« I believe in criticism | Main | A 19-year-old asshole sees "Alien" for the first time [Updated] »

June 06, 2012

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Simon Abrams

I loiked it a bunch, too. Because I'm canny like that.

Ali Arikan

I don't doubt the filmmakers' sincerity, nor will I resort to reductive and "hilarious" hypotheses as to the origin of the film's script, but I will say this: I was disappointed with the film. My frustration was amplified by the near-perfection of the first act. The alien self-sacrifice, the discovery in the Scottish cave, and then that ethereal sequence aboard the ship with David almost floating in a technical dreamscape like a cross between Thomas Jerome Newton, Brian Jones, and Quentin Crisp.

I thought it was obvious how they were trying their best to integrate two very different scripts. One is about dichotomies: the creator and the created; creation and destruction; religion and science. The other one is about vagina-aliens that eat people. Separately, both have immense potential (and they could have been well and truly integrated), but grafted onto each other, they flounder.

I also had problems with the execution of certain beats. I understand that details such as the turncoat crew member or the final showdown between the hero and the beast are all sci-fi tropes, but I thought the way they were handled left a lot to be desired.

There are some delightful shots (my favourite is the Prometheus speeding away against a vast field of stars), and then there are some really baffling ones, such as the one where Prometheus crashes into the alien vessel, which a medium shot that lacks any scale and makes it look like two models colliding.

Finally, I found the score to be incongruously weird: going for awe, instead of dread.

The thing is I believe the potential was there for an absolutely kick-ass film. That, in the end, is what disappointed me the most, I think. In the words of John Greenleaf Whittier, "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"

Shane

Really? I don't doubt that there's a good movie in there somewhere but it's like trying to watch 2001 if it was written by Kutzman and Orci. I'm still in shock (and slightly depressed) that Ridley Scott had anything to do with this.

Owain Wilson

I, too, was stunned that the film I was watching was directed by Ridley Scott. It was bizarrely amateurish with some terrible acting, poor casting and bad writing. It was so clumsy and - in places - embarrassing that it seemed more like an expensive TV show that you'd give up on 15 minutes into the pilot episode.

Also, why on earth was Guy Pearce in this movie? His old age make up was abysmal, even worse than Armie Hammer's in J Edgar. Why not cast an actual old man? Surely he wasn't cast just because of that viral marketing ad?

There were some incredible moments, though, as Glenn described. However, the original Alien movie was in a league of its own but Prometheus has none of the elegance or imagination. What a shame.

Peter Labuza

I'm mostly with Ali on this, and I'm willing to put most of the blame on this for Lindelof. I think Scott chose an interesting visual style and tone very different from "Alien" that Glenn explains well in his review and it works for a good portion of the film (a clear bad one is the final action sequence, which is the "Lucky Star" sequence if it only lasted about 15 seconds instead). But dear God let things have consequences. There are multiple story plot lines that other characters seem completely unaware of, or are never discussed again (including the film's best sequence, which everyone else seems to forget was happening as soon as it exists). And I had a lot, LOT of problems on what the film is essentially about, which I argue is essentially Lindelof's response to Lost disappointment by doubling down on that show's problems and making it his central theme. I wrote already 1300 words on this so if you allow me to self promote I'll just post a link here (it's extremely spoiler heavy, so if you are one of those people stay away etc etc): http://www.labuzamovies.com/2012/06/prometheus-origins-of-create-from-space.html

Paul Duane

Guy Pearce, Trash Humper, was all I could think for long sections of this film. Also: they needed a good dose of Walter Hill to streamline a very lumpy screenplay into something digestible. But yes, some fine scenes in there.

Dave Wallfisch

The movie is horrible, Glen. Come on. Stop working the corner. Take a night off. The Johns will still be there tomorrow.

Glenn Kenny

If you're gonna insult me at least spell my name right, dick. Who are you again?

Pinback

Haven't seen Prometheus so I can't offer an opinion, but Lordy, David Cohen's Twitter feed is at a sub-Ain't It Cool News level.

Noam Sane

Looking forward to seeing it, but there sure is a lot of Antimetheus around..

Keith Uhlich

I'd just like to say, Glenn, that your enthusiasm (perceptive, not gushing) for the film, has counterbalanced some of the reservations I was harboring about seeing "Prometheus." I don't know where I'll end up on it, but your piece has helped to get me into a much more receptive frame of mind than I've been feeling in the lead-up to the release. Perhaps we can say this is another thing that the best criticism does: quiets the beasts inside a bit so that we can, as you say in the post above this one, "have the eyes to see it for what it is." Thank you for that.

Brian

Haven't seen PROMETHEUS yet, but "...ate the scripts of Alien & Blade Runner, then coughed them up as a hairball, that would be the script of Prometheus" makes it sound GREAT. Now, if he'd said "ate the scripts of CRASH and AVATAR," maybe....

