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News and reviews for the big and small screens…where potatoes fear to tread.

The Saga Continues ~ Prometheus

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Having worked our way through all four Alien films, Ryan and I (accompanied by his gf Ellie) decided to complete the series by going to see the latest installment, Prometheus.We had the good fortune to snag some IMAX tickets, meaning we got our faces well and truly blown off!

There’s a lot to say about this movie, a lot of which is spoileriffic – so if you haven’t seen it, stay clear! In summary, it is better than Alien 3 and 4 – but that’s not exactly saying much. It does, however, give a lot of food for thought. See my detailed discussion below:

Is it a prequel? Well…

Sir Ridley has been doing some serious damage limitation on this one, claiming the film functions less as a prequel and more as a ‘spin-off’ which just happens to be set in the same universe.Clearly, the film was intended as a prequel, but rewrites by Damon Lindelof took the story in a different direction –  meaning it is now deeply unsatisfying as a direct prequel, but equally doesn’t do enough to distance itself from the original series to work as a one-off.

It shares many aspects of its DNA with the original – including H.R. Giger’s dark and disturbingly sexual design. The set pieces are largely familiar, exploring the consequences of intrusion onto the spaceship, but also contain direct references to the ingredients of the old series (see: the black vials of goo, set out just like the alien eggs). But despite some attempts to make it join up with the start of Alien, there are just too many plotholes (like how the Alien was even born at the end) for it to work.

The Ladies

My previous writings on Alien looked at the degeneration in how women’s bodies are treated in the series.

Prometheus kinda takes the biscuit.

And yes, I’m talking about that scene. Whilst I have ultimate respect for a lady who can perform a caesarian on herself and then run around at full pelt for the next 40 minutes, the exploitation of Shaw’s body to provide new heights of shocking horror is blatant and disappointing. As soon as Shaw announces she is ‘barren’, we start wondering how she is going to get knocked up. Then she has sex. In a movie this just invites punishment. Put the two together and you get…MYSTICAL PREGNANCY: The PREQUEL. If Ripley’s mystical pregnancy (which follows her only sexual encounter) leads to the birth of the symbolic antichrist, Shaw’s is a kind of facehugger John the Baptist. Barf.

It is made worse by the fact that Shaw has no personality to speak of. She is clearly very intelligent, although one is never sure of the precise area of her expertise (something sciencey…?). She has her boyfriend. And then there’s her dead father, who serves as some kind of explanation for her dogged religious faith, even in the face of squid babies and murderous giants. I don’t know if it’s Noomi Rapace or the terrible script (or both) that creates such a distance between Shaw and the audience, but it makes the heroine disappointingly dull.

The other key female player, Meredith Vickers, is also motivated by her Daddy Issues. Charlize Theron does a good job as the ice queen, but this character is such a tired stereotype and it’s difficult to see what she really adds to the film.

Her sexual appetite also leads to disaster when it takes the captain (another stereotype – a devil-may-care seadog) away from the monitor for long enough that poor schmuck Rafe Spall is choked by the oh-so-phallic serpent.

Is there anything good about this movie?

I’m being a little over negative. Yes, there are some good things:

  • Fassy is very good in this film and David steals the show. I love an android story (esp. Bladerunner itself) and here is one who occupies a wonderfully grey narrative space.
  • The CGI is incredible.
  • Action scenes too.
  • I really enjoyed some of the plot twists, particularly when the ‘creators’ turned out to be sinister.
  • Also enjoyed the visual teasing that ended up with the revelation of the squid baby as a giant facehugger.

Unanswered Questions

Coming out of this film, I had a lot of questions. I’ve forgotten all of them now, but I’m still wondering:

  • How exactly the black goo works (interesting ideas here, but I don’t quite agree – it cause the worms to evolve, made that one guy into a crazy zombie, made the Engineers explode and created a squid baby in Shaw, so who the heck knows)
  • Why the Alien/xenomorph is seen in the cave artwork when it is only born at the end from a combination of human and engineer host
  • How the Alien from Alien actually ended up on that other planet
  • What the Engineers’ real plan was – was the goo really a WMD? The captain assumed that but we never really knew their motivation
  • Why Guy Pearce spent the entire film in awful makeup pretending to be old, without any need for it as we didn’t even see a flashback. In fact, I spent the whole thing thinking he was Fassbender in latex.

Methinks there will be a director’s cut – you know SRS loves them and there were definitely some jumps in logic during the film (like how come nobody even mentioned Shaw’s surgery…) which suggested hefty edits. But whether these questions will be answered remains to be seen.

Now to tackle the Predator series…

p.s. best post-film response from a non-Sci-Fi fan (Ellie): There were so many random guys on the spaceship who didn’t have names or anything – and then they all just died!

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