Eric Renderking Fisk | Spring 2012
In many ways, “Prometheus” is one of the most perfect films for The Fedora Chronicles demographic – the only thing missing are fedoras…
All kidding aside though, what’s there not to love about this motion picture? “Prometheus” covers all the bases, archeologists, ancient aliens, space travel, rugged individuals who serve as our flawed heroes, secondary characters with moral ambiguity, good people doing terrible things all in the name of “science,” then the final consequences of those good people doing terrible things all in the name of science. Then there's a cliffhanger at the end that makes you wonder what’s going to happen next.
So what's not to love? For starters, I’m not sure that I really liked this film but I love the idea of “Prometheus” – a couple of archeologists finding a map to the stars and the opportunity to discover the answers to the secrets of life and what happens on the expedition. They are out to answer the most fundemental questions; who are we, where do we come from, and why are we here?
More to the point within the "universe of Alien," why did “they” put us here? “They” obviously meaning the “Space Jockeys” we were introduced to in the first “Alien” film, and the mysterious men we’re introduced to in the beginning of “Prometheus” via the flahsback that occured hundreds of thousands of years ago before the meat of this story began.
I should be thrilled with this movie and here are a few reasons why.
Then, there’s the Hard Science Fiction aspect of this movie, with some of the real science behind this fiction, there’s a real-world edginess to the space craft, there’s a level of realism about how the spacecraft gets from “Point A” to “Point B” that always seems to suck me into the movie. Because it looks real there a part of my mind that says it’s real and I’m believing in the story, I’m invested in the “science” aspect of this science fiction.
Thanks to Ridley Scott and the production designers of this film, this is exactly how I believe a starship from Earth should look 100 years from now.
Then, there’s the “meat” of any “Alien” sequel or prequel: The scientists and explorers get to explore the ancient alien landscape and underground structures. The movie is perfect in this regard, the creep atmospheric music and the perfect set design and the perfect lighting that doesn’t give too much away… making my subconscious do some of the challenging work.
Then there’s the “good people doing stupid things,” like the folks who go poling the proverbial bear with the proverbial stick. Oh, wow… we’re on a strange alien world, look, there’s a strange alien creature! Let’s see if we can touch it…
… not like you were using your arm or your face!
This is where movies like these go off the rails, when alleged scientists and professionals act like idiots and let their exuberance get the best of them! These people forget everything like scientific protocols and procedures, forget their trades and make amateurish mistakes and as a result, horrible things happen.
Horrible things that could have been prevented!
But then there are the reasons why I wasn't thrilled with “Prometheus.”
NONE of these characters are memorable and none of them serve as “audience advocates.” I don’t see anyone who resembles me or the kind of person I want to be in this movie. None of these characters are people I genuinely like and I just can’t seem to care about them. Since I care about nobody so then there is no suspense, I’m not emotionally invested in these circumstances. In fact, there are a couple of dumbasses and pricks and I wouldn’t mind seeing thrown into the Xenomorph meat-grinders. When you don't care what happens to anyone in this movie, that's not a good sign.
This is so unlike Ridley Scott’s movies, in most of his movies these are likable people, we identify with them so that whatever happens to them happens to us. Even the “bad guys” in “Blade Runner” we understand. Rutger Hauer’s “Roy Batty” doesn’t want to die after being alive for a few short years… aren’t we all looking for “more life?” We understand his motivation just as we understand Harrison Ford’s “Rick Deckard” who has the job to do, making sure that “Roy” doesn’t get to kill anyone else during his quest for “more life.” When the final confrontation happens in the end, we’re involved in some deeper level.
When “Prometheus” ends, we see two of the main characters leave one planet (or moon) for the home world of “The Engineers.” Why couldn’t we have done that instead of this?
What are we left with in this movie “Prometheus” is a movie with some provocative questions. If The “Space Jockeys” or “The Engineers” are superhuman doesn’t it mean that their emotions and motivations are also “super human?” If they’re superhuman doesn’t that mean that their ability to be kind or cruel also super-charged? There are some “Old Testament” implications in the motivations of these “space gods,” they have their reasons for doing what they do and no matter what their reasons are, the motivations are beyond us, their overall plan is beyond us in its complexity… but there’s the overwhelming notion that they do all of this simply because they can and they’re fascinated with seeing how dreadful things get before they must wipe everything out when it all gets too out of control.
“Prometheus” is an otherwise ‘perfect’ Action-Adventure Horror Science Fiction movie with a small dose of condensation with most of the characters getting killed before learning important life lessons and thus unable to convey to the rest of mankind the importance of treating alien biological organisms and space craft with more caution.