To put it succinctly, my response was: “What…the HELL…was that?!”
I’ll back up and explain.
According to the information listed on Wikipedia, this movie was set in the same universe as Alien, but takes place before the first movie. It is not, however, a direct prequel. Ridley Scott, the director, stated that they may make a sequel to Prometheus but in order to tie straight into the original Alien, a third movie would be needed. The ending of Prometheus very clearly does set itself up for a Part Two, but unfortunately I doubt I’ll want to go watch it in the theater.
First though, I’ll talk about the good. The soundtrack, although not riveting or memorable, gets the job done. The special effects are beautiful. It’s a pretty movie. The actors do the job and I believe were well cast. Ridley Scott’s directing is also just fine. The pacing of the movie is similar to the way Alien is paced: slow at first, with a spiral of more and more action near the end.
However, my big issue with the movie is the writing. While there are many nods to Alien interspersed throughout the film both in lines of dialogue and situations, the writers throw so many different things at the viewer without ever explaining anything. Meanwhile, the bits of story that viewers should be able to pick up on and assume on their own are very clearly explained in the dialogue, sometimes more than once or for longer than is really necessary. While there is of course the intention of making a sequel, the sheer number of “WTF was that all about” moments and ridiculous happenings just made me shake my head in puzzlement.
It’s not suspenseful. It’s not scary. It’s not action-packed even at the end when a lot of things are happening. If you just like the Alien universe, don’t think about much when you watch movies or just have lower standards than me for your entertainment, then you’ll enjoy this film. It’s pretty. But that’s about all I can say for it. Although I like Ridley Scott movies, I didn’t care for this one. I feel like I need to go watch Alien to cleanse myself of the retardation that sapped my Friday evening.
Now for those who want specifics and don’t mind spoilers, I’ll explain further…
* * * SPOILER ALERT * * *
Let’s start with the main characters, all scientists. They act like utter morons. They arrive on an unknown planet and find evidence of terraforming. The lead jerk, Holloway, pops his helmet off in this strange environment, and that makes sense because he reeks of “guy who needs to die.” However, all of the other scientists likewise take their helmets off too, even though they’ve been in the environment for all of 1.5 minutes and have no idea what sort of airborne lifeforms (let alone vertebrates) they’ll find or whether they’ll catch an unknown disease but despite allegedly being thinkers, they act rashly and proceed with NO caution at all. The main character, Dr. Shaw, insists that they shouldn’t take any weapons with them (into an unknown location where who-knows-what lies in wait)…SURE, I believe that everyone else will follow her orders. Then again they’re all so stupid that perhaps they would after all even though common sense dictates that you should protect yourself.
At a later point they come across their first alien body and they not only just stroll up and start poking at it, but then they just take the severed head back with them to the ship. Now I know they need to take samples but come on, they encountered some slight action right after they found the head and still took it back with them anyway.
About that action: they come across a room of canisters and murals and the canisters start melting and the murals start changing. Maybe these are signs that they need to, y’know, step back and not take anything that is still obviously active in some form to the ship. And by the way, who’s watching David, the android that’s totally poking around at everything? He takes an entire canister back to the ship and no one is paying any attention.
The characters are for the most part chronically inconsistent. Fifield (the geologist) starts out as a seemingly crazy, “I don’t care about anything” out-for-himself kind of guy and then as soon as things start happening, he freaks out and runs away. While this in and of itself might be natural, he and the biologist Millburn (also terrified out of his mind) start exploring the place and get lost despite the fact that the whole place was mapped by these little orb things Fifield released. So okay, they don’t sit still in a safe area and wait for their chance to return to the ship, whatever. But when they come across a slew of dead alien bodies piled around a door they touch and move the corpses. After that they come across another canister storage chamber and start poking around in there, too. Now, why the hell two guys who are supposed to be terrified are jacking with the stuff they just told the rest of the scientists to leave alone is beyond me. But WAIT! There’s more…
Fifield and Millburn come across a snakelike creature in the canister bay. And guess what these allegedly frightened, “no don’t touch that” guys do? They get closer to it and Millburn tries to…hell I don’t know WHAT he was trying to do, talk to it? Anyway it of course attacks them and Fifield (again, remember, he didn’t want to be anyone’s friend and was totally out for himself earlier in the movie) tries to help Millburn and then both of them die.
While all THAT is happening, the ship’s captain — who for all of the rest of the movie is a true “support character” and only wants to help — decides that instead of staying by the comm unit for the sake of the two terrified scientists in case of emergency (never mind that LIFE BLIP that keeps popping up), he’s going to bone Vickers. We all have our times, sure, but even THAT makes no sense because Vickers is a cold-hearted, self-serving bitch the rest of the time who has no personal interest in anyone but herself. But even so, when provoked ever so slightly by the captain is suddenly like, “okay let’s have sex.” And it’s never mentioned again, nor does it serve any other purpose to the narrative other than to kill off Fifield and Millburn. Writing characters into situations that make no sense given their personalities, thus using them only as convenient plot devices = terrible writing. The only characters who seem to remain constant are Holloway, Shaw, David, and the minor characters I never caught the names of.
