Monday, June 11, 2012

Prometheus revisited

That Space Jockey moment.
It's been a source of irritation since I saw it two weeks ago. I've read reviews, had discussions, revised my opinions and tried to think through the story, the hype and the resultant media activity and make some sense of it. Firstly, this film is crap and a major disappointment but despite that it merits four stars from me. That's because it looks so good and it had the potential to be fantastic and it is by Ridley Scott. It's the old Jimi Hendrix illustration, most people playing well are not as good as he is playing badly. Secondly the film is not only crap but a perfect illustration of how producers, directors and screen writers don't really know their audiences nor do they really understand what it is that the public likes about their films. Thirdly - why bother with rip-off 3D? Nobody really likes it.

Alien is/was a case in point, low budget, grubby, a bit scary but with a good central idea and most importantly the promise and mystery of some back story that is never revealed in the film (this also applies to the Matrix, Easy Rider, True Grit and so on). The big mistake in Prometheus is that they (the guy who wrote the Lost scripts must take a load of blame) failed to understand that fans don't want a whole, bigger picture Von Daniken 70s trip shoved down their throats like a face hugger's tentacle, all they want is bit more on the back story as a tease and not so much actual full blown explanation.

Explanations in Sci-fi and horror are as useful as Penn & Teller pulling the curtain open away halfway through the trick. Cinema goers want to stay where they are, in the dark spooning ice cream and be allowed the fun and latitude to speculate on a story's outcome and to use their own imaginations - the spaces are very important. It certainly worked for God and Jesus when they left us to write the Bible's back and front story ourselves.

What else is wrong with this?

a) The basic premise - a team in space that don't know each other, are belligerent and have no regard for their own safety or understanding of the mission; how real is that?
b) A script that is stilted, laugh out loud awful, pathetic, inane and actually unhelpful in the storyline.
c) Jump cuts and badly timed edits that leave the viewer dizzy and confused as action and huge wedges of plot motion are crammed in to fit the running time.
d) A mystery central character already outed in the hype but hidden from the rest of the cast, why?
e) A supposedly intelligent back story that makes little or no proper sense because it plays on muddled myths that are too weak to sustain a plot.
f) Wild assumptions about the durability of a feeble human body - after highly intrusive surgery.
g) Unless you're Clint Eastwood or Woody Allan you should probably stop making films after the age of 70, or get some younger help.
h) I still give it as many as four stars - that's clearly wrong but the look, design and production are too good to ignore.

All very frustrating.

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