Prometheus Review: Titan's Fall
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Prometheus Review: Titan's Fall

By Daniel Carlson | Film Reviews | June 8, 2012 | Comments ()


In the run-up to the production and release of Prometheus, director Ridley Scott did his best to distance the film from his 1979 Alien, saying: "While Alien was indeed the jumping-off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. ... The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien's DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative." This is exactly the kind of thing you'd say if you wanted to attract as broad an audience as possible to your movie and not just pander to fans of a horror/sci-fi classic, but it's also stunningly untrue, and more than a little dumb. Much of Prometheus takes place in the exact same locations as Alien did, and though you don't have to see Alien to understand Prometheus, there's an absolute causal link between them.

So why would Scott say what he did? The cynical, media-criticism answer is that he was doing all he could to make sure the film made as much money as possible for its studios by bringing in as diverse a crowd as could be relied upon to take a chance on something that looked like a pretty heady sci-fi action/thriller. Maybe he didn't even believe in or care about what he was saying. He just wanted to keep the bottom line strong. That's probably part of it, but I think the statement also acts as a quiet revelation about Scott's own inability to find an artistic basis for the film, which is so enamored of its "ideas" that it often forgoes certain basics like narrative, reason, and character. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof, reworking a script from Jon Spaihts, has created an erratic story populated with characters who swap personalities from scene to scene, and, as he did on "Lost" (which he co-created), he demonstrates a fondness for impressive-looking but empty set pieces that don't actually connect with the story. They look pretty on a big screen, though. There are some good moments in Prometheus, and even a couple of great ones, but they float loose alongside each other instead of forming a larger whole.

It's not that Prometheus shouldn't be about "ideas," either; it's that it doesn't know what to do with the ones it has. The film's basic hook is the origin of humankind, but what starts off so promisingly eventually becomes a weak and unengaging mess. The journey to discover our ancestors kicks off when a pair of archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover the latest in a series of prehistoric cave paintings that seem to reference a faraway constellation. After determining that a number of ancient civilizations, none of whom could have had contact with each other, all have the same painting of the same stars, Shaw and Holloway get billionaire tycoon Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) to fund an expedition to the star system in question. Surely, they reason, Earth's early inhabitants had the same cave art because they came from the same alien world. This is an engaging premise, and Scott brings an appropriate grandeur to the idea of exploring not just other worlds but other worlds that might be mirrors of our own. When the expedition team first reaches its destination planet after a few years of traveling in suspended animation, the film expertly evokes the immediacy of discovery and the thrill of adventuring beyond the edge of the known world. There are glimpses of a taut, riveting film that's as much a meditation on hubris as it is a haunted house ride. Yet those glimpses are all we ever get.

One of the things keeping the film from fully exploring its central themes is the bungled way with which it handles character and narrative. The spaceship Prometheus is practically overflowing with people: Elizabeth and Charlie; Janek (Idris Elba), the salty, working-class captain; Vickers (Charlize Theron), the Weyland rep running the show; Fifield (Sean Harris), a geologist who acts like a serial killer; Millburn (Rafe Spall), a doctor who is staggeringly stupid; David (Michael Fassbender), an android "without a soul" who acts a whole lot like a human with higher-order reasoning and intentions; and various crew members who are given just enough screen time and dialogue that you can't help but feel they had far more to do in a longer, unseen cut of the film. Lindelof isn't quite sure what to do with all these people, especially when it's time to bring them into contact with the alien artifacts that will propel the plot and evoke the much-heralded ideas of destiny and creation. As a result, they're given one personality trait per scene -- sometimes Charlie is Excited, but then he's Angry, or perhaps Despondent -- and promptly forgotten once the camera cuts to new action. Time and again I found myself wondering where everyone was, and what had happened to the seemingly vital people who had disappeared just moments before.

Additionally, Elizabeth's search for answers is meant to tie into a vague crisis of faith as represented by her inherited belief in a quasi-Christian theology of death and the afterlife. Yet so little attention is paid by the film to that aspect of her character that it feels forced and awkward whenever it's brought up. Worse: it's redundant. She's already a passionate scientist and energetic explorer, and the screenplay never finds a way to organically reconcile her spiritual beliefs with the physical application of her feelings. In other words, she's not a person. She's a collection of somewhat appealing concepts that never gel. It's hard not to feel Lindelof at work here. "Lost" had some amazing moments and stories, but it was also notorious for contradicting itself as it unfolded. What's so frustrating is that the script for Prometheus was, one assumes, finished before filming commenced, and not cobbled together during production the way the stories were on "Lost." These problems did not just appear.

It's amazing what you can do with well-placed dialogue and a few key scenes of actual friction. Scott's Alien was masterful at this: Within minutes of meeting those characters, you started to understand who they were and how they worked together. Yet Prometheus robs us of the essential cinematic thrill of seeing characters grow, come together, interact, learn from each other; it prevents us from watching a story and instead gives us disconnected set pieces and (admittedly, often beautiful) images. The most egregious of these is a late-inning exposition dump by Janek, who has, without ever leaving the ship, figured out the true purpose of the alien planet and the exact threat it poses to his crew and humankind. We don't get to see characters learn any of this on their own, not even at an accelerated rate. It's just dumped on them and us so Scott can drop the last bit of pretense and get down to making a predictable, forgettable modern-day action film that's long on spectacle and short on just about everything else.

