Prometheus

PrometheusSomeone (JMF, I think) recommended that I what Prometheus. But it was one of those “you should probably see this” rather than “this is really good” recommendations. It is a curious film. It is a prequel for Alien but uses a fanciful notion to get there. It uses the Prometheus myth, but in a surprisingly stupid and direct way. Basically, despite our sharing the vast majority of the DNA of most other mammals, we were created by some alien (who looks like he shares 99% of his DNA with chimps) who commits suicide. Or something.

The film deals with this by having one of the characters counter the nonsense of this argument by noting if the Engineers really did create us, it would mean that two centuries of science on natural selection was wrong. To this, the female scientist responds (as she does throughout the film), “I choose to believe.” Well then, I guess no more need be said! Perhaps a better ploy would have been to put up some blinking subtitles, “Begin suspension of disbelief now…”

The plot of the film also makes little sense. The robot infects the male doctor, which kills him and gets the female doctor pregnant with a creature, whose soul purpose is creating an alien in another host: you know, the double host procreation cycle that is so common in advanced organism. But that’s not even what’s confusing. Why did the robot infect the male doctor? We don’t know. He just did it because… I know! Robots in Ridley Scott films are evil while robots in James Cameron films are good. Or something.

There is one moment in the film when the writers seem to have awaken from their somnolent composing to realize that the whole film didn’t make sense. The robot asks the male scientist why he wants to meet his maker. It highlights the fact that the robot lives among his makers and he has no special insights because of it. The big issue here is that ontologically this quest is childish. Surly after meeting their maker the humans would then want to go on to meet their maker’s maker.

The film is little more than a muddle trying to make itself to an ending where the crew of the original Alien can find a crashed spaceship infested with alien eggs. It also makes numerous awkward allusions to the Alien film series. But it does manage to engage the viewer throughout. Scott is nothing if not a good painter of scenes. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t seem to even try to make sense the way the other films in the series did. (Note: I haven’t seen Alien vs. Predator and its sequel.)

Afterword

If you ever have to kill me, I would prefer a bullet in the head. Please do not burn me alive as they seem to like to do in Alien films. You could also cut off my head. I understand that setting people on fire makes for great images, but can’t we at agree that no one is going to beg to be burned to death—especially when other options are available?

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Prometheus

  1. Oh, no — don’t blame that one on me! (Unless I actually wrote such a thing, in which case, I apologize . . . but I doubt it.)

    I do enjoy Michael Fassbender in just about every role he plays, although they are rarely roles in movies I enjoy. And Noomi Rapace is energetic. But the movie for me was the worst kind of dumb — the kind that takes itself seriously. (Dumb can be fun if it’s not serious, or if some of the cast and crew buy into the dumbness while the cleverer ones don’t.)

    Too bad, because the "plot" (such as it was) could have been used to skewer creationism the way "Planet of the Apes" did, minus Rod Serling’s 1000-lb Message Hammer. But, no such luck.

    I mostly recommend documentaries to people these days. There are usually three or four good ones a year, at least. Rarely are there that many good fiction films (at least not big-budget ones.)

  2. @JMF – I’m sorry! You’re right: it was Mack. But as I said, it wasn’t recommended as good so much as something that I ought to see.

    I think you get to the heart of the problem: the film takes itself too seriously. And its approach to both the scientific and theological questions is stupid. Compare this to [i]John Dies at the End[/i] which doesn’t take itself at all seriously and yet manages to be deep (and bloody and funny).

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