30 Major Quibbles With Prometheus
***MAJOR SPOILERS – PLOT DETAILS REVEALED***
Forget what you know.
Forget what you think you know.
Forget what you wanted the film to be.
Forget the ecstatic fanboy reviews the film garnered as every 30-something nerd in the world rushed to praise the film, thankful that however disappointing it was, at least it wasn’t The Phantom Menace. Though two years from now, you’ll probably start reading a lot of articles saying it was worse.
Forget that clever piece of viral marketing that was the fake TED lecture or those adverts for androids, featuring Michael Fassbender’s David 8.
Forget the huge worldwide box office (when was that ever an indicator of quality; there’s been four Pirates of the Caribbean, three Transformers and two Sex and the Cities). Forget the performances: the good, the bad and the mostly mediocre. Forget the murky, headache-inducing 3D, the too occasionally interesting visuals, the lacklustre direction of a spent force trying to recapture his glory days, the complete lack of suspense, the absence of dread or wonder.
Here’s the truth no-one else will tell you, no-one else will admit to, that you don’t want to admit to yourself despite the nagging Jiminy Cricket of taste, logic and sense, a-hopping desperately up and down on your shoulder saying: “But…but…”
Here’s the blunt, naked, unpleasant truth: Prometheus sucks.
It’s bad. Really bad. It fails on virtually every level it’s possible to fail on. It’s so bad, watching it lowers your IQ. This film makes you stoopider! But you don’t care about that. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already seen it. You have your own opinion. You might be thinking about buying the DVD or Blu-ray. Which means that you probably liked it. Telling you why you’re wrong (and you couldn’t be more wrong) isn’t going to change your mind.
Instead, this piece is merely going to pose some questions.
Not the obvious ones like: Why would you run away in a straight line from a crashing circular spaceship that’s rolling after you? Why does David infect Holloway with the alien black goo/jism? Is Charlize Theron’s character an android, a female David? What does David say to piss off the alien? Why have Charlize eject from the crashing spaceship and leave the escape pod only to be run over by the crashing spaceship? Why does the angry alien want to destroy humanity? Was he in the middle of a nice dream when David woke him up?
No. Today, we’re concerned with the questions that may have occurred to you during the film that you ignored. You buried them, you suppressed them, like that memory of a late-night visit to your bedroom by a sneaky uncle. It’s time to let that pain out, it’s time to ask those questions, to acknowledge the problems, that something isn’t quite right.
- It takes the Prometheus two years to get to its destination, at which point the crew find out why they’re there. Exsqueeze me? Who signs up for a four-year round trip into the unknown? Did no-one think to maybe ask a few questions, like: Where are we going? Why? What the fuck do you mean we’re going on a four-year mission into deep space because the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo found an ancient map in a cave in Scotland? When did we start trusting the prehistoric graffiti of Pictish savages?
- Also, wouldn’t it be cheaper and safer to maybe send an unmanned probe first, something similar to the Mars Rover, just in case, you know, (a) there’s nothing there or (b) the natives aren’t friendly? Have these guys never seen a sci-fi/horror movie?
- During the briefing Charlize Theron gives when the crew wakes up, she greets the ones she’s met and introduces herself to those she hasn’t. If you were recruiting a crew to travel through space and possibly be called on to represent humanity when they meet the alien race that created them, wouldn’t you personally vet each and every one?
- And, leaving aside the problems of time dilation, the movie’s only set, like, eighty years from now…is there no governmental regulation of space travel? Surely NASA, the ESA or the UN would, at the very least, want some kind of representative on board a spaceship that’s on a mission to make first contact with the alien species who created us?
- What is the black goo? Seriously. What the fuck is it? Is it alien jism? Why does it’s purpose change from scene to scene depending on which meat puppet is ingesting it and the particular script hole the film needs to get out of? Is it sentient? One minute it’s turning alien Duncan Goodhew into life-giving soup the next it’s infecting pointlessly arsey archeologist Logan Marshall-Green’s happy sacs with alien sperm which causes barren Moomin Rapace to have an alien baby while also turning punk geologist Sean Harris into a 28 Days Later rage mutant. It’s all a bit convenient.