Despite the clumsy emotional plot tacked onto Elizabeth's character, Rapace is the only one in the film who manages to establish a connection with the viewer, however flimsy, and it's because she's the least prone to stupid decisions. The real thrill from horror movies like this one -- people find alien life, poke it, learn hard lesson -- is watching characters be pursued by fate despite their best intentions to stave off the inevitable. Yet aside from a few choice decisions by Elizabeth, everyone in the film acts as stupidly as possible at every given moment. Charlie goes skipping through the alien planet like a kid at Christmas; members of the science team throw caution, common sense, and scientific procedure to the wind by aggressively doing all they can to upset foreign life forms; people walk into deserted spaces when they should be quietly and quickly walking away. The horror of Alien was watching people trapped on a ship fight a monster in their midst. The men and women of Prometheus went looking for a fight, and they don't know what to do when they get it. Even Fassbender's David feels phony. For all his creators' emphasis on his robotic and servant-like nature, he's remarkably sure of himself and his actions. He's not supposed to have a soul, or reason, but he knows how to take matters into his own hands.

Prometheus isn't bad in the way you think of some movies as being bad. It's just disappointing, frustrating, and off-putting. Scott's clearly still a master technician, and the opening scenes actually make judicious use of 3-D to bring landscapes to life. There are great ideas here, but more, there's a good movie, but they're all buried by false starts, dead ends, and lazy writing. Scott's made more of a prequel than he realizes or admits, too. The title of the film comes together with an assembly of letter fragments, just as Alien's did, and a number of major moments in the film rely on a grand presentation of certain images or locations from the original film. He's trying, to varying degrees, to use an imagined familiarity with the older film to create an acceptance of and awe for the new one. Forget the fact that he's made a movie where characters rely on technology far more advanced than the tech of the movie that's supposed to happen later (call it the Phantom Menace paradox); he's made one that isn't sure if it's supposed to stand alone or cater to longtime fans. Scott feels like a man divided -- or maybe just a man with his guts torn out.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a member of the Houston Film Critics Society and the Online Film Critics Society. He tweets more often than he should, and he blogs at Slowly Going Bald.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Compared to Alien 1 to 3 , there's a complete lack of tension and suspense in this one. I feel the entire movie is unintentionally hilarious!

  • TheOriginalMRod

    I think a lot of people were expecting a horror film... it is science fiction... not horror. Neither was Alien. But it was a lot scarier.

    I think I like it better now that I have had time to think about it. Considering how many "plot holes" there were in Alien as well as Prometheus it will be interesting to see if it holds up as well.

  • pissant

    SPOILERSI doubt anyone will read this, but I'll say it anyway.

    Guy Pearce playing that role made no fucking sense except for him playing that character in that kinda neat/a little stupid fictional future TED talk video they released a while back. He plays an old man the entire fucking time...what was the point in aging him by about fifty years? Just get a fucking old man for the role.

    I think the wowness is wearing off. I think I picked up on the film it wanted to be, and so I still think it was "good". But god damn were those fucking "scientists" stupid.

    "Hey, it seems as though we can breathe in this atmosphere."
    "For realsies?! Shit, I'll just take off my fucking helmet right now! It doesn't matter that we haven't checked the air for a single fucking spore or anything (don't worry, no spoiler here). I just want to take off this seemingly spacious and non-vision-impairing helmet because I don't like helmets. Oh, hey, everybody else do that for the entire movie, too. It's not as if we need to worry about anyone being contaminated with anything or anything. I mean, we're just fucking scientists after all!"

    Yeah, everybody was real-god-damn stupid.

    Oh, and Vickers has some super fancy surgery module dealie of which only a dozen or so were made that stays in her living space which is an easily jettisoned separate part of the ship because she is so concerned with safety...and the surgery pod is calibrated only for men? Perhaps it was meant for someone else, but what was the point of that?

    "Do this femalish procedure, surgery pod!"
    "I'm only calibrated for males."
    "Oh...well, fuck it, we'll just wing it."

    What?! Was anyone else feeling suspense for the two fucking seconds that was a problem?! It was too busy wondering why the pod was calibrated for males when the apparent owner was female. By the time I had mulled that over it was no longer a problem. And, of course...why was that whole subplot even initiated by the character who initiated it? It doesn't fit in at all with what his apparent role was. It was in there purely to tie in to the end.

    And I counted three different ways that one can get infected with three different afflictions. An explanation to two of them is never even attempted. Straight-up fucking Lost levels of bullshit. I heard the writer on NPR a few days ago. He said that he liked stories that raised questions and didn't answer them because it forced him to come up with (and be content with) his own explanation. He does that at least once really well in this film, and you could walk away and hypothesize for hours on this one fundamental question. But when you bring up stupid mechanics like multiple ways to get biologically fucked and then never attempt to explain those, that's just fucking lazy. First graders can throw a bunch of wacky stuff into a story because that is easy. "And then this happens...and then this happens" over and fucking over. But those same first graders can't explain any of that shit because, well, they're stupid first graders. What is the point of even bringing up those different mechanics if you're just going to use them once and they don't really even matter?

    "Hey, I wonder what that whole infection was about."
    "It doesn't matter. He's dead. We'll never see that again and once he died it had no further affect on the story."

