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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prometheus from an Alien super-fan's perspective

by J. R. Wagner

Warning: Spoilers. Lots of 'em.

Second Warning: I'm a writer, not a movie reviewer. Oh and this is a bit lengthy -but the humor and obscure movie references make up for it!

Now that that is out of the way...


The moment I caught wind of this film on the horizon and that it was to be a prequel to Alien -directed by none other than Ridley Scott (director of Alien among numerous other awesome films -and a few not-so-awesome), I was a giddy as a schoolgirl.

I am an Alien fanatic.  The second one was cool, the rest don't exist as far as I'm concerned. The original though -pure genius!

Isn't this hilarious?!


we all know what happens when a big-time director tries to reinvent or add to one of their previous films *cough George Lucas* -disaster. Despite this knowledge, because it has been 33 years and because Scott has directed more than one franchise and because many of his films were quite good, I had to give him the benefit of the doubt.

When I heard the premise (thank you IMDB), I began to become concerned...

A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

And for good reason. The unnecessarily over-reaching plot felt like a waste.  We went from stumbling upon bad-ass monsters that could destroy planet earth to involving the origins of our species.  Huh? Is that necessary?

To the film..

The first half-hour or so delves into the whole origins of mankind premise and I quickly got the impression that this sub-plot of human origins was nothing but a distraction.  Unfortunately, I was proved correct.  Could this REALLY be the ONLY reason a group of humans would do some intergalactic traveling? (Think Star Trek) Of course not.  So why did Scott decide to throw in human origins into the mix?  Ego perhaps?  Addressing the question to end all questions is a tall order in and of itself.  To haphazardly add it to the plot is somewhat insulting and more than somewhat annoying.

So we are half an hour +/- into the film, the ship is on its way...oh, by the way, there is an android on board, oh and by the way, there are many, many things -set design, technology, costumes that look and feel almost EXACTLY like Alien.  I can't say why but I found this irritating -like he was trying TOO hard to point out the fact that the two films are related. We get it.

The visual effects are first-class however the casting leaves much to be desired. It felt, once again like he was trying TOO hard to parallel Alien by having the diverse crew -each with their own unique personality traits, which seemed forced and irritating unlike the original film.  By the time the first character dies, you, as a viewer, don't care about him.  Scott should have spent less time with his stupid origins of human life sub-plot and focus more on character development.
Even the main character, Shaw -very Sigourney Weaver-esque appears to be trying too hard to be Sigourney Weaver. Below are too shots, one of Weaver and one of the main character, Noomi Rapace.  Look similar? Scott must have a thing for low-cut women's underwear.

Sigourney Weaver in Alien

Noomi Rapace in Prometheus

The problem with Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace's character IE main character) is that she is too one-dimensional.  Again that damn origins plot wasted time that could be spent trying to get us to like this character. She is in a relationship -which has a strange, almost forced feel to it, with a man who, in short order is infected by the evil android (Evil android, just like Alien.) and starts having a nasty reaction.  When he dies, I didn't care. Worse still, I don't believe Elizabeth Shaw (main character) cared either (despite the man dying from voluntary immolation right before her very eyes-I think I would have opted to remove my helmet and die of C02 poisoning -much less painful but hey, it's all about the drama, right?)

It gets even better! Shaw's boyfriend, while infected with the alien virus (or whatever) impregnates Shaw with (guess) yes...an alien.  Just like Alien 3 which isn't even Scott's film!
One ugly baby!
Before I continue my linear tirade, I need to address one thing -one character, actually (two actually) played by Charlize Theron. Her character, Meredith, is a tough, no-nonsense woman. In fact, she is more similar to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien) than Rapace.  It is almost as if they didn't cast Theron as the main character because she was TOO similar to Sigourney Weaver and, as a result, wasted her talent on another one-dimensional, forgettable character who is arguably completely unnecessary.

Okay, if you're still here, stick with me...we've got Elizabeth Shaw (Played by Noomi Rapace, the main character) a a shadowy reflection of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien) and Meredith Vickers (played by Charlize Theron) a near mirror image of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien) together in the same film.  Confused?

Scott's move to cast Theron, well known for playing a bad-ass, as a bad (yet not compelling whatsoever) guy (gal) and Rapace, a relative unknown actress as the bad-ass protagonist is confusing at best.  Irritating, more accurately.

AND, +/- 31 minutes into the film, we know that Theron's character is in cahoots with the android. Then +/- 32 minutes into the film, we know a large corporation privately funded the operation and has final say on all decisions made during the mission.  Sound familiar?  Alien, Aliens...The Company -really?  Scott brought back The Company

It gets better -the company owner is actually on the ship and has, quite possibly the most unconvincing old man makeup I've seen in a big-budge Hollywood film. Ever.

Yes, this is it.  It looks like a cross between Darth Sidious from Star Wars and Biff from Back to the Future II.



Getting back on track.  Shaw (main character) is now pregnant with an alien baby. Evil android wants to put Shaw ( main character) in chrio-freeze for the ride home. Shaw (main character) decides the little fella needs to come out so she beats up two medical personnel, runs about twenty feet down the hall to a surgical chamber thingy and gives herself (by controlling the surgical thingy) a Cesarian section and removes the squid (it looks EXACTLY like a squid).
Surgical Chamber Thingy

Two things are comical about this sequence. First, in the amount of time she spends performing this operation I could have run up and down the hallway from the place she escaped to the surgical chamber thingy about fifty times -yet nobody comes to stop her.
Second, the surgical chamber thingy is nice enough to apply Betadine to the area before making the incision but, for reasons unknown (if you're an Aliens fan, you chuckled at that phrase) it didn't bother giving her any anesthesia. Shaw (main character) injects herself with something I'm assuming we are meant to believe is a mild anesthetic however the amount of screaming that takes place during the surgery would suggest otherwise.

