There will be “spoilers” in the sense that much of the plot of the movie will be revealed. There will not be spoilers in the sense that anything will actually be spoiled for you. It was rotten already.
There are so many ways that the movie Prometheus disappoints, it’s nearly impossible to enumerate them. However, my heart is so full of hate that I must try. I will categorize.
1. Plot. Have one.
So this rich old man wants to meet God. No, wait, he wants immortality. No, wait, he wants a bioweapon that he doesn’t know exists. No, wait, the android surrogate son wants the bioweapon. No, wait, he wants to impregnate a woman with an alien to transport it back. No, wait, he doesn’t care about the woman with the alien baby and just leaves her to roam about. He’s loyal to the old man and just wants to help him. No, wait, he hates him and wants him to die. No, wait, he has no desires because he’s a robot.
Also the rich old man has a daughter who loves him. Hates him. Loves him, hates the android. Wants the old man’s job. Wants to protect the old man.
There are these giant aliens who leave maps on ancient Earth to point humanity to them. Also, they hate humanity and want to murder them. But only recently. Also, they created humanity by drinking black goo. Their bioweapons got out of control and killed everyone on a remote planet. Except for one. Also, there were a lot of ships there. But no other engineers on them to help out I guess. Also, the *exact* same thing happened on an entirely different planet (sometime prior to the events in Alien) with the whole bioweapons run amok deal. Tough luck.
Lastly, the final scene of Prometheus heavily suggests that we have just witnessed the creation of the xenomorphs and yet…there is a painting (Also…what the John Diddly? Paintings?!) of one in the derelict space craft. So? Who knows.
2. Characters. Make at least one not turrible.
There’s Holloway, Lead Man Scientist. He walks around acting, and talking like a petulant teen that would be hard-pressed to make a C in Algebra, much less inspire a interplanetary search for Man’s origins.
His girlfriend/ co-discoverer is passionately sure the Gods have “invited” them. Until she isn’t. then she wants to blow them up because she figured out everything there was to know about their motivations in a day and a half.
There is a character named Vickers who is really hot and selfish and bad because she is a corporate suit. She burns some dude to death because he is carrying a contagion that would cause him to kill everyone on board. No, that makes her a hero. No, a bad guy. She does push-ups when she’s wet and stares all mean and stuff.
There are a biologist and geologist who get left behind in a derelict spaceship. They are petrified and run around in fear. Until they see an alien tentacle. Then they go pet it.
There is Captain Janek. He is Tough As Nails and Just Runs The Ship. He has one of the saddest attempts at a southern accent ever put to film. He does it with Vickers. He heroically kills himself to save humanity all of a sudden because a nice lady says so.
There is are two other dudes. One might be Italian. One seems to be vaguely Asian. They don’t say or do anything until they triumphantly stay on the ship with Janek because, apparently, it takes three dudes to run one ship into another one. No one cares when they die because you don’t even remember they are there until they blow up.
3. Ideas. Relate them in some manner.
Here are some ideas in Prometheus: Some advanced Alien race is God. This God race created humanity. This God race later decided it hated humanity. This God race later wanted to eradicate all humans but had an accident on the way and decided to never try again. This God race skipped all around the planet seeding different cultures with star maps. The Space Jockey was a God race alien in a suit and not a species with a long snout. Scientists are optimistic idiots. Religious believers are idiots and yet they are right about the human race being designed by an all-powerful intelligence.
A lot of apologists are claiming that Prometheus explores bold, new ideas. Watch 2001. Or, Ridley Scott’s own Blade Runner. Bold new ideas are interesting in the context of a well-executed story, not as a replacement for one. Otherwise you could just film a guy reading notes from a legal pad.
4. Prequel. Decide if you are one.
We’ll never know what really happened but I have a theory. After a few screenings, the makers of prometheus decided (rightly) that this movie was going to be harmed by comparisons to Alien. So, in an attempt to minimize the damage, they flipped the rocker switch on the “It’s not really a prequel” autopilot.
But lets look at the facts:
-There is an Alien IN IT.
-There is a Space Jockey IN IT (or rather what we thought was the Space Jockey… Oh, God).
-There is a spacecraft identical to the one in Alien.
-The events occur on a moon of a ringed planet (freakin’ seriously?!) called LV 223 just as the events in Alien occur on a moon of a ringed planet called LV 426. Guess those Engineers just have a thing for moons of ringed planets ( pretty sure I just rolled my eyes with such hate-filled intensity that a blood vessel ruptured).
Of course it’s a prequel. Of course it is.
In point of fact it’s a *direct* prequel to Alien occurring on the same planet designed to lead directly into the events of Alien right down to idea a *single* Engineer (or space jockey) out of an entire crew left alive and piloting the ship. So why pretend otherwise? Again, it’s my firm belief that someone, late in the game, had the good sense to say, “Holy crap! This makes no sense whatsoever! We’re going to have to sell the idea that this movie is actually *meant* to be abysmally convoluted!”
So they edited and shot a few scenes differently and re-wrote some of the marketing copy.
5. Damon Lindelof. Make him not write words.
Ridley Scott has directed two other legitimate science fiction classics.
Blade Runner (the story) was written by the guy who wrote The Man in the High Castle and several other foundational science fiction classics: Hugo Award winner Phillip K. Dick. Alien was written by Dan O’Bannon (who went on to write Total Recall, a sequence from Heavy Metal, and Blue Thunder) and Walter Hill who wrote 48 Hours and The Warriors among many other solid, gritty scripts.
Prior to Lost, Damon Lindelof’s claims to fame were the TV shows Nash Bridges and Crossing Jordan. He co-wrote Prometheus based on a initial treatment by Jon Spaihts whose sole previous credit was The Darkest Hour. Have a look at it sometime.
Prometheus is a boorish desecration of a classic piece of filmmaking.
I’m not sure why they did it. I’m not sure why Ridley Scott, of all people, thought this was necessary. Did he feel a need to prove that Alien’s success was just as much his as it was Dan O’Bannon’s or HR Giger’s? We’ll never know.
All we have to study, to claw at desperately for answers, is Prometheus.
And how sad is that?