    Finally, who gives a fuck about the "No, I am your father!" scene? It made sense in Empire Strikes Back because it explained things and had ramifications for Luke's future. In Prometheus it didn't fucking add anything. So, why was it there??? I posit that the writer is, in many ways, a hack.

    Dan, you were wrong about one thing though. Janek left the ship the second day. It might be asking a bit, but what he "figured out" seemed relatively reasonable. I mean, fuck, his explanation makes a lot more sense than most of the things that happened in this movie.

  • hapl0


    ...what was the point in aging him by about fifty years?

    They were shamelessly hoping for our Memento love to get us into the theater and more importantly stay there.

    But god damn were those fucking "scientists" stupid.

    If this is the writer's idea of pulling in the late teen, early 20s crowd with the biker boyfriend and the geologist who moonlights at WWE then it is beyond fucking stupid.

    Everything they did was so random and carefree that I couldn't even care less when they died.

    The supposedly cool biologist who freaks out one second then suddenly turns into Steve Irwin. Okay, this alien snake thingy just did the cobra thing so what should I do next? Poke it!

    and the surgery pod is calibrated only for men? Perhaps it was meant for someone else, but what was the point of that?

    I was doing the wtf head shake as well. Talk bout manufactured suspense. I figured it would be for Weyland but then again Vickers thought he was dead so...Vickers is actually a dude? Makes perfect sense when you consider the father scene now, doesn't it?

    What is the point of even bringing up those different mechanics if you're just going to use them once and they don't really even matter?

    I still don't get how you go from an infected human>sex>face hugger baby>suddenly giant ass face hugger>full grown xeno bursting out of the engineer.

    Nothing that makes sense with what I know of the universe. Just random shit cobbled together and I should just go with it because it's cool and mysterious when it's unexplained.

    Other nonsensical things I like to add to the list:

    1) The two scientist that gets conveniently lost did not stay put despite their earlier freak outs and when Janek warns them of something moving, he just shrugs it off when the warning stops beeping. How could you not leave a man on deck to monitor the situation all night when you know something killed the engineers before?

    2) David's actions. I was sure this was Ash all over again receiving instructions from the Company to start experimenting but he was talking to Weyland and I don't think Weyland told him to mess around with the goo. Why is he allowed to do whatever the hell he wanted without anybody questioning or monitoring him? He opens alien doors before anyone could say anything. Wasn't Shaw and the good for nothing boyfriend in charge of the expedition?

  • kandor71

    I purposely never watched any trailers/previews for Prometheus, I wanted to go into the movie without any preconceived ideas.
    I loved it, by no means is it perfect, but visually it was a masterpiece.

  • i enjoyed this review 10x more than the pos crappy movie. nicely done sir. lol on prometheus. another hollywood paycheck movie that was made just because they could, not because they gave a shit.

  • Repo

    This site has turned into such a bullshit hive mentality lately. I would bet ANYTHING if Dan had praised it, this comment thread would be filled with people commending his review and agreeing with him .

  • I was completely disappointed in every way by this movie. To begin with (and this may have just been a problem at the theater where I saw the film), it was very dim. Even scenes that you'd think would be well lit were not.

    Secondly, none of it was scary. NONE. I saw every inch of the plot coming from a mile away. Fassbender's David has been compared to HAL9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey by other reviewers. I don't know what crack pipe they've been smoking, but they need to get to a treatment center quick like. And, that 's not to harsh on Fassbender's performance. I love him. It's more a problem of the material he was given to work with.

    In addition to the android with questionable agendas, so much of the plot felt like a re-hash of earlier installments in the Alien series - slithery things eating you from the inside out, exploding heads, extremely acidic goo, unwanted cargo in the belly, etc.

    As for all the talk about faith, it felt like it was written by someone who doesn't have any but wanted to make a "thought provoking" movie. As others ahead of me have said, it felt like there were a lot of scenes missing, because that element of the story really felt shoe horned in.

    I could go on in this manner for awhile, but in short, I would've been a lot more satisfied if I had just re-watched Alien or Aliens.

  • Yes, I agree. I want the uncut version of this film. I'm sure a good 30-40 min was chopped out of the middle of it. The first half of the sci-fi story was genuinely clever, engaging and intelligent (not to mention that the H.R. Giger-inspired art direction top notch throughout), but the second half of horror turned into a giant WTF sandwich with B.S. substituted for the prime roast beef we were initially enticed by. Like Mr. Scott got bored with the pseudoscience, couldn't wait to get to the gore and rushed past everything like character motivation and plot logic. So did the studio sabotage the final cut, or did the screenwriter simply run out of gas? I'd really like to know. This prequel is big on brilliant ideas, but the outcome was extremely disappointing. Lost it's cohesion and fell apart after people started dying. Not quite Phantom Menace-level bad, but still so poorly structured, it isn't worth a repeat viewing. But great job on the exquisitely squeamish sexual element of alien reproduction in the last 10 minutes. Whoa. Makes me fear hermaphroditic organisms like I never had before.

  • I really liked Prometheus. It's a massive sci-fi novel of a movie, which I think is the point. The characters aren't the characters. They're ciphers for ideas. The conceptual framework of the film--constantly flowing and changing as new research is gathered on the planet--is the driving force of the story. I don't think it's inconsistent or lazy. It's a think tank of a movie that defines itself as whatever it needs to be to explore any idea at any given moment. It's like Tree of Life, only with more tentacle rape.