- And while we’re on the subject of alien mutant sperm, Marshall-Green’s supercharged swimmers knocked up Moomin and caused her to gestate a giant alien squid baby within days! But at the start of the film, there’s that whole Guinness Rhythm of Life ad-inspired sequence where the ‘Engineer’ disintegrates into a river and seeds a barren Earth. This means his mates are then going to have to hang around several hundred million years waiting for Man to evolve before they can teach him the joys of interior cave design. Given how long it takes Moomin and Marshall-Green to CREATE AN ENTIRELY NEW SPECIES, surely the Engineers could have sped things up a bit? Maybe fast forwarded through the 200 or so million years of dinosaurs?
- Also, we’re told humans and Engineers share DNA. Makes sense, they created us. However, as the film shows, they created all life on Earth by an act of sacrifice. Which means the Engineers should share DNA with every organism on Earth. So why doesn’t our DNA match every lifeform on Earth? Our closest relative is the chimpanzee and its DNA is only a 98% match.
- It’s revealed in the film that the moon the crew of the Prometheus travels to is not our alien creators’ home planet but a secret, remote bio-weapons facility, why did they paint the directions to their secret weapons base on the walls of prehistoric caves? That’s a bit like the US Air Force printing visitor maps to Area 51 and scattering them from planes over the Middle East.
- Arsey archeologist tells us the same ancient paintings pop up in the cultures of lots of different ancient civilisations that supposedly had no contact with each other including the Picts, the Hawaiians, the Mayans, the Hittites, the Sumerians, the Babylonians and the Egyptians. While it’s doubtful the Picts had much truck with the Maya, the Babylonians essentially grew out of the Sumerians and it’s well-documented that the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Hittites all had extensive trade and cultural links with ancient Egypt as well as warring with them on several occasions. You’d think that’s the kind of thing an archeologist might have to know before they give him and his girlfriend a spaceship? You can learn this stuff from watching the Discovery Channel on a weekday afternoon.
- Moomin carbon dates the dead alien and tells everyone it’s 2000 years old. How? Without wishing to be too technical, this is also bollocks. Carbon dating works by measuring the level of decay of the radioisotope Carbon-14 absorbed from the atmosphere by biological matter. Long story short, without knowing the pre-existing baseline level of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere of the ALIEN PLANET, it’d be impossible for Moomin to carbon date a dead alien.
- Arsey archeologist tells the crew that the atmosphere on the planet is 2% carbon dioxide and that if they take their helmets off and breathe it, it will kill them within minutes. Obviously, we don’t know what global calamities or changes to our environment we’ll have to adapt to in the future but presently, your average human can comfortably tolerate a 3% carbon dioxide atmosphere for a couple of weeks before suffering any ill effects. So, in the future, does everyone have really, really bad asthma and forgot to bring their inhalers with them? Also, he’s only an archeologist, what’s he doing giving out dodgy medical advice when there’s already a medic and a biologist on board? Surely, one of them should be the one giving out the dodgy info the filmmakers couldn’t be arsed researching?
- When the team is exploring the alien ship, they take their helmets off because it has a breathable, oxygenated atmosphere. Let’s be clear; this is a derelict alien spaceship full of dead aliens who died in an unexplained fashion. Why would you take off your helmet? What about the risk of alien germs or diseases? Also, these douchebags are supposed to be scientists. Wouldn’t they also be keen to avoid cross-contaminating a pristine alien environment with Earthly/human germs and bacteria? What, scientific protocols are for wimps, eh boys?
- In the alien CCTV recordings, what are the aliens running from? Has the alien jizz escaped and is chasing after them? If so, why is the dead alien they find running towards the room that’s basically a dead alien sperm bank of black goo?
- Milburn (human/rodent hybrid Rafe Spall) is the crew’s biologist. He’s there specifically in case they find any dead alien bodies they can study. They find the body of an alien who’s probably been dead for thousands of years, something that would be the pinnacle of his career, that’d win him Nobel Prizes and set him up for life. And instead of examining it, he gets scared and wants to go wait in the car. Really?
