I saw Prometheus 3-D last night. About ten minutes into it a guy two seats down started snoring like my dad, and my dad is a champion snorer. He was alone so had no one to nudge him and continued to saw logs so I moved. He may have been onto something.
I like Ridley Scott. A lot. I like Alien. A lot. I like sci-fi. A lot.
I have watched the whole Alien franchise – except the weird Alien vs. Predator stuff. Like everyone else, Alien and Aliens are my favorites. Aliens is one of my favorite fun movies, James Cameron’s best in a very short list of James Cameron movies I like. Terminator 2 and The Abyss round out the list. Cameron isn’t a great filmmaker, but he can produce good entertainment. I actually love watching Aliens. Every time I catch it on TV I have to watch. There are fun one-liners, the aliens are scary and creepy and it’s fun watching Sigourney Weaver be a badass.
But back to Ridley. I don’t think there’s any argument the guy has had great moments – Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, Alien. Alien was made in 1979 and still looks terrific. It is a great sci-fi horror movie with one of the greatest taglines ever – In space no one can hear you scream.
Cast – there are very good people in this cast, people I like and some I love namely man candy Idris Elba and Michael Fassbender. Guy Pearce is in it too but under so much makeup he can’t go in the man candy dish here. They are also terrific actors. Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron are good enough though I’ve seen them both do better. Not their fault but they don’t have as much to work with.
This is weird to me because I think Ridley Scott has a great record with strong female characters – Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, Thelma and Louise, Connie Nielsen in Gladiator – so I don’t know why these girls are so two dimensional (Theron) and have nothing new to offer (Rapace).
Spoilers a comin’.
Much was made that Prometheus is not a prequel to Alien. It obviously is – they literally show the birth/creation of the alien – and you’d think it would be a great marketing hook to bill it as such. But I think they didn’t because if you’ve seen Alien or Aliens then you already know everything about Prometheus. I think they were just trying to buy themselves some time. No this one has an android with a British accent that is hot! (Michael Fassbender). No this has a brunette woman who knows the deal who is short! (Noomi Rapace). AND this one has the colorful characters that drop one liners…wait, I mean we DON’T have colorful second string characters or snappy dialogue. See? Totally different.
These characters are not familiar in a good way. We know their story because we’ve seen it before. The zippy older chick with the short hair is going to die. The nerdy scientist doofus is going to die spectacularly. Someone is going to get implanted with an alien and it will not end well. The guy with the most attitude in the beginning will be the biggest chicken. The company running the operation has a hidden agenda, and the company rep is a meanie. The android is going to fuck everyone and will have its head torn off so there are will be scenes of a milky, drippy head talking with an AutoTune voice. The biggest difference is that I cared about the previous crews. Their safety and deaths were filled with tension because I liked them. The other difference? In Prometheus’ future, there will be flip-flops. Wait, what?
There’s a scene with some projected star maps that is quite lovely. The 3D is used to add depth. And there are flip flops. Yes, Fassbender’s android wears flip flops.
There are plenty of unanswered questions in Prometheus. What is the true origin of man? If we were created by aliens then what happens to religion and evolution? If we were created by anyone or anything, what were we created for and why were we then abandoned? What if our creators are not benevolent and wise but just having a laugh? And why the fuck is the futuristic android wearing flip flops?
Given so much attention to detail and cool looking gadgets it is a mystery to me why the android is in flip flops. Nothing drains a neat sci-fi scene faster of its coolness than having a character walk away with the slap slap slap of flip flops. He goes instantly from dangerous robot to Shoop from Summer School. These people have so much gear and much is made of their spacesuits but this guy’s in the least protective and supportive footwear known to man? And they aren’t even flip flops from the future, they look like something out of last year’s Teva catalog. And it isn’t because he’s a robot and doesn’t need proper foot protection because another character, human, has flip flops too. Why is this happening?!?
I have another design question. There is an alien spaceship at the end. It’s a big moment. One of the big white alien guys has been awoken from his millennia long slumber and he’s pissed. He’s going to Earth to fuck our shit up. Who knows why but he has to be stopped. Again, there are a lot of cool things to see in this movie but all I could think of when I saw the ship was – is it me or does that look a big poo?
I could try to figure out why Ridley Scott would want to tell the same story at all let alone with much less success. I could try to tease some sort of metaphor for the origins of man or the futility of asking such a question. Why didn’t they make the tier two characters as interesting and likable as in Alien or Aliens? Why is the badass alien flying the decidedly uncool poop ship? Why was there absolutely zero surprise or explanation when a recently self-surgeried Noomi Rapace rushes into a room in her bloody underwear and a veritable belt of stomach staples to find a guy she thought was dead getting robo-legs to secretly visit the big white alien and tell him what he wants for Christmas? But really, what I want, what I need to know is WHY ARE THERE FLIP FLOPS IN SPACE? But I will never know, because in space, no one can hear me scream.