  • RoboticSpaceShark

    Calling a movie a think tank when the science is awful and the characters aren't far behind is...yeah.

  • cbones1979

    Please explain how
    Don't worry...we'll wait ;)

  • Explain what? I think my argument is pretty clearly spelled out.

  • BobbFrapples

    The ending was open enough that I can see another prequel/sequel coming to tie up the loose ends. The David scenes were really the best part about this movie.

  • Cover Me, Porkins

    Excellent review. Like you, I wouldn't consider this a terrible movie. And after that first, schlocky studio teaser, I knew something was amiss — so I kept expectations low. But Prometheus is irritating. It's a waste of a lot of money and another middling entry into the series. I'm left in search of anyone in Hollywood who can write a clear narrative.

  • Vee

    Spoilers, I guess. Here is my burning question: Why the hell was David the Android dying his fucking hair? Who packs a spaceship with hair bleach? The exposition from the Weyland hologram that as an Android David didn't have a soul was so out of place. Themes could have been more subtle.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Fassy definitely stole the show. Noomi was excellent as well, ouchie! Every bruise and cut looked real, and really painful. And who couldn't love Idris?

    More questions than answers but entertaining as hell. And a really great cast.

  • Scott

    I liked it. And enjoyed being thoroughly squicked out several times.
    I will agree that Janek's exposition dump was clunky as hell. (And the other two guys on the bridge that go along with his selfless act for no reason other than maybe leaving us to see Theron stripping alone? What?)

    One thing though... the film ends with what feels like the beginning of a way more interesting movie. Is Shaw truly out for answers, or revenge? Either way it won't end well for her, and that's some shit i want to see.

  • The Wanderer

    Hooray! I can make comments without having to log in, or jump through stupid hoops.

    The review was sort of melancholy. Scott had a good idea, but pissed it down his leg.

  • kayla

    OMG so many spoilers in this thread! What happened to spoiler warnings? Anyway, I'm kind of irritated that this movie is getting so many lackluster reviews. But I'm seeing it anyway.

  • Elizabeth

    When I see a movie that you know will likely be mediocre and it turns out that way, I'm usually OK with it. I was only expecting cheap fluff anyway. However when I see a movie with a great cast and what should be a great story but a poor script and poor directing turns it into a crock, it leaves a bitter taste. It bothers me more than expecting fluff and seeing fluff.

  • DarthCorleone

    Excellent review. I'm sad to say I agree with pretty much all of it.

  • csb

    Forget the fact that he’s made a movie where characters rely on
    technology far more advanced than the tech of the movie that’s supposed
    to happen later (call it the Phantom Menace paradox)

    I don't think that's really an issue between the films. The Nostromo in Alien was essentially an old tugboat that was dragging along a refinery behind it. The Prometheus on the other hand is meant to be top of the range and provided by Weyland for a scientific expedition. You'd expect the latter ship and its crew to have much better sensors, equipment, etc. at their disposal.

    I agree with pretty much everything else you said though.

  • Dissed

    It's "Alien" film that's become fat and lazy!!! Too much of the good life Mr Scott - you're no longer as hungry as you once were. I hate the thought, but can't help thinking that my once hero Ridley Scott is solely responsible for such a disastrous script - even though it was the work of an apparently stupid Lindelof. Great concepts, crappy execution. Oh what could have been...

  • Zsa Zsa Binks

    "While Alien was indeed the jumping-off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. … The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative.”
    The only part of that quote that bother me is the last bit- I took the rest as simply expectation management. Had Scott abandoned his inadequate attempt at grander themes and focused on greater depth of character, he might have simply fashioned an excellent sci if thriller.
    Not the classic I was hoping for but I still enjoyed it, albeit with a couple of moments of colossal dumbness that had me all but screaming at the screen (for fucks sake, RUN SIDEWAYS). After all that AvP nonsense it was nice to have an Alien film.

  • Samantha

    It was too heavy handed.

    I will be using this as birth control for my child, because after seeing that many scary penises she may subconsciously develop a fear of them.

  • Mr_Grumpypants

    This is one of those reviews that I respect because it is well written and makes good points, yet I disagree entirely.

    I loved the movie, I was engrossed from start to finish.

  • Marce

    I applaud you, Daniel. I'm so sick of reading comments attesting to how stupid the audience is who doesn't understand this film. It didn't make sense. It was aesthetically gorgeous but completely fell apart in its plotting, dialogue, and characters. Thank god for Rapace, Fassbender, and Theron. Most of the other actors seemed completely at a loss as to where to go with their stock characters.

  • competitivenonfiction

    You know, despite the fact that I left with way more questions than I have answers, and the unevenness throughout, I liked it. I thought the acting was good - Theron was pretty fantastic. And Fassbender's David made sense to me. He wasn't acting on his own and wasn't taking matters into his own hands; he was just figuring out how to get the outcomes that he was directed to get. Every time the main scientist was on screen, I kept thinking, I've met this douchebag so many times (I live in the Pacific Northwest and spent time backpacking around SE Asia), with his stupid cuffed pants and scarf, and ridiculous ego.

    That said, as a woman who is three months pregnant and just 8 months after having a caesarian-like surgery for a foot-ball sized ovarian tumor, I nearly had a heart-attack in the theater. I don't know that I've ever had such a visceral reaction to a movie scene before. Clearly, that's what they were going for and it was super well done, but I am not sure I'll sleep tonight. Or ever again. Well played Scott. Well played.

