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Some Weak Stitching: What I Didn't Like about Prometheus (2012)

Posted by Charles Reece, June 10, 2012 11:56pm | Post a Comment
prometheus poster janee meadows

Finally, Ridley Scott returns to what he does best, science fiction. And Prometheus is the best looking and visually imaginative example of the genre since his Blade Runner. The writing is hackneyed, however, existing only as a cheap frame to support the spectacle. The film begins with a staple of classic SF, the extraterrestrial explanation of abiogenesis (borrowed from The Chariot of the Gods), which doesn't make a lick of sense, and ends with a cosmic duel to the death between the unstoppable penis and the unmovable vagina, which is about all I could ask of a movie. Going with the idea that literary SF is the "literature of cognitive estrangement," the "critical genre par excellence,Carl Freedman has expressed skepticism that -- with few exceptions that prove the rule (e.g., 2001) -- the cinematographic version will ever rival its written counterpart because of "an aesthetic hegemony of special effects that is fundamentally antithetical to the conceptual core of science fiction itself." However, if Prometheus says anything interesting, and I believe it does, it's mostly as an effects-laden spectacle, which I'll get to in my next post. For now, I'm going to focus on trying to make sense out the story, or, more accurately, question the nonsense. (I assume anyone reading this has already seen the movie, or doesn't care about spoilers.)

The origin of life -- or, at least, humanity as we know it -- in the prologue involves a hairless, bluish-white humanoid bodybuilder drinking some black goo, which causes his body to dissolve into a waterfall some time in Earth's distant past. The desolate, inorganic landscapes during the credits suggest a primordial world, but I'm not sure whether this scene is actually supposed to be the origin of all life (3.5 billion years ago), or if it's what gave the great apes the evolutionary advantage some 14 million years ago, or if it's what resulted in the modern human 200,000 years ago. Regardless, the genetic jumpstart occurred at least 200,000 years ago. This leads to a lot of problems in the script that shouldn't have been all that difficult to rectify had anyone in this $130 million dollar project bothered checking Wikipedia:

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