MarkJ

I'm afraid I have to side with the general consensus and admit disappointment. I knew I was in trouble from the first close-up of the mysterious alien dude in a cloak. If it wasn't from the director of Alien and Blade Runner I might have enjoyed it as a trashy monster flick... as it is i'm kind of stunned Scott filmed some of the scenes in the movie, the screenplay is pretty dreadful - which is unusual as Scott is usually kind of precise in that area.

The whole film hinges around what Alan Jones used to call the 'Idiot Plot' - where the narrative (such as it is) is pushed forward by people behaving as idiots. The scene where the two cannon-fodder geologists encounter the snake-thing is the most obvious contender, then again maybe it's the Rapace/Logan-Green "Hey, we just landed on an alien planet and entered a huge mysterious chamber with lots of ominous-looking cylinders inside... let's have sex!!" howler. Or the two disposable co-pilots and their 'hilarious' banter, especially when seconds away from their doom. It's all a far cry from Ripley, Parker, Brett, Ash etc. Poor Fassbender seems to have strayed in from a true precursor to Alien, he's the one bringing the quality. Then we have Guy Pearce's interpretation of Weyland, heralded by Goldsmith's musical cue from Alien, a ludicrous and unbelievable latex job. And all Theron does is say "Jesus Christ!" or "Son of a bitch!" numerous times. Apart from fucking Idris Elba because he called her a robot. Eye-rolling stuff.

Can't wait for Lindelof's follow-up where he has Noomi and Fassbender's head take on the planet of the Space Jockeys... I can only assume you hit your head before going in to the cinema Glenn, I keed, I keed! Your love for A.I. and kind-of defence of Episode II in the 'Long Time Ago' book means you're still my favourite critic!

Andrew Wyatt

I'm a bit closer to Glenn's sentiments on this than the emerging disappointed-to-annoyed consensus, it seems, although the film's flaws are sticking points for me, perhaps to greater degree than they were for Glenn.

I adore the early scenes of David roaming the ship along, crisply performing all the trivial little maintenance tasks--That medium-long shot of him bending to pit up that speck of detritus on the floor! Love it!--and also finding ways to fritter away the time while the crew sleeps. It's a mysterious, funny, and somewhat ominous sequence.

Also: That self-surgery scene! Jesus. It is, in essence, a bomb-defusing sequence? I loved how Rapace spends the whole final third of the movie *drenched* in sweat and increasing battered by her travails, yet she never stops moving. She reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones or John McClane (alebit without thier winking charisma).

It gives me a bit of pleasure to see that Glenn (on Twitter) noticed, as I did, that Chekov's Gun was in play. Scott seems to have picked up from Cameron the rule that if a science-fiction technology is mentioned and shown, it *will* come up later in the plot.

Still, there's quite a bit that irked me: paper-thin characterization, awful dialog, shockingly clumsy pacing, the wheel-spinning final fifteen minutes, and a kind of narrative muddiness--Why is this person doing that? And why is it shot and scored as though we should understand its great significance?--that reminded me unavoidably of LOST's worst traits, given Lindelof's reworking of the script.

Consistent with Glenn, however, it *did* pleasantly recall the science-fiction features of old. Specifically, its worldview seems to be a successor to the sort of shitty 1950s and 1960s alien films that used to get lampooned on MST3K regularly. I'm thinking of stuff like THE CRAWLING EYE, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, and NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST. Sure, they were amateurish crap with dime-store special effects, but they had a real sense of menace and cynicism, wherein the universe is filled not with hope and revelation but with malevolent and stomach-churning entities. Quite Lovecraftian, in their way. PROMETHEUS seems to me the kind of film that Burt I. Gordon would have made fifty years ago, had he several hundred million dollars, today's technologies, and greater directorial skill. And I mean that in a complimentary way.

Jason M.

Speaking of Lovecraftian, I saw 'Prometheus' with a friend today, and upon walking out of the movie, his remark was "That was very much 'At the Mountains of Madness' in space." Which should have been pretty obvious, but somehow I hadn't made the connection until he said it.

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, for the record, although I will concede both basic screenplay deficiencies and a full force "idiot plot" (stupidest. scientists. ever.) Still, it was visually stunning, the stereography was excellent, and even with some of the pacing issues, it was edited quite beautifully for the most part (unlike many of Scott's more recent films). Michael Fassbender was terrific, too.