  • cindy_davis

    I just got home from seeing the film and your review could not be more perfect, Dan. Spot on from first word to last. Lindelof has decent ideas, but he doesn't seem to know how to bring them together to make a coherent story, nor how to end said story. Overall, watching the film unfold was enjoyable, but the script failures stood out time and again. And like you, I wonder why Scott-who's such a nitpicker--let the story ride.

  • FourEyespartdeux's just like Alien vs Predator but without the Predator? Or with the Alien being the Predator? But then the Alien was always the Predator? Oh the conundrums!

  • Kayla Smith789

    Did anyone think that the spaceship Prometheus kind of looked like Serenity?

  • Jen

    The moment Prometheus is shown my sister leaned over and whispered "that's Serenity, they stole Serenity". So other people saw it too.

  • hapl0

    Well boink me sideways for going all out on this craptacular mess of a movie. 

    This could have just as easily been directed by Bryan Singer for its slavish execution.

    Is it so hard to give us something new and for once gives us the answer we've been waiting for an eternity instead of pushing it off to a sequel of a planned trilogy which we now know will never happen....again. Not looking at you Terminator Salvation. Not looking at you at all.

    Snore Games - Avengers - Boremetotears

    That's 1-2. TDKR better tie this up next month or I'm throwing myself off the balcony when the credits starts rolling with me screaming, "The horror! The horror!". 

  • Clancys_daddy

    I had concerns when the trailers showed technology in a trailer that was more sophisticated than what was in the original when it was supposed to be a prequel.  Unfortunately the were well founded.

  • Milkman of Doom

    Since we talked about the abortion scene and such, an I ask a SPOILERY question now?

    If a super race of beings was 2,000 years old and wanted to kill us, why would they need to send an alien life form as a biological weapon?  They have spaceships!  They know where our planet is!  Come to Earth in your spaceship and bust a cap in our asses!  It's not like the human race would put up a fight 2K years ago.  If you have spaceship technology, I am sure you have the technology to remotely kill a bunch of Jim Caviezels running around Jerusalem in sandals and robes.

    Did I miss something, or is that a bit of silly scripting?  

  • ed newman

    I like to think the engineers believe humans to be cockroaches. They can try to blow us up but we'll just hide underground until they leave. But if they drop a few thousand xenomorphs on our ass for a couple of decades, we're sure to get eradicated. Basically they didn't want to be stuck in Afghanistan for 10 years, so they send in the hounds.

  • Littlejon2001

    At first I would have completely agreed with you. My friend, however, made an excellent hypothesis that I think is loosely supported by the movie.


    As you know, the whole point of them going to the Moon was to find their "makers". The first scene of the movie was most likely EARTH, not that alien planet (as you see the ship leaving and the Engineer who stayed watching it). He takes that black bubbly goo (that does different things to everyone who ingests it, but that's neither here or there) and then breaks down and releases his DNA into the river...which begins the process of evolution to create human life.

    They leave the paintings in the caves to invite the humans to the Moon (the Moon where the biological weapon is, mind you, not where they live). Basically the humans are Prometheus. The Engineers are "the Gods". When Prometheus gets too close to the sun (when the humans actually make it to the moon) the Gods (the Engineers) realize it is time for that race to be destroyed. They have gotten to powerful. However, something happened on that Moon the Engineers did not expect and the biological weapon got out of control.

    I think this make sene, but the movie seems to kind of abandon this idea, that they clearly laid the ground work for, in order to pursue 30 minutes of mindless action at the end of the film.

  • Jamie

    I would like to have you with me at EVERY thinking movie I see from this point on. A better explanation that the film itself could provide!

  • competitivenonfiction

    My theory is almost the opposite of this. I think that the "Gods" they found were kind of a red herring. They were a soldier race - little to no genetic diversity. I would imagine they were a brother or a cousin species - created by the same people, but not the creators themselves. The humans traveling to earth may have been the reason for trying to kill them, but I think they send their foot soldiers to do the work.

  • Amy Cegielski

    It was super disappointing. Also, if it was 2092 or whatever why was the idiot biologist still wearing glasses?

  • Christopher Regan

    Allergic to Retinox 5, I assume.

  • Mweber3920

    It was a great movie. As usual, you pajibians are over thinking it and too cool for school. Would it be a crime to like something now and then? You all are the biggest bunch of bitchers I've ever heard of. Go see it and you'll have fun. End of story.

  • Sarahelainemchugh

    That abortion scene though.... what a cracker.

  • John G.

    That scene was ridiculous. I couldn't believe they didn't make that a dream sequence. It was so over the top.

  • Jezzer

    I'll probably wait for the DVD, now that the review has crushed my spirit and all expectations.

  • seanfast

    "and a number of major moments in the film rely on a grand presentation of certain images or locations from the original film "

    Upon seeing the trailers, I would have agreed with you. Examples like:

    -seeing the space jockey fasten himself into the "pilot's chair" like we find him in Alien
    -seeing the derelict spaceship crashlanded on the surface like we encounter it in Alien

    But it should be noted that these and other scenes that feel similar are only nods to the Alien film, not setups of what is to come. 

