After I inevitably become famous and powerful enough to rid the Earth of the ridiculously awful MTV Movie Awards whose soulessness has now become virtual self-parody I’m going to make sure that my biographer tells the world that I coined the term “Prometheus Paradox.” The Prometheus Paradox, which I just coined beeteedub, is a philosophical dilemma: should you rate a decent movie lower simply because it wasn’t what you were expecting it to be?
I’ll get more into this later on when I continue with a more in-depth look at Prometheus but for now enjoy an abridged version of my review in rage comic form:
Alright now for the actual review.
Prometheus is about a team of scientists/alien treats under the command of Charlize Theron who looks uncannily like Samus Aran who travel to an alien planet to uncover the origin of human life only to encounter the space jockeys/engineers along with a room with vats full of a mysterious black McGuffin liquid. From there on out, shit starts to go down and Ridley Scott gets bored and starts ripping people to pieces.
Just to get this out of the way for anyone who’s been keeping up with Prometheus and has listened to Ridley Scott constantly blabber on about how it’s not an Alien prequel: he lied. While it’s not a direct prequel as in it doesn’t set up the 1979 film it’s at least the eventual sequel’s prequel which will actually be the true Alien prequel.
Prometheus starts out with an interesting opening scene where a space jockey who looks suspiciously like a bald albino version of me lands on Earth and plants the seeds of life ala disintegration. It’s nothing spectacular but it does lead into Prometheus’ finest moments, which is the forty-five minutes or so after the opening title screen where hardcore science fiction philosophy takes center stage, focusing on questions like the origin of life and its meaning as well as humanity’s place in the cosmos.
Then after that Ridley Scott changes his mind and decides to turn it into a generic horror movie.
Prometheus is probably one of the most schizophrenic movies I’ve ever seen; elegant, slow, atmospheric and smart in its first half then stupid and pointless in its second. It’s very disappointing to see such great ideas go to waste and pushed by the wayside in favor of some of the most violent gross-out scenes to which I’ve ever beared witness, including one particular moment where one of the main characters is put into a dissection machine thing and has the baby squid from Men in Black ripped from her abdomen.
But of course, you read these reviews for two reasons: A) because you fantasize about me or B) because you want to know if a movie is good.
While the first reason is probably universal among everyone, I find myself struggling quite mightily with the second question: is Prometheus good?
Imagine that you’re at a restaurant and you order a sandwich, because this particular sandwich has been hyped up by the establishment as the sandwich to end all sandwiches. However, the waitress actually brings you soup, which you didn’t ask for. You taste the soup and the soup is actually pretty good, and maybe even better than the sandwich, so do you complain? Do you cast the restaurant into restaurant hell with a scathing review on Yelp.com or do you forgive it thanks to the adequate soup that you didn’t ask for?
That completely insane metaphor that I virtually guarantee you will find in no other movie reviews in the world basically sums up my dilemma with Prometheus. The trailers and the world’s most awesome teaser poster paint a picture of a Lovecraftian science fiction that focuses more on dealing with rather large issues like creationism, evolution, the origin of life, why women prefer assholes but then complain about them, etc, etc. In fact even the opening half-hour or so continues with this sort of philosophical science fiction shit that I freaking love.
But then it all starts to change. Suddenly the complex characters all become stereotypical caricatures where basically anyone whose name isn’t on any of the promotional material gets treated like a piece of bread at a duck pond and the gore gets ramped up so hard and so fast that you sort of forget about how everything got started.
The change in tone from Prometheus‘ first half to its second is so sharp and abrupt that it’s honestly a little disconcerting to think that Ridley Scott wouldn’t have noticed it and even weirder to think that maybe he did it on purpose, sucking us in with cerebral, high-brow science fiction only to smack us upside the head with face-melting goo and suspiciously phallic-looking snakes that treat people’s heads the way fishermen treat bait worms.
But you know, it all sort of works…if that’s what you’re looking for. Sure, Ridley Scott, the soup may have been alright but I ordered a fucking sandwich.
Yes, I’ll concede that Prometheus’ second half is actually quite good if all you’re looking for is generic, bloody horror with no sense of character development or plot complexity with characters who make some of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever seen (which makes me really question the standards of futuristic space exploring companies) and one of the most out-of-place plot twists in any sci-fi film. The twist isn’t one of those “you need to go back and watch the movie again from this new perspective” type of twists but rather a “are you kidding me?” type of twist that really serves no relevance to the plot whatsoever and could’ve been left on the cutting room floor without anyone noticing.
Prometheus is probably the most difficult movie I’ve ever reviewed because it seems to have an identity crisis that will make it appeal to people expecting pure horror but will turn off those like me who prefer a more cerebral affair as indicated by the trailers and promotional artwork. It asks a bunch of questions in the beginning that it never bothers to answer. Months after its release, the nerd forums will be crowded with fan theories and speculations about what the film means, but I think the reality is far simpler: it doesn’t mean anything.
I feel that Scott slapped this thing together when he got tired of letting it bathe in development hell and the end result is a somewhat confusing, jumbled mess that decides not to pursue any of the original questions it asked in favor of taking the easy way out and just spending its last hour creating new orifices in squishy humans. It’s like when your english teacher tells you to find the symbolism of a blue flower or something in a short story; the reality may be that the author didn’t put any symbolism into it, he just really liked blue flowers so just deal with it. But you’re forced to find something for it anyway just to avoid that failing grade for not being pretentious enough. That’s Prometheus in a nutshell.
Ridley Scott’s prequel and trust me it is a damned prequel, represents total cinematic polarization and a film that promises one thing but never delivers it in favor of another. Sure, the horror is pretty good, if not a little random and overly gory at times, but it seems to forget about all the plot threads it opened up at the beginning; it doesn’t answer any of the questions it so blatantly posed, swaps the atmospheric horror for blood and guts about halfway through, and then starts killing off all its major characters so fast that you’d think they were just extras in disaster movies.
Do I like Prometheus? I don’t know. Maybe it’s one of those movies that will be better upon reflection but for the moment I’m extraordinarily disappointed with it, if only because it opens up all these astounding possibilities at the beginning but then leaves us hanging at the end like when your drunk friend leaves the party with the girl you were hitting on. Maybe one day I will learn to love it, but for now I think we’ll just stay as those awkward friends who greet each other nicely in public but then talk about what cheating bitches they are behind their backs.