On a miraculous note, Shaw (main character) is able to get up and run immediately after the procedure (that didn't give her anesthetic).

Game time. Which one is the baby alien?

Baby alien or squid?

Squid or baby alien?

Shaw (main character) spends the remainder of the movie running at full speed (although occasionally bending over clutching at the incision area to remind us stupid viewers that she's just had a ten inch incision cut into her abdominal wall)

So Biff/Darth Sidious decides to go talk to the only living alien on the alien ship (oh yeah, there is an alien ship! Not to be too confusing but there are two aliens -the humanoid aliens who Shaw (main character) thinks are linked to the origins of our species -yeah, that BS plot line and some half-assed version of the Alien aliens.) who is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger and has the complexion of Lord Voldamort.

I'll be back...

Nice pecs, buddy!

You could use some vitamin D!

Then, Shaw (main character) Biff (not his real name) and the evil android go wake the alien up (he's been asleep for two thousand years or there about so he is very, very cranky).  Mr. Cranky Pants kills Biff, rips the head off the evil android (JUST LIKE WHAT HAPPENED TO ASH IN ALIEN AND...AND BISHOP IN ALIENS (sorta -he gets ripped in half but it's close) AND ALIEN 3 ) and, for some odd reason, decides to ignore Shaw (main character) completely.

What the!

Is there a breeze in here?

Not again!

She (Shaw (main character)) runs away (this is where she feigns abdominal pain every once in a while) and manages to escape as the humanoid alien starts to lift off the ship with intentions on heading toward Earth.  We don't exactly know WHY it is bent on taking a cargo hold full of Alien alien DNA (essentially a WMD) to Earth and I can't even recall which character told Shaw (main character) this was the deal (and I watched the movie less than 12 hours ago -left quite an impression) but it is and now she must find a way to stop it.

Rewind a few minutes -Shaw (main character) and the captain, who looks similar enough to Parker from Alien (the original) to be worthy of eye-rolling, agree that they will do whatever it takes to prevent the ship from going to Earth (kind of like in Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection -even though the last two don't exist).

I was here first!


Back on track.

So the captain rams into the alien ship incapacitating it and destroying his ship, himself and all of the remaining crew save Theron, who escape-pods her way off the ship. Captain is also nice enough to jettison part of the ship that has life-sustaining supplies and Shaw (main character) on foot and still only minutes past major abdominal surgery manages to jump over a gap in the ground that must be 40-50 feet wide (don't worry, the director is kind enough not to show how she manages this feat...he leaves it up to our imagination)

See the gaps? They're widening!

A quick cut away and BAM, Shaw (main character) has cleared the gap and is now side by side with Theron (apparently escape pods only travel about ten feet from their mother-vehicles).  In stupid sci-fi fashion, the pair find themselves running from the downed alien ship which has up-ended and is now rolling (an impossibly ridiculous feat of physics) toward them and they must run to avoid being squished like a bug.

Yup, it landed just like that. CRASH LANDED.
Sadly, Theron's one-dimensional butt doesn't make it and (again sadly) Shaw (main character) does.

Wait! It isn't over. The humanoid Voldenegger alien is pissed, climbs out of his ship and goes after Shaw (main character) -but not before the evil android head, now not so evil warns Shaw (main character) that Voldenegger is coming, giving Shaw (main character) enough time to return to the part of the ship (It could be that rover thing, I really don't care at this point) with life sustaining supplies AND, as luck would have it, the surgical chamber thingy!

Hooray, the Surgical Chamber Thingy
This is a good thing because Shaw (main character) thought she killed baby alien/squid BUT when Voldenegger comes to kill her (so much for being a more civilized race) she opens the hatch and viola, squid-o has grown from 6" to about twelve FEET in length.

Look out, Voldenegger!

Shaw (main character) manages to escape while Voldenegger manages to get orally impregnated by super-squid.  Shaw (main character), after having a conversation with the android head (somehow his communicator still works -even though his body lies otherwise immobile and lifeless on the ground), Shaw (main character) decides to take another alien ship (not the Alien alien but the humanoid alien) and fly away. Why Voldenegger didn't just hop in another one of his ships boggles the mind but hey, we are supposed so suspend belief when watching sci-fi, right?

Now, does Shaw (main character) fly home after collecting evil android's head and stuffing it into a duffel bag? After watching her husband burn alive, her ship-mates all die horrible deaths? No! She has the mental fortitude to decide that flying the ship (with the help of the evil android head) to Voldenegger's home planet so she can find out more about human origins is a better move. Regardless of the fact that Voldenegger wanted to fly his ship to Earth and destroy mankind.  Minor details, right?

Wrapping up what is an already insanely long lampooning of what could have been a great film, I'll end on this final thought; take a peek at Ridley Scott's IMDB page.  Near the top you'll see  Untitled Blade Runner Project.  

Blade Runner is my sci-fi film mecca.   This news is tantamount to George Lucas announcing he is directing three prequels to Star Wars. Wait, that already happened. Based upon what happened with Prometheus, I fear the destruction of another franchise. We can only hope Scott will hire himself a writer, director, casting director, etc. that wasn't involved in Prometheus -hopefully excluding himself from that list as well.

I was hoping to make my directorial debut with a remake of Blade Runner.  *Sigh* Perhaps I can convince Scott to hire me for the job! See my post about why Ridley Scott should hire me to direct the next Blade Runner film HERE!


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