Prometheus is the new new Emperor’s clothes

Prometheus is a bad film with enormous plot holes, bizarre pacing and for some reason, almost universally loved. Hell, Ebert gave the damn thing four out of four stars. Everyone quoted the visuals being this wonderful experience (even the not-so-happy reviews) but approximately 50% of the film is darkened hallways and 45% dialogue in a futuristic bar. If you want pretty visuals, Avatar beats it hands down (and terrifyingly enough, in the story department too). The best way to sum up the film is this:

I kept getting twinges of some sort of ham fisted symbolism of faith et al., but even then it was either so thinly veiled as to not really warrant further investigation, or so convoluted that it hid the underlying message too well. I suppose you could call Millburn and Fifield, based on their dialogue choices and characters, as avatars of science and paganism respectively, and Elizabeth as the Christian ideal, but that would be a stretch, and if true, a thoughtless theme. Characterisation, despite the length of the film, is almost solely on David, Meredith, Holloway, and Elizabeth, and I believe it is not sufficiently carried out for three of these individuals.

What irked me most about the film was the plot, although other qualities were also poor. I can hold my suspension of disbelief only for as long as a film allows me to keep my mental faculties. Unfortunately, Prometheus demands I leave my brain at the door with a plethora of plot holes, schizophrenic characters and bizarre rules regarding the technology of both human and alien origins. Rather than make an enormous post about the flaws myself and friends found during viewing, I’ve broken them up into subheadings and bullet points. Read them if you’ve watched it (and hopefully give some answers for) or read them before going in, and see if you can make sense of it. Spoilers logically follow.

The Engineers

-The first scene depicts the start of mankind. If this is the start of mankind, why not just clone some cells and have them go down the river instead? Why bother killing off one of your own? If that is really how life started, how is it that there are multiple instances of civilizations across the globe randomly aware of where the life came from when no evidence (possibly beyond an empty, featureless jar that isn’t mentioned again) is possible? Why, if this really is the cradle of civilization, does finding the root of all languages and forming a language unto itself make a person capable of understand the complicated glyphs, and you know, actually reading the language? The engineers didn’t teach language, or starmaps, or anything, they just bugger off after letting one of their own die and fall into a river.

-Why does the alien ship, with fantastic energy supplies and capacity to create great holograms, fly etc. not actually show anything meaningful in aforesaid holograms, or have data records that are accessible?

-Why do the containers of the dark liquid somehow not contain the dark liquid, and not contain it so poorly?

-What purpose is the big head?

-If evil engineer was in cryostasis, why didn’t his supremely advanced pod not open up when the coast was clear? If he wasn’t supposed to wake up, why not kill everyone then go back to stasis? If he woke up, everything was fine, but wasn’t warned by his presumably alive brethren, why not investigate that before carrying out his mission? If his brethren aren’t alive, aren’t there better things to do then send bioweapons on a mission presumably made by his civilization which is now extinct? If his mission is that important, why not realize that the humans that woke him up probably had a spaceship that could give him grief during takeoff?

-Why are the engineers genetically identical to humans yet have a significantly different form? They are genetically identical. They could, in theory, cross breed yet an engineer stands about eight foot high, impossibly muscled and less possibly pigmentally challenged.

The Prometheus Mission and technology

-Why don’t the characters know each other, or where they are, or what they’re doing? Why don’t they know these things to ensure a safer mission? Why not introduce everyone before the mission and ensure everyone is psychologically fit for such an undertaking?

-How could anyone be infertile in this technologically advanced civilization? Why bother mentioning she’s infertile when it adds nothing to the plot?

-Why does no one listen to orders? This is a trillion dollar investment and people are wandering around as if it’s a summer holiday house.

-Why the hell did they decide that an electrode blasty thing on the alien head was the best possible way to investigate the “new cell growth”? What did this new cell growth do? Why didn’t anyone put anything under a microscope?

-How come they travelled light years on a multi-year mission, with seventeen experts, and somehow are completely unable to provide a routine procedure such as a caesarean or foreign body removal? If they were so incapable, why would David be capable of assessing the “fetus” to be three months old? If the body inside her was so foreign that David knew it couldn’t possibly be a child, why term it as a “pregnancy, by the looks of it three months old”?

-Why did no one assess the character’s motivation prior to the mission? Fifield is nothing short of a pot smoking lunatic, David is more than a little crazy, the captain disobeys direct orders from his superior Meredith.

