Monday, June 11, 2012

The problems with Prometheus ; even if it is only Science FICTION

I'm going to come right out and say it: I wasn't that impressed by the movie Prometheus. The movie was nicely shot, the acting was good, effects mostly believable, and it moved along quickly, so you didn't have to dwell so much on the problems with the story.

But seriously...

It's hard to believe that anyone - including eccentric trillionaires - would finance an expedition staffed by such amateurs.

For those who don't know, Prometheus is about a bunch of alleged scientists sent on a secret mission to investigate the possibility of aliens on another planet. Aliens who might have had contact with humans in the past. Unfortunately, I think some of these "scientists" might have lied about their backgrounds, or were judged experts only because they had appeared on CNN.

In a nod to Alien, there's a brief hint that some of the crew are dissatisfied with the money they are receiving, but that doesn't become a major plot point. My major complaints are:
  1. Why staff a mission with people who don't seem that interested in going?
  2. Why have the team members meet each other for the first time when the craft gets to its destination?
  3. Why is there even the need for total secrecy? Why couldn't the crew know something of what they were looking for and going to do?
  4. Why land on a new planet without sending down a robot to scout it out?
  5. Why rush around the first afternoon, after taking over two years to get there? How about having a plan and being a bit more methodical?
  6. Why let the team members - with little training or coordination - explore / touch / and take samples and run analysis on things on their own initiative?
  7. Why let team members wander off and get lost?
  8. Why would someone who is supposed to be a scientist, notice he's exhibiting some odd symptoms and not say anything, even to his girlfriend?
  9. Why does the same person, on the same day of discovering an alien race that may have created the population of earth, go into a funk because he didn't get some answer he was looking for? On the first day? Talk about short attention span!
It goes on. In another nod to Alien, an infected team member is definitely not let on board - finally, some rational action! - but then ten minutes later, after lots of weird things happen "Hey! What's that out there? Let's open the door and wander out and take a look!"

Some of the crew pick a good day to die.

In 2001 and Alien, the actions of the androids/robots could sort of be understood in the context of secret mission objectives. But it is difficult to understand the goal of the android in Prometheus; unless he is just a psychopath?

I'm not going to even get into the aliens; their relationship to humans, their objectives, and the surprisingly immediate results that occur from intersperses breeding.

All in all, it seemed more like a grand 18 century exploration, rather than a scientific exhibition of any kind in the 21st or 22nd century. Is this how science will be conducted when it is funded by Google and Facebook billionaires?

Now in response to some of these complaints, I've seen some push back from fans along the line of; don't be so critical, it's science FICTION. I would suggest that it's science FANTASY, but even at that, it's bad fantasy.

With any fiction, the object is to suspend disbelief. For some reason - and maybe I'm being difficult - Prometheus didn't do that for me. I don't think I'm a particularly hard audience; I don't believe in witches and wizards, yet I sat through all the Harry Potter movies without feeling the same level of agitation. Well, I did in the one where they went back in time...

Now perhaps if these adventurers had been dressed up as 18th century space-pirates, in a steam-punk spaceship, then their propensity for thoughtless actions wouldn't have annoyed me.

So as you can tell, I didn't think this was a great movie. But perhaps the greatest damnation of the movie came from my teenager daughter: "I thought is was going to be scarier."

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