    This is not the same planet (planetoid?) as in Alien

    The derelict ship you see in these trailers is not the derelict ship in Alien. The space jockey is not in the pilot chair like we find him when the crew of the Nostromo lands.
    The planetoid classification in this one is (forgive me for not remembering the exact number) something like LV33 or something, but most definitely not LV426. 

    It can be understood from the trailers why this seemed like a prequel, but once watching, you realize it only has nods to the other film, but doesn't set up the locations. 

    If anything, the consequences of the crew's actions in this movie may serve to inform Weyland Industries of the existence of a potential weapon. This better fleshes out their decision to return with that weapon in Alien when they believe they may have rediscovered the weapon.

  • cbones1979

    Very true but, I felt like they tried to spoon feed us too much when after the 1st minute (actually before the movie started) I knew what/who the space jockey was. The ending alien was also a wave at fanboys that I think could have been left out.
    B rating from me
    engineer outfits/design are haunting IMO

  • L.O.V.E.

    "Time and again I found myself wondering where everyone was, and what had
    happened to the seemingly vital people who had disappeared just moments

    That's because spaceship movies have giant ships the size of Kentucky, and only a handful of people on them.

    Why do all these movies in outer space have these huge ships the size of 5 aircraft carriers, but seemingly only have 30 people on them at any one time. Even the Avengers has this problem.  Can't they CGI more characters? 

    Out of most movies with space ships, only Star Wars seemed to know how to balance the size of the ship with the amount of primary vs. secondary vs. background extras.

  • duckandcover

    In the words of President Skroob from Spaceballs, "This ship is too big. If I walked, the movie would be over."

  • Cover Me, Porkins

    Oddly enough, that's actually an obscure sci-fi conceptual preference — the ship needs to be massive to get about, but doesn't need a proportional crew.

  • Guest

    And they address this well in Sunshine (oxygen usage, life support etc).

  • Tinkerville

    Damn. I'll still be seeing it tonight but will probably be thoroughly disappointed. Can I blame Lindelof? I'll blame Lindelof. Then I'll go home, curl into the fetal position, and rewatch Aliens for a much needed Newt fix. 

  • Turd Ferguson

    It wasn't the marketing slog that killed it, the marketing slog was there to warn us that it was going to be weak and word of mouth wasn't gonna do it for them. The bigger the push, the larger the turd.

  • Ignatz

    I guess that's why they've been putting out so much film on the Spiderman remake. If I see any more "extended footage", I'd say they might as well release the movie on VOD.

  • Christopher Martinez

    *roll eyes* Its a good movie, its alot of fun and it shares a similiar vein of Alien excitement. Will it stand the test of time as Alien did? Possible...keep in mind that when Alien came out it was considered a bomb both by reviews and at the box office. People are going into this with conceptions that it will be a grand and mind blowing as Alien was. But lets keep in mind that the mind blowing aspect of Alien didnt occur until years after its release when people started seeing it in a new light. Perhaps the same will occur here. Its a good movie, give it a shot. I certainly wasnt 'frustrated' but maybe thats because i didnt go into it thinking it would be a actual prequel to Alien in both style and execution. 

  • Zirza

    I agree with everything said here.

    Except Robot Fassie. He creeped me out. I thought he was wonderfully unsettling, which I thought was the point.

  • I'd like to think of Prometheus as the reboot of the fiction genre.
    A great job.

  • blorft

    I had pretty low expectations for this movie, but I adore the original film and liked Aliens, so I saw it opening night anyway. It was a mess.

    I actually thought that David was the best part, and was rooting for him above the other characters. The way he's set up as a character doesn't make sense, but I'll allow that the incongruousness between what he was and what he was may have been making a point. I was also rooting for the alien, by the end. It seemed like a reasonable, if slimy, chap.

    Disagree that Shaw was the least prone to stupid decisions. She made almost exclusively stupid decisions, although I did appreciate that she decided to take her health matters into her own hands. Her relationship with Dr. Dudebro McScientist was forced and annoying, ultimately, served no real narrative purpose. Then again, most of the characters served no narrative purpose, though Vickers was almost cool and interesting in her way. And apparently there was not an old man available in Hollywood to play an old man? That was terrible make-up and a terrible character.

    Maybe if they had made one third of the movie they tried to make with one third the characters, it would have worked and had some much-needed focus. I'll totally grant that it was beautiful, though. 

  • Stephen Nein


  • dustpink

    It's been a week since I saw the movie and it doesn't hold up well to the passage of time. I have zero incentive to go back and revisit the story. While in the cinema I enjoyed and had great fun, but that is owed largely to the excitement of watching a very-hyped up and touted movie for the first time.
    Visually, it's absolutely gorgeous (that opening scene!), but in every other aspect it's a mess.  I don't see it becoming a classic.

    DC, your review is spot-on and it opens to scrutiny some very blatant flaws and missteps.

  • Slash

    Eh, this is pretty much what I expected. I don't think there were many unanswered questions after the first Alien movie. Seemed pretty straightforward to me. Freighter crew "stumbles" on extremely violent species, it gets loose on the ship, they have to kill it and keep from being killed. I think a more interesting "prequel" would have  explained how the company found it to begin with, and why it ignored the warning the other aliens (the big ones) had left for us. Maybe this movie answers that. 

    Sounds like the problem with this movie is, it's about us and our "origin." And the first couple Alien flicks weren't really about us. They (esp. the first) were about nature and how we're just one species, and probably not the superior species we think we are, either. Outside of the planet we evolved on and have come to dominate, we're at a distinct disadvantage, and that was kind of cool to watch. 