-I understand that Meredith stated Weylon wanted “true believers” on board, but ffs they’re archaeologists. Even if they didn’t come aboard, there would be no advantage lost, even if they did come aboard, there’s no reason to make them the captains. I doubt they need their egos filled that much.

-If the “pups” could pick up life readings, why not pick up serpent thing or the bugs crawling around various chambers? Or the black liquid in general? The readers definitely were not “carbon detectors” or else they would have picked up an enduring signal and not a glitch, so it could be based on movement patterns, or sounds etc., all of which, presumably, would also pick up serpent et al. If they weren’t capable of picking up serpent things, why didn’t anyone make note of that for future missions?

-Why bother having human guards when they could employ some kind of killbot or even 20th century weapons that would be infinitely more useful. Why use short range and surprisingly bulky flamethrowers?

-Why would Meredith’s operation docking thing only work for males when she is presumably female?

-If it only works for males, why didn’t it notice it was working on a ‘pregnant’ female?


Milburn and Fifield

-Why didn’t anyone play back or listen to the radio logs of Milburn and Fifield when they were killed by the snake things?

-Why did Milburn and Fifield, self confessed cowards and terrified of the situation, wander around when bored? Why did they think trying to cuddle up to an alien cobra-like monster was a good idea after shitting themselves over the piles of dead bodies they came across?

-Milburn and Fifield left the main group far before the storm hit. Fifield is the expert of the layout of the entire structure. How did they get lost, especially when he has his “pups” sending him updates constantly? If it wasn’t the case that any ground force knew what they were doing, why was the main group so successful at leaving the chamber? If they didn’t have a map and the main group did, why the hell did they leave in the first place knowing they didn’t know how to get around?

-Why did no one, out of the five or so perpetual Prometheus crew actually monitor Milburn and Fifield throughout the storm? They quoted bad reception, but there’s the shot of the empty bridge and reports coming from both of them quite clearly.


-Why did David spike Holloway’s drink? Why didn’t they just analyze the fluid? If David was aware it was dangerous, why not inform someone like Weyland? If the drink was that dangerous or unknown, why not use it on someone who wasn’t their leader of the mission?

-If David was aware that the entire ship was full of biological warfare components, and that it was en route to Earth, why didn’t he warn Weyland or not activate the Engineer’s hibernation pod?

-Why is David an unshackled AI capable of disobeying direct orders from Meredith et al? How does no one keep tabs on him as he continually disobeys orders and runs around doing what he wants?


Character actions

-Why didn’t Holloway report to sick bay when he noticed worms growing out of his eyes?

-Why is everyone so passive when people go missing or come back as zombies from an alien structure?

-Why does Meredith get her own detachable spacepod but her father is completely shocked to see her there?

-Why does the Meredith character start off hardcore, go to ultra bitch, to sleepin’ around happy, to ultra bitch, to concerned for contagion, to angry-at-dad, to helpless female, to stupid bitch (i.e. not running left or right when trying to avoid rolling spacecraft)? Why bother with a sizeable portion of showing her escape when she just gets axed immediately? Why did her escape shuttle totally not calibrate a landing despite having ample time and warning about evacuation?

-Why would anyone breathe the air of a completely alien spacecraft when their sensors are apparently completely unable to pick up anything beyond base components?

-Why did no one have decontamination protocols, especially when they were aware of two things- 1. The engineers created humans and presumably were aware of their genetic makeup. Later on it is confirmed that they are identical to humans and all mysteriously dead yet no special decontamination occurs. 2. They’re in a fucking alien spacecraft.

-Why is the discovery of alien life, even dead, considered a massive letdown for everyone, and even the crew immediately gets bored of the situation?

-Why is it that they have human security, but the first mission into the caves, no one is armed?

-Why did Weyland feel it necessary to hide himself for several hours, even after Engineer relics are found? Why is talking to an Engineer inherently better than looking at their data files?
The film was confusing and dull and really unintuitive. The core plot is both simplistic and often mired in errata and poor character choices, and culminating in a rather obvious deus ex machina. I implore you to look elsewhere for sci-fi greatness, like Ridley Scott’s superior Alien franchise from what this is shoe-horned into.


~ by freeze43 on June 23, 2012.

One Response to “Prometheus is the new new Emperor’s clothes”

  1. Well said. Dear lord was that movie strange.

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