Glenn Kenny

@ Jason M.: Was wondering when someone was gonna bring up "Mountains." A couple of weeks ago I brought a friend up to Suffern to the Lafayette to see "Woman In The Window" and afterwards went out for lunch with my old pal Joseph F. and Pete A. of the Lafayette. The gentleman I'd brought, a movie tech guy of no small reputation, was waxing enthusiastic about "Prometheus;" a friend of his had worked on it and had told him how visually beautiful it was. Joseph chimed in and said, "Well, the only problem with it, I think, is that it kills..." and the other fellow cut Joseph off and said, "No, don't tell me, please, I don't wanna know anything about the plot," and Joseph demurred.

Later Joseph told me "What I was gonna SAY was, the only problem with this is that it kind of kills the whole movie version of 'Mountains of Madness,' because it's apparently a very similar storyline." Which I guess still could have been a problem if the other fellow was a Lovecraft fan, but still....

Andrew Wyatt

Huh. I hadn't thought of the AtMOM connection, but it does kind of map onto PROMETHEUS somewhat, doesn't it? Elder Things -> Engineers, and Shoggoths -> Xenomorphs.

Weren't there some rumblings about Guillermo del Toro being attached to that ATMoM adaptation? Cuz in spite of PROMETHEUS, I would still love to see del Toro's take on the tale.

Andrew Wyatt

A friend from my RPG-freelancing days had a great line about Lovecraft page-to-film adaptations, which he may have repeated from someone else: The Lovecraft adaptation that would be most faithful to the spirit of the man's work would be two guys with Boston accents screaming for two hours at something horrifying just off-screen.

Jason M.

@ Andrew Wyatt. We need to get Ben Affleck on that STAT.

Anonymous

@Glenn: http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/guillermo-del-toro-says-prometheus-has-killed-at-the-mountains-of-madness-because-they-both-have-same-final-twist-20120507

That Fuzzy Bastard

Oh man, killing Del Toro's AtMoM, however inadvertently, is the best reason to hate James Cameron all week!

DV

I quite liked it. The good stuff (of which there is quite a bit) is phenomenal and the bad stuff (most of which is in the 2nd half) is pretty bad. The storytelling does get patchy at times but still significantly better than anything in either of this year's Taylor Kitsch bombs. Overall though, I was engaged from the first moment to the last.

MSK

Not quite sure why some of the folks who posted comments go to the movies, and I'm certainly not of the intellectual ilk that some seem desperate to display, but i go to be engaged and entertained, and this film did both quite well. Full of "Holy Crap" moments, actually worth seeing in IMAX 3D. Was it perfect? No, but how could it ever be? People RELAX it's a movie! One, I must agree, that I thought was, Pretty F@*&ing Awesome!!

Owain Wilson

Presumably, then, MSK, you've liked every film you've ever seen.

You're right, it is just a movie. That's why we don't automatically think Prometheus is awesome just because it exists.

Glenn Kenny

Well, Mr. Wilson, for my money, MSK, a hard-working, non-blogospheric family man with whom I am personally acquainted, brings a dollop of what one might call real-world perspective to the conversation. Unlike myself, he can only see movies on his off hours, and has to pay admittance, so I appreciate the consumer's perspective, if you will. I do wish MSK and I could watch more movies together, as we invariably have a good time when we do, such as on the occasion My Close Personal Friend Ron Goldberg™ and I abetted him in playing hooky from high school, and took him to see "The Shining" on opening day in 1980 (yes, he's one of the lucky few who's seen the Shelley Duvall/Barry Nelson hospital scene).

Matt

Did I detect some later Jack Kirby in there as well?

Probably my unsophistication in such matters, but a lousy script still spoils my overall appreciation of a film. Stuff I loved in Prometheus? Sure. That David quotes LOA more than I do was cool. But I'm pretty sure Alien knows it's a B-movie whereas Prometheus thinks it's 2001 and it's. Just. Not.

Sorry for the hungover Sunday morning rambling. Love the site, Glenn.

Owain Wilson

Glenn, I mean no disrespect to your chum, of course.

However, I am also a hard working, non-blogospheric family man, and I, too, have to pay admittance every time I see a movie. I'm sure you can understand my failure to muster up the enthusiasm to whoop when Prometheus turned out to be such a 'is that it?' movie after Ridley Scott spent two years carefully talking it up as some kind of Second Coming.

Glenn Kenny

Brother, actually.

Peter Damm

I'm with Mr. Kenny on this. [Spoilers]
Any picture that features The Thing From Another World Fighting to the death with a giant oral sex kraken birthed through self-administered robot c-section is okay in my book. Also while it was certainly not quite as intelligent as its pretentions, they were part of what endeared it to me. It felt like one of those overreaching double albums that are awesome not in spite of there silliness and unwieldiness but because of it.

bill

I don't remember Scott hyping this thing up as the Second Coming. I do remember everybody else on the planet doing it up until they saw it and decided the film had been overhyped.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad

Categories