    I guess I'll check this out eventually, but maybe not at full price. There's nothing wrong with a big, pretty movie, it's just it was bound to suffer by comparison with the first two, since they were so fucking awesome (each in their own way). 

  • BAM

    Disclaimer: I'm super excited about this, but

    I'm not surprised in the least that a Lost writer screwed up with an abundance of characters.

  • Pill

    This review nails this movie. Some ambition but it's the worst of Lindelof all over. Having seen both I think MIB 3 is actually a better movie then this. 

  • $27019454

    Daniel I really enjoy your reviews -- sometimes more than the actual film. I'll still see this movie, and then I'll enjoy re-reading your review. Thanks.

  • hapl0

    I have eight hours to burn before I get to my balcony seat but seeing the word fall in the title is disheartening to say the very least.

    God, I hope I'm wrong about this and get doubly rewarded for it when I watch it.

  • Vitreous

    hehe... the Phantom Menace paradox - I was just thinking how useful a few of those probes might have been to the Marines in Aliens! 

  • About your "Phantom Menace Paradox": althoughI haven't seen Prometheus yet, one could attribute the differences in technology to the fact that although this is earlier, Prometheus is a high-tech exploration ship whereas the Nostromo was a crappy mining freighter. We could conclude that Nostromo had only what was needed to do its job, and as cheaply as possible.

  • NY not NYC

    ...least prone to stupid decisions...  is how I picked my fave Lost characters, as well.

  • MovieGeekBlog

    All the recent negative reactions to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus say more about the counter-productive effect of a marketing campaign which was just too big and eventually just imploded on itself, than it says about the actual film. The expectations were just too high, and the hunger for it too big. The film was supposed to answer questions which have been hanging for 33 years since the first Alien was first released. And of course Ridley Scott was the man who single-handedly redefined the sci-fi genre (not just with Alien, but with Blade Runner as well) and this was his first return to space in 3 decades. Disappointment was inevitable and the film became a victim of its own hype. On the first viewing very few people judged it for its own merits, while everyone else (including me) compared it to a film which had been made in a time when there was nothing like that. Prometheus may not be the prequel fans wanted (not quite sure what that would have been anyway), it may not be as ground-breaking as some had hoped, but it’s not a bad film... And I do wonder if it had been directed by some unknown newcomer or if it had not be trumpeted by endless trailers and teasers, whether we would have judged it differently. Interestingly critical reaction to the first Alien was initially pretty negative too. After all it was considered a B-movie. Famously Time Out called it an "empty bag of tricks whose production values and expensive trickery cannot disguise imaginative poverty” Should the hype have been handled differently? Probably not. The figures speak pretty clearly and at the end of the day in Hollywood box office talks louder than a few disappointed reviewers and bloggers. In fact not one but sequels are already in the pipeline. My FULL Review is here

  • L.O.V.E.

     Lacks paragraphs and punctuation.

    Grammar patrol, where did you go?  Fresh chum in the water. Bite away.

  • dustpink

     If your reviews display such a frustrating lack of paragraphs as your comment does, no amount of whoring out your site will get you the traffic you crave.

  • Holden McGroyne

     Not to mention parentheses rape.

  • Jezzer

    If you want to advertise your own website, pay Dustin to put an ad up.  This isn't your one-stop shop for page views.

  • John G.

    Just got back from the midnight screening.  This review is exactly correct, no attention was paid to the characters.  Nothing anyone does makes sense, or is consistent from scene to scene.  My biggest pet peeve was the religious nonsense.  The constant reference to the cross necklace, David not having a soul, believe what you choose to believe diatribe throughout the film was really tiring. 

    The opening ten minutes, though, were beautiful, like a short film.  I prefer to think that there was a beautiful short film that played before the lame feature.

  • ClaireB

    Great review. One word to sum up the movie : frustrating. With directors like Ridley Scott, everybody says yes without reading a line of the script, so when they realise how much of a mess it is, it's way too late. It can't just be the editing, he could have made a 3 hours movie, it has been done before. Damn it ! So disappoiting. Yeah it's beautiful, and the acting is great. But way too much "WTF??" in two hours.

  • dita

    Excellent review, I'd only like to add the following observation:

    The success of the first two movies was in the combination of that claustrophobic, enclosed space with the body horror of having something inside you and the long slow burn of its gestation with the realisation of the havoc it would wreak once it wanted out. 'Prometheus' fails on both counts by having a ping-ponging commuter bus route to the alien site (so no threat of being trapped) and removing all horrific tension by almost immediately killing the characters who do become infected or having the threat so quickly resolved that the crawling body horror never takes hold (even Alien3 managed to get this bit right). With a movie you have such opportunity to really let this breathe; 'Prometheus' felt like a new series episode of 'Doctor Who' where the cliffhanger has to be immediately resolved in the next scene.

    That said, I'd never seen Fassbender in a film and had wondered what all the fuss was about - how beige does that man look in stills? - but am a totally convert now. Sex me up, my blonde-tipped love robot! He really was the best thing in it.

  • emmelemm

     Blond-tipped Love Robot:  Band name of the week.

