film because it lifted the Alien plot anyway and the Alien plot is just a little too stupid for modern times and the stupidity is hugely intensified by these people actually being scientists and in a big operation on another world, rather than some pokey mining vessel that no-one cares about.

Maybe if I hadn't seen Alien at least the plot wouldn't have felt so derivative, but so many films have done Alien style horror since, it would still seem pretty bad
comment #16242 Tomwithnonumbers 24th Sep 12
Alien has a fine plot. Minimalism is not bad.

Prometheus' main problem is that it really didn't have much of a plot. It was more "people do stuff: the movie!"
comment #16248 Scardoll 24th Sep 12
I don't dislike it for it's minimalism, I dislike it for Ripley chasing after the darn cat, for the people not doing proper checks after encountering a foreign life form, for the doctor not trying to quarantine after said life form. For someone trying to kiss a facehugger (that was the first one right?) etc... most of the idiot moments in Prometheus were directly copied from idiot moments in Alien (well maybe not most, but that's because Prometheus has an excess of idiot moments). It works a lot lot better in Alien (I do like Alien and wouldn't be willing to write a review criticising it) because these are a bunch of no-hoper miners, for them not to treat Alien life correctly, not to use correct medical procedure, not to quarantine effectively, to act really stupid in moments of danger is more understandable. The claustrophobic environment and minimalism helps hide/make the stupidity okay as well, as does the darkness and atmosphere.

In Prometheus, we had people not treating Alien life with respect, not quarantining effectively, not using correct medical procedure, trying to kiss facehuggers and acting really stupid in moments of danger. Where it worked in Alien, it doesn't work here, because we in a bright open space, with scientists on a discovery mission, in a hugely budgeted ship with the owner of the worlds supercorporation on board and the themes are deep and provoking and all of that clashes with the plot in the way Alien didn't. Alien was thematically cohesive at least and what was going on on screen fits in with what it's tone and message is, whereas Prometheus took the Alien happenings but changed the tone and message.

Plus as I've said, since Alien, a lot of what Alien has done has been mimicked so many times, that it's no longer so bearable to see everyone split up when there's a monster on board and get picked off one by one as they all accidentally get seperated or wander off. We've just seen it too many times and it's become the most cliche horror trope
comment #16255 Tomwithnonumbers 25th Sep 12
I don't dislike it for it's minimalism, I dislike it for Ripley chasing after the darn cat, for the people not doing proper checks after encountering a foreign life form, for the doctor not trying to quarantine after said life form. For someone trying to kiss a facehugger (that was the first one right?) etc... Ripley was telling the people outside the landing craft, "No, we can't bring that thing on board"; the other miners were hysterical because their friend was in trouble. Then Ash let them onboard anyway. Ripley was kinda pissed off, everyone else was happy because they could try and help Kane.

The doctor didn't want to quarantine because there was no doctor; the closest thing to one was an android spy who didn't care about quarantine because he wanted to study the creature.

The "kissing facehugger" scene is in Aliens, and in that movie it was done while the Facehugger was inside a container and wasn't getting out (At least, it wasn't getting out until some jackass released it).

Plus as I've said, since Alien, a lot of what Alien has done has been mimicked so many times, that it's no longer so bearable to see everyone split up when there's a monster on board and get picked off one by one as they all accidentally get seperated or wander off. We've just seen it too many times and it's become the most cliche horror trope They didn't accidentally get separated.

Each time they split up, there was a reason. When they split up to search for the alien, it was because they needed to cover more ground. When Parker and Lambert separated from Ripley, it was because they had to go to different parts of the ship (And they stayed together).

But sure. Every group must remain together always. People only wander off and split up in shitty films like The Thing.
comment #16257 Scardoll 25th Sep 12
Ah! It never clicked with me before that it was Ash who overrode Ripley about the quarantine, that makes more sense now. He was actually forcing a lot of the stupid I guess through the first part.

I think maybe I need to rephrase how I'm using the word idiot though. There are actions that audiences are so used to in horror now, that they know are going to end badly, and although it can make sense from character perspective (moreso in Alien than Prometheus) it still feels like the character is doing something that's going to get himself killed, rather than just the power of the alien. And sending one guy off by himself to go pick up a cat is one of those things where you know he's going to die, and it plays out exactly as expected including finding the cat, hearing a noise behind and the slow turn around/kill thing. Again Alien defined a lot of this stuff, it's just nowadays that happens all the time. And it's the same when the two go off to get the coolant. And their's Ripley, with 3-4 casualties going off by herself whilst the other two are split off, to go pick up a cat.

Like it all works in Alien, Alien is an excellent film, but part of it works because the scale is so small and these people unprofessional and if you copy and paste all that stuff into a new film it kinda stops working
comment #16262 Tomwithnonumbers 25th Sep 12
I got a bit worked up and spoke like a jackass in my last comment. Sorry.
comment #16263 Scardoll 25th Sep 12
Hey, if that's your worst, then you've got no worries. A lot of valid points (and one in particular that will help me enjoy the film more next time see it) and then one sentence at the end with a bit of sarcasm? You really don't have anything to apologise for
comment #16274 Tomwithnonumbers 26th Sep 12
The alien pregnancy happened because of all the Christian symbolism the film is steeped in, and was completely necessary to help explain the rest of the plot. The pregnancy is the virgin birth, alluded to by the fact that it happened on xmas day, and the mural in the Big Head Room depicted a xenomorph in a crucifixion pose. This in turn is supposed to explain (in a very subtle way) why the Engineers developed the facility in the first place/wanted to "destroy" humanity; they (probably) considered xenomorphic mutants to be much better organisms, like Ash did in the original Alien.

Furthermore, it awesome to watch, and made Shaw a total badass. Plus, it was cool seeing the prototypical facehugger & xenomorph later on, and seeing how different hosts & infection pathways affect the end result, basically exploring the alien life cycle.

comment #17679 TheTalkingToaster 14th Jan 13
? Wait you're serious? A xenomorph in a crucifixion pose denotes the Engineers wanting to destroy hmanity because tehy're better than it? I could believe the writers doing that, but thats so phenomenally stupid. It's like if you break down the obvious stupid on the outside there's an either subtler stupid in the subtext.

1. Using human religious imagery to convey things about alien culture (we're not going to have Jesus is an alien here are we?) 2. So the aliens believe they're God or chosen by God which is why they want to wipe out humanity for not being chosen by God? But then why did they create humanity in the first place? Why did they leave them directions to their weapons depot? 3. Crucifixion is meant to be a sign of forgiveness for past sins 4. Having people in a Jesus pose is not clever cinematography. It's used by every single hack ever who wanted to have clever cinematography. We've got several tropes devoted to it 5. If you're story only works by looking for very obtuse (stupid) subtext, then your story doesn't work. Make it function on a basic level and then we'll have a look for clever. For give me for not believing there would be meaningful imagery in a film where the final climax involves two people (one a scientist and one a corporate exec) not working out that when a ship 100's of metres high, but only 3 metres wide is rolling at you, you need to try and out run the 3 metres bit and not the 100+ metre bit.
comment #17680 TomWithNoNumbers 14th Jan 13
In hindsight I should have gone with 'ambiguous christian imagery to cover up weak plotting from a Lost writer? Surely not!'
comment #17682 TomWithNoNumbers 14th Jan 13
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