- Milburn and Fyfield, the two most cowardly members of the crew, get separated from the rest of the team, wander off and get lost. Isn’t that a bit out of character? And how do they manage to get lost? The corridor they are in is one big circle so if they just keep walking they’ll get to the exit. Also they’re in constant communication with Starship Captain Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) and those little red GPS mapping balls that are flying around would be able to find them.
- Also, Fyfield is the one who’s been controlling the GPS balls. Surely, he’s the last person who’d get lost?
- Milburn’s too scared to examine a long-dead humanoid body but when they find a live, weird, aggressive snakey thing that’s obviously up to no good (it’s a snake; snakes are always up to no good), why would he get down to face-grabbing height and wait for it to attack him?
- Come to think of it, the team are wandering around a derelict alien spaceship unarmed. Did no-one think maybe they should take some guns with them just in case they run into…let’s say, an aggressive alien snakey thing?
- Also, if you’re going off to explore an alien world and investigate an alien species, wouldn’t you take more than one whiny biologist?
- A couple of the dead aliens they find show evidence of being attacked/infected by creatures like the chestburster. Why are there no chestburster or xenomorph-type bodies lying around?
- Two members of the crew are missing, trapped aboard an alien spaceship for the night. Is that really the time the two people in nominal charge of the mission (Idris Elba and Charlize Theron) would decide to have a quick bunk-up?
- Why did they think taking the alien head back to the ship to zap it with electricity until it explodes was a good idea?
- How come the robot doctor that removes the alien baby from Moomin can’t perform a Caesarean as it’s calibrated for a man and won’t recognise her as a woman but it has no problem removing an unexplained alien creature just because she tells it she has a stomach ache?
- How quickly does Moomin recover from performing her own C-section? Sure, she’s self-medicating but still…
- Why does Weyland (Guy Pearce) spend most of the film hiding from the rest of the crew when he owns the ship? When he does reveal himself why is no-one surprised or even interested particularly as his hologram told everyone he was dead?
- Why does no-one even bat an eyelid when Moomin staggers half-naked and bloody into the room where they’re suiting up Weyland? Are half-naked women covered in blood staggering around his personal quarters a frequent occurrence? Also, Moomin twatted at least one of those crew members (Kate Dickie) over the head just a couple of scenes earlier. Not only does she not appear to be suffering from any form of concussion, she doesn’t mention this to Moomin or even call her a bitch. She just suits up and goes off to explore the alien spaceship with her…
- Why is no-one remotely interested in the giant Moomin/alien hybrid squid baby that Moomin’s just abandoned to grow to gargantuan proportions in an unfeasibly short amount of time in the medical bay? No-one on the space ship full of scientists thinks: “Bugger me. A completely new species. Maybe I should have a quick peek at that?” or how about “Maybe we should get that alien thingy out of the medical bay? You know, just in case we survive the next half hour and need some plasters or something?”
- Why, when his ship is destroyed, does the alien, who’s so intent on destroying Earth that he takes off almost immediately after waking up, not just head to the other ship parked nearby rather than stop to play cat-and-mouse with a woman who represents no threat to him and has no way of stopping him from taking off?
- At the end of the film, instead of trying to return to Earth, Moomin and David board an alien ship and set course for the alien homeworld. Sure, we’ll accept that his long years of isolation have allowed him to learn the alien language but how does David manage to pilot the alien ship? For starters you appear to need to be able to play the flute to start the engine? How does David do that exactly? He’s been reduced to a head in a bowling bag. Are we supposed to believe that Moomin’s able to just hook him up to the alien ship’s computer with some sort of USB cable? That’s as dumb as when they hook Jeff Goldblum’s laptop up to the alien mothership in Independence Day.
- And now for the big one - the single dumbest thing about Prometheus. At the end of the film, when Moomin and David fly off to the alien homeworld; how long is the journey going to be? What is she going to eat and drink? Can humans eat alien food? The ship’s been lying dormant for 2000 years; do alien supplies keep that long? Sure she could sleep in the alien hibernation pod but can alien hibernation pods be calibrated for humans?
Ultimately, who cares? If you’ve seen the film you’ve probably already asked yourself these questions and, if you liked the film, right now you’re sitting, rocking back and forth with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears braying: “I’m not listening…”
Only one thing is certain - In space, no-one can hear you say: “Doh!”