  • MrFroggie

    He was excellent in X-Men: First Class as well. Believe or not he was one of the Spartans in 300 too. He was the cocky one. He had a brief part in Haywire too, where he was going with a very James Bond vibe.

  • mona_sterling

    "An android 'without a soul' who acts a whole lot like a human with higher-order reasoning and intentions" who "knows how to take matters into his own hands" perfectly sums up my qualifications for a Fassbender sexbot.

    To immerse yourself in both the inner and outer beauty that is Michael Fassbender, you need to check out Fish Tank, Hunger, and for God's sake as Rochester in Jane Eyre.  Hell, he's the best thing in that God-awful Jonah Hex.

    *slinks away as unhealthy fixation on a celebrity is made public*

  • Elias

    I saw the movie a week ago in france. It was hard not to tell here how disapointed i was (btw it's my first comment on this merveilleuse community). The movie cruelly lacks 40 minutes of footage.
    And  Damon, it's like if you screwed my gf for the second time (kate austen! why so lame?)

  • Green Lantern

     Thanks for joining, Elias.  You're officially one of us now.  Membership packets are by the desk at the front door.

  • Legallyblond76

    I cannot BELIEVE I went to a midnight showing of that steaming pile of shit on a school night. Save for a handful of decent scenes and some beautiful imagery, the movie was utterly pointless. I wish I had my sleep back.

  • noah

    ooooooh go blow it out your hole.   It was pretty uneven, yeah, and full of amazingly ignorant plot holes, both of the scientific and the garden variety, but that abortion scene was top notch.  

  • Thijs

    Yeah, this film had more than its share of of problems, but it was such a gorgeous and thrilling ride that these didn't bother me as much as they should/could have. In fact, I had a great time, and I'd want to go see it again. It's just frustrating because you can sense it could so much better. (Also, have to agree with Kirstini: Guy Pearce's make-up was AWFUL. Why not cast, you know, an actual old person? Noomi did an excellent job overall, but her accent was incredibly inconsistent as well. Why not just have her character be Swedish?)

  • Guest

    I already commented above about the Pearce makeup issue (ugh). Second the making Rapace's character Swedish. Just give her character a Swedish name and be done!

  • I can't discuss what I thought was a major, gaping plothole without SPOILERS, so I will just say that Idris Elba's accent changed every five minutes, and Guy Pearce's makeup was silly.

    Had very high hopes for this film, was disappointed, but still kind of/sort of/maybe liked it a little.

    Excellent review.      

  • Johnnyboy

    Agree on all counts. The idea and visualization of the engineers was, I thought, amazing and has been kind of creeping me out ever since. Am hopeful they actually execute a sequel to this prequel as Lindelof himself has hinted.

  • Littlejon2001

    Your review is 100% spot on. Yet for some reason I still enjoyed this film. Definitely have to turn your brain off as so many things make no sense at all, but it was still fun for the most part. Awesome action sequences, beautiful, beautiful imagery, some nice acting moments by Elba and Theron as well as others. At the end of the day it was a nice popcorn film, with a lot of wasted potential, yes, but still more entertaining than MIB III and even Snow White and the Huntsmen. 

  • TheAggroCraig

    Definitely have to turn your brain off as so many things make no sense at all..."  

    If that's true, I think I'll be disappointed. I don't mean to rail against movies about which one can only say "it was fun" because sometimes I like watching that kind of stuff. Other times, I like something more challenging. I was really hoping I'd have no choice but to keep my brain switched ON for Prometheus to make sense. Guess I'll wait for it to show up in the budget theater.

  • Aw man. I was looking forward to some quality sci-fi.

  • Marce

    Still watch it. It's absolutely beautiful to look at, even though it's weak in substance.

  • I had a feeling Prometheus would fall prey to the Phantom Menace paradox.. where careful storytelling and craft is replaced with viewer's familiarity with what has preceded the film to fill holes in plot and character.

  • Kirstini

    I have been thoroughly, bitterly, blaming Lindelof for this for a week now. Not going near anything with that man's name on it again: he's just not as clever as he thinks he is. 

    Beautiful review, although the only character I connected with was Fassbender's David. The first hour was so, so promising, and largely because of him. I also appreciate that DC is too highbrow to poke fun at Guy Pearce's terrible old man make up, but I'm not. Terrible old man make up! Terrible!

  • Jamie

    That makeup job was SO bad, all I could think of was Old "Biff" in Back to the Future 2!

  • Vee

    Why did Guy Pearce need to be that old? Also, why was his noggin the size of watermelon?

  • Guest

    My theory is that he was supposed to find some way to "de-age" on the new planet (or is shown younger, in flashback) in the longer uncut version. There is no other reason for casting Pearce here and wasting all that time and money on makeup--there are older actors who are equal or bigger BO draws. That, or he had something on Scott....

    It definitely seems like the story was changed mid-production, even before the cuts. Pearce is the proof in that particular pudding.

  • Me

    If you watched "The Borgias" you'd know Sean Harris ALWAYS looks like he's about to stab you in the neck. A geologist serial killer is a fun twist though. Maybe they could do a Dexter spin-off? To-do-list for today: Identify rare rock specimen. Do end of the month inventory. Strangle the guy I saw kicking a puppy yesterday.

  • JC

    "Frustrating" was exactly what I said after the show was over. Dan, you're better than I am at expressing my own thoughts.

  • comma

    Aw fuck.

    *Tucks tenner back in wallet*

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