I finally got out to see Prometheus this past weekend. I had always wondered why they stopped making Alien movies after the second one. It’s a universe rich with unfulfilled potential.
The trailer for Prometheus is a thing of beauty. The score! The visuals! Fassbender! The delectable hints at the Giger aesthetics that made the original Alien and Aliens so cool. Even more rewarding was sitting next to someone who was seeing the trailer for the first time, unaware that there was a new Alien movie even being made, and watching the realization dawn on their unsuspecting face.
There’s a lot the movie does right. The ideas are grand, which is something we’ve largely been missing from science fiction over the past few years (in favor of apocalyptic survival movies). It’s beautiful. The tense scenes are tense, the horrible fucked up scenes are suitably horrific. The cast is great. I thought the movie ended on a pretty cool note.
But everything is undermined by the fact that the heroes (for lack of a better word) are incompetent buffoons. The team of scientists on board the ship, looking to investigate the possible origins of life, are simply bad scientists. They go to this planet on little more than a hunch, then blunder around blindly until everything goes wrong and they start dying. That’s fine for a bunch of Everymen like the Dallas’s crew in Alien, but less excusable for professional explorers.
There are certainly bad scientists in the world – they’re human like the rest of us after all. And it could certainly be interesting to have that sort of character flaw – a scientist who lets their personal beliefs override the scientific method, with disastrous results. But to have a whole team of them just be incompetent was too much. It pretty much ruined the movie for me.
There are other, smaller things that bugged me that I won’t get into, but this was the most glaring thing. So overall I was pretty disappointed in the movie. It makes me sad. But I like some of the ideas enough that I’ll probably see the sequels if they get to make them. I think a little more exploration of the themes they introduced here would be great with a smaller, less stupid cast.