A Few Thoughts on “Prometheus”

Matt and I had been seeing the trailers for Prometheus for quite some time and were really excited about the film. So excited that we actually went to see it in the theater. This is amazing. We hadn’t been to the movies in over a year, so you know this one had to really pique our interest to justify spending nearly $40 to see a film.

We both also love Alien, further driving home the excitement factor here. I want to make this absolutely clear because the movie was so hyped up and we had seriously high expectations.

Here’s my non-spoilery review: I loved it. Sure, it had some flaws (big ones) and certain aspects of it irritated me, but I still loved it. I loved its scope. I love what it attempted to do. I thought it was fantastic to see a sci-fi movie like this on the big screen.

There, with that out of the way, I can move onto the real reason I’m writing this post. I’m not  good at reviewing things. I get all clunky and awkward but I felt I needed to write something about this because some of the criticism I’m seeing leveraged at the film just isn’t fair. Warning: from here on out, there be spoilers.

Let’s get what I found wrong with the film out of the way first, shall we? For starters, it lacked the slow build up that made Alien so tense and riveting. There was so much plot that the movie took off right from the outset, leaving little time for tension or suspense. Where Alien scared the pants off of you because of the eerie quiet, Prometheus doesn’t achieve it because it’s go, go, go the whole time.

The too much plot problem also led to very little time for character development. Now, I’m not talking about the vague statements made about people’s backstory or past like Shaw’s dead father and religious beliefs. That felt tacked on. In Alien, we never really knew any of the crew’s backstory exactly, but because we had a good 30 minutes at the beginning of the movie of them interacting with one another, you felt like you knew them and where they were coming from before the alien starting bursting out of chests.

Also, the movie suffered from some inconsistencies. I call it the “too many aliens” problem. I thought I had a handle on how aliens in this world reproduced–weird wormy, facehugger thing goes down your throat, creature bursts out of your chest, it grows into a xenomorph. Pretty straightforward, right? But in Prometheus, we’ve got a black oil-like goo that apparently can infect people (like Holloway). Since he had sex with Shaw, she was impregnated with a creature that looks like a giant facehugger? And then what about those two stupid dudes that got stranded in the temple during the silica storm? They look like full on mutants or something, even though one was infected by means of a facehugger creature. Color me confused. Is the black goo that David infects Holloway with the same goo we see the Engineer drinking at the beginning of the film before he breaks apart into DNA?

These are the questions that I have about the film and I felt were weak spots.

But these aren’t really the things I’m seeing people complaining about. No, I’m seeing claims that the film is sexist and racist. I’m seeing that it fails because it asks big questions or it’s too vague. I’m left wondering if people saw the same movie I did.

Because the Engineer at the beginning of the film is male, or at the very least super masculine, some are saying that this movie writes women out of all of creation. Fair enough. But this was obviously playing on western mythological tropes from which humanity rises from the ruined body of a god. Besides, whose to say how the Engineers reproduce? We don’t know where they came from, what they live like–nothing. We don’t know what sex they are, even. All we know is they’re male gendered.

Also, because the Engineer is very pale, some are saying the film is racist, but I really don’t see it. If anything, that dude was translucent, and why would these Engineers even have the same races as humans? Yes, they share human DNA, but the are obviously not the same as us. Besides, isn’t race something that evolved over millennia based upon numerous factors including environment and climate–extra melanin is helpful along the equator, etc? It’s a case of flawed logic.

Lastly, I’ve seen numerous articles online about how confusing the film is. Other than the inconsistencies I pointed out above, along with a lack of character motivation in some cases, I just don’t understand what was so confusing about it. Some didn’t realize that the Engineer at the beginning was seeding life on an earth like planet. Others were confused as to why David decided to infect Holloway with the mysterious black goo. Really? The awful things Holloway was saying about robots weren’t reason enough? Plus, for those who’ve seen Alien, David is just as fascinated with the aliens as Ash was, if you recall. This movie is like a less suspenseful Alien. Seriously. It’s not that complicated.

So, I’m sorry if this was ranty, but I’ve been getting annoyed by some criticism being leveraged at the film. It’s not a perfect movie. Far from it. But criticism based on false assumptions drives me batty. That is all.

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