So the first thing I should tell you about Prometheus is that I think it’s a stinking pile of bollocks that has ruined my day and sullied what little respect I had left for Ridley “I’m shit really” Scott.
That about sums it up. I’ll try to avoid spoilers.
The basic premise of Prometheus is sound. Message from life outside earth. Travel the stars to where this message points. Find evidence we came from elsewhere. Realise all is not what it seems.
It’s the stuff inbetween that overarching plot that drags this nonsensical piece of blockbuster tripe down. The script feels like it was written by – and I choose my words very wittily and cleverly here – an idiot.
You can’t just have your main characters explaining to the audience what just happened. That’s called patronising – which means talking down to people*. Seeing a character intentionally cut his video feed should be enough, even for idiots. We don’t then need another character to say “he cut me off, the son of a bitch!” seconds after the fact. We know. We’re not stupid.
And when your Big Reveal about certain relationships is handled, there are more subtle ways of stating it than picking the most obvious, boring route and making it stand out like a sore thumb. The IT Crowd mocked the whole “FATHERRRR!” thing for a very good reason. It’s rote. Boring. Bland. Obvious.
Then there’s the actual story behind the film, of how it was once a prequel to Alien but now isn’t but it is or is it? And without ruining things: it’s just as confusing in the film. The entire premise of what the Engineers (Space Jockeys) are doing is so convoluted it’s ridiculous, and the fact that what they’re doing isn’t actually defined in any real way just makes it worse.
It’s Ronald D Moore syndrome, where it feels there was no real plan and things have been slapped together in a haphazard fashion. Made up as it goes along. “Oh, let’s put a tattooed, mohawked ginger bloke in who goes mental about being a geologist.” “Why?” “DO NOT ASK WHY JUST DO IT.” “Should we have some character development so the audience actually gives a shit about 95% of the cast?” “Character devwhat? I literally don’t understand what you are saying.”
[A developmental meeting for Prometheus, a few years ago]
The musical score too is just terrible, and actually single-handedly ruins some scenes. Where you want tension, you want seriousness, you want to be made to feel the impact of a scene you have some rousing “USA! USA!” Bill Pullman-backing music from Independence Day. Not only does it not fit – it actively brings down the entire experience.
When someone’s explaining that the whole reason for someone existing has been based not only on a lie but on the fact that what they’ve been searching for all along is solely intending to destroy them, you don’t want something that sounds like an Indiana Jones theme song rip-off playing in the background. Awful.
On the plus side, it looks astonishing at times. And Michael Fassbender is genuinely brilliant, and single-handedly saves the film from being absolute gash. It feels at many points as if it was initially to be made with his character the main focus, but minds were changed halfway through production, leaving a mish mash of story threads that feel nothing more unsatisfactorily resolved.
But yeah, he has nice hair.
*Copyright Legs Akimbo Theatre.