Setting aside character inconsistencies, let’s talk about c-sections. Dr. Shaw is infertile for reasons undisclosed. She and her lover Holloway have sex after Holloway’s been infected with whatever is in the black goo that David took out of the canister he pilfered, and so she is impregnated with an alien. She wigs out and manages (despite David drugging her) to run to an emergency medical pod and has a c-section performed in a grand total of like 2 minutes and is perfectly okay with little blood and just some staples (they still use staples in 2093?!) to seal up her gut, never mind that she could rupture her bowels all over the place at any time and never mind that all of her stomach muscles were just severed. She RUNS 2 minutes afterward! And for the rest of the movie, she is only conveniently pained by her recent major operation when jammed in the stomach with a rifle butt, or when it’s that time in the script where she needs to fall over and nearly get killed by something. Yeah, sure buddy.
Oh, and fire. While I recognize that this is a throwback to Alien, why in the hell would they be packing flamethrowers as their primary weapons when they have no idea if the planet has enough oxygen in the atmosphere for the fire to even BURN? At one point one of the scientists even says that there are toxic levels of CO2, but CO2 makes fires sputter and die. (~_~)
Near the end of the movie, Dr. Shaw is lying on the ground outside the ship and she’s missing a glove. This isn’t in the terraformed area so it’s supposed to be toxic, but nothing ever comes of it.
And this is more nitpicky but everything in the movie is pretty dated. That is to say, when in their “normal attire” the characters all look like they went to the mall and bought clothes as a group. In 2093 they still wear the same hoodies and crap that are popular in 2012? Somehow I doubt it. There are also books (real paper books!) in another scene when physical books are being phased out even now, and at the archaeologist’s dig site in the beginning of the movie their camping gear and tools and whatnot are all modern (as opposed to futuristic). The monitor displays inside the ship and the holograms of the aliens are also antiquated and don’t even look modern.
About the humanoid aliens: In the beginning of the movie, one of the humanoids who created mankind in their image strips his clothes, stares off at a ship hovering in the atmosphere, and drinks the black goo that starts the process of alien infection. He is of course infected, and his body parts rip away into pieces while he falls down a waterfall and I guess infects the water (?). What THAT was all about I don’t know because it is NEVER referenced anywhere, alluded to, and there are no clues as to where that took place, when, or even why. It’s just never spoken of again. Also, one humanoid alien is still alive in a cryostasis pod and when David wakes it up, it sort of stares at them blankly. David says something that isn’t translated and suddenly the alien goes apeshit and kills everyone he can reach, starts up the ship, and tries to head to Earth to kill all of mankind with the black goo canisters. Why the hell was he in cryostasis anyway, and why did he just randomly go crazy? And if he wanted to go exterminate mankind, why the sudden rush if he was in cryo all that time without worrying about a timetable? He was all hooked up to the cryo machine so he obviously did it intentionally. Oh yeah, and all the holograms showed these humanoids RUNNING from something and it was apparently such a big disaster that one had his head cut off as a door closed and a ton of others were sealed out and died outside another door. But WHAT caused them to flee, and WHERE DID IT GO? And if there was a big emergency, how did this one alien guy have time to hook himself up and go into cryostasis? Why wouldn’t he just start the ship and leave the planet? It makes no sense.
About the worm-like alien: WTF was that? It looks like a miniature version of the “face hugger” but how did it survive when there was nothing alive on the planet for it to eat? It killed Fifield and Millburn but didn’t turn into a larger alien, and nor was it ever seen again. It was there to be a plot device and was subsequently thrown away and never returned.
About the “face hugger” alien: It looks like a giant, toothy vagina that shoots a pale penis out of the center. There were already tons of analyses out there for the analogy of rape in Alien but this new face hugger just takes it to a whole new level. Somehow when Holloway (infected with the black goo that automatically killed the humanoid alien) had sex with Shaw, Shaw was impregnated with a face hugger. I just don’t get it. Does it need a human womb to make a face hugger? Why didn’t it make an ALIEN alien? Oh, right, because there had to be a dramatic, bloody abortion scene and whatnot. Forgot, sorry, another plot device. Later on the face hugger attacks a humanoid alien and then grows the ALIEN alien in its body, so that at the end of the movie we see it briefly.
About the ALIEN alien: You see it at the end of the movie for like 30 seconds. It’s supposed to get you geared up for Part Two.
All in all I had no idea why the hell anything was happening and stopped even trying to follow at some point. It’s just flashy visuals. Just look at the effects, turn off your mind, and you’ll appreciate it. 😛
To quote the Nostalgia Critic, this movie is chock full of “Big Lipped Alligator Moments.” (Instances of randomness that do not impact the story, nor are ever spoken of again.)