At last, after years of intrigue and months of the most obnoxious marketing campaign in recent memory, Prometheus if finally out. And I've seen it. And I have issues with it. SO MANY ISSUES.
Apparently I'm not the only one. Not wanting to spill spoils all over twitter, I've set up this page to discuss the film in a nice little cordoned-off area of the web. Obviously, if you haven't seen the film, stop reading this now. Enjoy this unofficial poster from Midnight Marauder and then go away. Go see the film (for it definitely is worth seeing) and then come back here afterwards to enjoy the vitriol.
Seen it? Good. So, anyway, issues:
It's a prequel, but it isn't a prequel
The filmmakers have gone to great lengths to make it clear that this takes place before Alien. It isn't another universe or timeline. They set up a situation that is almost identical – but not quite – to the one the crew of the Nostromo come across in that film. There is a derelict ship that has crashed in an identical way, there is a proto-xenomorph wandering about. But this is on a different planet, and it's a different ship.
Aside from "oh we really fancied dragging this out into another couple of films", what is the point of this? They've made a film that 95% gels directly with the original film, and then at the last minute – psych! – no it isn't. Setting up further prequel films would be fine if they hadn't already led the audience down the path of anticipating the joins (something that I was rather enjoying up until I didn't). I read this on one forum, and it pretty much sums it up: "It's like reaching the end of Revenge of the Sith and Anakin gets up and … isn't Darth Vader."
The characters may be asking "how did we begin", but the audience are there for the answer to "how did Alien begin?". All they had to do was keep the Space Jockey in his chair, or perhaps put Shaw in the chair and then have the chest-burster scene happen there. Do we really need two more films to wait for someone to sit in a bloody chair and get tummy ache? It's a great build up full of intrigue and clues and anticipation, completely fumbled at the last minute … from the writer of Lost. We should've seen it coming.
(By the way, one prequel that does go to great lengths to gel perfectly with the original is the new version of The Thing, which is a lot better than you probably think it's going to be.)
The casting in this film is ridiculous. Given that the crew of the Prometheus is international, why juggle about the nationalities of the cast? You want Idris Elba in your film? Fine. Does he need to be American? No. Not at all. Messing around with their accents is just distracting (particularly in the case of Rafe Spall and Noomi Rapace) and serves no purpose whatsoever.
And why on earth cast Guy Pearce? Aside from one viral video in which he plays his own age, what is the point in casting him only to slap on some rather dodgy old man make-up? It was a great opportunity for getting an old legend in there. Random idea: Clive Dunn. Yes, Clive Dunn is still alive. IMAGINE CLIVE DUNN IN PROMETHEUS. Or, and I realise they already kind of spaffed this idea on the AvP films, how about Lance Henriksen?
These are scientists. Not just any scientists, but given the expense and importance of the mission, presumably scientists at the top of their field. And they're all bloody morons. The evidence:
They rather luckily land in one place on the planet where there's sign of life. They walk into a single building, find a single body and then declare the entire civilisation extinct. Jumping the gun a tad, no?
Having found that this one building contains bio-weaponry, they decide that this isn't their home planet, and is an arms-factory planet thing. That's like an alien visiting Earth, walking into a book shop and declaring that this must be a library planet belonging to a species from elsewhere.
"So, this alien building. With the skull on top. Where everything has died. On an otherwise toxic planet. LET'S TAKE OUR HELMETS OFF!"
If you've somehow reanimated a dead alien's head using a gizmo, and then the dead alien's head starts throbbing and expressing absolute agony, maybe turn the gizmo down a couple of notches.
Don't pet phallic alien things that crawl out of black sludge. Just don't.
Oh right, so this is a Star Trek film now, is it?
The production design
Oh right, so this is Jodorowsky's Dune now, is it?
A waste of space
Look, if you're going to make a film with a spaceship in it – and then name the film after that spaceship – show it in action. The Prometheus spends most of the film parked. That's no fun.
It starts in the wrong place
That enigmatic montage of Earth at the beginning aside, the main action should start with the ship waking up. Not on Scotland. That whole scene was completely pointless. Imagine if it opened with the sequence of a lone mysterious guy wandering around a massive ship and getting his jollies to Lawrence of Arabia. Much more intriguing. And claustrophobic. And creepy.
Serials belong on telly
I'm fed up of films that don't work on their own, no proper endings/structures, only a teaser for the next film. Hunger Games was the same. Serialised storytelling belongs on telly. I've nothing against franchises, but each film should work on its own. Like Alien and Aliens did. Serialised films can work, bit only of there is definitely another one coming out very soon. The Lord of the Rings films worked. But ending a film with "Weeee, we're going on a space adventure! In a few years! If the box office takings are sufficient!" instead of an actual climax is just plain insulting to the audience.
The biggest crime of all: mediocrity
It's just so very nothingy. The credits say it was directed by Ridley Scott, but really it could've been directed by anyone. It's just so very bland-looking. It's passable. It kills time. Now go back to the original Alien and marvel at the framing, the editing, the atmosphere of the thing. It claws at your face. Now that is a film.